NetOne shift: Is it in the right direction?

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NetOne shift: Is it in the right direction?

Nobert Matuku
|FEAR of change in organisations is denoted and supported by cheap talk of keeping organisational culture — a true fallacy that many executives will echo even when change is the only way to arrest decline in business fortunes.

Transformation is a process, a painful one in most instances, and results are a culmination of the pain that organisations should bear if they are to attain their business goals.

Changes in the telecommunications landscape in Zimbabwe are no exception; in particular, mobile network operators that have gone through a rapid metamorphosis in order to remain abreast.

The mobile operators are not immune to economic challenges, but that has not curtailed their resolve to transform as seen by the introduction of services leading to cut-throat competition.

A growing subscriber base is the primary indicator that mobile operators use to assess their transformation progress.

Assessing the complete success matrices is phased as the indicators change differently due to the complex market dynamics associated with switching costs and absence of number portability, which tend to bring some inertia in initiatives that are meant to bring about business transformation.

Subscriber growth is coming from the secondary SIM card market. It takes time for a subscriber to convert a SIM card from secondary to primary.

NetOne has dominated news headlines in its quest to regain its market share and position, firstly, with wholesale organisational restructuring exercise which ushered new blood and expertise while supported by capitalisation under its mobile broadband project.

The Potraz quarterly reports show that NetOne is the only operator that experienced positive active subscriber growth for all the quarters in 2016. Its market share also grew in all the quarters in 2016.

Maintaining positive subscriber growth in a market that is nearing saturation is an arduous task and it speaks of a brand that has awoken from its slumber.

Subscriber expectations are further heightened as they await more products as affirmed by the executives at the ZITF.

This is unlike some of the players that lost market share for all quarters under review, and the trend seems to continue.

It should, however, be noted that subscriber growth is not the only facet to measure transformation success, the rave reviews that One Fusion received further fortifies the notion that NetOne is on a positive track and its transformation is subscriber-focused.

Rumour that NetOne is to relaunch its mobile money services illustrates a bold move to dump the failed OneWallet and take competition head-on in line with the market dynamics to ease the way people and businesses transact.

The mobile money charges are a true reflection of how subscribers are being milked dry and I hope NetOne will change the course when it ushers its much-anticipated new mobile money platform.

NetOne is implementing operational costs and business efficiency improvement initiatives.

While some operators still take customers for granted, one has to hold their call for hours on end to be attended by the call centre agents.

“Customer is King” should be a culture, and surely the winds of change are blowing and NetOne seems to have gotten its act right at the time when subscribers now take customer experience seriously as they are spoilt for choice.

To transform a telecoms organisation in Zimbabwe, cost optimisation, products and subscriber share are pre-requisites.

In general, the revenue growth lags behind these initiatives by a minimum of six months.

As such, we believe it’s a matter of time before the NetOne revenue responds significantly to track the transformation success.

In fact, case studies of mobile operators such as Telecommunications Network Malawi (TNM), TIGO in Tanzania and Vodacom in Mozambique which transformed to become market leaders give an indication of the direction that NetOne is taking. While signs of change have sprouted at NetOne, I acknowledge that transformation is a process which must be given time before conclusions are drawn.

The little that we have seen and experienced gives reason to believe that NetOne is poised for a better future as long as it keeps on transforming itself in response to the market needs since its growth strategy is customer-focused rather than blatant profiteering.

  • Norbert Matuku is a telecommunications expert and can be contacted on mnmatuku@gmail.com