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CX ENGINE | The Magazine For Digital Leaders

Accelerating Digital Transformation in the Telco World | Dario Bianchi, Chief Digital Officer at MTN

Dario Bianchi | CX spotlight

A seasoned executive with over 15 years’ experience in Marketing and Digital, Dario Bianchi now heads up MTN’s digital team as Chief Digital Officer. His prior experience with Orange UK, Vodafone, and Digicel has made him an expert in digital transformation — he is a strong advocate of agile ways of working, as well as technology-led innovation.

Nowadays, Dario heads up MTN Ghana’s digital transformation project. He is responsible for defining and implementing the digital self-care strategy for MTN’s core businesses: Mobile, Home, Broadband and FinTech. Dario is also responsible for developing and bringing to market MTN Ghana’s consumer-facing mobile app.

What is MTN? 

MTN is a South African-based telecommunications company that operates in 23 countries worldwide, with a particularly strong presence across Africa. It offers voice, data, and digital services to retail consumers and businesses alike  — the company’s overall goal is to make their customers’ lives brighter by delivering bold new digital solutions. 

MTN’s Goals for 2020

The first thing you should do when you come to the office is to check your numbers. I want my team to make decisions based on data and customer feedback.

Dario Bianchi, Chief Digital Officer at MTN

MTN’s main goal in 2020 is to effectively scale the app — this means not only increasing the overall number of users (which currently sits around 200,000) but also increasing their average days of usage per month. There’s little point if people download the app but soon forget about it, so user engagement and retention are high on the priority list for this year.

This year will also see a range of new features added to the app, with the team particularly excited about the prospect of incorporating music. Music is incredibly important in Africa, so this idea has great potential going forward. MTN has also recently launched Ayoba, a communications app that’s similar to WeChat — Dario believes that this can be a strong competitor in the years to come.

What are some of the lessons that you have learned along the way? 

Context is king. Simply put, before launching an app, you need to really understand the market — you need to talk to the sales team, the field agents, and the people in the shops. 

It is crucial that you understand the limitations of whatever country you’re operating in. For example, you need to be conscious of your app’s size when launching here in Africa — data is really expensive, so why would people choose to use up a large portion of their allowance on downloading or updating an app?

Lastly, I’d always recommend making decisions off the back of consumer data. I tell my team every day to check the data: the numbers, the reviews, and the rankings. Customer feedback is the best tool for working out where you need to improve going forward — so make sure that you’re properly using it to its fullest extent. 

What advice would you give businesses that are just getting started on their Digital Transformation journey? 

The key thing when starting your organization’s digital transformation journey is to be internally-focused (at least during the initial stages). You need to make sure that everyone internally has enough basic knowledge and that you have external help where you need it to go faster. Start with a small team, make them successful and then scale. 

My second piece of advice is to look at the competition: how far along their digital transformation journey are they, what have they done that has worked, and what have they done that could be improved upon. This will give your company a good benchmark against which to judge your own efforts.

Lastly, just get started! There’s little point in spending years developing and fine-tuning a product until it’s just right — in fact, by the time that it does end up launching, the market will likely have drastically changed anyway. 

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