BICS: keeping up with the evolving telco industry
As the telco industry evolves, BICS’ CEO explains how his firm keeps up with customer trends and demand, striving to always improve quality and added value.
With a core mantra of “think global”, BICS has increasingly embraced digitisation to meet the demands of its evolving customer base. In recent years, the telecommunications provider has expanded its operations outside of its domestic Belgian market, with offices spanning across the Americas, Africa, and Asia. “We are a telco for a telco. Our main business is to carry international telecommunications traffic for all the telecommunications companies and communications service providers,” informs Daniel Kurgan, CEO of BICS. The firm offers mission-critical services to customers by carrying their voice, messaging, and homing traffic, enabling their customers’ users to make international calls, for example. The company’s network consists of fibre optics and submarine cables, and over the past 20 years, BICS’ customer portfolio has grown from mobile operators to cloud communication providers and telco software firms such as Skype. The Belgian business has also extended its offerings, ultimately seeking to pass information through its network to deliver more intelligent services to customers. “We deliver a whole set of value-added services such as fraud prevention and remediation, advanced reporting, traffic simulation tools like Steering of Roaming, marketing tools like Welcome SMS, or data roaming control like bill shock prevention,” Kurgan adds.
The private-joint company belongs to three telcos – Proximus, Swisscom, and MTN. Until 2005, BICS was a division of Proximus, which remains the controlling shareholder. As a member of the firm’s Board of Directors, Kurgan has worked between Proximus, formerly Belgacom, and BICS for over 20 years. The CEO claims to have always worked within international global environments with a focus on technology. “I'm a bit of a company veteran – I was at Proximus when BICS became a new division and I grew from there. I've got a lot of experience working and being surrounded by brilliant engineers and pretty complex technology environments and I guess that has helped me to run a telco, which is a pretty complex business,” Kurgan reveals.
Kurgan is proud of how far the company has come since he joined and BICS became its own division. “We are proud to say that since the inception of the company, the headcount has tripled. We have created hundreds of jobs which I think is an achievement for all of us. We have also grown our profit five-fold and we’ve really managed to grow the business,” Kurgan notes. As the company expanded, it began to invest in new operations. At the end of 2017, BICS completed its acquisition of Telesign, the California-based leader in two-factor authentication through SMS. “Together with Telesign, we are creating an end-to-end communication platform as a service. They have a huge range of customers who are dominating the market and work with 20 out of the top 25 internet brands.”
“However, the telecoms sector is fast changing – everyone can see the industry has developed so much in the past five years, with the growth of mobile internet and social networks,” Kurgan adds. “With this changing market and business model, our biggest challenge so far is finding the best way to stay ahead and be a pioneer in technology evolution.” With the introduction of new technologies, the CEO claims its strategic purpose is to bridge the telecom and digital worlds. With the amount of voice and messaging traffic generated by companies continuing to grow as a result of digital evolution, BICS enables firms to connect with their end-user.
When asked what digital transformation means to BICS, Kurger revealed that there was more than one meaning. “On the one hand, it is the trigger for a wider business shift, whereby traditional telcos are struggling to grow amid newer competing platforms. Now, like every company, we are impacted by this transformation because we have to adapt our internal processes and the way we interact with our customers,” he says. “On the other hand, we are already a very technically advanced company: if you compare us with an average company in the industry, we are much more digitalised and we have a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to ensure this.”
With the industry’s evolution, BICS is having to adapt to new customer trends. “Currently it's all about cost containment, cost containment, cost containment,” Kurgan states. “Customer demands are also becoming more complex. Ten years ago, we would just sell the console, now customers ask for more. There is a constant fight to quality and to more value for money.” Despite growing demand, the company is able to continue to offer its expertise and excellence in service delivery. The business prides itself of the quality of the services it offers and its customer relations. “Everybody knows that we are not the cheapest on the market, but the quality of the service is our differentiator. If our customers have a problem, we try to resolve any issues with the expertise we have in-house. That's how we address customer demands and try to make a difference in the market today.”
“If you want to be relevant you need to excel in your very core traditional business. You need to build the services and the processes and adapt your way of working for the digital customer,” Kurgan explains. As technologies such as 5G are developed by manufacturers and technology giants, BICS will adapt and integrate the technology into its services, enabling its customers to use it and roam with it. “So, that remains the very key challenge,” Kurgan says. “The cornerstone of the transformation of the company is to uphold the legacy of the company whilst coping with the demand from digital.”
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