Since your vision is customer first, in what way are you increasing customer trust and satisfaction?
As management, one of the most important themes we have been pushing across the organization is the theme of enhancing customer experience; and therefore, we focus on all the touch points with the customer. For example, for our consumer side of the business we focus on enhancing the performance of our call centers and sale offices - so both infrastructures. And over the last two years, we have invested heavily in enhancing our interaction with our customers through digital channels - through our Twitter account and Facebook, you name it. We have seen an increased reliance for customers on these digital channels to an extent that STC now is one of the pioneers not only in the region but also on a worldwide scale as it relates to how telcos are supporting their customers through digital channels.
Also, on the enterprise side, we focus on creating an experience that is customized to the different customers through proper account management and proper infrastructure support. All in all, for customers, both consumers and enterprise, we have found that the most important aspect of all is having the best network experience as a major differentiator, and therefore, we have focused to ensure that our network performance is second to none.
Add to that, we have been doing one of the largest projects that we have launched, which is a transformation of our IT systems - primarily what we call the business support systems. We have gone through a major overhauling of the systems just to ensure that our customer experience is enhanced.
When it comes to innovation, how are you exceeding customer satisfaction?
Well, to me, innovation is the essence of the telecom industry. For STC, we have locked into all kinds of innovative ways to ensure that our services and products are done in the best way or as best as we can. There are a number of actions: we are always investing in new technologies, we have been investing lately in the areas of analytics to identify design products and services to match what our customers are looking for and bring more value to them. In addition, we have been investing a lot in partnerships. We feel that partnerships with innovative suppliers are a very important element of the whole innovation ecosystem that will allow us to bring innovative products to our customers.
In this rapidly evolving world, how are you keeping pace with the developments and responding to market requirements?
Again, this is very important and associated with what I said about innovation. We always ensure that we are up to date with all breakthroughs in technology and this happens through a number of tools. So, you will see us participate in a major events and conferences associated with our industry. We have been investing in talent. We think talent is a very important element in that drive. Also, we ensure that our marketing organizations are responsible for creating product and services. We ensure that they are able to bring in and actually serve our customers through surveys and focus groups.
As the world is getting digitized, where does STC stand in this process?
I sincerely believe that telcos are the essence of digitization and I can envisage that process through four layers. At the bottom layer, I would put the innovation layer where you can be associated with research centers and having your research and development organizations. The second layer would be the infrastructure. Then you would have what I call the enablement layer, which would consist of all the enablement platforms like the cloud, machine to machine and IoT platforms, cyber security platforms. And then the fourth layer is where we have the applications for the different industries. In STC, we have been investing heavily in the first three layers and we would focus clearly on partnerships as it relates to the application layer to ensure that we have the best partners that would suit every vertical. So, we are marching along. I think we have what it takes to primarily be a major player in this digitization era.
Are you considered one of the accelerators for a digitized nation?
My answer would be that yes; in all of the markets that we operate, we look at that as a strategic source. In fact, in our largest market being the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has announced that digitization is a major pillar of the transformation of the nation. We do feel that STC has what it takes to be the partner of the government to ensure that this digitization happens, and clearly, that brings lots of value to the different industries. In fact, at the last World Economic Forum the theme was the fourth industrial revolution, which is enabled through digital transformation of industries. I think that is possible now when telcos can play a role in this process.
Through the years, STC is showing continuous growth and success. To whom do you attribute this success?
Growth, in my view, has always been associated with having the right strategy, with having clear objectives which are implemented through a strict value system in addition to having the right investment mindset. Add to that I feel that a strategy without the right people will not be watered. So, I think a major element for success has always been and I think will continue to be the commitment of our people, our staff. Finally, it's always been very important for any organization to have coherence in the vision and a shared vision between the board of directors presenting the shareholders and the executive management of the company.
Having achieved the 4.5G network, are you witnessing a significant demand for it?
Well, the take-up of innovative services in our market has been phenomenal. Again, in our largest market, Saudi, the take-up of the latest technologies is unmatched. We have witness exponential growth in data consumption when we first introduced 3G and then 4G, and now we are starting to deploy 4.5G. This market has been a leading market with the take-up of lots of the social network services which are fueling the need for higher data. So, yes, I do feel that the demand is there and I think the demand will continue to grow.
Envisioning the future, where do you see STC's position?
I relate to what I just said about the digital transformation of industries being enabled through this revolution of internet; the fact that the computing power of the chip is making lots of technologies affordable. In addition, the reaches that telecom networks provide now are major enablers for this digital revolution and transformation. So, I do see STC evolving from a traditional telco to a full-fledged digital enabler that would create value across different industries through innovative ICT solutions. And also, I see STC evolving to be a major player in certain adjacent converged markets that are again being transformed to the digital revolution. So, not only will we continue to innovate but also I see us really making moves into areas where there have not been physical, traditional telco players.