The war among telco service providers is benefiting customers: Sunil Sood, CEO, Vodafone India
Sood shared his insights on how the current war between telcos is benefiting consumers and how he plans to reinvent himself in this rapidly changing digital environment
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In an exclusive chat with exchange4media, Sunil Sood, CEO, Vodafone India, at his candid best shared his views about Jio disrupting the telecom market, what consumers can expect from the Vodafone-Idea merger and other interesting issues. Excerpts:
In terms of content distribution does Vodafone look forward to making similar partnerships in the future like it did with Magzter recently?
Vodafone is very focused on digital immersion, both internally for its employees as well as for offers to the customers. In Vodafone we believe the faster we embrace digitalisation, the faster we embrace this new world, which the millennials are using, the better off we will be as a company. Therefore we use partnerships, we use engagements, we use our intellectual offerings in order to ensure we are at the top of that and our customers can get the best we have to offer.
After the entry of Jio, telecom providers seem to have entered the race of low data costs and call rates, has the competition gotten stiffer now?
Competition in the telecom sector has always been stiff, there have always been new entrants, a decade ago we had almost 10 new operators coming in, now we have another one, we welcome the competition and it has always made us strive that much better for the customers’ benefit. So once again I see consumers benefit from all that is happening because you have to remodel what you are doing to make it more effective, remove the wastage and be more efficient. Therefore that remodelling of your company helps you to give better offers to your consumers at more appropriate prices and other offers. At the same time we also believe that enabling these large quotas of data has driven the Indian market to a far better future, people have discovered content and discovered where it lies and how to access it without the fear of paying too much for it, therefore they have moved forward, which would have taken us years in our old pricing, today with the reduced pricing people are fearless in trying to discover this content and that is why the consumption of data has moved forward and today it has already caught up with European trends especially in our 4G kind of business, we may even leap beyond European markets. Indians are fast learning and fast catching up with their foreign counterparts and I believe we will overtake them.
What should the consumers expect from the Vodafone-Idea merger?
A lot more products, better products because the merger gives us a lot more efficiencies and this will allow us to drive our digital agenda, this will allow us to drive both rural India and well as urban India and enable both these sides to access digital content and to access digital products. That is the big investment we look to make with the merger. India is a vast country and requires a huge amount of capital investment to reach every nook and corner of the country, in voice we have already done that, we had 140 sites we were covering 90 to 93 per cent of the country, we were covering more than around 4 lakh villages but in data we still have a lot to go and we believe that this merger will enable us and give us the cash efficiencies to enable both Bharat and India if you look at them as two different aspects of the country to become equal in matters of access to data, or prices or utilisation of data and the new digital world.
How is Vodafone looking forward to shaping the future of India and supporting entrepreneurs or start ups?
India is one of the large startup countries, we have around 4750 startup companies already in the country and that is a huge number while more are still entering. Each of these startups have ideas which are currently disrupting status of quo of some industry, all these disruptions are based on one base, that base has to be communication, data enablement and access. Machines talking to machines, people talking to machines to access data and get information, data analytics, access to public data which they can utilise to solve needs and wants of the customers- that’s the basis on which the world tomorrow is working on. There are lots of new products like IoT and others where Vodafone global has invested a lot and in India we have almost 1.8 million devices already out in the IoT world. We are the only ones who have invested in IoT and GDSP platforms which will enable customers to manage their whole IoT offers and these are the investments we are already making as a company and we think we can be the global leaders in IoT in the future.
What does Sunil Sood think of doing in this fast and digitally evolving sector to make it even better?
Firstly I think there are two aspects, I am an old guy and not a young adult anymore but as people in the industry and being a marketer we have to constantly reinvent ourselves. I believe in constantly reinventing myself, right now I’m learning with my team how to make apps. I am trying to do it myself, I am actually making an app of a product, I won’t give you my idea but it’s not an app only for telecom but an app for anybody in the market, it’s just an idea I had, I am working with a youngster and I have partnered with him and trying to make that app and organise the whole UI myself. Once I am immersed and I understand this business I have to speed with that, I am not as digitally savvy as my daughter is, her speed is completely different from mine but if I can learn from her and get the ideas and then use my experience to get the process flows, which are required, which will simplify and enable the customer to use my products better and easier and that’s what the job as a marketer has to be. So Sunil Sood wants to reinvent himself, technology cycles will get shorter and shorter and therefore I will have to keep reinventing myself faster and faster to beat that cycle.
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