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Comarch stands as a leading global powerhouse, specializing in the design, implementation and integration of advanced IT services and software. The Middle East is an important region for the company as it expands its M2M and internet of things (IoT) portfolio. Telecom Review sat with Marcin Dabrowski, vice president, Comarch, who shared insights about the company's strategy in the Middle East, recent partnerships with STC and Nokia, and expansion into smart cities.

Comarch provides a range of IT systems and software services: banking, healthcare, insurance, airlines and even telecommunications. Which of these services is the most prominent in the Middle East?

The Middle East has been an important region for us for many years. We started with projects in telecommunications, in the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Iran. Those were usually implementations of various core BSS and OSS tools, which reflected the needs of telecoms back then. As the years have passed, we have become a truly international company, with offices in each corner of the world and a product portfolio covering all the major industry verticals; from telecoms through to banking, insurance, airlines, small and medium enterprises, manufacturing, retail, wholesale and public administration, to healthcare.

Aside from telecommunications, I would say the most interest we receive in the Middle East comes from the airline and airport industries, which is not surprising, considering the importance of Dubai and Abu Dhabi as international airports. Right now they are mostly enquiring about our Loyalty Management platform; from our observation, next to M2M and IoT, loyalty and customer experience are in the highest demand in the Middle East right now. The contract for Loyalty Management that we signed with Dubai Airport is one of the results of this interest.

What is Comarch's full strategy for the Middle East in terms of telecoms? Why is it an important region?
The importance of the Middle East for us results from the simple fact that companies in the region value innovation highly. This means they are willing to invest in the latest technologies, which we deliver, and it carries great potential for cooperation.

Being at the forefront of innovation is one of the main pillars of our strategy. What it translates to is that when a telecom company is looking for a new IT solution to support any innovative business venture, we already have a product on offer that can help them succeed. Last year this strategy was recognized by Telecom Review, in the form of the "Most Innovative BSS/OSS Provider in the Middle East" prize that was awarded to Comarch.

This is what happened in M2M. We were one of the first telecom software vendors to introduce a dedicated tool for managing M2M connectivity. This paid off in contracts with some of Europe's most prominent communication service providers, including Telekom Austria. Being an experienced provider of M2M solutions has gained us the trust of Middle Eastern telecoms providers as well. The recent contract with STC and Gemalto for the delivery of our M2M Platform is the first of many innovative projects we will be realizing with our Middle Eastern customers. I am positive about that.

We see that telecom companies in the region value our high level of innovation and appreciate the family values that our company has been built upon, as well as the trust that many telecom companies have placed in us throughout the years. Having an office in Dubai definitely helps as well – we see geographical proximity to our customers as an important element in building a great customer experience from the very beginning of each negotiation process. I am optimistic about the future of our business among Middle Eastern communications service providers.

Tell us a bit more about Comarch's joint venture with Gemalto, to develop an internet of things M2M platform for Saudi Telecom Company (STC)?
M2M and IoT are areas in which the huge dynamics of the market result in fast development of our products, competences, research and development teams, delivery and managed services. Only by keeping pace in these areas can we keep abreast of or even get ahead of the changing needs and expectations of customers in telecoms. We have always been a pioneer in this area, and we still see ourselves as one.

The contract with the Saudi Telecom Company is the result of the huge amount of work we put into the solution to make sure it is ready for operators' current and future requirements. The IoT connectivity management platform, which we are implementing at STC, is a strategically important project; not only is it innovative, which is in line with the core of our strategy, but it also shows potential for further extensions, and opens the door for us to cooperate with other Middle Eastern service providers in the future.

How does Comarch specialize in IoT? What products/services do you offer?
We built upon our M2M Platform to create a fully-fledged solution called IoT Monetization Suite. It includes such important features as billing of applications, dedicated M2M/IoT analytics, SLA management and a digital services platform that helps operators manage the co-creation of more complex M2M and IoT services within partnerships with different companies. This is what operators currently need and this is what we deliver.

It is also important to note that our capabilities in the IoT area extend beyond the telecommunications industry. As a provider of software for companies in many different industries, we have gathered a lot of knowledge about the role and the development of IoT across various vertical markets. This broad perspective is one of our advantages on the market for IoT solutions. Even in telecommunications it also helps us talk to our customers, because understanding the challenges in other verticals, which are the ultimate customers for M2M and IoT offerings, is important to help telecoms build new business cases.

Can you tell us about Comarch's role with smart cities?
As our strategy relies strongly on innovation, Comarch's smart city solution is an important part of our portfolio. At Comarch we believe that smart city concepts are best when they are focused on citizens or citizenship, and in that way they are becoming more user-oriented. This is why we deliver a solution with multiple capabilities combined in one 'Urban Communication Platform' for citizens, where user engagement is a key factor for success.

Comarch smart city platform's key capabilities are encompassed within a mobile application that contains connected elements of retail services, loyalty and gamification events, transport information exposed as location based services, and advertising supported by geolocation capabilities via GPS, WiFi and Comarch Beacon data feed.The mobile application and a dedicated website offer the customer convenient access to all services at any time. Using the beacon technology, we provide customers with offers not only tailored to their profiles, but also to their current location and shopping preferences.

Looking ahead, where do you see Comarch in the coming years?
We are aiming to increase our footprint on the global BSS/OSS market with our offices located worldwide. In the past twelve months alone, we have opened offices in countries such as Spain, Italy, Turkey, Malaysia, Chile and Brazil. We increased our headcount in strategically important locations such as Dubai and London. For now the strategy is to strengthen our teams in these countries and generate new sales opportunities. We are also preparing for broader cooperation with partners, in order to further enhance our capability to execute projects.

To diversify the revenue opportunities that we have in the market, we are also focusing on a larger target group of customers in our sales efforts right now. Traditionally we have been delivering solutions for big mobile carriers. Recently, we have also put a lot of effort into the development of our compact BSS and OSS solutions, which are a perfect fit for smaller telecom companies, outside the Tier 1 and Tier 2 segments. We are also working on some more innovative solutions that will support operators in their future ventures.