In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Saoud Al Riyami, acting chief business and wholesale officer, Ooredoo Oman, shared how developing infrastructure is key to staying on top of and satisfying the evolving digital requirements of customers, among other valuable insights.
How do you ensure a seamless and reliable customer experience for B2B customers?
Our corporate customers have seamless access to high-quality products and services, including cutting-edge digital solutions. The business-to-business market, from small and home offices (SoHos) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to larger corporate customers, requires products and services that speak to their own specific business needs. Customizable, flexible and able to grow and adapt, our products are all about setting the pace in the market and making sure we’re providing solutions that enable every business to thrive. We’re definitely leading the way in offering a highly personalized experience, including Oman’s first “build your own” plans and even our “office in a box.”
At the same time, companies need undisrupted and reliable connectivity — a network they can rely on with strong redundancies in place. In June, Ooredoo Oman became the first in the country to provide nationwide 5G coverage, revolutionizing connectivity for all, including businesses. And alongside our network strength come improved cybersecurity, great value, transparency and our well-known customer support and experience, with dedicated account managers, a B2B call center and, of course, our B2B App.
Businesses are doing more and more digitally, whether contacting support, subscribing to or managing plans, and they can do all of this and more with our App. But it’s more than that. Plans and services need to be offered and administered digitally, thereby optimizing convenience for customers as well as providing us with the ability to offer fully scalable and flexible services. Currently, digital plans make up around 14% of the business postpaid base, and this number is growing at a rapid pace.
One of our major achievements in 2022 was the launch of our business eShop. Along with the B2B App, we are always looking for ways to enhance the user experience, and these digital channels do just that. The App provides a central online point for real-time monitoring, management and administrative tasks, handled quickly and efficiently, whereas our eShop allows customers to browse both devices and services to optimize their businesses.
We continue capitalizing on and developing transformative technologies such as cloud solutions, IoT, SD-WAN and other high-growth sectors. This allows us to gain a competitive edge by addressing these demands effectively, and ultimately, we retain customers who value one-stop solutions that streamline operations, improve efficiency and reduce costs.
How does Ooredoo Oman support SMEs and SoHos?
SMEs and SoHos are the backbone of local businesses and the national economy. Most of these small businesses in Oman have a strong value proposition and a significant impact on our communities and the economy.
As drivers of Oman’s digital transformation, Ooredoo focuses on supporting the requirements of all businesses. With excellent fixed and mobile services and smart solutions in place, we continue to elevate our service offerings to support small enterprises to grow, succeed, digitalize and optimize their operations. This in turn supports their integration into key markets, reduces overall costs and thus maximizes growth and revenues.
With the proper support from Ooredoo as a full communications provider, these entities can continue to create job opportunities for Omanis and contribute to Oman’s economic development in line with Vision 2040.
We also have a host of specifically designed, tailored solutions and services for them to help them navigate a fast-changing economic landscape. Indeed, we are now one of Oman’s leading ICT service providers and have a full and growing ICT portfolio in line with our customers’ increasingly sophisticated needs.
Our company’s growing portfolio includes several highly innovative, dynamic and flexible business products, services and solutions, covering both mobile and fixed technologies. Smart, state-of-the-art solutions offered by Ooredoo to businesses include our “office in a box” Maktabi, customizable and flexible telecoms plans, IdeaHub Smart Screen, Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), and Private Automatic Business Exchange (PABX), to name but a few. We also partner with leading providers to enhance our ICT offerings, such as CISCO, Huawei and a host of indirect sales channel partners, to provide value-added services to other SMEs. Such partners provide smart solutions to customers who want top-notch solutions and also support in digitizing certain aspects of their operations.
How does wholesale contribute to the overall growth and success of Ooredoo Oman?
As a digital leader in Oman, we are the nation's alternate wholesale operator. By investing in our wholesale portfolio and working with key market players to undertake mega-projects and developments that support Oman in becoming a technologically advanced and knowledge-based economy, we can position ourselves as a strong wholesale player.
Our primary focus remains providing a range of wholesale services, including capacity, managed services, telepresence, content provision and content delivery networks (CDNs), investment in data centers, subsea cables, infrastructure and co-location, among others. We leverage the strength of Ooredoo Group as an international wholesale operator to provide innovative telecom solutions to other operators and hyper-scalers or large cloud service providers like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Skype and Yahoo.
And by investing in transformative technologies that both broaden international connectivity, increase accessibility and strengthen the digital communications ecosystem across Oman, the region and the world, we can become a leading hub for innovation and economic growth in the region.
Indeed, in 2021, we successfully bid for and won the tender to provide able landing facilities to “2Africa” (2AF) at Salalah and Barka, joining a global consortium of communications operators. The 2Africa cable system is one of the largest subsea projects in the world, connecting 46 cable landing stations in 33 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.
It forms part of our strategy to be a major player in providing transit access facilities to major international operators and hyper-scalers through Oman, leveraging our network and connectivity to the GCC and beyond. This will open new wholesale revenue streams for the future and allow Ooredoo to continue investing in the future of digital across Oman and the region.
What are your business goals when it comes to Vision 2040 and providing ICT solutions?
Oman’s Vision 2040 is a strategic roadmap for long-term development that envisages a diversified economy driven by innovation and being suitably equipped to compete in the global knowledge and information economy. The demand for high-quality telecommunications and ICT services, including the demand for high-speed, high-capacity technologies, will increase further.
The development of our ICT solutions and the rollout of 5G are the main areas of our commitment to the nation. We are finding new ways of segmenting our business to keep us ahead of the curve when it comes to competition and implementing technology.
At the heart of our growth plans are our cutting-edge products, services and solutions for businesses, as well as network expansion. Ultimately, the telecoms sector must continue to embrace the goal of becoming a fully digital society. By investing in people and leading technology projects, we are helping to drive this and are contributing to society and the economy, both now and into the future.
What innovative strategies has Ooredoo adopted to stay competitive in the evolving B2B telecoms industry?
Our commitment to our customers and the community drives our aim for continual improvement and innovation. Developing our infrastructure is key to staying ahead of and meeting the evolving digital requirements of our customers. We continue to invest in IoT services and our network, spreading low-latency international connectivity to service high-end requirements.
In 2021, for example, we celebrated the inauguration of our new flagship data center when the 7,000-sqm facility was completed well ahead of schedule. The centerpiece of our IT infrastructure has a power capacity of 2.5 megawatts and guarantees around 99.98%+ uptime, according to an internationally recognized framework.
We also focus on fostering strategic partnerships with key technology providers, allowing us to expand our service portfolio and offer comprehensive one-stop solutions to B2B customers.
And finally, there is our customer-centricity — something that is a notable priority for us. Through continuous improvement and evolution based on customer feedback, we strive to evolve our customer journey and experience constantly.