Industry Thought Leadership

Digital Transformation and the Telecoms Sector: The Time to Embrace the Future is Now

February, 2019
Zaid Ibrahim
Marketing Director


Over the past decade, the modern digital revolution has redefined many of the conventions that governed the way we do business, ushering in an era of unbridled progress that is impacting all critical business sectors, including education, health, government and everything in between. But it is perhaps the telecoms sector that is presenting the most remarkable case study for this transformation, as not only is it the backbone of our economies, but also the sector in which the simplest changes can seem considerably disruptive.

It would be an understatement to say that the global telecoms sector is experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift. Today, whether you are a start-up operating from a dorm room or a multi-billion dollar corporation, it stands truer than ever that you either go digital, or go home. And yet, despite the virtually limitless potential offered by this open future, many businesses remain slow to embrace the modern digital revolution. While any change bears its inherent risks, the past decade has demonstrated that for operators to stand still is perhaps the riskiest approach in this day and age.

For Umniah, digital transformation has and continues to be the key driver of its future vision, driven by the ever-changing usage trends among its key target demographics. As customers embrace core technologies and experiences such as media streaming, cloud storage, and online collaboration, all the while expecting more streamlined mobile payment experiences, it became clear that a shift in the way these services are made available was necessary to continue providing a well-rounded and streamlined experience. As a result, Umniah set out to reinvent many of its core services, paving the way for the Jordanian telecoms sector to evolve beyond its conventional business model.

The strategy developed by Umniah focused on adopting digital transformation commercially across all levels and functions of the company. This necessitated reinventing many of the core databases and data management tools used by various departments, including key departments such as customer service and product development. The strategy included a number of key transformative goals: revamping the company’s primary digital platforms; moving the customer service process to entirely digital platforms; launching a mobile payment solution that not only targeted the average consumer but also reached unbanked customers in rural areas; and making digital transformation a core component of company structure, setups, functions and culture.

The implementation of the strategy took place over several stages. Firstly, the customer service process at Umniah was revamped to embrace a digital-focused approach, with complaint filing and tracking being entirely moved into a digital database accessed through the web and the mobile app. The app itself became Umniah’s flagship product for customer affairs, effectively serving as a one-stop-shop for subscription management. This necessitated offering a slew of features that are integral to the customer experience. In addition to basic account management services, such as the addition or removal of services, prepaid credit top-ups, and bill payments, the app has a set of exclusive features that are unrivaled in the industry. For example, Umniah has completely digitized the customer support process, allowing customers to create and follow-up on support tickets directly through the app. This includes live customer service chat, calling customer support, or even scheduling appointments for in-store support.

Umniah followed this by launching Mahfazti, a mobile payment solution that allows customers to make internal and external transfer of funds, perform cash withdrawals, settle bills, make purchases from various third-party vendors, make NFC transactions, in addition to a slew of other benefits that redefined the way customers make daily transactions. This was followed by the introduction of umnicoin, which serves as a fully digitized loyalty program with no physical membership cards or vouchers in sight. With umnicoin, customers benefitted from on-the-spot redemption and request of the desired service from the customer side or even donate to charitable associations, all completed through a smooth customer experience and one redemption step at the merchants’ shops or via the merchant’s mobile application. Umniah also offered customers the ability to transfer prepaid balance to each other directly through the app — a service that for other operators still relies on non-intuitive code-based processes.

This digital focus also permeated the core culture of the company. In addition to investing in frequent awareness and capacity building sessions on the importance of digital transformation, Umniah’s social responsibility efforts also took on a digital-centric approach. For instance, following Umniah’s implementation of the largest national connectivity project which was a tender for the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Special Communication Commission of the Armed Forces - Arab Army to deploy a nationwide network that would connect the ministry’s various constituencies in an effort to establish a more future-proof foundation for public education, Umniah took the initiative to providing free safe internet connectivity to 2769 schools benefiting more than 1.3 million students, 100,000 teachers and administrators in the Ministry of Education.

Meanwhile, Umniah’s business incubator — The Tank — has since become a major reference point for startups and entrepreneurs to learn the foundational technologies driving digital transformation, such as IoT, cloud computing, and others.

The result — based on extensive surveys and analyses of trends — is that the entire customer experience, as well as the brand image of the company, have been redefined. With users becoming accustomed to the operator-as-a-service business model, it became increasingly more feasible to form a direct connection to the customer, thereby overcoming one of the most notable difficulties faced by operators around the globe. More importantly, these digital services became viable marketing tools through which the essence of the Umniah brand can be communicated and shared.

Umniah’s experience quite simply reveals the inherent beauty of the digital market, which is rooted in its reliance on progressive growth. In an industry driven by transformation, new ideas can quickly evolve to become long-term successes. More importantly, it shows that change, while difficult and inherently risky, is simply inevitable in today’s climate, and perhaps the soundest investment an operator can make in its own future.