Ghana, situated on the west coast of Africa, has a population of approximately 25 million and over half its inhabitants live in urban areas. In 2012, mobile penetration reached 100 percent and it is expected that strong uptake of data services will continue to drive growth in the telecom sector.
Towards the end of 2011, the Ericsson account team for MTN Ghana began an initiative to look at ways to increase data revenue without any additional infrastructure investment.
Rahul De is the CMO for MTN Ghana: “We were challenged with sustainable growth in the data business. That’s when the Ericsson team helped us identify where there was growth potential,” he recollects. Ericsson’s engagement contributed to MTN Ghana’s ability to increase yearly data revenue in 2012 by over 90 percent.
Understanding the user and the network
The first step in the process was to commission a market survey into data usage behavior in Ghana. The objectives were to find ways to improve the user experience and expand MTN Ghana’s knowledge of mobile broadband potential. The survey analyzed the Ghanaians’ usage and attitude towards mobile broadband, as well as perception of MTN as a mobile broadband service provider.
The findings of the study were presented to MTN Ghana, providing clear action points on what was needed to increase data consumption in Ghana.
The second phase in the engagement process was to undertake an analysis of data usage on the live MTN Ghana network. The results of this exercise clearly demonstrated that there was some more work to be done in coverage and capacity. As a result, requirements for revisiting 3G optimizations were realized, and ROIs were requested for new 3G sites, 2G upgrades and improved coverage in dense areas.
Building a data culture
The research and network analysis showed MTN Ghana that there was a need for a new company culture. “We came away with three distinct learning points — we needed to revisit our key performance indicators, work with Ericsson to develop a separate data strategy for 2012-15, and build a data culture in our organization,” said former MTN Ghana CEO, Michael Ikpoki.
Sanjit Sinha, Engagement Director EP Mobile Broadband, MTN Ghana, says this was an important moment in the engagement process. “It is not the number of subscribers that counts so much as the amount of 3G usage, and the number of smart devices on the network. Data businesses are multi-dimensional.”
The purpose of Ericsson’s global mobile broadband operator strategy is to identify and support selected operators around the world, providing a three-to-five-year data strategy based on their current market situation and future aspirations. The engagement process then defines a network transformation plan that is based on certain agreed engagement areas.
While the initial research showed that a lack of smartphones was a hindrance to mobile data growth, the analysis of MTN Ghana’s live network opened up discussion with senior MTN Ghana management. It became clear that the organization needed to change if it was to benefit from the uptake in mobile data.
Strategy for success
Two clear strategies for MTN Ghana’s data business were agreed. The first was to focus on improving smartphone penetration in Ghana, and the second was to reduce any further revenue loss through additional network coverage.
Sinha says the Operator Strategy Program is a very powerful engagement tool. “The process of the initial research combined with the analysis of the live network captures an inside-out and outside-in view of a customer’s business. This helps the customer fine tune their business needs and network capabilities with a view towards the future.”
From engagement to partnership
MTN Ghana agreed to work with the Ericsson team to develop a separate data strategy for 2012-15 with explicitly defined, executable programs. For MTN Ghana, Ericsson’s reach and experience were well appreciated. “One of Ericsson’s strengths is that they operate in both developed and developing countries, and they can bring a massive amount of knowledge to the table,” says De.
The opportunities for Ericsson are plentiful and they currently have four different engagements running with MTN Ghana. Blessmore Chibanda, Ericsson Key Account Manager for MTN Ghana, is leading on this front. “We are looking at Customer Experience Management as a key differentiator in the market, business innovation, new revenue opportunities, end-to-end efficiency and a network evolution program that will maintain MTN Ghana’s market leadership. Finally, we are expanding our ongoing discussion on mobile broadband growth through smartphone optimization and network densification using Ericsson’s heterogeneous networks solution.”
The initial proactive engagement has now led to broader discussions on a number of fronts that will hopefully prove beneficial to both MTN Ghana and Ericsson.