The telecom industry is continually evolving, and it is crucial for businesses and employees to adapt to the changing landscape to remain relevant and competitive.
More than 70% of the CEOs in Kuwait believe that a global recession will have a mild impact on their business. What are your views? How confident are you about the growth opportunities at stc?
As a digital pioneer and telecom leader, stc has strongly maintained its growth trajectory by seizing lucrative opportunities supported by its cost optimization program that the Company has been following since 2019.
These opportunities have come in the form of strategic acquisitions, early investments in key attributes that will sustainably support the operational side of the business, as well as the introduction of new-to-market concepts. Amid the current challenging economic conditions, stc has been taking proactive measures to solidify its corporate strategy and business model.
By prioritizing a flexible operating model that can quickly adapt to market fluctuations, stc is well-equipped to weather any potential crisis and maintain sustainable growth over the long term.
Driven by our corporate strategy, which aims to expand our presence in the B2B sector, we acquired QualityNet in 2019 and, more recently, E-Portal Holding Company and its subsidiaries to offer a wider range of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions. These strategic acquisitions have assisted us in diversifying our revenue streams beyond traditional telecom services.
Furthermore, the strong results of our top-line over the past several years demonstrate our keenness to exceed customers’ expectations and create value for our shareholders. Through our redefined and refined business model, we have successfully established a strong footprint on a global scale as an enabler of digital transformation, further reinforcing our position as a leader in the local and international telecom markets.
In terms of growth opportunities, we are focusing on the ICT field, which comes as a core aspect of our current corporate strategy. Having said that, we are positioning stc as the market leader in integrated connectivity and advanced Information Technology (IT) services.
This cuts across critical areas such as cloud and data centers, cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT), managed networks, and system integration. We provide critical ICT services to Kuwait’s leading entities within the private and public sectors. On the consumer front, we continue to focus on fully digitizing the customer journey across our various channels and touchpoints. Furthermore, we are actively building and bundling digital adjacencies through our core portfolio to offer our customers a comprehensive suite of digital solutions.
Our survey finds that disruptive technologies have emerged as the biggest risk to organizational growth in 2022. What is your take on this?
The emergence of disruptive technologies has had a transformative effect on various industries, with the onset of the pandemic further accelerating the global adoption of digital transformation and digitization strategies.
In recent years, we have witnessed the proliferation of several groundbreaking technologies that have had a profound impact on our industry. Technologies such as eSIM, digital payment, IoT, low-orbit satellite broadband, and many others have played key roles in the evolution of our industry.
Disruption is an inevitable occurrence that is bound to happen and, while it cannot be avoided, organizations can take proactive steps to anticipate and mitigate its impact. Corporations that tried to resist innovative disruptions have suffered the harsh consequences of that resistance.
Our approach at stc is to embrace innovation and foster a culture of adaptability that can navigate disruptive forces and even turn them into opportunities for growth and transformation. The Company is also making substantial investments toward the digital upskilling its workforce and forging strategic partnerships with digital natives.
These initiatives are aimed at enabling us to create innovative digital products and integrate them with our existing services. In 2022, stc managed to record its highest revenue since inception. This was attributed to several factors, one of which included our early investment in building a strong and sustainable network infrastructure that could seamlessly support the technology, solutions, and innovative products that we aimed to introduce and deliver to our growing customer base.
Our growth was also supported by the integrated technical solutions provided by our ICT, ISP and business solutions subsidiaries, especially following the recent excessive demand on integrated business solutions.
These developments, among others, were part of a strategic plan we had set out looking ahead at the different shifts and trends that may impact our market in the long run. Additionally, we actively explore innovative ways to incorporate emerging technologies and new-to-market concepts into our overarching technology strategy.
The chatbots and other AI-enabled technologies (including the stc Bot) have reduced human interactions. However, they have also made a lot of roles redundant. What do you think the future workforce looks like in the telecom industry?
