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In an exclusive interview during the Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit 2023, Hani El Kukhun, CEO MEA, Beyond ONE, shared the company’s milestones and strategies in delivering world-class digital experience journeys for its customers.

In your first year leading Beyond ONE’s MEA operations, what were the key milestones that were achieved?

This first year has been one of my most rewarding years in my career. As you might all know, Beyond ONE acquired Virgin Mobile, Middle East and Africa and Virgin Mobile Latin America and now we have our operations in seven countries with over 7 million subscribers.

In the Middle East and Africa specifically, we are proudly operating 4 million subscribers across FRiENDi mobile in Kuwait, KSA, Oman and FRiENDi Pay in Saudi Arabia, Virgin Mobile in Kuwait, KSA and UAE. It's truly been an honor to serve these customers with our new Beyond ONE vision.

A true milestone for us was successfully incorporating these subscribers into a multi-brand strategy— Beyond ONE. With a great digital vision, we will take our customers into a new digital realm, facilitating the fulfillment of their needs.

This region is embracing digital transformation. How will Beyond ONE leverage this ambitious endeavor and utilize it for strategic growth?

Digital transformation and digital economies in our operating regions are the foundational elements of delivering our vision to our customers. We are in a region that has a large youth population, which enables and takes our digital capability and adoption to new heights. We have governments that adequately invest and promote digital economies and digital infrastructure and promote companies that are digitizing processes or services, encouraging companies to invest in the consumer space. For us, different pieces have come together to bring digitization in this consumer space to another level. We are quite happy to be in this region with a large number of tech-savvy digital users and feel that the opportunities are limitless.

What are the evident demands for a digital-savvy customer? How will this be addressed by Beyond ONE’s diverse and innovative team?

The consumers and customers of our telco or digital services want different things. Traditionally, telcos might have been servicing them through B2C models, but at the end of the day, a lot of the network is speaking to them through MTC models; and the network messages are prevalent to the consumers. The OTTs have done a great job of bringing digital services to them but the bridge between the telco and the digital aggregation of services has not been properly addressed in the space.

As a digital services provider, at Beyond ONE, we believe that our true essence is coming from B2C2C offerings. Our focus revolves around constructing businesses that not only cater to communities but also empower communities to serve customers. This interconnected relationship allows customers to form attachments to communities that we, in turn, strive to serve effectively. That is how we would like to approach the customers that we serve within this region.

Communities built around shared interests are key elements. For example, we will look at car enthusiasts and include them in a community and give them choices for connectivity, content or whatever is relevant to them. This may include offerings from a FinTech, education or entertainment perspective, bringing them partnerships that are directly pertinent to their interests as car enthusiasts.

We plan to replicate these communities across all our endeavors, offering digital services that provide choices of applications tailored to the specific interests of each community. This approach aims to hyper-personalize the digital services we provide, ensuring they resonate with the unique preferences and needs of each community.

From a leaders’ perspective, how will digital services evolve in the upcoming years?

In the years to come, I don't think it's going get any easier. The demands of the customers are going to be higher and higher. And this is where we need to adopt the latest of technologies, such as AI and hyper-personalization. This will truly be the key differentiator for customers or consumers to make a choice regarding their potential digital services provider.

So, the customers are going to want more. They are going to want us to learn more about them and know them better. They're going to have less and less patience when going out in a world where there are a lot of choices. The key to this is hyper-personalization and understanding them by bringing AI into everything we do to deliver the best digital service to them.

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