How telecom SaaS can play a meaningful role in supporting ESG goals

software as a service

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Maria Azada, SaaS Portfolio Business Strategy and Management Director, Cloud and Network Services at Nokia looks at how SaaS can help with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have gained significant traction in all business areas, including the telecom space.

While a general focus has tended to be placed on reducing natural resource use and environmental impacts, such a singular emphasis needs to be broadened.

The telco space, for example, has much to contribute to narrowing the digital divide and enabling connectivity in underserved areas. This is particularly the case given the ongoing changes in telecommunications generally, and the disaggregation from hardware to software this sector is experiencing – making it technologically less complex to deliver on those social aspects.

Software is reaching a state where it can be hosted anywhere and be fully managed by the software vendor. And communication service providers (CSPs) and enterprises increasingly recognize the consideration needed to move away from customized software to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

SaaS and ESG – a power couple

Telecom SaaS represents more than just a new business model; it signifies a transformative shift in how telcos consume, build, use, and deploy services while bringing operational changes across the delivery chain.

By adopting telecom SaaS solutions, providers can reduce their carbon footprint, minimize energy consumption, and upgrade hardware without contributing to landfills. This approach also helps bridge the digital divide through quick deployments – a matter of days versus months with on-premise software deployments – that enable more comprehensive access to digital services.

From a telecom provider’s perspective, software vendors must adapt their approaches to building, enabling and deploying software. By embracing this transformation, software vendors aim to eliminate friction points, ultimately contributing to the decarbonization of industries.

The automation and efficiency offered by SaaS can lead to significant environmental benefits through the transition of workloads to the cloud and the enhancement of existing processes. In fact, a report from McKinsey suggests that implementing efficiency strategies and organizational adjustments can result in a 15 to 20 percent reduction in energy expenses within a year, leading to both enhanced company profits and positive environmental impacts.

For ESG to reach its goals, telecom SaaS must accelerate from two perspectives: minimizing the negative impact (footprint) and maximizing the positive impact (handprint).

Minimizing footprint

Software acquisition is simplified when transitioned to a SaaS model. The software is accessed digitally instead of purchasing physical boxes and shipping hardware. This shift streamlines the process and significantly reduces logistical concerns associated with hardware deployment.

By providing software access remotely, SaaS minimizes waste and eliminates the need for transportation and on-premise hardware deployment. With SaaS, users can access the software without hardware involvement or logistical complexities.

Additionally, the automation introduced by SaaS forces us to drive efficiency and improved serviceability – centralized operations with standardization fuel automation – resulting in fewer resources. SaaS promotes a “build once” mode of operation and benefits all deployments, further reducing emissions.

Maximizing handprint

Using AI algorithms to detect and optimize unused network equipment can play an essential role in maximizing energy consumption.

The shift to SaaS enhances time-to-value, enabling customers to access energy-saving benefits immediately upon software deployment. Moreover, SaaS lowers barriers to entry, allowing more companies, particularly in developing countries, to embrace sustainable technologies.

Another notable application of SaaS is a SaaS-based eSIM, which eliminates the need for physical SIM cards in smartphones, accelerating deployment and enabling rapid access to advanced technologies in various regions.

Simplicity with SaaS (or Improved consume-ability with SaaS)

The current customer journey is riddled with several points of friction. A shift to SaaS drives an optimal and more straightforward journey as automation takes over many manual processes today. Let’s consider the “engage” or “discover” phase.

In the traditional mode, CSPs engage through numerous face-to-face meetings and extensive travel to learn about solutions or services. This process continues until it reaches the procurement stage, involving further exchanges of materials.

However, with the shift to SaaS, CSPs can swiftly access offerings with just a click from their desktops, mirroring the convenience of other SaaS services.

A key telecom SaaS goal is to bring this level of accessibility to the telco realm. I envision a future where network services and capabilities are readily consumable and accessible, breaking away from the current norm. This transformation aligns with ESG ambitions, contributing to reducing carbon footprints across industries and the environment.

Telecom SaaS is more than just a business model change. By adopting telecom SaaS solutions, telecom providers can simultaneously drive ESG and business performance.


Maria AzadaMaria Azada leads the SaaS Portfolio Management and Strategy within Nokia Cloud and Network Services group. With more than 30 years of experience in the telecom industry, Maria seeks to drive Innovation and Transformation to the telecommunication services industry. She holds a master’s degree in computer science and held various positions in portfolio strategy, product management and business development.




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