Future of mobile telephony

Digitisation is a wake-up call for the telecoms industry
Subhra Das, CEO of Jawwy from STC: "Jawwy lets today’s customers have a dialogue with their mobile carrier, customise their user experience, manage their usage in real time, and be a part of a community of users helping each other.”
Subhra Das, CEO of Jawwy from STC: "Jawwy lets today’s customers have a dialogue with their mobile carrier, customise their user experience, manage their usage in real time, and be a part of a community of users helping each other.”
Subhra Das, CEO of Jawwy from STC:"We wanted to reimagine the mobile service experience for the digital generation, and close the experience gap between digital/OTT players and mobile operators.”
Subhra Das, CEO of Jawwy from STC:"We wanted to reimagine the mobile service experience for the digital generation, and close the experience gap between digital/OTT players and mobile operators.”

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Digitisation is a wake-up call for the telecoms industry. Jawwy from STC CEO, Subhra Das speaks to CommsMEA about how Jawwy signals the beginning of an extensive digital transformation for the telcos in the region.

Telcos have been a crucial part in the digital transformation of various sectors including banking, finance and retail. However, when it comes to their own digitisation, the efforts of telcos have been relatively tame. Telcos that do not aggressively go digital will progressively lose the right to sell to their customers, either to more agile operators or from other parts of the value chain, according to Pierre De Mascarel, analyst from Oliver Wyman Middle East. Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is one telco determined to stay ahead of the curve, by initiating a radically new digital journey for its customers through its new brand- Jawwy.

“Many of the elements of a successful digital telco are found in Jawwy, a disruptive new carrier brand developed by STC as part of its broader digital transformation.  Jawwy is one of STC’s approaches to better meet the evolving needs of young, digitally-savvy customers,” says Mascarel. Subhra Das, CEO of Jawwy from STC describes Jawwy as a complete reimagination of the mobile service experience for the digital generation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

An online kingdom

Surging smartphone penetration in Saudi Arabia is propelling internet use across the Kingdom, presenting numerous possibilities. The average Saudi consumer now owns 2.3 connected devices, with 86% of the Kingdom’s consumers online daily, according to Google’s latest Saudi Arabia connected consumer survey. In addition, about 9 out of 10 Saudis own a smartphone, an impressive 26% increase over the last three years, and 86% of Saudis go online at least as often via smartphone as a computer, a whopping 42% increase since 2012.

Furthermore, 89% of Saudis use their smartphones while watching TV, according to the Google survey. Meanwhile, 77% watch videos on their smartphone at least weekly, 69% reported making their last purchase on a smartphone, and 71% said they use their smartphones to search for local businesses. The key takeaway for telcos and businesses in general is that delivering an excellent digital experience can be a major differentiator for brands. Considering the extreme digital savviness of a majority of the customers, STC came up with the concept of Jawwy.

Personalisation redefined

The word ‘Jawwy’ means ‘my way’ in the Arabic language; and aptly, the app has been designed to offer personalised offerings to the millennial generation. Das emphasises on the fact that user experience in the information age features five elements: real time, on-demand, all-online, DIY, and social; or ROADS for short. That has been the guiding principle behind the development of Jawwy.

Customer experience is vital to any business, and telcos are no exception. However, it has been observed that the customer journey with most telecom operators is fractured at several points. And in the wake of the excellent digital experience provided by OTT players like Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, etc, the friction along the telco journey has been further magnified. Das says: “One of the objectives of Jawwy is to make sure that we push the whole customer experience level several notches up to at least the same level as what the OTT players provide.” Jawwy has tried to reimagine the whole experience that spans across discovery, engagement, buying and activation of services, usage, payments and support. The entire customer journey has been translated into a digital format to offer simplicity, convenience and differentiated experience for the millennials.

The app has an in-built e-shop wherein customers can browse, choose and buy their desired devices. Currently, home delivery options are available for nominal payment. Down the lane, there are plan to introduce bullet delivery (within four hours of the order placement) through collaboration with Uber. Alternately, the app also features advanced map features whereby customers can choose a convenient collection outlet and pick their devices from there on the provided date and time.

