Your senses are numbed at Bond’s plight and it soon becomes evident that 007 is suffering from amnesia, he’s still trying to go through the same motions but totally unaware that he’s the focal point of this fight between good and evil. He walks up to the bar, totally shaken and stirred and orders a non-fat, sugar free, soya (he’s lactose intolerant), two shots of turmeric, avocado milk shake, with a re-cyclable paper straw on the side!
You are horrified, “We need you; we need you now more than ever Bond” … your insides are screaming out at him, but he’s too busy trying to wipe off the spilt milkshake and stop his pristine white shirt from turning turmeric yellow.
I can sense that at this point as a reader you are thinking “This scenario doesn’t make any sense. This would never happen; not even in a Hollywood blockbuster”.
However, as the adage goes “reality is stranger than fiction”, and this exact scene (well I say exact) is unfolding in slow motion in our real world where (albeit in a different avatar) the Roaming & Interconnect professional is our beloved 007, but just doesn’t know it.
OUR POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS ARE BECOMING OBSOLETE
Just like our hero above we are oblivious to the socio-political shifts around us. To put it all in perspective, let’s take a brief detour into history. We live in a world shaped by the politics of the 19th and 20th century and the unprecedented churn it generated. This was a time when the primary aim of the government was to protect its citizens from the threats beyond. This world, where borders were sacrosanct and needed protection, was given short shrift by the combination of industrialisation and the spread of capitalism. Borders had to be made a bit more porous as globalisation became the new mantra. Economic activity became more global but governments -through protectionism and its allied policy-political activities were still in control.
The ravages of the first and second world war had taught Europe a very expensive lesson and it became the first modern block to get rid of borders. War today in the EU seems more preposterous than the 007 scenario painted above. So for a while it seemed like the world was beginning to come together and had taken a giant step forward.
History unfortunately doesn’t reveal itself as a straight line, but more like a meandering river.
The last few years, has seen this very globalisation act as a catalyst to two major tectonic shifts, and it is the combination of these which will define our futures:
1) Re-immergence of right-wing politics.
2) Advent of global digital businesses.
Politicians of the very same countries that pushed for globalisation are now crying out with “My Citizens First” or “My Country For ‘My People’ Only”. We saw this in the US with Trump, in the UK with Brexit, and with the rise of more right-wing ideology with Turkey trying to regain the glory of the Ottoman Empire, Russia similarly looks fondly back to its czarist past, and India being seduced by an even earlier civilisation.
In each instance the main idea is that all answers lie in the illustrious history of these great Nations, and all that is needed is to rediscover and go back to that seemingly pristine past. Now the point is that, there is nothing new in this, this is precisely how things were before globalisation anyway. And it was fine for each country to run its affairs the way it deemed fit, and impregnable borders made sure that what could not be controlled could just be kept out.
But the challenges we face now, thanks largely to technology are very different to the ones that shaped the world we live in today.
Let’s re-assess the main threats and challenges we’ve had to face, are continuing to face and those of the future that lie ahead; And you decide for yourself how effective borders and great pasts can be:
1) Climate change: Can borders of a country protect it even if it unilaterally takes all possible corrective steps?
2) Global financial crises: Can governments unilaterally pass banking and financial trading laws and expect stability if these are only applicable to one country?
3) Pandemics: Even if a country vaccinates all its residents, would they still be protected from variants arising in other countries?
4) Big tech: Can a single country unilaterally regulate Facebook/Google/ Twitter and so on?
5) Crypto Currencies: Every country can control its currency by managing its monetary policy, but let’s see them try and control various crypto-currencies unilaterally.
6) To be covered in part two
7) To be covered in part two
In the world we live now, borders don’t stop anything and the past has no answers. (unless of course you want to be North Korea) We may not want to face the facts, but our identities as die-hard fans of a particular nation state are under severe threat of the elephant in the room: “What’s the relevance?”
So, while our politicians work hard to convince each one of us, that we are better off on our own and that with nationalistic fervour we must regain the lost glory of our great country (each one of us is asked to believe that it’s our country that was the greatest), the challenges that we face are global and as such require even more integration and alignment with the rest of the world. If ever there was a time of coming together, this is it.
It is almost as a reflex action that our politicians are continuing to see and define the world as it existed 200 years ago and hoping to stumble upon solutions in a falsely romanticised world long gone. In fact, if the past teaches us anything it is that all the great leaders and thinkers moved the world forward by focussing on the future not the past. So, while we are being encouraged to be more inward looking and isolate ourselves from ‘those foreigners’ … deliverance actually lies in integration and making the world even smaller so that people can come together to create global solutions.
In essence unless we start to think beyond artificial borders drawn hundreds of years back by people long forgotten and look for global alignment for humanity, we don’t stand a chance.
WE PLAY A MUCH BIGGER ROLE THAN WE APPRECIATE
No other industry (maybe airlines come close), has contributed as much as telecom and specifically Roaming & Interconnect in bringing people closer and making the world smaller. It’s been this brilliant community of people working in Roaming and Interconnect, that have assumed the role of James Bond and have been saving the world every single day and not even realising it. Every roaming launch letter is a bond that unifies people from different countries and cultures enabling a web of relationships that make all of humanity stronger. When in August 2020 the Israeli James Bond launched roaming with 007 of UAE, it’s wasn’t just a great day for these two countries but a victory for entire humanity.
But this is not enough … sure in our job roles we may not be able to make a big difference when it comes to climate change or pandemics, but as we’ll discover in part 2 of this blog which will cover the role of future technology (that we will directly be working on), 007 may yet have to play the part of Frodo too, as this really will be the greatest challenge faced by all of humanity.
The question for now is, can we look beyond our own little borders, and come together as a community?
The answer is that we must … for the Roaming & Interconnect professionals have a higher calling, and this really is, “No time to die”.
If you work for an MNO and feel passionate about the issues discussed above or would like more information on how we can make a difference, please do write into us at: