Vikram Sinha, President Director and CEO of Indonesia operator Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison (IOH) has outlined the role that he wants the operator to play in enabling Indonesia’s ongoing digital transformation.
In a briefing conducted nine months after the completion of the formal merger of Hutchison Tri Indonesia and Indosat Ooredoo created IOH, Sinha said that the operator is focussed on creating the capabilities that will enable economic and social growth within the country.
“Indonesia can be the digital powerhouse of South Asia,” Sinha said. “I have been there for three and a half years now travelling the country, from cities to small villages, and the potential is incredible.”
Sinha pointed to stats from Google e-Conomy that show the country’s digital economy was worth $70 billion in 2021, and would grow to be $146 billion by 2026.
He said that policy changes that enable spectrum and infrastructure sharing will enable IOH to build a network infrastructure and operating model to support that growth.
“There is no doubt Indonesia will be the digital powerhouse of SE Asia. With the policy changes, a forward-looking approach from the government, I feel it will be one of the best in the whole world.”
DELIVERING THE NETWORK
Sinha said that although the country is already creating unicorns in tech, there is still a huge upside for value creation. Currently, mobile users average about 13-14Gb data per month, which puts them slightly behind the regional average. There is also headroom to expand connectivity: only around 70% of citizens are connected to mobile data, 12,000 villages in the country are still without LTE, and many of Indonesia’s 62 million SMEs are offline or in the early stages of adopting online or digital processes.
To expand coverage and connectivity, IOH has been embarking on a process of integrating and modernising its access network infrastructure. Initially it planned this as a two-year process but with half of its sites already integrated, it will finish six months early, with a total of 50,000 base stations on the ground. The company is also exploring LEO satellite services to provide backhaul to sites based on Indonesia’s many islands.
IOH is also moving to leverage cloud technologies to migrate its own applications, as well as provide edge and cloud services to Indonesian companies and enterprises. The operator signed an agreement with Google Cloud earlier in the year, and Sinha said it was also talking to Azure and AWS with the end goal of an integrated, multi-cloud strategy.
All these network and IT changes are being driven by a customer-focussed and partnership mindset, Sinha said.
“We’re all about keeping the customer at the centre. We want to create an IOH culture, building capabilities for the 5G era, making sure we are future-ready so that we have the right capabilities, talent and partner ecosystem.”
One example of that push for talent is the creation of IDCamp, through which the operator has now trained 50,000 people, creating a potential talent pool not just for IOH but for others.
But IOH’s real ability to support and drive change within Indonesia will be supported by its culture and mindset, Sinha said.
“After the integration we will have the scale we need – nearly 50,000 physical base stations – we have the spectrum we need. So we are in a good place, we just need to execute.”
PLATFORM AND PARTNERSHIP
Part of that execution will come down to gaining customer trust, and creating a platform that can work in partnership with other companies to co-create services, and share value.
“When I took over as CEO, I said that my driver is to prioritise customer experience over cost. Most people in a merger look for synergy values. But in reality what I learned from other large scale mergers is that the organisation only enjoys a growth story. You can’t drive an organisation with synergies. So our theme is that we want to be a purpose-driven organisation, and our first purpose is to connect communities and society.
“Also I have to acknowledge as an industry we have not been good at building customer trust. How do I build that trust? It’s around experience. We are focussed on making sure we bring trust and give customers a fantastic experience.”
As for the platform, Sinha says, “There are two aspects. One is internal, in terms of making sure that we are agile, we are empowering our team on the ground. We are in the era of the RFP – and you do need that transparency – but the challenge is how to get to the flexibility and agility of onboarding partners and working with them in an agile way.”
“The second aspect is being very conscious that we are solving real problems. So, especially working on industry 4.0, in areas like steel and electric vehicle manufacturing, they need automation. We are working with the factories to make sure that 5G and private networks have real benefits, that we are adding value in a sustainable way.”
Sinha also highlighted how the company is creating a B2B2X platform to connect the country’s millions of SMEs, creating a marketplace with Google and other partners.
“We launched the platform last month and we feel this will be very important for Indonesia also.”
As he moves towards his fourth quarter in charge of the merged operator, Sinha is developing a Blueprint for Growth, creating a business with the scale and agility to make and back big bets.
“Look, we have challenges, like everyone. But there is so much positivity and optimism, and there is so much hunger and eagerness to work together. IOH has the scale to be an enabler of this vision, and I am really looking forward to working with partners to drive this together,” he said.
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