Once the app is downloaded and the Jawwy sim is in its place, customers are guided by simple tutorials that guide them to design their own mobile plans. Till date, designing of mobile plans has always been a prerogative of operators and the consumers just have to choose from the plans available to them. However, Jawwy starts a new trend wherein customers can design their own mobile plans depending on their usage habits in terms of voice, data and SMS. Designed to prevent bill shocks, the app provides real-time tracking of usage and also allows one to upgrade or downgrade plans as desired using an easy interface.

Since millennials are guided mainly by their friends, Jawwy’s customer care platform features not only social media and chat support, but also introduces a peer-to-peer support system. Das tells CommsMEA that the whole idea is to provide customers a personal mobile service that caters to their needs and preferences.

With a robust analytics platform in place, Jawwy makes sure that personalised, contextual notifications are sent to customers in real-time, hence making sure the uptake of new plans and services is faster and better.

A controlled commercial launch of the app was done on 22 May 2016, followed by the soft launch on 12 June 2016. The app is available on both Android and Apple app stores for free. Several other telcos across the globe are planning to follow the trend set by Jawwy. For the first time in the region, a telco is striving to provide its customers an experience that lives up to the benchmark set by the popular OTT players. Jawwy has been co-created by STC’s team along with ItsOn, an American firm with expertise in providing service platforms to mobile operators.

Das tells CommsMEA that since the launch of the app, feedback has been extremely positive. The foundation of the app development rests on massive ethnographic research conducted across several cities of the Kingdom. Describing the whole concept as a major innovation play, he adds that in terms of numbers, the initial targets have been kept modest; however, the belief is strong that the popularity of the app will be the leading example for telcos around the globe to resort to digitisation of customer experience like never before.

Das believes that the easy delivery options will go a long way in saving costs and time. Moreover, these also ensure that there’s no interruptions in customer service at any point due to any reason. The app has a proactive CEM in place and in the days to come, more and more advanced analytics modules can be integrated easily.

Jawwy- a feature packed experience 

► Build your own plan

► Track and control usage in real time

► Share paln across multiple devices

► Pay for what you use with options to upgrade or downgrade

► Buy devices and services online with easy delivery options

► Online, social and peer-to-peer support

About ItsOn 

Founded in 2008, the company launched its services platform for mobile operators in the U.S. and globally in 2014, and counts MTN, Sprint and Virgin Mobile as its customers apart from STC.

Through its cloud-based software, on-device intelligence and a carrier-managed service creation environment, ItsOn’s technology virtualises and automates key operator business and operational support systems such as billing, charging, rating, policy, activation, marketing and on-device purchases.

Go digital or stay secure?

One might wonder how secure an app like Jawwy is at a time when the cyber world is yet trying to come to terms with the fact that hackers manage to break into the accounts of the big bosses of technology companies. Das tells CommsMEA that since Jawwy carries so many functionalities within itself, security has been taken care of at every step. The team has invested in robust security infrastructure like single sign-in, advanced authentication and it has been made sure that a protective security layer spans the whole structure.

Jawwy from STC has a very lean team of employees. Das tells CommsMEA that the structure is that of a digital start up and the plan is to keep it that way. According to Mascarel from Oliver Wynman : “Future digital telcos will be much leaner. Not just employing well under half of today's headcount, as many manual tasks are either automated or disintermediated, but also employing very different profiles, even professions, under a new talent model. Data and math will become way more important, and IT will shift from a support role to a customer facing function. Many current business processes will disappear or be replaced by real-time substitutes. As a result, current corporate cultures will change profoundly”.

The excitement around Jawwy is definitely high considering that for the first time in the region, a telco has invested in an entirely new unit for delivering a digital experience that is on par with the leading OTT players. Now it would be worth seeing the way millennials in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia take up the app and whether it actually sparks off a new era that sees telcos in a renewed role of digital service providers.

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