NET PROFIT

Oman 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Talal Said Marhoon Al Mamari, CEO of Omantel, on new investments and the firm's strategy.

 Talal Said Marhoon Al Mamari
BIOGRAPHY
Talal Said Marhoon Al Mamari has been the CEO of Omantel since June 2014. He has 22 years of experience in telecoms sector working for Omantel. Prior to his appointment as CEO, he held several leadership positions including his last stint as CFO of Omantel. He has had played an instrumental role in different initiatives and projects carried out by the company, including the IPO in 2005, the restructuring of Omantel by bringing the mobile and fixed operations together, and later the full legal merger of Oman Mobile with Omantel. He sits on the boards of several companies and investment funds including Worldcall Telecom, Infoline, the United Securities Investment Fund, and Al Roya Fund (Al Khair Investment Fund compatible with sharia). He holds a degree in Business Administration from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Omantel had an excellent year in 2014, surpassing estimates in various areas. What role has management played in these successes?

From a financial perspective, 2014 was indeed successful. Domestic revenue grew by around 4%, with net profit growing by a margin of 2.6%, which is the highest growth rate in the last five years. What has driven this for Omantel is the growth we have seen in mobile broadband and fixed broadband. These have grown in double digits, about 30% for both. Our corporate business segment has also seen strong growth, with the enterprise increasing by approximately 7% YoY. These are the main drivers. We have been able to achieve these successes through an integrated operating model that we have applied since 2009, offering our services to the three main segments on the market: consumers, corporate, and wholesale. Apart from that, we have also invested in three main areas of infrastructure.

What do you expect these new investments to bring to Omantel?

We looked at the challenges as well as the opportunities. A quick analysis of the telecoms market shows that we will continue to see traditional competition. There is also a new kind of competition, the so-called over the top (OTT) players, which includes the likes of Google, Facebook, and Viber. OTT players use the infrastructure of a telecoms operators without playing by the same rules. This is an interesting challenge for us, because it increases demand for both mobile broadband and fixed broadband services, and at the same time puts a lot of pressure on our infrastructure demanding additional investments. In order to deal with these changing conditions, we developed our new strategy: Omantel 3.0. The company has grown through three major transformations in the last 15 years. The first major transformation involved our IPO and listing on the Muscat Stock Exchange, which transformed us from a public company to a private entity. The second major transformation was in 2009, with the creation of an integrated operating model for the three main customer segments, consumer, corporate, and wholesale. The third major transformation, Omantel 3.0, will take us beyond connectivity.

How do you plan to organize this new strategy?

Our strategy is based on four pillars. The first pillar is the customer, who is at the center of any strategy. With Omantel 3.0, our ambition is to exceed the expectation of our customers. The sophistication we see in the market today requires new approaches and strategies. Mass markets are becoming more specific macro markets, like, for example, expats. Then you have micro segments where, for example, you will divide the expat segment into low-, medium-, and high-income segments. By 2020, the market will evolve to a place where each individual person will become a segment on their own and will require personalized solutions. Big Data will enable us to service the customer in this new “I” segment. The second pillar relates to digital transformation of Oman, and about Omantel playing a leading role in this. Oman's government is committed to e-government and digital solutions to achieve their mission, and we want to bring the latest technologies and solutions to the market in order to enable everyone in Oman to interact digitally, independent of technology or location. The third pillar is that of innovation. With the “I” segment, the digital transformation, and the internet, the companies that will survive will be the ones that can innovate and provide relevant solutions to their customers. The fourth pillar is agility. Agility is required to respond quickly and efficiently to the rapidly changing market conditions and customer requirements. We will focus on investing in our people, streamlining and automating our processes and assure that our infrastructure and operation is efficient and sustainable.