We are currently living in a rapidly evolving digital era, which is often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. This pivotal shift in history is characterized by the integrations of technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, robotics, blockchain, cloud computing, among other technologies that will indefinitely have a significant impact on various industries and sectors across the globe.
A new era of transformation has begun where corporates and governments are more focused than ever on adopting sophisticated technologies and new business strategies that will maintain their competitive positions.
In the telecom sector, technology has played a significant role in transforming the industry and, at certain times, replacing human jobs. Many routine tasks such as customer service, billing and network maintenance can now be done with minimal human intervention.
This has led to the reduction of human jobs in these areas. At the same time, the introduction of new technologies has also created new job opportunities in areas such as software development, data analytics and cybersecurity, requiring new skills and expertise.
The telecom industry is continually evolving, and it is crucial for businesses and employees to adapt to the changing landscape to remain relevant and competitive. Overall, while technology has led to job losses in some areas of the telecom sector, it has also created new jobs and opportunities, making it a double-edged sword.
An example of this shift would be how introducing the stc bot assisted us in improving our customer service by making our response time faster, more precise and cost-efficient. AI-enabled technologies will help automate processes and tasks that have, unfortunately, made some roles redundant. However, the implementation of these technologies will lead to increased productivity and higher operational capacities.
The benefits of the artificial intelligence (AI) employed in the IoT surpass those of data share and collection to affect the bottom line of telecom operators by increasing corporate efficiency, raising the level of automation and helping those companies deliver better customer service.
The potential for IoT technology and AI-based solutions to be used in nearly all daily operations and decrease companies’ operational costs, has contributed to the global trend toward the utilization of these services.
All the CEOs we interviewed agreed that cyber and information technology is a strategic function of their organization and provides a potent competitive edge. Do you agree with this statement? How is stc keeping cyber at the heart of its operations?
Cyber and information technology have become strategic functions of organizations due to their critical role in enabling businesses to operate efficiently, securely and effectively in the digital age.
In today‘s business environment, technology is central to the way organizations operate and compete. Information technology supports critical business functions such as communication, data management and analysis, and provides a platform for innovation and digital transformation.
Effective cybersecurity measures provide the means to protect organizations from potential cyber threats, such as data breaches and cyber-attacks, which can cause significant damage to reputation, finances and operations. Implementing effective IT and cybersecurity provides a potent competitive edge by enabling organizations to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
For example, businesses that use data analytics to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences can create personalized customer experiences, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Organizations that implement innovative technologies, such as cloud computing and automation, can improve their operational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve their time-to-market for products and services.
The demand for cybersecurity is growing globally and in Kuwait at a CAGR of 5.7%. Cybersecurity is a fundamental element of our ICT strategy, and our recent acquisition of E-portal has enabled us to broaden our range of cyber products and gain a competitive advantage in the market. We are currently involved in several ongoing cybersecurity projects with notable clients in the Kuwaiti market.
One of stc‘s sustainability goals (advancing digital opportunities) helps businesses reduce their environmental impacts through digitization opportunities. Can you speak about this initiative and give us a few examples of how stc uses digitization as a tool to drive sustainability?
Digitization has the potential to drive sustainability by enabling organizations to reduce their environmental impact and operate in more sustainable ways. The technologies available today can highly assist in bridging the gap between the immediate requirement for energy independence and long-term realization of just green transition.
With the increasing awareness about the importance of sustainability, organizations are adopting digital technologies to reduce their carbon footprint, energy consumption and waste production. Digitization also enables remote work, reducing employee commuting and office energy consumption.
Additionally, digital technologies can help optimize energy use in buildings, track and trace products and materials throughout their lifecycle, and monitor supply chains for sustainability risks and opportunities. With digitization, organizations can track their carbon footprint and identify areas where they can reduce emissions.
Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, KIB
Raed Jawad Bukhamseen, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, KIB
Group Chief Financial Officer, Fouad Alghanim Group
Group Chief Financial Officer, Fouad Alghanim Group
Chief Executive Officer, Markaz
Chief Executive Officer, Markaz