2 OCTOBER 2002
Maltacom Group Chief Executive Stephen Muscat delivered a keynote speech at the 2002 Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) held recently in London. Mr Muscat, who was invited to sit on the ICT panel, focused on how Maltacom is exploiting emergent information and communication technologies to drive new business for the Group.
The annual Forum is aimed at providing opportunities for Commonwealth heads of government and leading public policy-makers to involve the private sector in the promotion of international trade and investment.
This years forum, entitled Managing Globalisation: Challenges for Business and Governments was a high-level gathering of over 400 participants from 54 Commonwealth countries. Plenary sessions covered a variety of issues ranging from e-government to healthcare and corporate governance.
Speakers were invited to stimulate innovative thinking on how best to develop policies, implement strategies and promote private-public partnerships.
Mr Muscat first gave an overview of Maltas success in upgrading its ICT infrastructure and human resources over in the past decade. Malta is now among leader countries in its rollout of broadband infrastructure. The countrys move to an ICT-friendly nation had been paralleled by Maltacoms own internal move from a former state telco operator to a publicly-listed group of companies whose strategy was being developed around the potential of ICT to generate value.
The common theme facing former state telecoms companies is how to think outside their traditional networks sector, and move up the value chain by entering areas dominated by newcomers such as ISPs, software houses and application service providers.
"Underlying our Group strategy is the realisation that profitability and a sustainable future lie in making a radical transition from a company which viewed its products and services more as a one size fits all to a group of companies with complementary services relevant to niche sectors in both residential and business customer groups," said
Maltacoms business strategy over the past 18 months had been three-pronged:
diversification of the core business through the establishment of service subsidiaries, thereby
separating services from networks operations; improving customer service offerings; and
improving internal processes in the run-up to full market liberalisation in three months time.
In early 2001, Maltacom fine-tuned this overall Group strategy by devising a coherent ICT business strategy. ICT had previously been seen as an internal cost centre, rather than as the potential driver of new customer products and services.
A key decision was to segregate ICT governance issues from ICT service delivery. In the process, Maltacom identified how it could position itself as a total ICT solutions provider: by aggregating currently disparate services into improved, one-stop-shop customer service portfolios; and by moving up the value chain and introducing new value-added services over our existing networks something which Maltacoms potential competitors were not in a position to easily implement, Mr Muscat explained.
To demonstrate how Maltacom is putting its ICT strategy into practice, Mr Muscat presented a case study of Innovate, the Groups ICT subsidiary set up earlier this year. Innovate, Mr Muscat said, was being positioned as an Application Service Provider capable of offering a complete suite of services, over a nationwide network infrastructure, to every home and business in Malta.
"We believe that there is a niche for the ASP model in Malta. In a microstate where most companies are SMEs without in-house ICT departments, we are positioning Innovate as a turnkey ICT company, enabling customers to outsource their ICT infrastructure and applications, and focus on managing their own core businesses."
Commenting on the Forum, Mr Muscat said that the event had been an opportunity to showcase the strides made by Malta in developing a robust ICT infrastructure and industry sector in the past decade. Maltacom itself was regarded as an example of how a former state telco was using its resources creatively to generate new revenue streams from information and communication technologies.
Mr Muscat also said that representatives of several developing countries had shown interest in using Maltacoms training facilities at the Maltacom College International.
In his summing up of the ICT plenary, Paul Fletcher, Regional Managing Director, CDC Capital Partners (UK), referred to the high penetration of broadband in Malta as an example of a small country that had achieved an enviable record in the roll-out and take-up of emerging technologies.