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Changing digital usage drives need for radical transformation in mobile operators

dtac’s Head of Transformation shares how fast-changing consumers are pushing organizations to adapt Due to the pandemic, consumer behaviors are changing more rapidly than ever Organizations must accelerate their digital transformation to meet customer expectations for better services, more flexibility and greater personalization.   Driven by new ways to shop and work online that bloomed during lockdowns, mobile data usage in Thailand nearly doubled in 2020, reaching 20GB per person per month. To keep up, mobile operators must invest heavily in their networks. And they must do so while maintaining affordability. In this context, the sustainability of network operators will depend on their ability to transform and deliver services beyond basic connectivity. To understand how dtac is navigating this dilemma, dtacblog spoke to David Uhlenbrock, dtac’s new Head of Transformation and Business Development. Digital First “Digital transformation has been a hot topic for years. But there’s this misconception that you do it once and then you’re done.  In fact, we will always need to transform ourselves,” said Mr. Uhlenbrock. “As usage of digital channels grows, dtac’s ways of work must be simpler and more automated to deliver on the speed and experience customers expect. This isn’t new. But with the…

“Never stop learning,” dtac tech chief advises

This month, dtacblog conducted its “Lunch at the Top” interview with Prathet Tankuranun, the chief technology officer of dtac. His venue of choice sits high on the 26th floor of Chamchuri Square, on the same floor as dtac’s network operations center. There is no fancy executive dining room on that floor. Instead, the venue was dictated by Mr. Prathet’s lunchbreak routine. These days, 15 minutes and a boxed lunch brought to his desk by his assistant is all he gets. Mr. Prathet is a man on a mission, namely dtac’s “One Cell Site One Hour” rollout. His long workday starts at 8.30 am. At 7 pm sharp, while others are heading home, he begins a daily meeting with his network team. He then wraps up a few more loose ends and leaves the office at about 9 pm. Given that Mr. Prathet spends more than 13 hours at his office, he has little patience for “death by PowerPoint.” Instead, he meets with his team in a table-less room where armchairs are arranged in a circle and participants are encouraged to speak frankly—and concisely. The business of network quality is always one of utmost urgency. “Testing the performance of our network around the…

Unlocking the power of 5G in Thailand remains uniquely complex

VP of External Relations Austin Menyasz on how 5G’s benefits can be unlocked more quickly Originally from Canada, Austin Menyasz joined dtac in June 2020 after three years in Singapore with Telenor Group’s Asia operations as Director of Public and Regulatory Affairs. Previously, Mr. Menyasz was based in Hong Kong representing the mobile industry across Asia Pacific on policy and regulatory matters with the GSMA and was a civil servant for the Government of Canada. As VP External Relations at dtac, he continues to work with numerous stakeholders, from industry groups to technical experts and regulators, to ensure dtac can provide the best possible services to its customers. He joins dtac at a time when public-private partnerships have never been so critical to the success of Thailand’s digital transformation, due to 5G reshaping how businesses, government and telecom operators work together. dtacblog spoke to Mr. Menyasz to better understand how Thailand’s policy and regulatory framework affects the future of mobile connectivity. “Ultimately the underlying government objectives in Thailand do not differ substantially from the ambitions anywhere else: leveraging technology to better the everyday life of citizens and boost economic productivity. What does differ in every country is the regulatory and…

How COVID-19 made purpose and empathy the future of work

In this month’s Lunch at the Top, dtacblog asks dtac’s Chief People Officer Nardrerdee Arj-harnwongse about work’s next normal COVID-19 accelerated the need for dtac’s transformation due to changing consumer habits dtac is a pioneer in flexible work in Thailand, with thousands of employees working remotely. dtac’s head of human resources says leaders must empower their teams with a strong purpose. dtacblog’s Lunch at the Top series interviews top executives from dtac and Telenor to understand how they view telecommunications’ changing role in Thai society. But due to COVID-19, “lunch” has mostly been transformed into video calls. And no one is closer to such changes than Chief People Officer Nardrerdee Arj-harnwongse. As dtac’s head of human resources, she’s spearheaded the largest flexible work scheme in Thailand, with dtac announcing last year that remote work is here to stay indefinitely for all roles that allow it. We spoke with Ms. Nardrerdee this January, just as Thailand was experiencing a second wave of COVID-19. The company headquarters had been maintaining a 30 percent occupancy level to enforce social distancing throughout the year but had just tightened rules to reduce it further. LEADING IN A CRISIS “The new normal impacts dtac in every…

Punch Up vows to transform Thailand with the power of data visualization

In this month’s Impact, dtacblog speaks to the founders of an innovative agency specializing in data-driven storytelling. In March 2019, an online media outlet “ELECT” sprang into operation with solid information on elections. At that time, Thailand was preparing to hold its first general election since the 2014 coup. ELECT offered a fresh perspective on the election via data, charts and graphics. Behind these infographics was Thanisara “Ging” Ruangdej, who then partnered with Patchar “Fai” Duangklad in founding Punch Up as a Data Storytelling Studio. “Many people have followed ELECT, making clear that to politics is something people care about. ELECT has attracted users and generated interactions. I also noticed the growing trend of data storytelling in the world. News giants like New York Times in the US and The Guardian in the UK have embraced the trend. So, we wanted to take data storytelling in Thailand farther and go beyond the political scope only. With Punch Up, we are addressing social, economic and environmental issues too,” Thanisara told dtacblog. Patchar added, “In the past, we thought only media could present information to the public. But after studying business models, we have concluded that we can work as a data…

The balancing act of dtac’s Chief Financial Officer in the “Never Normal”

