The world around us
We are responsible for keeping the Netherlands connected. In order to be able to perform duty properly, we need to know what’s going on around us, so that we as an organisation can respond to this quickly. The events of 2020 have permanently changed both daily life and society. Developments will continue to occur in rapid succession in the coming years. These developments will lead to changing needs and expectations of our customers and our other stakeholders. In this chapter, we will discuss which trends and developments are having, or will have, the greatest impact on us.
The coronavirus crisis has affected us all: young and old, companies and self-employed persons, and society as a whole. We have had to make drastic adjustments to our lives. Physically meeting up is no longer a matter of course and working together at the office has also become rarer. At least 40% of Dutch people have been working at home since the crisis, with pupils and students also having to follow their lessons online for the majority of 2020. The two lockdowns also ensured that people were at home much more than ever.
Our networks functioned as important arteries that kept the Netherlands connected. This resulted in a considerable increase in the demand for our services, which resulted in higher demands and expectations from our customers. In terms of the use of our networks, we saw an average increase of 17% in download traffic compared to before the coronavirus crisis; a record increase. During the second lockdown, we saw an increase of no less than 85% in upload traffic compared to before the crisis. Even ‘old-fashioned’ telephoning was on the rise again. Our smart management of our network meant we could easily cope with these increases; it’s a great testament to the fact that our strategy to help advance and to continue to connect the customer is working. There was an even greater need for good Wi-Fi coverage throughout the home and for greater capacity for Internet use. See the chapter 'Investing in a reliable and future-proof network for everyone‘ to see how we ensured that our networks could cope with the extra pressure.
Data and digitisation
Everyone is connected all day long more than ever. Connected with various devices, games, and with each other via WhatsApp, social media and video calling. But that’s not all. Machines are connected with each other more and more via the Internet of Things, whether that be solar panels, electric cars, medical equipment, fridges, energy meters or alarm systems: all these devices are continually exchanging information in order to be able to function.
As a result, the demand for fast, secure and reliable exchange of data is increasing sharply each year. Data has become an indispensable link in our decision-making process and in our efforts to give our customers the best possible service. New technology makes customers more critical. Because more and more businesses are embracing these technologies, customers are becoming increasingly used to fast, accessible apps and services. As a result of this, our organisation is not only being compared to other telecommunications providers, but also to leaders from other sectors such as Coolblue, Apple and Amazon. In order to remain relevant as an organisation in the long term and to create added value, we want to be at the cutting edge of these developments. How we are doing this can be found in the chapter 'Transformation into a digital organisation‘.
The introduction of new technologies has gone hand in hand with new forms of cybercrime. Cybercriminals seize on new forms of communication to commit fraud. For instance, 2020 saw a sharp rise in WhatsApp fraud, spoofing (identity fraud), phishing (Internet fraud) and smishing (a new form of phishing that uses SMS text messaging). As a technology company, we need to keep a close eye on these developments. This is why we remain in continuous dialogue with relevant stakeholders and see it as our social responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our customers. How we are doing this can be found in the chapter 'A secure and protected environment for everyone‘.
Climate change is not a trend that we may possibly have to deal with in the future. Climate change is here and now and demands our attention on an ongoing basis. In order to combat climate change, we all have to work together to ensure that we achieve the climate goals set in the Paris Agreement of keeping global warming under 2 °C. One way of analysing the efforts we need to make to help limit global warming is to draw up Science Based Targets. We set such targets in 2020, which in 2021 was approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. We are seeing greater awareness throughout the chain, resulting in a greater focus on sustainable solutions. What we are doing as an organisation to reduce both our own environmental impact and that of our suppliers is described in the chapter 'Everything for a healthy environment'.
Diversity and inclusion
Two issues that each year are – rightly – placed higher on the agenda are diversity and inclusion. In 2020, the death of George Floyd and the resulting emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement were the catalysts for a much broader social debate about equality. That also applies to the effects of the #MeToo movement. The coronavirus crisis and the strict lockdowns have also placed greater emphasis on shared social values, such as freedom, solidarity and equality. We believe we need to take a clear position in these debates. This is why we are actively pursuing a policy of diversity and are consciously showing diversity in our campaigns. Read what we are doing to promote diversity and inclusion in our organisation and society.
Legislation and regulations
As an organisation, we act in compliance with the applicable legislation and regulations. Laws and regulations change continuously. In recent years, for example, developments in the fields of privacy, data usage and security have followed in rapid succession and are now being implemented in new legislation and regulations for the telecommunications sector too. We are monitoring these developments all the time and make sure we are well prepared for the new legislation and regulations that are to be implemented. How we are preparing for this is described in the chapter ‘Ethical conduct'.
The trends and developments that shape the world around us also provide input for our strategic decisions. In order to satisfy the changing needs, wishes and expectations of our customers and other important stakeholders, it is important that we remain flexible and agile as an organisation so that we can respond to these different trends and developments. In that way, it will also remain possible for us to have a positive impact on society and to keep creating value for our customers and our most important stakeholders.