Telenor’s purpose is empowering societies – connecting you to what matters most. In 2020, our purpose was put to its ultimate test: A global pandemic. Overnight, we couldn’t meet face-to-face, we needed to meet virtually. Our services made sure people could be together, but still keep their distance. I’m proud to say that Telenor did our part and delivered on our purpose in 2020.
These first months of 2021 have given us new challenges, with a state of emergency under military leadership declared in Myanmar. The developments we have seen in the country in the weeks preceding this report’s publication have been deeply saddening and concerning. In Telenor, we condemn the use of violence against demonstrators and civilians and we use our voice where we can, in support of human rights and democracy. I was there when we entered Myanmar in 2014, with the clear ambition to support the country in its progress towards economic development and democracy. Since then, we have seen that access to communication technology can contribute to reduced inequalities and inclusive growth for the people in Myanmar.
In 2020, the global pandemic created a heavy reliance on connectivity and considerable pressure on networks worldwide. We had to find ways to stay at home, all the while ensuring that our customers – from Malaysia to Finland – stayed connected.
We experienced a rapid acceleration of our digital agenda. Millions of customers needed to buy data and voice minutes digitally as the shops closed down. Network issues needed to be detected and resolved remotely. Customer service needed to work from home, with extensive use of artificial intelligence (AI) to solve problems, and customer agents used social media to keep in touch with customers. We learned during the COVID-19 crisis that we have the technology needed to make these giant leaps, but we see that there’s a great deal of untapped potential for us to move even faster than we ever thought possible. Therefore, we decided to accelerate plans for digital customer journeys, use new technology to build better solutions for customers, continue improving operations, and adapt into a future way of work.
We met the pandemic all while delivering on our strategy: Positioning us for growth through focused offerings, being at the forefront of modernising our core business and making responsible business an integrated part of our strategy. We invested in future-proof technology, and we also saw that customers appreciate our focus on new services on top of data connectivity. We saw modernisation efforts with digitalisation and increase in digital channel use all over Asia, and organisational modernisation across. We also delivered new climate ambitions and continued to build our responsible business footprint in Asia.
For this, Telenor’s approximately 18.000 employees deserve the credit. I think our response in 2020 made Telenor an even stronger company today than we were a year ago.
In 2020, we introduced a more flexible way of work for our employees, moving the focus from where we work towards how we work. The new flexible way of work is building on positive experiences and lessons learned from the successful and productive period with new ways of working and home office during the pandemic. We have also drawn on knowledge built from the Finnish member of the Telenor-family, DNA.
I’m a firm believer that purpose-driven companies are companies of the future. Businesses that are not sustainable and responsible won’t thrive in the years ahead. I also believe that big companies, such as Telenor, have a responsibility to our customers and societies around us to conduct business that does good. Last year, we launched Telenor’s most tangible and concrete climate ambitions and targets so far in our history. We made plans for action in all markets, and in 2021 we must deliver.
2020 was the year of connectivity. However, connectivity isn’t about last year. It’s about the future. It’s at the core of how we rebuild, adjust, and renew societies and the world in the years to come. And I can promise you this: Telenor will be leading the way.
– Sigve Brekke