As Bahrain ushers in a new wave of technological developments, the big data agenda is steadily becoming a top corporate priority, especially within the ICT industry. While most companies today strive to implement a fluent data-driven business model, the process of fully exploiting data and analytics in reality must permeate the culture of the company at all levels to drive impactful results. The belief in the importance of data must be embedded in the fabric of the business and reflected in every bottom line decision.
However, no matter where you are on your journey to create the internal business culture, many external factors weigh heavily on the ability to unlock the full potential of data and accordingly refine and optimize business operations. In essence a favorable regulatory environment is a key enabler for the industry to move towards a data-driven business environment. Bahrain is moving in the right direction when it comes to defining the rules and regulatory frameworks to foster data-driven business environment.
The TRA has already announced in the fourth National Telecom Plan (NTP) published in May of 2016 which includes some key areas that will facilitate the Bahrain ICT industry’s transition towards data-driven business.
First and foremost is the development of Bahrain’s National Broadband Network (NBN). The NBN will open up a world of opportunities for telecom operators in Bahrain by providing them access to fixed infrastructure and creating a level playing field for the industry. A strong fiber backbone is a vital element in the transition towards 5G which would allow faster throughputs and enable the deployment of next generation telecom services. By taking away the burden of deploying/managing fixed infrastructure from operators, the NBN will ensure investments are made to offer more advanced services to subscribers. Therefore a rapid and efficient transition towards a working NBN model is a key enabler for the transition towards data driven businesses.
Another key element included within the NTP 4.0 is the spectrum release plan. Radio spectrum is a key requirement to offer high-speed services over wireless networks and by announcing its intentions to release more spectrum in 2017, the TRA has taken a step in the right direction to facilitate the move towards data driven business. A smooth and fair spectrum allocation process will significantly help the operators in Bahrain to enhance their networks for faster data throughputs.
For operators to continue investing in infrastructure and enhancing the data throughputs they offer subscribers, there needs to be a favorable regulatory environment that allows for the monetization of traffic flowing through their networks. The inability to monetize data traffic can potentially lead to a slowdown in investments from operators and hamper the transition towards a data driven business environment.
Lastly is cross sector regulatory collaboration. The government is firmly supportive of initiatives such as ‘Smart Cities’ and the integration of IoT and Fintech in every aspect of people’s lives. Such initiatives require supporting regulatory frameworks and a high degree of collaboration between authorities such as Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, Electricity & Water Authority, Traffic Directorate and Ministry of Health and the Central Bank. Such collaboration can help pave the way for advanced next generation services such as Smart Cities, Smart Metering, Traffic monitoring, e-health and mobile financial services. These initiatives require the collection and processing of massive amounts of data which is today scattered across multiple organizations.
This regulatory framework and collaboration will support businesses’ transition from the early stages of adoption of a data-driven culture and towards a more robust and integrated embedded data strategy at the corporate level. And the success of which is highly dependent on finding the idea business model and policy frameworks whereby regulatory authorities, Telecom operators, businesses and the society comes altogether seamlessly.