One small step for man….one giant leap for mobile
Rupert Shaw has one thing on his mind and that is mobile. The ecosystem is full steam ahead and he plans to put Ding right at the centre of it. This quarter we talk to Ding’s new Chief Commercial Officer about what’s causing waves in mobile, what’s next for Ding, and how even the moon isn’t beyond his ambitions.
Ding: Welcome to Ding Dispatch – and indeed welcome to Ding – tell us a little about your journey to becoming a CCO?
RS: I’ve spent my whole career working around the mobile ecosystem, from CRM platforms for carriers, to mobile games and payments and all very much on a global scale.
I’ve lived and worked out in west Africa and India, which was eye-opening to see how services can be built to suit a wide range of consumer needs – from those in developing nations who often have a low balance but will top-up many times a month, to those in more advanced markets out in Korea and Japan.
The models and services are different but the focus on building products and services which will engage the consumer and fit their needs, is not.
One thing which I have learned above all in the mobile ecosystem is that it is a fast-paced world with so many innovative companies working there that you can’t afford to sit still or lose focus. Companies need to be agile and continue to innovate.
Ding: What is the thing that most attracted you to Ding?
RS: From the outset I loved the thinking behind how the company was born – a chance conversation with a waiter in Dubai and the simplicity of creating a product which answers a real customer need – resonated with me.
“Our product is answering a core need, and we have a clear purpose – this is not something which can be said for every company…”
Ding has created a strong and impressive network of partners globally, including retail, carrier, and direct to consumer, but we are now focusing on bolstering this by building out a strong platform and a partnership piece which in my view will tie everything together.
Our product is answering a core need, and we have a clear purpose – this is not something which can be said for every company and to me is fundamental to success.
We have a core, solid proposition for customers today but if you look at how the telecoms market is changing so quickly there’s a huge opportunity for Ding to deliver additional value through partnerships to the mobile ecosystem.
There are so many opportunities for us – it’s incredibly exciting.
Ding: The telecoms/mobile market is evolving, with the competitive landscape changing all the time, what does the future hold for the industry?
RS: There are a huge amount of conversations happening around 5G and what this means for companies, their customers, and how this will change the current economics by enabling new models. This will be the case especially in the enterprise space with innovations such as network splicing, the rise of IOT and Smart Cities.
“The challenge for the carriers is whether they can unlock the value in their network or whether this will go to other players in the market….”
Mobile carriers will become further embedded across the world driving real innovations and improvements in people’s lives. The challenge for the carriers as in previous generations is whether they can unlock the value in their network or whether this will go to other players in the market and we’ll see a new number of OTT players building these services on the back of the network.
Ding: What do you think is the most important role that Ding plays in helping the diaspora?
RS: One of the core focuses we have is around the community. Connecting communities is quite simply what our service does every day and is our most important role.
Ding: What are some of the biggest challenges facing customers today and how can technology help them?
RS: People have more time than ever in history but feel more rushed and stressed. Being able to take a step back and let technology handle some of the more mundane and daily tasks will change I believe how we live our lives for the better.
Think of the IOT revolution and smart fridges scanning a sensor on a milk bottle and ordering more milk for you or having a delivery ready for you when you return from holiday.
Or technology enabling a small retailer in West Africa to sell his goods seamlessly, to someone in Sydney and take payment digitally without leaving his home. The building blocks are there today, it’s about how those services are joined up together and built out.
Ding: What is your view on 5G?
RS: It will be, and already is, hugely expensive for carriers and like 4G before it, it will take several years to roll out for the majority of consumers who ultimately may well not see a huge difference in services.
What it will bring is different speeds for OTT players and should open up new revenue streams for carriers in the enterprise world – such as Telstra in Australia enabling mines to be connected instead of laying fibre is a case in point.
“In the medium term it may well help developing economies to leap forward again…”
I do think it is not going to be relevant for many markets though for a long time. In the medium term it may well help developing economies to leap forward again, as Africa did with 3G and 4G bypassing fixed line technologies. However, the prohibitive cost of the infrastructure investment needed may inhibit this in part.
Ding: What has the potential to be the next big disruptor for the market?
RS: Automation and AI in general will profoundly change how we work with new opportunities being created but there will be a lot of disruption along the way.
Ding: Ding is trying to solve a global problem – how important is it to maintain a local approach to better understand and serve your customers?
RS: While we have a global platform, everything we do is local. At Ding we keep focused on our diaspora communities, where they go we follow and support them regardless of the channel. By focusing on our customers and what they really need – we maintain our relevance and usefulness.
We do take time to understand our customers’ needs around the world and in fact we are currently undertaking a global research project to do this better.
“…..at the heart of this, all our customers want to do is connect with their families and keep them connected.”
This we hope will help us to tailor our service according to local requirements. That said we already know that at the heart of this, all our customers want to do – regardless of where they are – is connect with their families and keep them connected. Whether that’s the waiter in Dubai, the Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong, or the Senegalese taxi driver in Paris. Staying connected to their community is what matters to them.
Ding: What plans do you have for Ding – what’s next?
RS: At Ding we have more than 500 carrier partners and 600,000 retail partnerships around the world. What we want to do is support carriers in how they can connect to diaspora communities and continue to provide that segment with a first-class service.
This is on top of bringing on board new partnerships which will enable consumers to recharge wherever they are at their point of need.
These are exciting times in our ecosystem. A lot of innovation happening is perhaps not necessarily happening just in Western Europe or North America – for how consumers are going to be engaging you need to look East, and to Africa. A lot of the exciting stuff is happening there and it’s all going to be about mobile – which suits Ding very nicely!
Five tips for commercial success:
- ‘Outside in listening’ – don’t get drawn into company group think
- Product first, sales will come when you understand your customer
- Follow your customer – understand where they are and be relevant to them at their point of need
- Data doesn’t lie but…
- …don’t be afraid to try new things, take those learnings and move on
Ding: What’s your favourite saying?
RS: In Nigeria, I learnt a great saying that has stayed with me – ‘no wahala’. Wahala is a southern Nigerian word meaning problem or challenge and despite often facing these on a daily basis you only ever hear ‘no wahala’ across the country as people overcome whatever problems are put in front of them.
Ding: Who would you most like to have dinner with?
RS: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin – I’d love to understand how they felt on that journey to the moon.
Ding: What political figure do you most admire?
RS: It’s hard in the 20th century to look past people like Nelson Mandela for how he overcame such oppression and anger to unite a country. South Africa winning the world cup was an amazing sight.
The Dalai Lama is also an amazing figure for us all to listen to and take inspiration from.
Ding: What would you like to be when you grow up?
RS: Despite reality, I have always loved cricket and would’ve loved to have scored a century at the MCG and won the Ashes!