Etisalat is mainly a telecommunication company that operates in Asia, Middle East and certain regions of Africa. The company, initially called Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, was re-branded in 2009. It ranks among the largest and top companies in the Middle East in terms of market share and capitalization. With over 170 million customers, Etisalat has gained accolades as the most powerful company in the United Arabs Emirate from Forbes Middle East.
As a leading telecommunications service provider, Etisalat has embarked on ambitious projects that aim at helping to achieve its long-term objectives of becoming the ultimate company of choice in the Middle East. It also intends at becoming the best in other markets where it operates; that is, in terms of communication services. In 2014, the company announced an exclusive launch of LG G3 smartphone in colors that would make it stand out in the market. The UAE market is served with gold colored 3G smartphones, a symbol of finesse and excellence.
With revenue of AED 38.85 billion in 2014, Etisalat invested in expanding its market share in telecommunications services. As one of the only two telecommunications service providers in the UAE, Etisalat has a vast number of services that it has invested into streamline its operations in the region and other markets. Apart from the conventional telecommunications services, Etisalat is also internet provider hub that provides connectivity to other companies in communications operating in the region (The Wall Street Journal, 2014).
As the largest carrier of international voice traffic in the Middle East and African markets, Etisalat has established numerous roaming agreements with other countries around the world. The agreements allow the company to provide services like GPRS, voice roaming, 3G and Blackberry in other countries. Etisalat also operates Points of Presence from major cities in the world including London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, New York, Singapore, among others. In addition, the company launched the 4G services in Long Term Evolution.
Established as a joint-stock company between local partners and International Aeradio Limited in 1976, Etisalat changed ownership structure in 1983. It allowed the UAE government to hold 60 percent share while the public held the remaining 40 percent. The Federal Law number 1 issued by the government allowed the company to start providing telecommunications wireless and wired services between the UAE and other countries. The Federal Law also gave the corporation the right to give licenses for importers, manufacturers, owners, or anyone who wanted to operate communications services. As such, the corporation has regulatory and control powers and, hence, the monopolization of telecommunications services. However, with recent liberalization and introduction of another communication service providers like du, the market has opened up. The commencement of the cellular operations in 2001 allowed Etisalat to acquire a greater market in terms of reach (Etisalat, 2014).
Etisalat promotes a number of services to its clients. The international roaming services allow clients to communicate with their family or associates from other countries that are not covered by Etisalat services. The Internet and television services allow the client to have a dual play package comprising of all services in communication. With 1.02 million internet subscribers, the company provides 4G mobile internet access, 3G Mobile internet access, broadband internet services, post-paid dial-up and prepaid, among other services.
The iZone system which provides hot spots in central locations including restaurants, shopping malls, cafes, among other areas allows the clients to access by buying prepaid cards or use an existing account. The Internet services offered are billed in terms of client groups and the accession time. Also, these services are targeted at business users. Etisalat has previously announced provision of high-definition calls in its local markets. The services offered to private, public, corporate, and government departments have access to better information systems through cloud services in UAE (Etisalat, 2014).
Etisalat Company has been expanding its information systems to reflect it market portfolio in the local and international market. The market expansion means that the information systems facilities that the company uses to facilitate the communication of its clients on its network must be big enough owing to increased data. As such, Etisalat has formed collaborations with other telecommunications companies, especially in markets that are located outside the UAE. The companies information management systems are focused on providing better services in telecommunication, investments, submarine cable installation, maintenance and repair, cable TV and home entertainment, commercial banking services, among others. The services are spread across the markets in UAE, Africa, and Asia. The large portfolio of not only the services provided but also the number of companies that collaborate with Etisalat require a complex but distributed information system to allow the company to compete effectively in its markets.
Technically, the collaborating companies in the provision of services in different regions offer support to the overall objective of the Etisalat as a telecommunication service provider. Thus, the important information about the information system is filtered and distributed from the company’s headquarters in Dubai. The aim is to ensure that the information and data used across the company’s markets meet the qualities and standards already set by the IT practices at the company. The information systems management practices align the company to its business demands and are aimed at providing securely managed, high quality, and reliable information services to the clients across its network.
Etisalat sustained position is supported by high-rated technology within the business as well as singled out expertise which ensures major systems continues to stay online at a time that the company’s supply of important telecommunication services to its clients is enhanced. The collaborative improvement of information systems across the various business portfolios within Etisalat and among collaborating companies ensures that the company offers high quality information services that are branded and same to its clients across its different markets. The business continuity prospects for Etisalat are also focused to ensure delivery of high quality services to the clients through enhanced business suite that cater for the needs of different clients, individuals, corporate organizations, governments, businesses, among others.
Etisalat also focuses on establishing information systems that allow stakeholders to have a range of interactions and activities including consultations, communications, and information disclosure that allow the company to serve the clients as per their needs. The company has formed a working group that identifies the most significant areas that require specific focus of the information systems to all the determination of the most influential factors in streamlining delivery of services through better data and information. Etisalat information systems emphasize the creation of formal and informal interaction points between the company activities and the client to all creation of relationships. It aims at building understanding and mutual trusts, as well as accountability to the clients and institutions that depend on it for communication and internet services.
