THE LONG GAME

Oman 2020 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS

Diversification and focus are two main strategies being utilized by companies in Oman's ICT sector.

It is no secret that technology is already bringing major changes to the way we do business, the way we work, and the way we live. But for technology to bring all the good it promises us, firms must be able to read, understand, and react to the ICT services landscape as it transforms. Should tech companies be focusing on providing specialized services or diversify to attract all kinds of clients? That is the question ICT firms in Oman are currently trying to answer, along with how to carry out diversification.
With three broadband operators currently operating in the market (Omantel, Ooredoo, and Vodafone as of April 2020), Oman's broadband market is heavily penetrated. As such, operators are expected to invest in 5G, IoT, and Big Data to grow. For Omantel, 5G is the answer not only to future profit but also to future growth in infrastructure. A 51% government-owned company, Omantel is concentrating on 5G in order to diversify the market through bringing in new services to help businesses and individuals take advantage of 5G's capabilities. But 5G will rely on partnerships, rather than going solo. As CEO Talal Al Mamari told TBY, “This new 5G-based ecosystem will have to be developed around partnerships with both large-scale providers and other small firms, especially those which are launched by young entrepreneurs, to enable them to enter the space and continue creating application and innovative solutions, which are closely associated with specific communities and societies." It comes as no surprise, then, that Omantel recently signed a contract with Ericsson to have Ericsson provide managed end-to-end service operations, including its new 5G network. According to Ericsson Oman's Country Manager, Abdullah Al Balushi, Ericsson is working on “evolving" its own 4G/LTE infrastructure so operators will not need to invest in a fully new 5G infrastructure. With 5G, “service providers will play a more important role as they develop their capabilities; furthermore, they have the platform in place to deal with commercial and enterprise customers," Al Balushi said in his TBY interview.
Meanwhile, Oman Data Park (ODP) is going for a more diversified route. In his TBY interview, Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of ODP, explained how the company's new Professional Services as a Service (PSaaS) will further diversify its current offerings, as PSaaS aims to guide customers through all facets of the digitalization process. In general, the ODP serves as a one-stop shop for all ICT needs, dealing with digital transformation, cybersecurity, and software, among others ICT-related issues. With its business lines, it hopes to help other sectors turn to outsourcing to help not only drive profits for companies, but also increase ICT infrastructure in all sectors. But for Oman, key ICT infrastructure will not solely driven by the private sector.
Like in most countries, the government in Oman plays a role in the development of ICT services through infrastructure investment. With technologies such as 5G and other tools of the fourth industrial revolution, infrastructure is especially vital. As such, the current government has invested in ICT infrastructure to create an enabling environment to spread ICT usage and help businesses in the sector, with the establishment of the Ministry of Technology and Communications (MTC) and its E.oman strategy. With E.oman, it specifically wants to provide job opportunities for nationals in IT sector and improve the quality of government services. Digital services currently in place include a government cloud, eTendering platform, government network, and national digital certification center

Furthermore, Oman's Sas Program aims to set up a national technology business entrepreneurship platform to enable the growth of IT and ICT SMEs in Oman through connecting governmental and non-governmental actors. Services offered include assessment, coaching, accountancy, mentoring, access to finance, and business facilities; in other words, a perfect sandbox for those smaller businesses looking to take advantage of Oman's growing ICT infrastructure. If Oman's ICT sector is to grow in depth and breadth, it will need plenty of smaller businesses to keep the current momentum going well into the future.