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Ringing in the changes [Gulf, The (Bahrain)]
[January 02, 2013]

Ringing in the changes [Gulf, The (Bahrain)]

(Gulf, The (Bahrain) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) It is about ten months since VIVA Bahrain, the local subsidiary of Saudi Telecom Company (STC), took the strategic step of launching its enterprise business sector to the Bahrain market. This followed what by all accounts has been a highly successful settling in period for the brand since its market entry in 2010 as the kingdom's third consumer mobile services operator.From a purely capabilities perspective, the move into the enterprise services market made sense for VIVA Bahrain. As the sole operator in Saudi Arabia its parent STC has forged a solid reputation for meeting the latest corporate telecoms needs in the region's largest - and one of its fastest-growing - economies. Replicating a successful business model in the smaller but arguably more competitive and saturated Bahrain market therefore seemed like a natural evolution for VIVA. On the consumer side of the business it has already seized a significant market share in competition with former monopoly Batelco [Bahrain Telecommunications Company] and Zain, the second licensee. Combining a high visibility marketing approach with what it says are industry-leading products, services and network, VIVA has drawn praise from the regulator, recognition from industry peers and satisfaction from end-users, the ultimate acid test.Translating consumer market success into the enterprise market is a whole new challenge, admits Nezar Banabeela, VIVA's chief of Wholesale and Enterprise. "But as a way to generate new revenue and bring innovative new products to the business sector it is a rewarding route to take. It just needs a change of mindset on the part of the operator or service provider," he tells The Gulf."Enterprise customers have different needs to consumers - we understand that service and relationships are key to our success. We want to serve customers in the best way and so VIVA created a dedicated Account Management team. We combine this with thought leadership, innovation and competitive pricing options to ensure all Enterprise customers benefit," he says.Banabeela emphasises the value of relationship building. "We work with customers to realise long-term benefits, as this is important for sustainable, long-term business growth," he notes. Service level agreements with enterprise customers are also another important dimension, he adds. "We offer from one to three years, which provides peace of mind, particularly to those customers who require more complex solutions."Enterprise customers need to be confident with the solution and ensure quality is not compromised. We work with them to get the correct blend to meet their specific needs," he continues.VIVA Bahrain's enterprise solutions target the full-spectrum of public and private sector organisations – from government departments to financial institutions, and utilities to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from which big things are expected from the government as long-term economic growth drivers."We continue to build our customer base through innovation and competitive offerings. We have a strong customer base," Banabeela says. He does not offer a figure for VIVA's current enterprise services market share, but says it is "more or less in-line with the international benchmark."While VIVA may claim to have made healthy inroads into the market in the last nine months, the company has quickly discovered that there is no 'one-solution-fits-all' when it comes to enterprise telecoms. Banabeela says some businesses, like SMEs, are particularly price sensitive, while some larger organisations are willing and able to invest more heavily in new telecoms and IT infrastructure for better, more sophisticated services that provide enhanced end-user benefits. "Unlike SMEs, larger and/or more sophisticated customers can perhaps justify investing in high-end premium services which they then extend to end-users," he says. In addition to mobility services SMEs are increasingly looking to leverage the power – and relatively low set up and running costs - of cloud computing to manage their data and grow their businesses, he adds.VIVA's enterprise solutions, which currently cover data, dedicated Internet and mobile services compatible with smartphones such as iPhone and Blackberry, and extend to advanced and dedicated connectivity solutions, have come far in a relatively short time. But in an industry known for the rapid pace of technological change, as well as increasing demand from businesses to manage data and keep it secure, keeping up to speed with trends is critical, says Banabeela. He claims VIVA has helped revolutionise the provision of Internet services in the kingdom and continues to innovate. He points out that increasingly sophisticated enterprise ICT [information communication technology] solutions and managed solutions are some of the fastest-growing areas at present. These range from, for example, fleet management and vehicle tracking solutions for companies to the provision of EPOS machines."On the mobility side, today many companies seek vehicle tracking monitoring systems. They want to manage their fleet and staff more efficiently to maximise operational benefit. For connectivity, EPOS machines previously needed an ADSL connection or dedicated connectivity – today, you just insert the mobility data SIM and we forward all transactions to our business customer. Previously it was costing business customers a lot just for the connectivity between their branches and headquarters for such transactions. Now it is much cheaper, more secure and provides a much better retail experience."Banabeela says the trend for more sophisticated ICT solutions is driven less by higher budgetary allocations and more to what extent an operator like VIVA can save them money."In today's environment no one will spend money unless they can see real value. Business customers focus on 'how much will the solution contribute to save their organisation money and improve efficiency ' The onus is on the service provider to develop the right product, and to do that they must understand the customer's business requirements in detail," he says. The prognosis for VIVA in Bahrain's enterprise community looks positive, even if competition looks strong and the immediate economic outlook appears uncertain. Banabeela looks forward with keen anticipation for the green light from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority [TRA] for operators to launch LTE [Long Term Evolution] services in the kingdom, and hopes this will happen in 2013. In the meantime, VIVA says it will continue to focus on engaging with business sector clients, provide the latest portfolio of enterprise products and solutions, and make continuous investment in its network infrastructure and customer experience initiatives.

(c) 2012 Al Hilal Publishing & Marketing Group Provided by an company

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