Vodafone: redefining telecommunications through digital transformation

Angela Mensah-Poku

At a time when the world is being compelled to embrace the new normal, Vodafone Ghana is leading the way in redefining the role of Telcos in the new world through a systematic programme of digitalisation at scale.

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for an accelerated digitalisation programme across virtually all sectors of industry. Within the telecommunications industry in Ghana, Vodafone has proven more than equal to the task and has chalked remarkable feats of business continuity and digital innovation that has seen the Telco deliver a suit of tailored services to customers over the past year even with over 90% of its staff working from home throughout the period.

Director of Technology at Vodafone Ghana, Shoyinka Shodunke avers that the secret to Vodafone’s seeming pandemic readiness lies in the company’s agenda to transition from a traditional Telco to a full-fledged digital organisation; a project that has been in the works for the past 5years.

In an exclusive interaction, he disclosed that his outfit is under-going a digital transformational regime to provide Ghanaians with quality services that are optimized to fit the new reality and provide exceptional convenience to customers.

According to him, Vodafone has established three core, strategic pillars which serve as the critical levers to transmute Vodafone Ghana from a traditional telco to a digital telco:

  1. Establishing a digital organisational culture
  2. Building transformative platforms
  3. System customization and strategic integration of Ecosystems

He explains further, “Culture is critical; we are intent on ensuring that all our employees develop digital-first habits and become adept at utilizing various digital tools in the course of work on a daily basis. We have therefore rolled-out a concerted programme geared towards inculcating digital behaviours in all Vodafone Staff.”

“Secondly, we have to ensure that we’re building platforms that are transformative; thus over the past 3 years we have been systematically reviewing our work platforms, systems and processes with a view towards digitizing and automating them to make them simpler and more efficient.”

“Lastly, we’re driving differentiation by customizing our digital platforms with unique capabilities that are developed in-house. This ensures that our platforms are tailor-made for the unique set of tasks carried out at Vodafone thereby delivering optimally.  Furthermore, our systems are also designed to sync seamlessly with other relevant third party partner ecosystems; this we have achieved through software engineering manoeuvres via shared platforms.”

Shoyinka Shodunke, has been collaborating extensively with Angela Mensah-Poku, Director of Digital and Commercial Operations at Vodafone to drive this lofty agenda.

We caught up with Angela to pick her thoughts on Vodafone’s ongoing journey of digital transformation. She opines that the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst to fast-track Vodafone’s already incubating digital telco agenda.

“The pandemic accelerated our plan to fully embrace digitalisation across all verticals from planning to operation, and it came at a time when we were intent on carrying out some simulations to test the forward-looking practices we already had in place. Our ability to transform our call centres and move smoothly from traditional brick-and-mortar customer service to digital service bears testament to how far we’ve come on our journey of digitalisation and the robustness of the digital platforms and measures we’ve developed along the way.”

More importantly, Angela Mensah-Poku, believes her organisation’s digital transformation agenda is set to deliver an unprecedented customer experience.

“Our digital customer experience approach is essentially a blending of digital and human interaction in a personal, instant and easy way,” she says. “In line with our commitment to building a digital society that improves people’s lives, we employ new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to transform our customers’ experience and enhance the efficiency of our operations. We have a host of digital-led platforms, which include a machine learning chatbot and a self-service app.”

Vodafone Ghana introduced its virtual customer assistant, TOBi, to automate responses to customer queries, concerns and requests in an instantaneous and personalised way, and Angela believes its introduction has been influential.

“We made TOBi a constant across all channels during COVID-19 and this has been invaluable. Tobi is now taking on around 30% of all customer contacts to our experience centre and is able to deal with transactions and information,” she says.

“It runs on machine learning and Big Data and has brought significant efficiency and convenience to our customers’ self-service journey. Again with regards to the impact of COVID, we, together with our customers had to adapt and become more digital in a matter of weeks.

Fortunately for us, we were already on that journey and being on that journey meant that we could easily leverage digital resources such as TOBi and the My Vodafone app to drive customer interactions and mitigate the pressure during those critical periods. Ironically, the pandemic has driven us to take leaps and bounds towards becoming a majorly digital organisation and our customer base as well has adapted impressively.”

“The My Vodafone app is one of the exciting ways in which we interact and deliver ultra-convenient services to our customers. Its unique and elaborate features offer a complete all-in-one solutions platform for our customers. This unique app allows customers access to Vodafone services and is designed with the objective of empowering the customer to do more and manage their accounts on the go. The app also integrates TOBi in its interface so that you don’t necessarily have to go to a retail store for assistance.”

Incidentally, commencing January 25th, both MVA (which was overhauled extensively last year) and TOBi celebrate their joint one year anniversary since introduction. Angela has hinted that there will be some exciting promotions to mark this milestone with exciting prizes for customers. “Watch this space, TOBi and MVA are about to reward their loyalists big time!” she proclaims.

Angela and Soyinka are pumped up about Vodafone transitioning to a technology communications company. They believe that within the next 3years, the transition would be complete and Vodafone customers will experience an extraordinary dawn of convenient, timeous and efficient service delivery.

This is especially because Vodafone Ghana’s overall customer-service infrastructure while future-driven still maintains a balance between the old and the new; thus while the digital services are on the upsurge, other traditional service centres such as call centres and the retail shop continue to function effectively ensuring that no one is left out and customers who may not be early adopters are able to utilize their preferred customer service options.

Vodafone Ghana’s impressive show of resilience and innovation in the past year, with staff working from home and delivering services effortlessly bear testament to a future-centric digitally-oriented organisation with a robust regime of business continuity and an almost clairvoyant anticipation of what the future holds.

Even with their digital transformation agenda at only 30% completion it is clear that VODAFONE holds the key to unlocking the pathway for Telco services in the new normal and are truly poised to redefine the role of Telcos through digital transformation. No wonder their tagline boldly proclaims: The Future is Exciting. Ready?

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