Connectivity is not an asset, MWC told

06 Mar 2017
00:00

Serial telecoms entrepreneur Alexey Reznikovich says that building an “enabled gateway” to customers is the key to survival for traditional telecoms players, who need to stop relying on the diminishing returns from connectivity.

Speaking at a keynote session at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, Rezhikovich outlined how his company VimpelCom, now re-branded at VEON, planned to build that “enabled gateway” as he announced a free downloadable app which was a platform combining payments, entertainment and information services.

NASDAQ listed but headquartered in Amsterdam, VEON has more than 200 million global customers. VEON is both the new name for VimpelCom and for the “new personal internet platform” which integrates data analytics and artificial intelligence and includes partnerships with brands such as Mastercard, Deezer, and STUDIO+.

The company claims the app, which is free from data charges on VEON’s mobile networks, “tears down the archaic and inefficient bricks and mortar service model.”

In his keynote, Reznikovich painted a dark vision of the current state of the telecoms industry, claiming that its “corporate and bureaucratic” culture was scaring away young talented people, who much preferred to work at internet companies such as Google and Amazon.

“Young people don’t want to work for us,” he said.

The telecoms industry had worked “very very hard” in the last five years but “nothing has moved the needle.” He likened the industry to a “squirrel in a wheel” that was going as fast as it could, but not getting anywhere and was now exhausted.

“What are the three big lies of the telecoms industry?” Reznikovich said.

“The first lie is that data monetisation is coming. Well we are still waiting.

“The second is that we have billions of customers. Well are they really our customers or are they people who just tolerate us and are really customers of someone else?”

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