Etisalat continues to expand in fast-growing markets. So far, the company operates in more than 20 countries, and the expansion of markets is still on-going. The attractiveness of new markets, especially in Africa where its competitors have not opened their foot, is promising to bring in a new competition as competitors will also want to have a share of the lucrative African market. Moreover, as the company opens up its market into new regions, it will be able to attract investors because its potential of expanding becomes higher in the industry. The African and Asian markets are opening up to mobile phone services including the Internet, and it is projected that a lot of people in these markets will take up the mobile services more than any other regions. Thus, Etisalat will be assured of making huge profits even as it sets out to build infrastructure and put in place systems that will facilitate its operations in previously untouched markets.
As a growing company, Etisalat will benefit from the exponential expansion of mobile virtual network operators not just in the UAE region but also the regions where it is acquiring foothold. Already, Etisalat is enjoying the provision of end client services to its clients in new markets using the established infrastructures. As this company grows, it enters new markets as an MVNO but which already has the network to compete effectively in the new market. The company has identified countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, and South Sudan where it has opened branches. Thus, it uses a model that transforms the way telecommunication services are offered in those countries, bringing in a whole new load of services. Etisalat already is opening up unexploited markets in other countries given that the market in the Middle East is saturated. In the process, the company is acquiring a new set of rights, hence, circumventing the proliferation of regulators in the Middle East and other countries. As a result, the company operates on the concession of the government and, hence, avoids the competition from new entrants who may cause a reduction in the market power in the new markets that are opened in other areas (Etisalat, 2013).
However, the changing structure of telecommunication services and service providers will be challenging to Etisalat in the long run. For example, many mobile virtual network operators are coming up. Technology is also very dynamic especially in the telecommunication sector. As such, the future is not as straight forward as some of the players in the industry might speculate. For instance, a small change in technology will mean that Etisalat will need to change its system on a large scale, especially where the information systems are interlinked across the various markets. Likely, such changes are costly to the company (Etisalat, 2014).
New entrants in the telecommunication industry are likely to increase the competition in the industry. Etisalat started as the only telecommunication service provider, acting as a regulator and the controller of the telecommunication industry in the UAE. There has also been the liberation of the market and the coming of other telecommunication service providers, as well as establishment of a regulatory body, Telecommunication Regulatory Authority. Thus, Etisalat has had to play on an equal platform with its competitors in the industry. However, it enjoys some rights courtesy of it being a government owned company. Telecommunication companies are subjected to reduction of profit margin as part of the regulations that require a constant level of supply prices across all the markets. As a result, the supplier and the buyer have all more bargaining power which in effect affects the performance of the business (Etisalat, 2013).
Etisalat already has a good competitive advantage through its information systems and network of subscribers and partners across its markets. The integrated network allows the company to provide telecommunication services all over the world, internet, mobile and fixed mobile services. In order to streamline these services, Etisalat will need to segment its markets. Market segmentation will avoid the criticism that the company has had to ensure that it overcharges its customers when they exceed their subscribed bundle even though its competitors charge the normal rates. Equally, market analysis, especially in the new markets, will allow it to come up with infrastructure that will serve that given efficiently. The African market is no doubt different from the Asia or the Middle East markets, and will require dedicated information systems that meet the environmental and skills conditions in those markets.
As a pioneer of telecommunication service in UAE and the Middle East region, Etisalat has a wealthy of skilled personnel who can drive its e-commerce and digital markets efficiently. The company has opened its commercial arm of services to address the growing need in its markets. The company also has opportunities to utilize its new markets in terms of offering the e-commerce and digital services to the clients. Still, market liberalization and dynamics of technology will play a role in the level of speed of adopting e-commerce and digital services especially in new markets. The company must also focus on the sustainability of its markets especially its UAE and Middle East markets as they quickly become saturated for mobile services. Additionally, expansion of service portfolio will enable it to remain operational at a time when telecommunication service providers are not making any profit in their backyard. Digital content is also coming up as a driver of the telephony industry with youth indicating a high consumption capability. It shows the probability that the demand will continue to grow (Etisalat, 2013).
Etisalat has continued to invest in the best information systems across its network with a vision of a challenging and demanding future especially with the expansion of its markets. The available information system at the company is able to address effectively its needs in terms of marketing and distribution of its services to the clients. Etisalat also partners with other telecommunication service providers and data handlers to ensure efficient delivery of services to the customers. Information systems at the company are divided into business, clients, and carriers systems to enable the dedication of services and suit the needs being addressed by the system (Shifrasmarthome, 2014).
Etisalat uses a framework that allows sustainable development of the information system across the network. The framework also focuses on the market segments being served and the type of the services offered. The internal reports indicate continued growth of the information system even though the increased competition is likely to impact the way telecommunication companies design their information management systems in the future.
The ability to retrieve and store information in an effective manner, and at a minimum cost is part of a good information management system. Currently, data storage and retrieval services are still taking a sizeable share of the company’s operational costs. However, improvement in IT processes could reduce the costs as well as increase the safety of the data held at the company’s data centers
The expansion of the market and the portfolio in terms of services will require an information system that can take into consideration every factor involved in a good information system. The IS at the company must focus on the future business plans while allowing for analysis of the proficiency in the handling of the business needs.
The current IS at Etisalat is focused on building a network of systems that will serve a common purpose as well as enable the company to keep track of the new challenges in the market. The current system allows for cost-effective storage and retrieval of information by the client and control base. The accessibility of the system to the client is important in placing the company to a competitive level and sustained development. In the future, the company should focus on building systems that enhance security and business objectives of the company. Such systems should also reflect the diversity of the UAE, Asian, and African markets.