Q&A: George Nikoloudis, COO, OTEGLOBE

07 November 2016 | Jason McGee-Abe


George Nikoloudis, COO of OTEGLOBE, speaks to Capacity's Jason McGee-Abe about what the company’s strategic plans have been in the region and how it's all about "expand or die" to stay ahead.

What have been the highlights and key developments for OTEGLOBE in the region over the past 12 months?

George NikoloudisFor us, we’ve been underway with a transformation programme heavily focused on our customers. We’ve been improving the link and alignment of our CRM and customer experience tools in order to give them a better understanding and a more direct, clearer way of working with us. We have invested heavily over the last three to four years of money investing in hardware and network expansions, but it’s critical to create a more immediate response and clarity for what our customers want. Some of the biggest carriers around tend to forget that it’s not just about winning the business and providing a good service but about updating them in a direct transparent manner. The work over the past year-and-a-half means we’re now at the point that when we ask the right questions we attain the direct answers.

What are the challenges of operating in the European market and how are you looking to tackle those challenges?

Consolidation of the market and obviously the financial crisis hit this market. Margins are getting thinner and thinner. We see that even the lucrative markets of data centre and IT for wholesale is margins are also tightening. The market has opened up substantially over the last five years, with alternative carriers sharing their network infrastructure. At the same time the incumbent traditional carriers are willing to lower their traditional cost base. This has put pressure and prices and investment points for future projects.

What are OTEGLOBE’s strategic priorities as well as expansion plans for the region in 2016/2017?

The market is more mature now in Southeast Asia, Indian Peninsula, Arabic Gulf, Sub-Saharan and Mediterranean basins and are are still developing. Mobile data and voice are key priorities for us with one of the primary focal points in Greece today being video. 

When we look at the Asian region, China and India has surge a huge proportion of the world’s population you can only see that these will be the key areas of market opportunity.

What major trends do you see occurring in the European market this year and how do you plan to capitalise on those?

We will all get affected by the trends that occur in retail. The main factor is VoIP. We see everything moving on high-speed data. The world has changed very quickly when you think about it. We used to sell a 2MB line, now we’re talking about 10G and it’s probably cheaper today. My 16 year-old son has a normal plan of 150 minutes and 2G of data on his mobile phone. After a fortnight he has a message that says his data has run out. Why? He starts using his voice time after he has hit his data limit. I don’t see him watch TV at home anymore because he’s watching TV or YouTube on his independent video device.

Data is expanding at an amazing pace and we have to find a way to help deliver it in a cost effective way. That’s a trend and a challenge for us. Delivering on a wholesale level the scale has grown exponentially. 

Some firms are building a network and are already talking about upgrades before it is complete. Take the initial investment before the network goes live to ensure that you have enough money to support future upgrade projects. The biggest challenge is really how we can capitalise at the early stages of projects on our investment to ensure that the framework is ready to continually upgrade our networks and enhance the customer experience. It’s expand or die at the end of the day.

What does your organisation hope to achieve by attending Capacity Europe 2016?

We are happy to support Capacity Eurasia. It’s been a wonderful place to meet partners and friends over the years and this year is no different. Despite competing with a number of companies at the event, it’s good to see our competitors to share knowledge with our peers to tackle the challenges that we as an industry together face and seek to improve on a daily basis.