Q&A with Juan Carlos Bernal, CEO of international wholesale business, Telefónica

12 March 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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Juan Carlos Bernal, CEO of international wholesale business, Telefónica speaks to Capacity about how the company is leading the charge of digital transformation in the LATAM region.

How has wholesale demand in the LATAM region evolved in recent years and how is Telefónica aiming to meet those demands this year?

In recent years we have seen great changes in the telecommunications market, including regulatory changes in Europe, demand from our customers for services with wide geographic coverage, the explosion of data consumption, and technology disruptions such as virtualisation to name a few. I believe operators across LATAM are prepared for these changes, and in particular the impending impact of changes to regulation. In line with this, we are working with operators to enhance our international voice and roaming offers in line with what we have seen in other regions, and we are also moving forward with large satellite projects to provide coverage in remote areas to meet government requirements to connect the unconnected.

Moreover, we are experiencing an increasing demand for digital and new services beyond the traditional wholesale portfolio, and thus we have launched new and innovative solutions, such as Connected Car and Marketing Campaigns Manager.

Transformation is now an everyday action, rather than the exception, and we are dedicated to transforming the way in which we develop new services in order to give our customers what they really want. We are developing a partner approach to deliver services in a cost effective manner, reducing time to market significantly, while offering customers best-in-class solutions. Additionally, we are leveraging the solutions we have developed within the Telefónica Group for our retail customers, transferring success cases to our customers outside the Telefonica footprint.

With so many changes in the market, what do you think should be the key priorities for carriers to meet customer needs?

I believe that carriers have to be able to adapt very quickly to new services and to the new types of customers that are starting to ask for wholesale services. This means we have to digitally transform our business to drive agility, reduce time-to-market, and improve our service catalogue to compete with digital native companies.

In your opinion, what are the keys to successful digital transformation?

Digital transformation includes the transformation of our network and systems, as well as making a significant change in the way we relate to our customers. We are working to digitise our company, from our front office to our back office; improving internal processes in order to be much more efficient, automated and to be able to respond to services in real time. I think this is the big change that our customers will be able to see soon.

Additionally, changing our company culture is key to lead this transformation. Leaders must be brave, support risk and empower teams in order to become an agile and innovative organisation.

And returning specifically to LATAM, how do you believe this transformation is going to impact the region?

Traditional operators are facing a market which is increasingly stagnate in terms of growth of subscribers which makes it important for them to differentiate their commercial offers. However, transformation also brings opportunities which can counter the impact of this trend. I believe that working together in wholesale-retail and to develop solutions for our customers' clients will be a source of growth in the region.

One example can be seen in our Roaming unit. Working side by side with retail operators they build more attractive retail propositions and daily rates, similar to Roam Like at Home (RLAH).  Evidence shows that roaming increases the value of the domestic bundle and delivers greater differentiation, especially for high-value customers. We are also enhancing and re-imagining our international voice propositions in the region and evolving our messaging platform to offer our customers a better service experience and a huge range of new functionalities.  

In addition, LATAM has a stable and growing economy, which has continued to see a positive demand growth for enterprise services in recent years, especially for network and mobile enterprise services. This is why we have put strong focus on designing new and improved carrier enterprise, mobile and digital services to provide solutions to retail and international business customers. We are improving our portfolio of business telco solutions not just for companies with HQs in the region, but also those outside the region that need to deliver their services in-region. I truly believe this is a market that will bring many new opportunities in the coming years, and by working together we can be jointly successful.