Update: Dilip Pal was dtac's Chief Financial Officer from 2017 to 2020For this month’s “Lunch at the Top”, dtacblog sat down with Dilip Pal to discuss 12-figure investments over some dosas.dtac Chief Financial Officer Dilip Pal’s choice of an Indian restaurant for his “Lunch at the Top” with dtacblog is a seemingly straightforward pick. But Mr. Pal is quick to point out India is more like a continent than a country, and that the vegetarian delights of Saravanaa Bhavan come from Southern India while he is from Kolkata, to the East. This point of culinary geography reflects Mr. Pal’s own itinerary. Before joining dtac just as the mobile operator’s 30-year concession for its most essential spectrum was ending (more on that later), Mr. Pal’s early career was marked by a willingness to work all over India, which he described as an early exposure to cultural diversity that served him well when working abroad. He joined Telenor as the Chief Financial Officer of Grameenphone, in Bangladesh, before joining dtac three years later, in 2017. As he recently announced that he would leave dtac to pursue other opportunities, we asked him to reflect on his time with the company.“I just completed three years…

What tomorrow’s work looks like

Telenor Group’s head of human resources, Cecilie Heuch, on transformation and flexible work.The economic impact of COVID-19 has increased the pressure on all businesses to digitalize, streamline and modernize their operations. But few companies have responded quite as radically as dtac and the Telenor Group. (Telenor is a major shareholder of dtac.) Unlike Google or Facebook, which extended their work from home policies to late 2021, the Telenor Group joined organizations such as Fujitsu and Twitter in saying flexible work is here to stay indefinitely. To better understand how COVID-19 and digital transformation are radically transforming our work lives, we spoke to the Telenor Group’s Head of Human Resources, Cecilie Heuch. Tight Loose Tight Fittingly, dtacblog spoke to Ms. Heuch via videoconferencing for our monthly column with global leaders, Viewpoint. Although working from her home in Oslo that morning, she was preparing to pop into the office for a meeting—the exemplification of the flexible work trend. “What keeps me up at night these days is making sure that people stay safe and healthy,” she said. “We work hard to provide them with the required necessities to protect them. But there is also an emotional aspect. People are worried about their…

dtac’s chief of Corporate Affairs on Thailand 4.0 in the post-COVID era

We met with Marcus Adaktusson, dtac’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, at Muteki by Mugendai. Heading well east of his original Sweden isn’t limited to his culinary choices. Mr. Adaktusson has now lived in Asia for over seven years: Bangladesh, Singapore and, for the last 10 months, Thailand. In less than a year, he has led the key teams behind some of dtac’s most defining moments, from the transition out of its 30-year spectrum concession to the subsequent spectrum auctions, the last of which included Thailand’s first 5G spectrum. We spoke to him just as COVID-19 thrusts mobile operators once again in the spotlight, this time as a service critical to maintaining productivity in the age of social distancing. “I need a purpose to get up and go to work in the morning,” he said. “And right now, dtac’s purpose of empowering society through connectivity has never been more important to our customers and to our other stakeholders.” That point is underscored by the spikes in data usage that followed Thailand’s March-May lockdown. From January to June 2020, traffic increased 44 percent as users flocked to apps like Zoom, Microsoft Office and LINE, quickly adopting digital solutions to remain productive despite…

IT device expert “PeterGuang” talks about the future of mobile phone, connected devices and tech war

For space, press 0. If you want to type a text, press a button repeatedly until letters appear. If you want to type in numbers, press and hold number buttons. Many people might have been familiar with the way we functioned “push-button phone” of the 19070s and early 80s with 12 keys. Today, dtac blog sat down to have a talk with the developer of Thai language keypad-based phones, Peerapol Chatanantavej or widely known as “PeterGuang”. He brings his 20-year experience in Telecommunications to lead Device Portfolio unit at dtac currently. “I have spent my time in IT industry since I was a university student. After my graduation, I joined a factory and oversaw its TV manufacturing line. Later on, I moved to Nokia and initially took charge of network equipment. But by the time analogue mobile phone industry started to emerge, I was assigned to oversee Nokia’s mobile-phone operations. At that time, mobile phones were bulky and heavy. Each one cost Bt50,000. That was very expensive,” Peerapol said. His career has extended beyond Nokia. Peerapol had changed jobs over the years, working for several big brands including Motorola. During his stint with Motorola, he took part in the development of…

This family-owned textile factory is pushing for a more sustainable future with dtac

dtac "Think Hai d" t-shirts are now made of plastic bottles and old clothes, saving thousands of liters per shirt. While dtac isn’t a clothing brand, the company does produce a line of branded items sold at the dtac House headquarters. As dtac curbs its environmental impact across its entire supply chain, the mobile operator turned its attention to the t-shirts it produces. The manufacturing of a single t-shirt can require enough water to quench a human’s thirst for three years. Moreover, the textile and fashion industry account for 10 per cent of the world’s total carbon-dioxide emissions today. It is the second biggest polluter, behind the energy industry. Thus began dtac’s search for a way to curb its fashion line’s carbon footprint, which led to contracting Saeng Charoen Grand Company Limited (SC GRAND), Thailand’s first textile recycling factory. Jirarot “Wat” Pojanavaraphan, managing director and third-generation owner of SC GRAND , told dtac blog, “For dtac’s t-shirt production, we use two sources of recycled materials: old clothes and plastic bottles. The result is a recycled polyester fiber blend. With four old t-shirts and four plastic bottles, we can make one brand-new t-shirt!” The process begins with separating textile waste by…