Digital transformation at the core of Viettel’s strategy

By Pham Van    December 17, 2019 | 02:00 am PT
Le Dang Dung, acting chairman of Viettel Group, once said "Digitize or die", underlining his determination to pursue the military giant’s digital transformation target.

He also referred to the title of a bestseller by Andy Grove, the legendary former CEO of Intel, ‘Only the paranoid survive’, to describe Viettel’s digitization process.

"Just one year ago if anyone had dared to claim that a Vietnamese company would succeed in e-wallet in Burundi, one of 10 countries with the lowest per capita GDP in the world, they would have been considered paranoid," Dung said.

At that time no one believed that Viettel Group, with its Lumitel brand in that African country, could run a profitable 4.0 service there, since developing a fintech product such as an electronic wallet even in Vietnam, a country with a higher level of development and better telecom infrastructure, is very difficult, let alone Burundi, he recalled.

Now, two years later, the Lumitel e-wallet has climbed to top position in terms of user numbers, with more than 1.4 million active subscribers, and distribution channels (16,793 agents), and broke even at the beginning of 2019.

"This result is unbelievable for a fintech service in Burundi, Viettel Group’s poorest international market," Dung stressed.

Lumicash e-wallet leads the electronic payment market in Burundi.

Lumicash e-wallet leads the electronic payment market in Burundi.

The term "paranoid" could be used not only in the international market but also internally. A Viettel subsidiary, Viettel Post, once considered the lowest technology company in the group for primarily using manual labor and operations, has now successfully transformed into a tech company.

Viettel Post built a delivery application on smartphones, normally the preserve of technology companies, greatly changing the customer service experience.

Unlike a traditional technology product, Viettel Post’s app is designed to meet customers' requirements and offer benefits both to them and the company, which are the strategic principles of a firm considering digital transformation.

It enables Viettel Post to speed up order creation three-fold and reduce the time required for processing customer requests from 240 seconds to eight. The application has nearly one million users.

Diligent market research

According to Viettel, one of the key elements of digital transformation is innovation with rapid and continuous testing. ViettelPay in Vietnam and Mytel in Myanmar are examples of success.

Based on a ViettelPay Lunar New Year promotion, Mytel, a Viettel's Myanmar company, launched "Shake the amazing" campaign, customizing it for the local market, when it began operations on June 9, 2018.

"Shake the amazing" created a trend among people all over Myanmar of shaking their phone. It was easy to join: just download the My Mytel app on the phone and shake it to win from hundreds of millions of prizes with every shake like free SMSs, call minutes and data and even iPhone Xs and cars.

"Shake the amazing" registered more than six million shakes per day at its peak.

"The digital transformation of Viettel is focusing on changing needs and cooperating to create new values," a Viettel spokesman said.

It has invested heavily in 4G infrastructure, offering many short-term, high-speed data packages (1, 3, 7 days) at low rates and others in collaboration with Youtube, Facebook ... which contribute to Viettel Telecom’s revenue growth.

In Peru, the Ti5 package offered by Bitel, a Viettel's Peru subsidiary, with high-speed data and unlimited domestic calling has met customers' demand.

A Bitel spokesperson said: "With the 4.0 revolution, demand for these services has increased sharply, especially from Youtube, Whatsapp, Facebook, Viber ... users. However, big local carriers ignored this and only targeted rich customers."

Bitel was named the most favorite telecom service in Peru in June 2019 by market research and consulting firm, Arellano.

Bitel, with its heavy investment in 4G, has become the largest infrastructure provider in Peru.

Ti5, its unlimited package, helped Bitel gain 1 more percentage point of market share in first nine months of 2019. It was named the "Best Telecom Product" at the 2019 International Business Awards - Stevie Awards for the high-quality telecom experience it offered.

Data-focused strategy

"In the digital transformation era, data is the biggest asset," Dung said.

Focusing on digitization and customer data, Viettel has created an automated customer care program using artificial intelligence, Viettel ++, offering regular care and great deals.

Viettel Post's data platform, with the support of AI, aims to bring a different experience that is friendly, transparent and convenient to satisfy its customers.

Digital transformation at Viettel is simply understood as getting out of the traditional telecom operator's model by digitizing internal governance and creating new business models.

Dung added: "Once a new trend is discovered, you must decide quickly and get things done. Without determination, you will be left behind."

Shake the amazing campaign

"Shake the amazing", a successful promotion campaign on smartphone of Viettel Myanmar (Mytel).

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