Telecom strategies for navigating Myanmar's enterprise ICT market

Samit K Deb
02 Jun 2016

In the final installment of this three-part report, we look at five ways Myanmar telcos can target enterprise customers

Myanmar’s enterprise ICT market outlook is strikingly positive, presenting a serious growth opportunity for Myanmar operators as they face growing saturation of their consumer businesses. And they have a number of competitive advantages over pure-play systems integrators, from established customer relationships and large-scale project management experience to strong brands and government connections.

However, operators will also need to change the traditional passive business model they are accustomed to using in the commoditized mass-market voice and data business. Operators must develop a relationship-based business model to win enterprise business, as well as a consultative approach to gain new SME business clients.

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Here are five recommended strategies for Myanmar operators:

1. Target SMEs to provide one-stop ICT solution: Many executives say that Myanmar today reminds them of India in the mid 1990s and Indonesia in early 2000 (immediately after liberalization). A few trends in these countries that emerged in the immediate aftermath for liberalization may be indicative as to how Myanmar’s economy and enterprise ICT market may behave in the short term.

Myanmar SMEs are similar to their Indian and Indonesian counterparts in that they expect simplicity (transparent and predictable pricing), convenience (one-stop shop) and value for money (mainly a reduction in TCO). SMEs also do not wish to deal with multiple providers to fulfill their ICT needs, which range across telephony, broadband connections, mobile corporate connections, network and security, storage, domain and web hosting. They will prefer operators who can act as an umbrella solution provider.

For example, with its “office-in-a-box” bundle, Ooredoo in Qatar offers basic data connectivity coupled with a managed IP-telephony solution for the SME segment. The “office-in-a-box” may be an effective off-the-shelf package in Myanmar as well. Some customized SME sector-specific offerings are also evolving, such as Tata Tele’s Bustracker service and Bharti Airtel’s security-based mobile applications targeting schools and business process outsourcing units, which are becoming increasingly popular in India.

2. Provide customized solutions to local conglomerate/MNC clients: Large enterprises in Myanmar are likely to spend significantly on ICT over the next few years. They will require customized support for rolling out major system upgrades and workflow designs to cope up with the new business environment. As many Myanmar enterprises are complex conglomerates with business interests ranging from construction to financial services, off-the-shelf toolkits may not work too well with these customers’ complex requirements.

For these businesses, access to round-the-clock customer service and a help desk with efficient technical support, proactive monitoring and incident management and quick turnaround times can be a big differentiator. This requires operators to expand their service offerings to include systems integration, managed services, and cloud-based services coupled with project management and alliance management expertise to deliver customized ICT solutions.

Operators in other markets are already using partnerships and acquisitions to build these capabilities. For example, T-Systems’ acquisition of AirIT International (a provider of airport IT services) and Metrolico were targeted to serve the IT infrastructure requirements of the transportation and financial sectors.

3. Build local partnerships and capacity: Building credible local partnerships with specialist integrators and investing in local capability development is a key differentiator in Myanmar - flying consultants in and out doesn’t demonstrate commitment and isn’t considered favorably in the local market. Many newer Myanmar companies such as Lantrovision, Axiom, Fortune, and Elite Techtc are active in the enterprise ICT space and are potential partners or acquisition targets for telcos.

To offer more complex offerings, telecom operators typically partner with application providers. RCOM in India has partnered with multiple companies - such as Hitachi for cloud storage, Panasonic for cloud-based security surveillance and Polycom for cloud-based video conferencing - to become a one-stop solution hub for its SME clients. Singtel’s recent partnerships with FireEye and Akamai Technologies, and its acquisition of Trustwave, show its commitment to provide advanced security services to corporate customers, combined with a secure ICT solution. In doing so, Singtel is trying to integrate security in its overall portfolio to provide a more complete enterprise offering.

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