The telecom industry will need to be agile and adaptable to meet the changing demands of consumers and businesses in the next five years. For Virgin Mobile UAE, that means investing in the latest technologies and services while keeping in mind customer needs. Learn more in this exclusive Telecom Review interview with Rob Beswick, managing director and CEO of Virgin Mobile United Arab Emirates.
Can you share how the evolving internet needs of a younger, more tech-savvy and hybrid-oriented population in the UAE impact service providers like Virgin Mobile?
A significant part of UAE’s growing population, which is expected to reach 5.8 million by 2040, falls into the digital generations category. These are entrepreneurial, self-motivated digital nomads who have spent their entire lives surrounded by technology. They are accustomed to the presence of several smart devices, and their expectation is to always be connected.
For service providers, this offers an opportunity to push boundaries and provide innovative solutions and services that reflect the lifestyle, and mobility of this independent and hyper-connected population.
At Virgin Mobile, our customers take center stage in all our decisions, and the only goal is to simplify the mobile journey for them. This means providing customers with what they need — the most customizable, digital, personalized mobile services. They should have the freedom to change their mind about the services they need, cancel, and relocate with the option of flexible payment plans and discounts and without any unnecessary penalties.
As the workforce in the UAE gradually moves to a remote or hybrid model thanks to the various initiatives for digital nomads and the rapid digital transformation in the country, there is also a need to provide products and services that can be accessed within a few clicks on a smartphone or laptop. That is where the convenience of a digital app-driven plug-and-play model works perfectly, allowing customers to gain immediate wireless access and unlimited data wherever they are — at home or work. This saves them valuable time and enhances their productivity. The plug-and-play technology solution is also very popular with residents looking for a second internet connection in their existing homes, as it does away with a range extender or Wi-Fi boosters, as well as those with multiple homes wanting an affordable second connection, perhaps to use in a home office or even the garden.
Today’s customers are savvy early adaptors and are always looking to upgrade to the latest technologies. Providing them with solid 5G network connectivity to enhance their productivity and provide them with fast, uninterrupted internet is the need of the hour and something we know our customers are excited about.
What is the key to solidifying Virgin Mobile’s solid reputation as a digital customer-focused mobile brand in the UAE?
It’s always being customer-first that’s key. Our customer is at the heart of everything we do. What sets us apart as a digital service provider is our drive to “make mobile better”. One of the ways in which we keep our finger on the pulse of our discerning customers ever-changing needs is through our Research Lab, which customers can sign up to in our app, where we actively reach out for a conversation on how to make our product better and meet their needs; we use this as a significant driver for updating our products and offerings to meet their expectations.
Customers should be empowered, and we are committed to continually enhancing their experience with seamless digital services, reliability and the fastest internet speeds, data security and privacy. We are also continually investing in innovation that offers today’s digital citizens the most customizable and personalized mobile service. Our teams spend their time assessing how to simplify the complex to make customers lives better.
Our laser focus is also on digitization, allowing for a consistent digital experience for customers across all touchpoints. With our easy-to-use app, quick and efficient on-demand customer service and SIM delivery wherever they are so that they don’t need to visit a store, we ensure that their experience is intuitive and personalized, giving them full control of their accounts and plans.
This is also true for our Home Internet. Customers can sign up, get it delivered, and get connected in 60 minutes all through our app. We also know that customers in the UAE today don’t always want some of the added services, such as TV or fixed lines, so we’ve made it just that: home internet, simple.
How will Virgin Mobile UAE keep up with the demands of the Industry 4.0 era?
It’s no cliché that the future is now, and it cannot be more apparent than by the pace at which we are being driven by transformative technologies.
We have a very advanced, upgraded network infrastructure, including the 5G network, and enhanced coverage and network capacity to support increased data traffic as well as demand for high-speed connectivity that comes with Industry 4.0.
As service providers, we are also constantly reinventing our business models and processes to stay ahead of the curve and use smart disruptive trends, such as big data, analytics, machine learning, robotics and AI, to better understand our customers’ expectations and match them with the right, most effective services. This also helps us optimize the customer experience and identify and fix potential issues before they occur.
The rapidly changing Industry 4.0 landscape requires strong partnerships and collaborations with other stakeholders in the ecosystem. We work with leading telecom partners and hardware and software providers, along with emerging technology players to provide personalized and intuitive services that make our customers’ lives easier.
What is your outlook on the consumer and business demands that will drive the telecom industry’s growth in the next five years?
The telecom industry will need to be agile and adaptable to meet the changing demands of consumers and businesses in the next five years. For us, that means investing in the latest technologies and services, keeping in mind what the customer’s need of the hour is.
These consumer and business trends could include:
- Digital nomads: As more people move to the UAE to work remotely, the telco industry needs to provide services that cater to this ever-mobile demographic.
- 5G technology: We expect this to become the norm in the next few years as it offers the fastest and most reliable connectivity wherever the customer is.
- Direct to consumer: We expect there to be a rise in eSIM-enabled devices, which, coupled with the rise of easy facial recognition as a KYC mechanic, means that there is a huge opportunity to go direct to consumer digitally through the app. This will change distribution across the sector.
- Streaming services: Streaming for video, music, and gaming will only continue to grow in the future, which means that consumers will need stable internet connections almost anywhere. The telco industry will need to ensure sufficient bandwidth and network capacity for this increased demand.
- Internet of Things (IoT): The number of IoT devices is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, with everything from home appliances to heavy machinery being connected to the internet. We must strengthen our connectivity solutions and our digital delivery for IoT devices.
- Enhanced consumer privacy and security knowledge: As consumers rely more on digital services, they are also more conscious of their privacy and security. The industry will need to keep making advances in cybersecurity to maintain consumer trust and address concerns.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning: AI and machine learning are improving network efficiency and customer service. Its early adoption is necessary to stay competitive and meet the demands of our customers.
- Sustainable products and services: Today’s eco-conscious customer prefers doing business with companies that are proactive in addressing sustainability challenges and adapting to changing customer expectations. We expect this sentiment to guide telecom offerings in the coming years as well. Brands will need to be more purpose-driven as they speak to new, conscious-emerging customer segments.
How will Virgin Mobile continue to fulfill its commitment to having a digital service that will shape the future of mobile in the years to come?
As a customer-centric company, our singular focus has always been towards shaping the mobile experience to make our customers’ lives simpler and keep them connected wherever they are. Our purpose is to “make mobile better,” which we see as an evolving, never-ending cycle that pushes us to improve.
This means we will always strive to improve the customer experience; we will continue to invest in cutting-edge and state-of-the-art technology and AI to improve the user experience and provide faster and more reliable services. At the same time, we are constantly upgrading and enhancing access through our user-friendly mobile app, flexible plans, on-demand services, home delivery of SIMs and home internet, and plug-and-play options.
Personalized services are becoming increasingly important to our customers, so we want to leverage machine learning avenues to understand their preferences and behaviors to offer the best services and packages that are not only efficient but cost-effective and dynamic.
Finally, we are committed to fostering innovation by partnering with governments, businesses and organizations that will enable us to provide the best services to our clients and help shape the future of mobile in the years to come.