Stuart Dobbin, the new head of Asia for Cable & Wireless, outlines to group editor Joseph Waring the carrier's new focus on higher-margin clients and strategy for growth by building deeper relationships rather than acquiring new business
Telecom Asia: What is Cable & Wireless' biggest challenge moving forward‾
Stuart Dobbin: The key challenge stems from the fact that C&W has positioned itself in the UK as a clear challenger to BT by the acquisition of Energis. C&W was No. 2 in the UK and Energis was No. 3, so by acquiring Energis we are now a very clear No. 2. There were a lot of synergies between the two companies - we had a similar approach of targeting high-profile corporate entities in the UK. By bringing the two businesses together, there is the expectation of getting a lot of economies of scale and providing a real alternative for our combined UK customer base, both in the UK and internationally.
One of the things that is exciting for me in taking this new role is that we have a true focus not just on who are customers are but on the types of services we provide. Our top customers in the UK are looking for international services, and Asia is clearly a major focus for many of those customers in how they serve that booming market, but also as they move their own manufacturing facilities, and increasingly, their back-office facilities to the region.
How has your strategy changed‾
What we've seen in the last few years is a change in focus, whereby we've had a business model where we've looked at how we can be a full-service telecoms provider in many markets. We've recognized our core strength lies in serving the corporate market, so our challenge is to make sure our positioning is very clear in Asia to our target customers. But we have not left Asia; we have not downsized in Asia as far as the corporate marketplace is concerned. For our core customers of today going forward, we have continued to invest in our network. Over the last two to three years, we have not only expanded our coverage across the region to 15 countries, but we've expanded our presence within those countries and now have about 33 POPs.
The other thing is that we've been investing in the technology platforms we offer. So while we've always had a reputation as being strong in ATM and frame-relay, we're working to invest in and expand our MPLS coverage, so we are well equipped to handle what we see is a migration within our customer base from legacy Layer 2 services into full-blown MPLS-based IP-VPNs.
What's your overall roadmap for boosting your capabilities‾
At the same time as we're focused on who our core corporate market is, we're also beginning to focus more on who we partner with in the carrier space. We believe that by building deeper relationships we're able not only to work better in the carrier market, but we're also able to extend better services to our corporate market through the delivery over our partners' networks.
It's also important to recognize that MPLS is not the end of the journey but an important step on the roadmap.