Speaking to Telecom Review, Hany Fahmy Aly - EVP, Enterprise Business, du, touched on du's commitments to business in the UAE, highlighting the operator's expanding enterprise portfolio which spans cloud services to cybersecurity.
Can you highlight some of the best solutions/offerings du has for the enterprise sector that stand out from other operators?
Today, we are looking beyond connectivity. We want to be an ICT partner for our customers. Traditionally, we used to sell just basic connectivity, whether it was mobile or fixed. Now, we have transformed and become what we call a 'value added ICT provider' to our clients. We have expanded into a whole new area of managed services, and started from simple infrastructure as a service, to cloud as a service, to security as a service; we have gone up the value chain significantly.
We are the partner for the federal government, for example. We host the federal network on the federal government's behalf, which is a very big project for us. We also recently partnered with a number of banks such as Emirates NBD in Dubai and ADIB (Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank) in Abu Dhabi. We provide them with a full suite of managed services.
We offer our banking clients a range of solutions: starting from simple mobility, ensuring they have devices with a mobile device management solution that can control their private vs. personal spending. This comes with a security layer on top to manage the security of the terminals that their employees need to make sure they're not hacked of sensitive information.
We also provide protective DDoS services (distributed denial of service) - we protect networks against these attacks. We have a very strong cybersecurity center, which appeals to a lot of our partners. We even host our partners' datacenters, which for banks, is a very mission critical activity - the heart of any bank. At the end of the day, the most important thing we provide is reliability - reliable, consistent services, making sure that we are fast responding to our customers' needs. Last quarter, a number of banks were hit by cyber attacks in the UAE. The banks which were under out network were not affected.
What are the differences in working with banks compared to working with the government?
Different industries have different requirements. Banks, in general, have similarities with the government of course, such as data integrity, as well as the need to keep services up-and-running reliably. For example, if you go to an ATM machine, you expect it to be operating 24 hours a day. In today's world, where you can bank through SMS, or calling a call center, or online, making sure services are available 24 hours is very important. That's where you see some similarities between banks and government.
In terms of the differences, the most obvious is the different security requirements and also different solution requirements. For banks you might have a client that is looking to have his branch connected, while the government is more about making sure that services are available to various government entities and making sure that everything is internally connected and safe.
Tell us specifically about your SME focus. What are some key offerings for the SME sector?
We are very successful in the SME market (small to medium enterprises). We have more SME customers outside of our fixed network footprint than we have inside our fixed footprint. This means that the services and solutions that we provide to our customers in general are better, and therefore, they have the choice because there is more than one provider outside the fixed network. In general, we provide SMEs both mobile services and fixed services, and the reach that we have is very strong in the mobile area. Our strategy is to be a 'one stop shop' for SMEs.
If you are an SME, you don't have a sophisticated IT buying department; you have limited cash. For example, if you're a restaurant owner or if you're a small trading company owner with excess cash in the bank, would you use that cash to hire an IT manager or would you use that cash to buy an extra product to help your business? The priority is the extra product. That's why we are your IT manager. Our customer can come to us for solutions end-to-end. We can help SMEs by hosting their website. We can also offer connectivity, devices, whatever you want in terms of connectivity and applications. In terms of devices, we can help you support your data without any upfront fees. We conserve the cash for you, and turn CAPEX into OPEX for a very small monthly fee, enabling you to set up your business and go from day one.
We use the scale of du to offer this. When I buy for my own internal use, I also have the pricing power to buy for my clients. We leverage our scale to help our SME customers. Dependent on your size as an SME, we have dedicated account managers and we also have a dedicated call center serving SMEs. We've had this from the very beginning.
What we define as an SME is any company starting from one person up to medium size companies with up to 50 employees or more. We have a very large spectrum of clients. Surprisingly, we find more and more small clients willing to adopt cloud technology because they are always on the go. They want more flexibility. They are then able to access their information regardless of where they might be. They also want that with security, because if you're a small SME, reliability is very important. If they get hacked, they lose everything. If someone takes down your website for a couple days, that's mission critical. Therefore, SMEs are fond of our security solutions as well as our productivity solutions. We have partnered with Microsoft for Office 365, selling hundreds of licenses every month to SMEs.
What role does du play in attracting more businesses to the UAE or helping businesses to get started in the UAE?
Our role is to enable business. Our mission for du Enterprise is to provide world class connectivity and ICT solutions for customers with great value and superior customer service. We see our role as part of Dubai and the UAE to be an enabler of business. If you want to set up your company in the country, other than documentation, the most important thing to set up is ICT infrastructure and that's where we come in. We try to make the process very easy and also try to make it easy for companies to grow.
How will the Smart Dubai Platform, of which du helped to establish, enable businesses to operate more effectively?
Dubai was already a very smart city before the Smart Dubai Platform. It has advanced transaction technology; you can do parking through SMS, and you can pay your bills online or through mobile, etc. Dubai was a very smart city compared to others. What sets the smart city initiative apart is that unlike other cities where they focus on specific things, for example, focusing on parking or automating ports. Here in Dubai, the smart concept is a big proposition - it includes everything. The ideas and the vision of His Highness are not for Dubai to be a smart city, but for it to be the smartest city. That means instead of having silos of smartness, we need to make sure everything is connected. That creates a lot of opportunities for new business because suddenly you have all this information and you can do more things at the same time. Ultimately, it will make things faster, more convenient and reliable.
Can you share some of du's plans for 2017 for the enterprise sector?
Our plan for 2017 is predominantly to do things faster. We want to continue to improve on our speed to deliver to our customers and the speed of which we rollout new projects. We want to endlessly improve our customer experience and be the first to market with new innovations.
For example, we were the first to market with security services and the first to market with cloud services like Microsoft Office, and also first to market with zero upfront plans for mobile. That means we have to work on being fast and serving customers well.