16 January 2022
“Being in the business of enabling people’s lives, of helping them connect to what matters most to them and removing the worry of how they can connect is what drives each one of us at GO, every single day,” says Mandy Calleja, Head of Corporate Communications, GO plc.
It’s been almost two years since Covid-19 first hit our shores, two years of surreal and unprecedented changes, where we have grown our abilities to be agile, empathetic and innovative – a time that tested our strength, patience and stamina. And every time we accept a ‘new norm’ and enter a sense of normality, another ‘wave’ of change and restrictions hit us, taking us back to a reliance on all things digital.
The onset of the pandemic has certainly wiped out any doubt about the criticality and importance of digital technologies for the current and future wellbeing of any nation and its people. Looking back over the past two years, some businesses instinctively overhauled their operations for remote working, investing thousands of euros of unplanned resources to survive. Other businesses closed their doors, and with that, many lost their livelihoods, whilst others took some time out to rethink their future.
Families took on a whole new juggling act, quickly and often shifting between working from home, parenting, home schooling and getting the next meal on the table. Others temporarily moved out of the family home to ensure the ones they love remain safe and healthy.
We have all been impacted in one way or another, but the one constant in this wave of disruption is the deep-set need to stay connected. Can one imagine going through all this disruption without the power of digital connectivity?
Digital technology has kept the whole community connected during all this change, reshaping the way we work, rest, play and interact, in very exciting ways. Remote working, virtual classrooms, video chats, digital conferencing, chats, processes – every aspect of our life is dictated by all things digital. Companies like GO became vital as they kept servicing customers’ needs no matter what.
It remains both a privilege and a huge responsibility for us at GO to be relied upon for critical connectivity services. As with most companies, the past two years have been a challenge for GO too, but we turned this challenge into an opportunity to come together to rediscover our ‘why’ – why we exist as a company and why we do what we do every day.
It is when communications services are not working that we realize how completely dependent we are on the Internet and mobile technology. We can carry out almost any of our daily activities on our mobile device. We connect to the people we love, we watch our favourite TV shows, catch up on news, respond to emails, follow our workout routines and social media, carry out our banking needs, shop online – literally, anything.
Businesses also depend on reliable and resilient internet connections. Take the health and aviation sectors as an example, services that are intrinsically linked to digital technologies and that could have serious implications if things went wrong.
Being in the business of enabling people’s lives, of helping them connect to what matters most to them and removing the worry of how they can connect is what drives each one of us at GO, every single day. We are passionate about all things digital, but we are equally passionate about delivering these services in a way that allows us to connect to our customers and build long lasting relationships with them. We understand them because we are consumers ourselves. This is what drives our constant journey of improvement. For some, what may not be as apparent is the huge level of complexity that lies behind our seamless communications services.
Obvious solutions may seem simple. However, there are legal, regulatory, technological and geological complexities that come into play. One critical element in ensuring constant improvement in investment.
Over the past 45 years, GO has established itself as the largest investor in Malta’s digital infrastructure. In the past 10 years alone, GO has invested over €240 million in its networks to ensure they are resilient enough to cope for increased demand as witnessed during this pandemic. We also committed a further €100 million to the roll-out of TrueFibre technology to every household in the next three years. This means that customers can enjoy the latest technologies at ultra-fast internet speeds.
Most recently, GO invested a further €25 million in its international connectivity becoming the first and only operator in Malta to have three submarine cables, with a connection to France, Egypt and beyond. We are now working on a nationwide 5G mobile network rollout.
It is usually in time of crisis or periods of unusually high demand that the investment in our infrastructure pays off. It would be naïve of me to say that the pandemic has not been a test on our infrastructure, our products, or even our teams, because it has been. We have had record high levels of traffic on our networks, but we also experienced a reduced workforce due to quarantine regulations and like any other operator, we suffered network cuts and the aftermath of inclement weather. We have had to redesign processes and procedures and expedite our digitisation journey. Despite all this, we acted as One Team by living our purpose and values every day and continued to deliver.
GO has invested heavily in its online and digital platforms over the past year and today, customers can connect with agents through multiple channels, whether its telephone, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or chatbot, purchase new products, upgrade or top up their services, pay bills and make use of a host of other services from the comfort and safety of their homes. However, there are still those individuals who are being left behind, because of lack of access, skills or awareness.
Whilst the digital revolution has taken the world by storm, we know that not everyone may be equally digitally savvy and we appreciate that a collective effort is required to ensure that the digital skills of the future are catered for today. We truly believe that everyone should have the skills to participate and actively contribute to an increasingly digital society. The quality of people’s lives depends on this. Our future economy depends on this. This is the other part of our mission as an organization where we believe in education and a learning mindset and want to support in any way we can.
The whole world of digital technology excites some, and overwhelms others in equal measures. Our intention with this series of articles is to talk about all things digital; from technologies and products to security and safety, the solutions to customer issues caused by geology and architecture, the complexities and challenges we face and the rewards we gain, our role in society and in the communities we seek to connect and how we shall support the development of digital skills. We shall also talk about how and why we sponsor and support national initiatives and about our plans on becoming a more environmentally conscious company and in doing so, help you, our customers, reduce your own carbon footprint.
I am proud to be contributing to the GO journey and am reminded daily of how incredibly privileged we are to have such an important role in Maltese society. We certainly are not perfect but we certainly try our best. Are we fully prepared for what lies ahead? Possibly. But one thing I can confidently say, is that we are committed to do better and to do the right thing for our customers so their lives can be better every day.