The world around us
With the war in Ukraine, exceptionally high inflation and an energy crisis, the world around is increasingly unstable. Against this challenging backdrop, digitisation has increased and expanded. The combination of the two has underlined the importance of cybersecurity and digital inclusion. In this chapter, we will discuss recent (global) events and explain how we respond.
STRONG DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY
The Netherlands is one of the best-performing countries in Europe for digitisation. That is evident from the Digital Economy and Society Index 2022 (DESI 2022), which tracks the development of digital technology in Europe across a variety of fronts.
At VodafoneZiggo, we are constantly investing in our network to connect the world and maintain the Netherlands’ position as a digital leader. In 2022, we provided all Ziggo customers in the Netherlands access to internet with a download speed of 1 gigabit per second. In addition, 93.7% of the populated areas in the Netherlands are already benefiting from our 5G mobile coverage – making the country one of the front runners for 5G coverage.
AN INCREASING FOCUS ON (CYBER)SECURITY
Far-reaching digitisation also has a downside: the number of cyberattacks has risen explosively in recent years. The increased risk of digital disruptions can partly be attributed to geopolitical developments. Cyberattacks – including malware, phishing and DDoS attacks – are becoming increasingly dangerous and more advanced.
With our ‘Security First’ initiative, we are providing our customers, our company and our employees with a secure network. In doing so, we apply the highest standards. Moreover, we are helping our customers protect their vital infrastructure so that they can focus on taking advantage of the opportunities the digital world offers with confidence.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DIGITAL INCLUSION
According to DESI 2022, 67% of people in the Netherlands possess basic digital skills – well above the EU average of 54%. However, there is still a long way to bridge the digital divide between people who have access to and can effectively use digital technologies and those who do not.
VodafoneZiggo is working to ensure that everyone can participate in our digital society. Together with our partners, we continued to develop various programmes in 2022, such as ‘Online Masters’ and ‘Welcome Online’, to help people become digitally literate. We are also continually looking to see how we can make our products and services more accessible for all our customers.
In a rapidly digitising world, customers – both consumer and business – expect to be able to take care of most things in life with a swipe or a few clicks. The speed at which we can make a purchase or order groceries online is a great example of this.
Keeping up with customer expectations is a challenge – but one we are excited to meet. Our digital systems are ready to serve our customers anytime and anywhere, whether they want to record their favourite series remotely or easily change their subscription in the My Ziggo or My Vodafone app. And our customer service team is always on hand to answer questions via either app’s chat function.
THE ENERGY CRISIS IS STIMULATING SUSTAINABILITY
The Netherlands is part of the global energy transition towards a fossil-free future. Energy conservation was already a national concern but is now an even greater priority due to the ongoing energy crisis.
At VodafoneZiggo, we are continually making improvements to reduce our impact on the environment, not only for our organisation but also for our chain partners and our customers as well. In 2022, we expanded measures to reduce our energy consumption. We increased our energy efficiency, for example by installing smarter software. We are also replacing old equipment with new devices that consume less energy. For instance, we expedited our plan to provide our customers with a new, energy-saving TV platform: the Mediabox Next Mini.
High energy prices have prompted customers to invest in smart and energy-saving electronics at home, such as smart thermostats, lighting and plugs – increasing demands on our customers’ home networks and WiFi coverage. We responded to this with SmartWifi pods and new WiFi6 modems.
We are operating in a competitive market; one made more challenging by our competitors investing in and installing fibre optic cables and connecting homes with them. We have responded by improving our own network, combining fibre optic and coaxial cables, which means we can continue to amply meet the demand for a fast and stable connection now, and in the future.
At the same time, the TV landscape has changed. Viewers have swapped traditional television viewing for streaming, with service providers now competing hard for consumers’ attention (and their budget). At VodafoneZiggo, we primarily play a facilitating role. Our aim is to be the ‘home of entertainment’ for our customers, which we do by integrating all relevant streaming services on a single platform, and by offering exclusive content and Ziggo Sport on top.
Elsewhere, in the world of business, telephone calls have partly been superseded by video conferencing – a trend that impacts our services portfolio and how our customers do business. In response, we are helping small and medium-sized enterprises take advantage of the opportunities digitisation has created. For example, our V-Hub platform provides users with information on the very latest business topics, such as working from home efficiently and securely, selling online and opportunities to further develop digital capabilities.
Labour market shortages reached a crisis point in 2022, with staff shortages across all professional groups, according to the Spanningsindicator (Tensions Indicator) of the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). As a result, the labour market was under twice the amount of pressure than it had been one year earlier – a new record.
To remain relevant and innovative, we attach great importance to being an attractive employer for our existing and prospective employees. We offer a modern and market-leading employment package that includes the option of hybrid working, a diverse, equal and inclusive culture, a competitive annual leave scheme, and unlimited training and development opportunities.
INFLATION AND REDUCED PURCHASING POWER
Unprecedented high inflation has been a significant challenge for Dutch households in 2022, reducing their purchasing power considerably. As a result, it is more difficult for certain groups to buy an internet subscription, even though being digitally connected is now a primary necessity of life.
We believe everyone should be able to use our products and services. That is why we, as part of the Alliantie Digitaal Samenleven (Digital Society Alliance), partnered with the telecommunications sector to launch a pilot project in 2023 examining a potential ‘social inclusion package’ for those unable to afford an internet connection.
Many of the major events that defined 2022 came as a surprise. This underlines once again how unpredictable economic developments can be. Looking ahead, we are sufficiently confident that we can promise that we will continue to remain at the forefront of the areas mentioned above. From smart devices to 5G. From sustainability to digital inclusion. From working wherever you want to a stable and reliable connection – throughout the Netherlands.