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Andreas Neocleous: Undertaking A Major Role in The Digital Transformation of Cyprus Economy

Andreas Neocleous: Undertaking A Major Role in The Digital Transformation of Cyprus Economy

What is the significance of the annual Limassol Economic Forum?

The annual Limassol Economic Forum is probably the most important gathering of its kind in Cyprus, as it has become a platform for prominent experts and analysts from across the international economic sphere to set out their views and forecast the future in front of an audience comprising major local and international businessmen, investors, policymakers and economists.

What made you decide to become a sponsor of the event?

As the leading telecommunications organisation in Cyprus, undertaking a major role in the digital transformation of both our economy and our country, Cyta could not be absent from such an event, as the Forum provides us with a platform to discuss and chart our country’s path to progress and growth.

This year’s theme is ‘The World in 2020-2030’. How do you expect the global and local economy to develop over the next decade?

While economic weight and political power is shifting to Asia, European growth over the next ten years will be very challenging, mainly because Europe is limited by high levels of debt. The human race will grow older and richer with a growing middle class and widening inequalities. The consequences may include a further rise in unemployment and, most importantly, the impoverishment of the middle classes in developed European countries.

At the same time, the scarcity of resources will become an ever-increasing challenge, with rising energy consumption and shifting patterns of production. On the positive side, an important share of Europe’s future growth potential resides in technology advancement and digitization, and in the radical and disruptive change that comes with it. New manufacturing and automation technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced robotics and autonomous transport systems have the potential to enable and inspire growth.

The convergence of technologies and the proliferation of tools will transform economies and societies and create a compelling product development opportunity for many industries, including the telecommunications industry.

What are the main challenges that you expect your particular sector to face in the coming 10 years?

As people spend more time using third-party services such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp, we tend to forget that these would not exist without the telecommunications infrastructure that enables every tweet, photo and Internet call. As society and the economy demand ever faster, more reliable networks, the underlying infrastructure will become more important than ever, fuelled by 5G and fiber networks. The first challenge for all the companies in the telecommunications sector is to continue to invest a significant percentage of their profits in networks while revenue per-user and per-service is declining.

I strongly believe that, in order to prevail in today’s environment, we need to be relentless in our efforts to squeeze out as much value as we can from the network, monetizing infrastructure investments and boosting data traffic, while taking out unnecessary costs and making shrewd investments only in areas of growth. In this respect, the support of digital society initiatives by regulators and policymakers are of the utmost importance in order to facilitate healthy economic models for telcos, enabling them to continue to invest and meet the growing demand for connectivity and IT-based services.

The second challenge is how to tackle the Over-The-Top Players (OTTs), which have already redefined the customer experience in an unprecedented way. Some Telco’s have tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to redefine themselves as digital Telco’s – combining their traditional network services while also delivering OTT services via the Internet. It’s our responsibility to learn from the failures and shortcomings of others, to maintain customer ownership and avoid the “dumb-pipe” scenario.

The positive side is that telco customers often have relatively simple requirements. By digitizing the customer journey and reducing human intervention to an absolute minimum, we can create strong emotional connections between our brand and our customers. We can use data and analytics to take informed business decisions and serve all our customers according to their demands.

Against a backdrop of falling prices, increased competition and tough regulation, a third major challenge for our industry is to unearth new revenue streams, which will be critical to sustaining current levels of revenue and profitability. But as we expand our service portfolios into adjacent markets, success in these new areas will depend on deciding carefully which areas we should target, keeping in mind that the grass might not be quite as green on the other side as we think: profit margins are generally quite disappointing. Several opportunities will come knocking on our door, all of them promising big revenues and guaranteed profits. In my opinion, our ability to distinguish the extremely small number in which to invest, while rejecting all the others, will be crucial to our future success.

 

Cyta is the leading brand in the Cyprus telecommunications sector, providing integrated electronic communication solutions. By taking timely advantage of technological developments and the convergence of telecommunications and it, Cyta is now the pioneer in quadruple play in Cyprus, offering a broad range of innovative services and ICT solutions to both the consumer and the business market. Since February 2004, Cyta has been Vodafone’s exclusive partner in Cyprus and, consequently, a member of the largest mobile communications network in the world.

 

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