This was one of the best interviews I had the pleasure of doing, Mr. Abdullah does come across incredibly passionate about DTAC’s businesses and opportunities.
Total Access Communication Plc (DTAC) is one of the leading telecommunication services providers in Thailand with a total subscriber base of 27.5 million users, making it the country’s second-largest mobile provider. Chief executive officer Jon Eddy Abdullah discusses the company’s strategy and outlook.
Please explain your business model.
We are a mobile company. We are not a content developer, we are not a fixed-line operator or a telecom company anymore; DTAC is a truly mobile company. When we look at the industry today we see three major trends, all of which are linked to a mobile phone that is already in your hand. So “Mobile Everywhere” is one of these trends because everything is just that much more convenient when it is in your hand.
Second is “Social Everywhere” and this is changing the way that we price and bundle packages. Before, people would go to a zero balance on their phones and still be able to receive phone calls and SMS; however now if it goes to a zero balance then they are no longer connected and they miss the online factor, the social factor.
Third is the individual. The individual is important and becoming more powerful, and each customer wants to know how he or she will benefit, and this results in us providing each person an almost tailored package. So those are the big trends and DTAC has to be focused on internet for all, customer-oriented and a big-data company. We want to make sure that within three years every single one of our customers has an internet experience. Today we are only at 40%.
DTAC has launched TriNet. Can you explain what this is, and how it is progressing?
Everyone else globally has gone with techno-speak, 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE and so on, and we wanted to differentiate ourselves because we are an emotional company, a marketing company. TriNet as a marketing position presents a positive experience for our customers.
In terms of functionality we provide more spectrums across more bands, thereby ensuring that customers do not have to worry about what device they use on our network, and we ensure that regardless of their location we will move them from one band to the next to ensure that they have the best experience with us.
Also, this presents DTAC as a completely different option to customers. They come to our shops asking what TriNet is and the best is that they ask “What do I get for it?” As a marketer this is brilliant. In terms of the quality and capacity we are very happy.
We did wait a bit longer than others to launch but I think that it was the correct strategy as speeds are good and quality levels are good. We know this because of customer migration data from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2013: for smartphone penetration it increased by 900,000 users and for data subscribers by 1.1 million users. This is the largest quarterly growth we have ever experienced. The data experience is almost at a critical mass, our 3G subscribers were also up 800,000 users in the same quarter, so now customers must have the speed experience.
So, smartphones are up, data up, 3G up _ all these figures show that customers really want internet for all. Today we have just under 4 million customers using TriNet and we expect to hit our target of 10 million by the end of the year.
What differentiates DTAC from its competitors?
The first question is network and we believe that we have a service that provides our customers fast speeds and high quality in the areas that we serve, which is approximately 50% of Thailand’s population. We are also expanding very quickly and should cover 55% of the population by the end of this year.
Second is the device and service bundle: the combination of the TriNet phone or any of the other phones that we offer is incredibly competitive and this sets us apart from our competitors. Thirdly and importantly is customer service. I have never heard of people saying they love a company but we hear this about DTAC. Our customers love DTAC, they love Happy and we have very good customer service due to the amount of initiatives that we have undertaken over the years.
You can simply compare the shops of the three operators and you understand the personality of our company, our stores are fresher, more alive, the combination of the colours, the ceilings, the photos on the wall, the devices we place _ all present the image of DTAC as a company that cares for its customers.
What are the biggest risks facing your business?
The biggest question I have today is, can we possibly execute all the ideas that we have? It’s not a negative at all, but the challenge of already identifying several opportunities in Thailand, in this industry, in this company and executing all these ideas. That’s an exciting thing.
What impact will the Asean Economic Community have on your business?
I think that it is going to have an impact on the nation in general because it opens up so many things. There are still many unknown possibilities, and I hope that our industry takes the opportunity to have world-class telecom services. I think that we as an industry should go to 4G now because we have the means, we have the available spectrum, and if the top three companies all do it in a big way then the nation benefits.
Where do you see DTAC in five years from now?
DTAC will be more of an internet-based company, with our internal process digitised and working in a partnership model to develop local content, local applications, not just social, but to develop a complete local ecosystem. We will be customer-focused, as we are here to help our customers and employ the strategies that make life easier for them, because in the end I would love for our customers to just say “DTAC takes care of me.”
Source: Bangkok Post