An interview with Hussein Malhas, VP Revenue MENA, Turkey & Pakistan, Infobip


Infobip MENA: Reflections and the Road Ahead

Q1. Can you outline to our readers how the tech landscape that exists in the UAE and across the Middle East cultivates and fosters an environment for digital transformation?
Infobip is present in multiple countries across the region, and we have witnessed firsthand the role that existing policies play in driving industries towards digital transformation. We have also noticed that the maturity level varies from one country to the next, for example the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, and Egypt, KSA are introducing policies related to public cloud adoption, AI usage, and additional elements contributing to digital transformation, whereas progress continues to be lagging for other countries.
The level of adoption additionally varies between private and public sector organizations. When it comes to the private sector, almost all countries are adopting digital transformation and are embracing a disruptive approach to cater to the evolving demands of their customers. The landscape is slightly different for the public sector; some countries are investing a lot and are partnering with global companies to introduce policies and digital transformation/AI enablement, but this observation does not apply to all.
Q2. We have witnessed widespread transformation over the last 18 months, but in your opinion what trend has emerged that has really fueled the adoption and implementation of disruptive technologies and new business models?
In the absence of physical communication/interaction, the need for virtual communication and platforms transpired. Millennials further expedited the adoption of these trends and technologies, the disruption came much faster, for example retail moved into e-commerce, finance moved into fintech, and life shifted online completely, even in traditionally operated entities.
The past 18 months have undoubtedly changed things. In essence, the pandemic forced companies to adopt technology, including distant and virtual communication. This really fueled the need for engagement platforms that utilize social media and OTT platforms among other communication channels, and it did the job for that time.
We have also witnessed a big push towards the adoption of virtual communication and collaboration platforms as well the introduction of social media for business (WhatsApp, Instagram, RCS, IMessage) meaning it evolved from being a means for social interaction to business interaction.
Q3. How has 2021 been from an Infobip perspective, have you been satisfied by the growth that you have enjoyed and which of your products have really struck a chord and resonated with the market?
Infobip is based on engagement and customer experience, and these two categories in specific have witnessed exponential growth over the past two years on a global level. Our business has also flourished in the region due to the high demand and significant transformation of companies, in addition to their willingness to quickly adapt to the latest communication trends to keep up with the pace globally and to communicate and engage with their customers.
Customers nowadays want a quick and simple response with no lag time. And this is where Infobip comes in, by providing communication channels and platforms that help bridge businesses with customers. The company has also introduced new solutions that help companies take CX to the next level through the utilization of AI and chatbot solutions; offering solutions that, for instance, provide customer segmentation and a 360 view to help better position the company.
Q4. Can you provide us with an example of a customer success story over the past 18 months?
We have witnessed many remarkable examples, and some of the most interesting to me were examples of traditional businesses who were bold enough to embrace digital transformation and reaped the benefits.
There’s manufacturer who worked with wholesale and retailers in past who suddenly decided to open a direct channel of communications with their customers. They launched an entire marketing and communication campaign and launched a contact center. Their business grew 20 percent business growth rapidly and unexpectedly. They were also able to reduce cost by eliminating two to three layers of commission. The moral of the story is that when companies opt to transform, people are eager to opt in, even in the most traditional of industries such as manufacturing.  
Q5. Cloud is the future. However, many enterprises have struggled to adapt to the demands presented by cloud transformation. Why do you think businesses are struggling – and what do they need to do to ensure the seamless transition of their processes and operations?
Companies are in constant competition to gather data, yet the bigger the data, the bigger the infrastructure required to manage it, in essence, this is where the need for public cloud adoption started. The faster companies adopt the public cloud, the faster they are in digital transformation game, which will help business growth. However, initially only a few were courageous enough to jump on the public cloud to build their momentum and solutions, and sadly the more conservative ended up lagging behind, some beyond the point of recovery.
Digital transformation depends largely on mindset and a willingness to change. This willingness usually comes from the CEO. To disrupt someone needs to be held accountable a risk and vision that is usually top drive.
Apart from that, a solid infrastructure needs to be in place for transformation that goes well beyond IT readiness. Tech culture and language needs to be inducted in all segments and verticals of the company and all heads of entities need to be pushed from sales and security to marketing and finance.
Q6. Can you tell us what your main goals and objectives are for 2022?
We are going to continue what we started for sure! We believe there is a huge demand for our solutions and companies need the differentiation that Infobip’s solutions offer to stay ahead. Differentiation comes with knowing your customer, getting the right channels of communication with customers, and providing your costumers with a personalized experience, these three factors define who we are and what we do as a company. Speaking of differentiators, Infobip’s is that we have people on the ground to help companies transform fast and to help them improve CX in all our offices, which will increase their revenue and reduce their cost. In terms of market development, we will focus on the GCC in addition to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan.