2018 Predictions: Alan Gow, CEO, Virgin Mobile Middle East And Africa

Telecoms: reinventing telecoms by putting the customer first
Customer first: Virgin Mobile is reimagining customer interaction
By Alan Gow
Wed 27 Dec 2017 02:21 PM

Digital disruption has completely revolutionised the way companies do business today; Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

Mobile telecom companies in particular face tough times as digitalisation reshapes the industry, coming second only to media in the ranks of sectors expecting moderate or massive digital disruption.

Digital businesses (over the Top Providers) already pose a real threat, as Skype, WhatsApp and WeChat cannibalise core revenue streams – and at much lower operating costs. WhatsApp had around 500 million users and was run by less than 100 employees when it was sold to Facebook.

But such competition is a positive challenge. It presents mobile operators with an opportunity to reimagine their business model and develop innovative offerings. Customers now measure their digital experiences against the best; Facebook, Uber, Google. It is no longer acceptable for mobile operators to provide a nice website and an add-on app. They need to build compelling propositions that meet customer needs and improve the experience that customers have with their brand. In launching Virgin Mobile UAE’s fully digital proposition, in partnership with EITC, we reimagined the way our customers interact with our brand. The mobile onboarding process allows customers to download our app, choose their plan and then opt for delivery of SIM cards. We expect to see more digital offerings launch in the next 12 months.

While traditional telcos have struggled in recent years, as markets become saturated, there are still some great opportunities for companies who are able to embrace the digital transformation. The critical success factor is moving the traditional mindset from engineering to one focused on identifying customer needs, quickly building a product, scaling a significant user base and monetizing the proposition.

Mobile operators need to be bold in 2018 and digitising the customer journey from end to end has the potential to drive positive results. Not only is there opportunity to reduce the cost to serve vastly, but smart automation can delight customers, uplift the customer experience, drive top line growth and create higher retention.

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Last Updated: Thu 28 Dec 2017 10:58 AM GST

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