MTN Business Kenya: a One Stop Shop for Connectivity and Enterprise Solutions

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Festus Kiragu, acting managing director, MTN Business Kenya.

The company recently invested on a state-of-the-art tier III data centre established using the most rigorous engineered IP networks to meet the business needs of its customers

When MTN Business entered the Kenyan market in 2009, its mandate was to provide business solutions that would enable its Corporate and SME customers to not only do morebut realize efficiencies in their businesses.

The company’s stellar growth is evidence that it derives fulfillment in customer satisfaction. “We endeavor to provide exceptional and proactive customer service as we understand that what we offer is critical to our customers,” says Festus Kiragu, acting managing director, MTN Business Kenya.

MTN made its entry into Kenya after acquiring UUNET Kenya, which it then re-branded to MTN Business Kenya. UUNET was previously owned by Verizon Wireless, an American data solutions provider.

Since then, the company has invested heavily in the Kenyan market. “In 2017, we invested over $2 million in the state-of-the-art data centre in Nairobi, and a further $1 million in a backup facility in Mombasa,” reveals Mr.Kiragu. “We have also invested over $15 million in our fibre network in four major towns – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.”

Its eight year presence in Kenya has seen it grow into a brand to reckon with in the technology industry today. “We plan to continue investing in this market since Kenya is a critical market within the region and many multinationals headquartered here,” observes Mr.Kiragu.

MTN has an extensive connectivity footprint with presence in 24 markets across Africa and the Middle East.

Shifting focus to enterprise solutions

MTN has shifted from just focusing on connectivity to enterprise solutions, a move that was informed by various factors.

“We realized that connectivity is a gateway or an enabler for business and not purely an end in itself. For us to maximize the potential of this market, we must ensure our customers stay ahead of the competition by providing services that drive their businesses.”

The company also wants to help its customers leverage efficiencies and not primarily deal with something that is not in their core business such as information technology.

Mr. Kiragu further says that organizations are keener on accessing ICT as a service as opposed to tying heavy CAPEX on IT assets that have to be refreshed every so often to stay ahead of the curve.  Connectivity in this business is now a commodity. The prices are declining every day and with margins considerably dropping.Although this is a benefit for the customers, since they are continuously paying less, service providers must innovate and bring new products into the market to remain afloat.

Products

A key enterprise solution that MTN is delivering is Cloud services. We are enabling organizations to create virtual servers and virtual data centers on our infrastructure where they can seamlessly install their business applications and launch products in a record time. Previously, a company would take not less than six months to procure the server hardware and install requisite applications, a process that we have now reduced to hours. The flexibility to scale up capacity on the go and affordable “pay as you use” model is what our customers value the most.

We have invested in applications guided by demand from the market. Some of these include Backup and DR as a service. With traditional disaster recovery solutions, businesses have had to figure out what their budget can support and make tough decisions about which applications to be or not be covered. We have simplified this process and technology’s complexity of replication for our customers by providing disaster recovery as a service where customers can recover their IT services on MTN cloud incase of disaster and they only have pay an affordable monthly subscription.

The other solution is MTN IP business voice service -a solution that allows customers to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection as opposed to a regular phone line.This gives organizations value of being able to make free calls across the organization branch offices, allow employees flexibility of moving with their office line and receive calls on any device be it fixed desk phone, smart device or PC. Some of our customers have recorded a drop of over 60% on telephone call costs by migrating from traditional architecture to MTN voice solution.

The solution is based on managed hosted PBX. Being a hosted service, it enables businesses significantly reduce any capital expenditure, maintenance and total network costs, simultaneously increasing access to converged applications.

In 2017, as earlier mentioned, MTN Business launched a state-of-the-art tier -111 data centre designed and built based on Up time Institute standards and Telecommunications Industry Association 942 standards. “As such, companies will no longer need to store their own data as it can be very expensive. That is where we come in.”

Recently, the company also invested in a backup site in Mombasa so as to give customers an added comfort that their data has been backed up somewhere else.

In 2017, MTN partnered with Microsoft to provide Office 365 suit according to business’ needs. These are Microsoft office apps- Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook – posted on the cloud. “This has given us a new level of impetus in the market as it allows customers to buy as they grow,” observes the managing director. An organization pays for only what they have used as the pricing model is pay-as-you-go.This plays a major role in the SME market, since previously they were almost financially locked out of digitization due to the huge capital investment required to have their own servers.

Differentiation

“What sets us apart is our customer service. Since we have been in this market for several years offering essential services, we have invested in a 24/7 customer service team that sits even on weekends and holidays to answer calls and solve any customer queries.”

Additionally, having a large footprint in Africa and the Middle East allows MTN to help its customers who would want to expand in the region and internationally. For instance, a bank that wants to go regional will also get MTN across the borders.

Furthermore, MTN Business invests heavily in its people. “We realized that our industry is service driven. Yes, we are providing something tangible but it is mostly service – internet and data center.” In regards to this, the company invests on its engineering team through training on the latest products in the market.

Road ahead

The industry is characterized by various emerging trends including the Internet of Things (IoT) and Business Intelligence and Analytics. “We are currently evaluating which trend can work best for the Kenyan market so that we can bring it here locally in the next one year or so.”

The company will also continue to seek key partnerships with international vendors including Microsoft and Cisco to bring their products in the Kenyan market.

Another expectation is leveraging more on geographical presence. Being in 24 markets, the company plans to continue expanding to give its customers seamless services across the markets they operate in.

“We want to deliver a digital world to our customers, to allow them access ICT as a service without the complexity of managing technology, and free up their time and resources for them to focus on their core business.”

MTN is typically known as a corporate service provider, but Mr. Kiragu says the company has an added focus on SME.  It recognizes that Kenya is 60- 70 percent SME market, and they are the ones driving the economy. In this regards, the company has structured its products in a way that an SME of two or three users is able to access them on the cloud at very affordable cost.

“We have also realized that the government is a big user of ICT, for instance the Huduma Centers. We therefore, want to tap into the public sector going forward,” concludes Mr.Kiragu.