Drew draws focus on technology in Kuwait – Avaya senior territory manager in Kuwait and Bahrain

24 Aug 2015
What is your experience with the technology sector in Kuwait?
I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years, starting out in infrastructure, project management, implementation, presales design, and business consultancy. Now I’m the Senior Territory Manager for Kuwait and Bahrain. My career in the Middle East began in Kuwait in 2011, when I was focused on Kuwait and Bahrain as a system engineer.

When I took over the region to years ago for Avaya, my objective was to drive incremental growth from a strong base to the next level. This has happened in two phases, the first of which was developing existing partnerships by concentrating on service excellence, driving quality, and spreading across multiple products. Phase two was to encourage our partners to start incorporating innovation into their processes, such as cloud and service-based opex models. The next step, phase three, will be all about innovation, and emphasizing how the available options are boundless to make companies become more creative and agile.
How would you describe the market?
We believe that all organizations in Kuwait should adopt the following steps, when it comes to dealing with customers’ needs: serve them what they want and how they want it, personalize their service when they interact and reach out to them when they don’t know how, and fix their problems before they happen.

Our customers in Kuwait are concerned with quality, particularly quality pain points. They want to reduce the time it takes to restore following services outages, for example, and they want to make sure their partners are fully accredited.

Take the banking industry, for example. Financial institutes have to have the latest networks, and they have multiple configurations throughout the year. Every time a change happens, they have an outage, and they have to fly in the right people to support during this time as staff with the necessary skills are not available. This presents a big issue for businesses, which is why we created our own proposition that allows a partner to offer tier two support.

When I meet with CIOs in Kuwait, they have a lot in the way of pain points within technologies. There are multiple things to address in Kuwait, in terms of technology; building the infrastructure, driving an eGovernment initiative, and deploying smart buildings, for example. We are working with contractors to help them understand that our infrastructure is an enabler of smart cities.
What technology trends are you seeing in the banking sector in Kuwait?
This is a sector experiencing transformation in communication. It used to be that customers would contact the call center if they had a problem, then they could speak to an agent. Over the last 2 years there have been more smart solutions adopted, and customers can get in contact through social media, or they can access services through apps. Banking apps in Kuwait are at about 40 per cent right now, and they are becoming the dominant channel. The sector is consolidating all communication channels to deliver a consistent customer experience. For example, one of Kuwait’s leading Islamic banks previously had several channels, such as voice, email, self-service, and a web portal, and they needed to start building a platform as a single communication center. We worked on this with them to create a hygienic, consistent approach, which including answering calls in an agreed time. To drive better communications across multiple channels, we adopted the most simple ones: email, and webchat, based in the contact center and with pre-scripted responses to keep answers consistent. The integrated system we developed is hygienic, consistent and personalized, so that when customers call the contact center knows who they are. This is proactive engagement towards a defined outcome, and the next step is to use the analytical part of the solution to understand how and when a customer wants to be contacted, so that they can be proactively reached.
Telcos are often seen as technology companies themselves – how do you work with telcos in Kuwait?
All of the telecom sector’s contact centers in Kuwait use Avaya solutions. This makes the landscape very competitive for service providers; if one offers a new service, then the others are forced to follow suit. We’ve been working with them to deliver the ability to extend outside the standard channels – for example, in Kuwait, automated services are not supported by the consumer, and we have been focusing on driving customers to adopt automated self-service solutions. This has been successful in all three leading mobile providers, and has led to a reduction in agent calls by approximately 25 per cent on day one of installation. This is the first transition stage, driving more consistency and positively affecting the ARPU.

We’ve created hygienic and consistent customer service. Now the next phase is to personalize, and to be proactive to reduce customer attrition. We need to be reaching out in a different way, bidirectional, on demand, and so on.

Social service in Kuwait is a game changer for the market, taking the ability to drive customer interaction in a still protected environment. Customer social interacting in a broadcast environment has different rules and engagement strategies. Leveraging that into the contact center is a challenge for all organizations – social care is kept in the marketing teams, but these teams cannot handle it properly, which leads to it being leveraging into the contact center, where a team can handle that and still protect the brand in a positive way. This is where we come in, and we have a proven track record to delivering socially enabled customer service to our global customers.
When you talk about transformation of the enterprise, what does this cover?
This includes security and total cost of ownership, which has three elements:
* Financial: Most people talk about making the solutions more affordable, which we do in several ways: financially, through support contracts, lifetime warranties, and general cost of products that are competitive.
* Time to service: How quickly a business can adapt and adopt new services on a new network, proven record on delivering implementation time and quicker time to service, quicker time to effect the IT user base.

* Time/cost of outage: Most IT departments in Kuwait say there is no outage. There are two reasons for this. First, the internal infrastructure is a legacy one, and complexity has not been provided by the latest applications. Second is that they don’t want to say, which says there is a bigger problem.

It also includes the Engagement Platform, which is a new way to ensure that business survive adversity through agility. Providing better and faster communication both internally and externally is a challenge; there are different communication systems, types, reminders, and having the ability to process them internally and synchronizing overlying communications will give businesses the agility they need for a competitive advantage.
What is Avaya’s roadmap for Kuwait and what success have you had?
Avaya aims to drive innovation in communication and maintaining resilience, reducing down time, and driving an agile environment. We have transformed to be more than a voice provider, and encourage our partners to also transition to become the best system integrators in Kuwait.
Our Phase 1 project has generated an increase in revenue of 250 per cent over two years, from service providers, the financial sector, and through contractor and government projects. We are partnered with three of the top five system integrators in the country.

This article appeared in Kuwait Times on 24 August 2015