Sofrecom co-constructing a “Digital Middle East and Africa”

Fri 08 Mar 2019

Enterprises are attaching great importance to digitalization as the world enters a new digital era. In order to achieve a smooth transformation, telcos need a trusted partner to help them succeed in the process. That's where Sofrecom plays a crucial role. ln an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Guillaume Boudin, CEO, Sofrecom, highlighted what makes the company the driver of digital transformation in the MEA region and addressed the main pillars of its digital strategies.

Just over 12 months ago, Sofrecom declared that it was co-constructing 'a digital Middle East and Africa'. Can you specify how?

Acting to make the digital revolution an accelerator of economic and social progress for the benefit of the people is the whole issue of digital transformation in the Middle East and Africa and throughout the world. Digital is everywhere in our lives and now plays a leading role in the ways in which people, communities and businesses communicate, exchange and internet. The aim is to make life easier for everyone, to work for financial inclusion, to promote the opening through easy access to online services, to rethink urban and agricultural models, and to develop economic activity.

While the region as a whole is progressing globally, all the governments are not moving at the same pace. Some stand out, pave the way. Four pillars can accelerate this digital transformation, while taking into account each country's trends specific characteristics.

1. Development of digital strategies

2. Establishing digital infrastructure on which services can be operated

3. Innovation to develop rich digital services

4. Training and skills development, both to boost innovation, but also to facilitate new uses

Regarding these four pillars, can you outline to us in detail how Sofrecom is helping operators, enterprises and governments to achieve their digital transformation goals?

If the objectives of digital strategies come together to improve quality of life, economic development or the simplification of administrative procedures, the means of implementation remain country specific and depend on multiple parameters: social, economic, geographic, regulatory, etc. Sofrecom, through its consulting activities, help governments and operators to understand the challenges of digital transformation, to define their digital vision and goals, to determine the most suitable actions to take. Our consultants support them at all stages of their project- from master plan to the development of digital services such as mobile financial services or e-government services -in order to improve the service provided to customers or citizens.

We create with and for them the right conditions for digital performance

Digital infrastructure is required in order to guarantee connectivity everywhere, or almost everywhere. Sofrecom, through its networks and IT engineering activities, help operators and governments to implement these digital infrastructures:

We assist them to design, to supervise rollout of very high speed fixed (fiber) and mobile (4G, LTE, 5G) networks and to transform their information system.

We help them to achieve optimal management of processes to improve their organization, reduce costs and increase profits, without compromising quality of service. We work alongside them to adapt their technical resources, to define the best strategy and choose the best partners.

We support them to use digital innovation as a growth driver.

The emergence of strong digital ecosystems will stem from close interactions that bring together companies, startups, universities, operators, public authorities and financiers.

Through Sofrecom, the innovation of Orange Group will be able to work towards the co-construction of a digital Middle East and Africa. This capacity of innovation allows us to go beyond the usual telecommunications services. We capitalize on Orange experience and expertise (e-payments, insurance, credits, e-identity, etc.), to promote digital as a factor of development and financial inclusion whether for citizens or businesses.

We support operators and governments to involve their staff fully in their digital transformation project

There are many different ways to digitize services, but without the necessary human skills, it would not be successful. Talent's development is a major challenge for addressing new digital issues. This is a key to help the innovation process, but also to enable the proper use of new digital services.

Sofrecom' experts create with and for our customers, specific development and training plans for managers and employees through change management and capacity programs.

Where you happy with Sofrecom's performance in 2018, and can you highlight some of the major projects you participated in?

2018 was rich in achievements for our customers and our teams. Many projects have been carried out on the four continents. I can mention few in the area of strategy, marketing and distribution:

  • Market positioning and market sizing in 5G, loT in France and Europe
  • Mobile Money potential studies for the B2B sector in Africa
  • Wholesale activity modeling projects for European and African operators Digital strategy of an operator and its subsidiaries in the MEA zone
  • Several e-government projects in Ivory Coast, Niger and lndonesia
  • We have just completed a project to assess an operator's customer experience in Africa.

In Europe, our due diligence consultants accompanied the integration of a fixed operator following its takeover of a mobile operator and the launch of its convergent services. This transformation plan focused on business and IT and networks transformation.

ln the area of network and IT infrastructures, our engineers and project managers:

  • I have piloted design, supervision, audit and deployment of backbones in Africa
  • carried out feasibility studies ofVHB national plans for Governrnents in ME and Europe
  • modernized the information system of an operator's physical distribution network.

Our service and application development teams have also delivered several business applications in the areas of customer experience, e-government services, distribution and sales for our customers in France and Africa.The majority of these projects included components of change management and skills development.

In your opinion, what is it that differentiates Sofrecom from other consulting firms in the lCT sector?

The specificity of Sofrecom lies in its multiple and complementary expertise combining both market watch, anticipation skills, business and ITN consulting and development of services. Such expertise permits to bring to our customers end-to-end support: from a strategy definition to its operational deployment.

Our intervention is part of a dynamic co-construction. Our approach is based on a shared vision and strategy with our clients, a co-definition of the short, medium and long-term objectives:  this leads to co-creation between Sofrecom experts, customers and the stakeholders, of solutions adapted to the specific context and the challenges of our customers' markets.

In addition, we seek to transfer competencies and highlight the need for support through capacity building and change management programs.

We can expect to see from Sofrecom in 2019, and what are your primary objectiveses and goals for the next 12 months?

We plan to enrich our value proposition with new services and partnerships. We will pursue our internal site "culture and skills" with a main priority being the generalization of agile methods and design thinking to all of our teams. ln 2019, we will work on our new strategic plan Sofrecom Vision 2025.

Guillaume Boudin

Sofrecom CEO