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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Samer Majzoub, Elev8 Consultancy, founder & managing partner shares his thoughts on how his company is helping telcos navigate in the dynamic market.

Please tell us a bit about Elev8 and its main offerings for the TMT sector, particularly the telcos.

Elev8 Consultancy is a Dubai native boutique strategy consulting positioned around commercial excellence, providing services across different industries and practices, to name a few: telecom, consumer products, retail, startup, etc... and we have a dedicated focus on the TMT sector. In terms of geographical territories our services are spread across UAE and the Middle East.

Before launching Elev8, we had accumulated more than 20 years of experience and built a commercial excellence in strategy and operations, specifically in marketing, product development, channels, business development and partnerships in the TMT sector, where we designed and launched more than 300 different value propositions in the region among products, digital concepts, pricing portfolios & plans, bundles, promotions, loyalty plans, partnerships, etc.…

Having said that, Elev8 is a strong asset for CEOs and executives in general to be their brain and hands thanks to its versatile network of experienced consultants in strategy and delivery.

As said, we praise ourselves that we were seeded initially in telecom, our typical clients in the sector are CCO, CMOs, CSO for the operators, the OTT media companies and the emerging tech companies and anyway borders are converging more and more, and we see more synergy across different players.

1. Offering to telco operators:  Create more value or new business models within the new emerging landscape of changing consumer habits to be able to capture new opportunities, we basically do this by building complete commercial transformational framework. For this we support them craft a resilient strategy with an end-to-end strategy, execution framework; formulating unique positioning, developing relevant value propositions and developing go-to-market plans.

2. Offering for media or content OTT: We support them to better monetize their content by helping them understand the latest dynamic trends and technology and advising them on the last mile reach with partnership and customer acquisition opportunities.

3. Offering for Tech start-ups looking to scale, Elev8 consultancy is here to help them increase their market share by choosing the best strategic play, concentrate on the right target segment, and identify quicker path to success with a localized approach across the different MENA markets.

How does Elev8 contribute to the growth trajectory for the telecom operators?

Looking at the bigger picture, we see that disruption is the name of the game and has created immense value in the sector overall, but the value pool shifted towards the digital players; this is led by the emergence of innovation across the industry from emerging tech companies (i.e., fintech, food tech, etc...) as well as the content streaming OTTs which disrupted the whole entertainment and content industry. All of this is enabled by innovative technology like AI, ML and edge computing; however, we don’t see a balanced growth across the different players with legacy players like telecom operators need to be part of the game and need to reinvent themselves to avoid becoming less relevant.

We are also witnessing customer behavior is shifting online in everything, e-commerce has increased in 2021 by more than 120% in MENA.

Having said that, Elev8 Consultancy helps telcos win back their position to be at core of the value pool with our commercial excellence unique practice by positioning around new values and models, putting again customer at the center we help them do:

  • Commercial transformation needed in digitalizing their offers by building digital propositions and endorse an omnichannel approach for their offerings with our tailored commercial frameworks as well as develop digital Marketing strategy and social media marketing and plans.
  • Understand better customers throughout their different touch points and help them leverage on data analytics to better compete and grow.
  • Most importantly Monetize and compete with their assets like 5G by building 5G strategy and roadmap focusing on profitable use cases.
  • Lastly, we also support them fix the basics and address the legacy challenges that operators are encountering whether strategically or through quick wins, like protect and grow their APRU, address customer retention and operational efficiency.

How can Elev8 help telcos create value-added services given the onslaught of OTT players in the market?

There are new changing realities in the industry; Video, Voice, Music OTTs transformed the way customers consume their content and have mandated a totally new landscape and new business models. This reality is putting pressure on the traditional business models of telcos since it is disrupting the boundaries of core telecom offerings and requires. We often refer to this in telco as the OTT cannibalization syndrome and see it as their biggest threat and in a lot of market telco players have exerted a lot of effort to fight or directly compete with these OTTs.

However, our position is that they both needs each other and strategically they complement in their respective value chain. Let me cover the example of video content OTTs; we have witnessed from one side that OTT growth is phenomenal and their D2C model disrupted the whole industry but also the market has become too cluttered, and OTTs are looking to monetize their content OTT and are competing on the last mile to grow their market share

On the other hand, telcos across the world are struggling with their NPS and are very much in need to refresh and differentiate in their value proposition, they also need to make their brand more exciting, position themselves around new value lines. For this, association with big brands in video and music ensure that operators differentiate their offering and have a solid footfall in consolidating the entertainment platforms to open a new conversation with their customers. So, collaboration is key at this level and can take different forms like co-branded Promotions or hard-bundling partnerships.

Elev8 helps telcos in this context to agree on a position and have dedicated strategy to reconvert their business model and positioned around new fresh and adjacent territory to be able to create new revenue streams. Telcos have still the biggest advantage in the whole ecosystem they still have the deepest customer reach and customer base, and they have a 360 view and understanding of the customer in terms of how, when and where and for how long he utilizes its network, and they have the biggest enabler of all time which is the power of broadband and 5G Network.  Simply the equation is to collaborate and partner to create new value to their customer base to compensate for the loss revenue to OTTs rather than having a tactical focus how they can kill OTTs.

What are the main challenges faced by telcos in the current market with rapid advancements in technologies and how can Elev8 help?

As mentioned, previously, the business model of existing telcos is being challenged by the emerging new landscape and they are facing accelerated commoditization of their existing core products and offerings and pressured further their margins. We see this challenge as a gateway for a bigger opportunity and, we strongly believe that now operators are entering their most exiting period since a long time and can rebalance the value pool landscape and I see them now playing a central role for the new value creation to its consumers and strong enabler to drive economy of enterprise segments. The future driver of the different economies is intelligent connectivity combining 5G, AI, IoT and telcos have the chance to catch up and leading this digital transformation and drive the economy thanks to their 5G network and broadband connectivity especially in the region where we have one of the best networks.

Elev8 can create the end-to-end framework to help redefine a new value positioning, understand better their customer behavior and needs, support develop relevant propositions around 5G use cases built around providing best experience, innovative services such as cloud gaming and right pricing with package “tiered pricing” and seamless omnichannel strategy. This will not only ensure for them sustainable growth overtime. This will help also address their legacy challenges like customer experience customer churn, loyalty and that you are encountering with quick wins or operational efficiency models.

Finally, I want to touch on the internal capabilities and capacity to change. It is very important to develop and retain the right talent who migrated to other techy industries that is a strong enabler for this change as well as have the MINDSET and willingness by adapting the right organization to be able reposition telco at the heart of the transformation journey, we are witnessing.

Please tell us about your expansion plans.

We are expanding across different industries beyond TMT and already started different kinds of collaborations with partners where we see synergy in terms of our value proposition. Vertically we could have a better focus on startup to help them scale. We are also planning programs to support execs and leaders on the transformation. We could also see geography expansion at later stage.

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