As the fourth industrial revolution prevails, 5G is edging closer to becoming a reality in the UAE. From showcasing 5G tech to its customers, to leveraging the benefits of emerging tech, du has taken considerable measures towards enabling the society of the UAE to integrate into the future 5G ecosystem.

Telecom Review sat down with Marwan Bin Dalmook, du’s Senior Vice president of ICT Commercial & Business Development, to discuss the Telco’s latest offerings and how they have been dealing with the challenges that have emerged as we edge closer to the 5G rollout.

It’s become clear that du has been expanding its presence throughout the UAE with its retail stores. What are the objectives of this expansion strategy?

We place a great emphasis on being customer-centric through all of our touchpoints – both physical and digital. With the rollout of new stores across the UAE, we are looking to expand our physical presence to ensure that more of our customers have access to personalized services and solutions, no matter where they are. For example, we recently opened several new stores in Al Ain to align with our goals of increasing foot traffic through stores in high-density locations. These stores set the benchmark for seamless customer experiences and play an important role in bringing our products and services closer to our consumer bases.

Building on this, we have transformed how we engage with customers in online spaces. The recently launched du app has been developed in alignment with the shifting needs and global trends of consumers. du has also revolutionised business-customer interactions and engagement with the launch of the WhatsApp chatbot. By expanding our customer touchpoints to the places where customers are most active, we are able to provide breakthrough innovations that empower their everyday lives in newfound ways.

du has recently invited UAE residents to visit their flagship stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to experience 5G technology first-hand and learn about the benefits. What are some of du’s key achievements with regards to making 5G a reality? And does this mean that the commercial launch and future of 5G technology are closer to reality than ever before?

5G networks promise a new era for connectivity, beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. While increased speeds and lower latency will improve connectivity, the real dividend for end users will be the enhanced connected experience. As we near commercial 5G deployment, we believe this next generation technology will empower consumers’ lifestyles to achieve new possibilities and an array of opportunities that they previously could not.

This connected vision extends to our enterprise and government customers. As these customers seek innovations to power their digital transformation journeys, du will be able to leverage its superior 5G network and expertise to provide solutions that drive their growth in the business ecosystems and smart city landscapes of the future. We are currently undergoing an advanced level of preparation to ensure our network is 5G ready across the UAE, and we are on track to install 700 5G base stations by the end of 2019.

How can operators develop an integrated business system based on advanced technologies and can take advantage of various technologies starting with "Blockchain" to “Internet of things”? Where is du from achieving this and where did they reach?

A large component of du’s enterprise and ICT business is growing to meet the needs of industries as the fourth industrial revolution takes hold. What this means is that we are implementing new use cases through examples such as our Blockchain Platform as a Service (BPaaS) and IoT developments, while also building our partner ecosystem to ensure end users can embrace next-generation technologies to drive their future progress.

We expect the potential of AI, automation, and machine learning innovations to also grow as our stack of telco innovations becomes more advanced. We believe that by enabling customers to harness these technologies in their operations, they can unlock a world of benefits such as increased efficiencies, productivity, and reduced costs.

What are the most important challenges that operators and telecommunications companies are currently facing, especially after the "data tsunami" we are currently witnessing in this digital age?

The biggest challenge for our industry is to find innovative ways to intelligently improve the customer experience aspect of all our operations. In the new era, digital transformation can’t be ignored, which is why we are investing in our network, our people and our capabilities to deliver an enriched connected experience for all customers across the UAE.

With the proliferation of rich datasets, it is also essential for operators to ensure that innovations are robust and secure – even more so with the rise of critical business challenges like cybersecurity threats in the digital era. Our business is trust, which is why we constantly endeavour to deliver complete, trustworthy solutions that excel customers’ needs.

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