|Partner with the leaders
|Senior Vice President & Head Global Voice Solutions; India
Christopher Almeida is the Senior Vice President & Head of Global Voice Solutions, India, for Tata Communications, which is part of the Tata Group; he is currently responsible for the SAARC region voice business. Previously Mr Almeida was the Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Bharti Cellular Ltd. In this position he was responsible for the launch of Airtel Services in Mumbai city. Mr Almeida has over 23 years of marketing and sales experience and held senior level positions at Business Standard Ltd, Hutchison Max Telecom Ltd, Modi GBC Ltd and Network India Ltd. Mr Almeida holds a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Xavier’s College, University of Bombay and received his MBA in Marketing from S.P. Jain Institute of Management.
Local operators around the world are facing economic and competitive pressures that reduce ARPUs, cut profitability and limit investment in infrastructure and services. Global carriers face similar pressures, but are generally better equipped to weather the storm. When local operators partner with leading global carriers they benefit from the experience in IP and interconnections and the cost-effective infrastructure and services the global carriers offer. Helping local carriers is good business for the global carriers – it is a win-win business.
Within the telecommunications industry, even operators in growth powerhouses such as China and India are experiencing pressures on profitability due to the impact of the economic downturn, which is reducing ARPU, squeezing investments and creating strain on EBIDTAs. Finding growth may be more difficult worldwide in the immediate term, and there is a need for carriers, in India and the world, to leverage the infrastructure, services and expertise of established global leaders. Now more than ever the necessity for synergistic partnerships is clear, and players that can straddle the gaps and operate on a truly global scale will be in a better position to succeed. Market opportunities In an interconnected world economy where markets everywhere rise and fall in sync, the innovative and dynamic models from key emerging markets are playing a prominent role on the world business stage. In discussing the importance of a ‘Chindia’ strategy for IT investments, Gartner predicts that, within this year, China will be developing intellectual property at a rate comparable to that of current leading market innovators and also points to the range of recognized Indian IT service firms that currently compete on a global scale. Indian Telecom has been on a consistent wave of growth with monthly additions of almost 10 million customers and annual revenues of US$31 billion and a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 25 per cent between 2003 and 2008. Analysts predict India’s market revenues will reach as high as US$50 billion by 2010. Indian tele-density currently stands at only 33 per cent and holds immense potential for growth and innovation. The challenge lies in catering to this growth at optimal cost and economical prices as carriers penetrate down the SEC segments and enter the rural markets. Growth of revenue through innovation is the name of the game. Value-added services (VAS) offer new and unexplored ARPU growth opportunities. In this area, we have already seen successful synergistic partnership between telecom operators, content providers, and technology enablers. VAS, which contribute ten to 14 per cent of the total revenue of mobile service providers, are expected to reach 30 per cent of mobile service provider total revenue in the next five to seven years collaborative partnerships between various stake holders in the value chain to develop more innovative applications will help make it happen. The impact of telecom services on various socio-economic segments is profound and has resulted in shifting consumption patterns, not only with regard to IT and Telecom, but for other industries as well. Although the socio-economic level A and B customers now demand high-end applications and service levels, the vast majority of consumers are demanding price-competitive offerings. Partnering for growth As carriers in India and emerging markets develop strategies to serve their customers, finding the right partnerships remains a crucial success factor. Carriers are looking for cost-competitive and innovative solutions to create differentiation, as well as the right partner to provide managed infrastructure services that allow operators to focus on their core competence areas. There is a great need to find knowledgeable partners to help optimise costs, to support strategies to transform the existing business and promote emerging business streams. The market is evolving towards a more matured managed outsourcing model where a variety of partners take part in the realisation of common growth goals. For retail carriers, the prime objectives continue to be acquiring and retaining customers, expanding service reach, introducing new value-added products and building usage and revenue. For these carriers, a ‘one stop shop’ integrated partner providing services, ranging from in-country and international voice transit, interconnect and bandwidth products or mobility, signalling and roaming solutions, is an important step towards increasing business efficiency and focus. Indian carriers in particular have long realized the importance of partnering and sharing various facilities and infrastructure. The industry has clearly recognized ‘co-opetition’ or co-operative competition as a key strategy for sourcing and expanding infrastructure at optimal cost. Sharing of in-country network elements like cell sites, bandwidth, co-located PoPs (points of presence) and data centres has been prevalent, resulting in economies of scale. With the entry of new players in the Indian telecom segment this ‘co-opetition’ model will gain momentum and form the basis for profitable and sustained business growth. As consumers increasingly demand global connectivity and mobility solutions, retail carriers need to partner with global leaders who can offer a wide array of capabilities. Carriers will look to share and capitalize on these capabilities while focusing on their core growth objectives. Some of the attributes carriers should look for include: Global network assets One of the key advantages a global voice leader can bring to the table is a presence that is truly global, and one that is actively expanding through investments in new infrastructure. Look for a partner who owns and operates globe-spanning network infrastructure – for voice and data – with PoPs in the range of emerging and established business centres. High traffic volumes In a highly competitive market, the leading providers are best positioned to negotiate rates and invest in routing intelligence to deliver the optimal mix of price and quality. Delivering high call quality within a competitive cost structure has a direct influence on customer relationships and retention. Significant customer base A provider with the widest base of customer relationships has an advantage in sourcing high-quality and cost-competitive terminations with A through Z route sourcing. A market leader in the international arena will offer the best selection from a single supplier to simplify vendor management and overhead without compromising quality or cost basis. Global solution coverage As international business connections and international travel increase, customers around the world increasingly seek a global orientation from their carriers, whether for calling cards, pre-paid or post-paid roaming. To reach beyond home regions, providers need partners that can ensure a high-quality experience, no matter where their customers travel. In-region expertise Emerging market players will want to work with partners that can bring local market presence and assets to the table. The right solution provider can bridge time zone and language barriers, reducing the complexity and overhead of global integration projects. Tailored product offerings Along with a global perspective, a truly comprehensive partnership will also allow carriers to leverage solutions tailored to meet unique market challenges and opportunities. Whether it is rolling out services that leverage convergence, or enabling low-value, cross-border remittances, seek out partners that can deliver unique solutions that positively differentiate the customer experience. Positioning for the future Next-generation, all-IP networks offer new opportunities to carriers to drive revenue growth. While timeframes for IP rollouts differ drastically across markets based on service needs, market conditions and regulatory concerns, forward-looking providers in all markets are developing IP strategies and roadmaps. The right partner can make all the difference in managing a successful IP transition. A provider with a strong track record in VoIP services and hybrid networks can help carriers anticipate and overcome any potential roadblocks in the transition and interconnection process. Carriers should reach out to partners with experience in solving interoperability challenges stemming from disparate equipment or codecs used across networks. Additionally, service providers should look for carriers who are actively involved in major industry forums, such as the i3 Forum and the IPIA, where participants drive the transformation to an IP world. The current environment offers important opportunities for Indian operators. The Indian market continues to offer huge potential for substantial growth within the home market footprints, so Indian carriers need to continue to focus on their core business objectives to achieve growth. They need to foster partnerships with global companies and leverage the strengths they bring including their mix of capabilities spanning both local and global domain knowledge. This partnership when backed with global customer relationships and expertise, network reach, scale of operations and innovative products like voice transit solutions, mobile roaming solutions and IP solutions, will only strengthen the Indian carriers to meet their growth objectives. This has the potential to translate truly ‘more than outsourcing’ and become a win-win synergistic partnership.