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By Rob Beswick, Managing Director, Virgin Mobile UAE

Setting the stage for dynamic digital transformation, the UAE unveiled its Digital Economy Strategy in April 2022, with a vision to establish the country as a prominent global and regional digital hub. But even before that landmark initiative, the Emirates’ public and private sectors had already actively started adopting digital models, creating a digital culture of innovation, competitiveness, and security and catalyzing better customer experiences for its population.

The seamless integration of technology within conventional business frameworks drives efficiency, cost optimization, and global reach. This “digital transformation” creates a unique operating model and digital tools that then nurture agile operations, allowing companies to react swiftly in order to respond to market trends and drive a culture of addressing customer needs. This dynamic digital operating model enables businesses in the UAE to continually anticipate the evolving needs of the growing population, leading to better products and simpler customer experiences and ultimately driving higher competitiveness within the region and globally.

Crucially, the digital business model can enable market entry, giving small start-up enterprises the opportunity to compete both locally and internationally. This is critical for UAE-based businesses, as a large part of the GDP is driven by emerging entrepreneurs. Moreover, the data-centric nature of digital business models enhances decision-making processes, facilitating well-informed strategies to meet customer demands.

At Virgin Mobile, we embraced the digital operating model at the market entry stage. Our agile product development cycles allow us to swiftly recognize customer requirements, expedite solutions, enhance our service with new features, and promptly bring them to market. Frequently, we initiate the launch of a minimum viable product (or minimum loveable product, as our team calls it), closely analyzing customer usage and feedback before advancing to the next stage of development. Our team conducts A-B testing on multiple user journeys and communications within the app to get a clear picture and digital recommendations to improve the overall user experience. This insight propels us beyond subjective assessments, allowing us to effectively address customer needs and make better products for our customers.

As businesses leverage digital tools to streamline operations and enhance customer experiences, they not only foster their own growth but also contribute to the broader economic landscape. This adaptability leads to a more proactive approach to market fluctuations and reinforces the UAE’s ambition to spearhead a thriving digital economy.

Telecommunication Companies Are at the Forefront of Digital-First Businesses

The telecommunications industry is a prime candidate for the full adoption of digital business models to not only enhance operational efficiency and drive innovation and customer satisfaction, but also to enable diversification of revenue streams in non-traditional areas.

Digital transformation can facilitate quick market entry, the use of data analytics, optimized network performance, and resource utilization. This, in turn, enhances service dependability and customer satisfaction.

Embracing digital models enables telecom companies to transcend the conventional role of connectivity providers, evolving into comprehensive digital service providers. Additionally, streamlined operations, automated customer support, and predictive maintenance become feasible, reducing operational costs and increasing not only efficiencies but also the customer experience.

At Virgin Mobile, our strategies are aligned with the dynamic, ever-evolving expectations of consumers. Leaning on the expertise of our Product and Business Intelligence teams, we continuously gather comprehensive data to derive insights that reveal the precise requirements and preferences of our users. This insightful approach enables us to develop digital products and services that deliver optimal value to customers, seamlessly integrating with their existing lifestyles.

For us, the symbiotic relationship between putting our customers’ needs first and adopting a digital-first approach is imperative, working hand in hand to deliver the most effective solution to them. This means that all digital pathways are designed with the same meticulous attention as a customer journey. When we build products, we consistently challenge ourselves to ask, “Where are the pain points?”, “How can we resolve them?”, “What will elevate the experience and simplify it?” and “How can we make it more intuitive?”

Customers Are the Heart of a Digital-First Telecommunications Company

Digitalization enhances customer experiences by providing personalized services tailored to individual needs. Mobile applications enable seamless management of services, allowing users to customize plans, monitor usage, and troubleshoot in real-time. Given the ever-evolving needs of users in this digital era, it is essential for digital businesses to continually listen to their needs. We use our fully digital mobile service model and operating model for transformative changes that cater to those needs.

For example, within the Virgin Mobile app, we established a Research Lab that encourages proactive customer engagement. We often invite these customers to participate as Beta Testers and give us direct, invaluable “real-time” feedback on new features and products. A notable instance of this occurred when we identified a gap in our communication about the necessity of updating identification documents (ID) within our app. This insight led us to implement a system to notify customers when their IDs were due for renewal so that they could take action well in advance. It’s a small feature, but one that helps simplify the lives of our customers.

Another example is how we improved our Home Internet product. Through the Research Lab, we found that our customers needed different device options from us, so we provided those. Likewise, our annual roaming plan was developed from data sets that informed us that frequent travelers bought multiple roaming packages from us throughout the year. In response, we created a comprehensive plan that, through a single annual activation, ensures hassle-free travel and significant cost savings on every trip.

The Future Is Bright for the UAE’s Digital Ambitions

The population of the UAE is already reaping the broader benefits of the UAE’s digital-first philosophy. Notably, the Emirates’ digital economy, projected to surge from $38 billion to $140 billion by 2031, is a benchmark for the rest of the world to follow.

As a business rooted in digital- and customer-first principles, Virgin Mobile has consistently acknowledged the immense potential within the digital market and remains driven by the UAE’s vision. Innovation and a commitment to meeting customers’ needs are in our DNA. Through the adoption and testing of novel digital technologies, we can continually enhance our products, services, and overall customer experience.

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