16 Mar 2012
Dmitry Kromsky heads the CIS business unit at Russian-based telco VimpelCom. he began his career in telecommunications over 15 years ago, working at Samsung Electronics, Vostok Mobile.b.v. holding and MCT Corp.
He came to VimpelCom in 2002 as the Central region director before being appointed General Director of LLP Kar-Tel (TM Beeline in Kazakhstan) and having his remit extended to look after other acquired companies in the CIS. In 2009 he became Vice President, CIS Business Development, and has headed the CIS business unit of VimpelCom Ltd since 2010.
Here he answers questions from the Com World Series team on his company's strategy in the emerging markets of the CIS and on how to adapt to changes in the telecoms, media & ICT market.
CWS: What is Vimpelcom’s regional strategy in the CIS?
DK: The CIS business unit’s purpose is to grow faster than the market, to increase the market share and demonstrate positive dynamics in subscriber base. Strategic focus of our business is still the development of broadband Internet access, both mobile and fixed.
Moreover, as a part of VimpelCom group we will continue to be on the delivery of our Value Agenda and the 2011 financial results provide a good platform for profitable growth and improved cash flows.
CWS: Which markets offer the best opportunities for growth?
DK: In comparison with developed markets, emerging markets of the CIS countries have the great potential to growth in different directions. For example in Kazakhstan where internet penetration rate is about 53% of the country's population*, we are focusing on FTTB network development. As a result, fixed-line broadband subscribers base increased 5 times in 2011.
But in some CIS counties, such as Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, even mobile penetration is below 90%**, thus we have huge opportunities there. Overall, the expansion goes very rapidly and despite of intensified competition, VimpelCom revenues continued to grow at double-digit rates YoY in all CIS markets as a result of improving macroeconomic conditions, strong product offerings, and efficient sales and marketing efforts.
CWS: How is Vimpelcom adapting to new market conditions such as increased competition from new players like Google or content providers?
DK: Increasing competition from content providers forces operators to adjust their business models to maintain business growth and achieve an acceptable level of profitability. VimpelCom follows such changes very closely and ready to correct its approach if necessary.
CWS: How is the operator’s business model changing, and what shape will it take in the future?
DK: The main trend in operator’s business model is focus shift from voice services to data transfer. Increasing data traffic trend let us double data revenue of CIS business unit in 4Q 2011 YoY.
The most considerable growth was noted in those countries where we recently started 3G networks development, such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. So, for example, in Kyrgyzstan data usage trends drove a significant mobile data revenue increase of 151% YoY.
Unfortunately, Dmitriy Kromsky will be unable to attend the EurasiaCom event in Istanbul on 20-21 March. The event will include presentations from leading regional operators (including Turkcell, MTS, Turk Telekom, Kyivstar, among others) as well as telecoms & ICT vendors, regulators, digital media specialists, content providers and more.
*The Statistics Agency of Kazakhstan 2011
**ComNews Research data 2011
14 Mar 2012
Mbugua Njihia CEO Symbiotic, Founder of MMA East Africa & Mobile Monday Kenya to speak at East Africa Com on social platform Sembuse
Mbugua Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic Media – the company that created Sembuse, an SMS based messaging service for Africans looking to enjoy social networking. Mbugua is also a Safaricom Innovation Board Member, a Founding Member of the East African chapter of the Mobile Marketing Association, as well as the Founding Chair of Mobile Monday (Kenya Chapter).
The Com World Series team caught up with Mbugua ahead of the East Africa Com conference and exhibition (Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, 17-18 April) to find out a bit more about this speaker’s experiences and focus.
CWS: How would you sum up the characteristic of the East African telecoms, media and ICT industry this year?
MN: One word – Evolving. Market forces and innovation are ensuring that all players in the ecosystem are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. The biggest challenge remains the business models to be employed as cut throat competition, especially in the telecoms space, sees mobile operators enforce strict KPI’s on their managers that mean they are not flexible to explore differentiated models. The investments done to realize mobile data have also forced the MNO’s to frown on data revenue share as they seek to recoup their costs.
CWS: Which type of services do you think consumers are going to be calling for in 2012?
MN: Mobile commerce will grow in demand with increased mobile phone utility and a better exposed consumer base. I use mobile commerce as opposed to e-commerce as the channel for these payments will be mobile.
Mobile entertainment still ranks high in consumer demand; the challenge is to innovate both on content, delivery and business model.
CWS: How important do you think cost-efficiency/reduction is for service providers in East Africa this year?
MN: With increased competition, service providers must cut costs but retain service quality. We have seen Airtel outsource certain functions to IBM to cut costs and focus on core business. This means providers must look at tools and partnerships that help meet these two objectives.
CWS: What do you think are the 3 key attributes needed to succeed in East Africa’s telecoms, media and ICT industry going forward?
MN: Innovation, partnerships and capital
CWS: What do you think is needed to improve mobile services for the underserved in Africa?
MN: I think the entry of governments in the provision of government centric services on mobile will drive both adoption and awareness of services. This will affect positively the rollout improved mobile access by the MNO’s as there will be a better case for ARPU with increased demand for data driven services. Private sector innovation will then follow suit leveraging on open data initiatives and increased consumer demand.
CWS: Which key message do you want to highlight to the audience during your participation at the MMA Summit @ East Africa Com in Nairobi this April?
MN: Local competency on matters mobile development is available and its imperative that brands and other players seeking to make use of the channel to meet their business objectives tap into it. Mobile is an indispensible part of the marketing mix. For the mobile network operators, be flexible on piloting different business models and open up access to network resources that will allow for increased innovation on services.
Mbugua Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic Media, Safaricom Innovation Board Member, Founding Member of the East African chapter of the Mobile Marketing Association, Founding Chair of Mobile Monday (Kenya Chapter).
Symbiotic Media is an emerging leader in mobile business, mobile entertainment and custom web and mobile application solutions. The company’s expertises stretch from development of public services, mobile and web based software platforms, business process improvement, distribution and monetization of content, and more.
13 Mar 2012
Sergey Nichiporuk, Head of the Strategy Department at MTS Ukraine, will join the panel discussion on broadband strategies in the region at the EurasiaCom conference taking place in Istanbul on 20-21 March. The panel will also include representatives of operators Delta Telecom from Azerbaijan, Makedonski Telekom from Macedonia, and the Turkish ICT regulator.
EurasiaCom is the leading event for the telecoms, media and ICT industry in Turkey, Eastern Europe, Russia and the CIS. The conference will look at the changes in the industry in light of new technologies, new services, innovative business models and the arrival of alternative players. The event is sponsored by HP, Commscope, Comptel, Jinny Software and Comviva.