Andrew Grenville, CEO, Orixcom

   Date Posted: April 1, 2017
Image of Orixcom logo and vault

Andrew Grenville, Chief Executive Officer of Orixcom sat down with us to talk about what challenges and initiatives they are using to grow their business in the Middle East.

Welcome to the next generation of managed IT, cloud and international connectivity services across the Middle East and Africa. Orixcom has a wide range of services for Enterprise and Service Providers delivered in the region – we have developed and built the most advanced and powerful cloud platform located here, we offer a wide range of managed services (such as Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery, monitoring, systems management etc), and our suite of connectivity services means we are strategically positioned to connect customers to where the internet lives and is rapidly growing to transform economies.

Orixcom combines the best of international business practices with unique regional insights to delight our customers and make it easy for them to manage and grow their businesses.

How was your company’s 2016 performance?

We are focused on connectivity, cloud and IT Managed services. In 2016 Orixcom saw very strong growth across all segments, with some particularly encouraging trends in the mid to large Enterprise segment with Managed Services. This was against a backdrop where many companies in the sector saw flat or low growth, as they struggle to adapt to changing market behaviors.

What is your outlook for the economy in the GCC during 2017?

The region is still facing economic challenges, but we are all getting used to the new “normal” of oil prices around $50-60 per barrel, and the impact of less money trickling down the whole supply chain and all other businesses both directly and indirectly.

All sounds fine at an intellectual level, but given we’re heading into the third year of this new reality what’s the impact of this on the ground?

  1. Less money is driving a demand for efficient services – value for money and not just price
  2. Businesses are forced to re-evaluate and question all their established business practices, even their cherished traditions – they simply cannot carry on as before
  3. Business must move outside their comfort zone – perhaps this now means not having racks of servers blinking in the corner of the office, but instead looking to cloud for IT delivery?
  4. Great opportunities for new challengers to spring up and grow fast, moving much more nimbly than the established players

What strategic initiatives do you have planned in your business for 2017 and what are you plans for growth

Simple – Orixcom has to be driven by the market. So what real pain points and problems are customers facing? What’s keeping the CFO, CIO and CSO awake at night? What’s holding back growth in their core businesses? Identify all that and offer tailored and cost effective solutions. Now these may be quite different from customer’s previous practices, so we must work especially hard to show we understand and can minimize the risk, whether it’s real or perceived.

One philosophy at Orixcom is that we like to challenge, and we like to be disruptive. That’s not for the sake of it, but unless you constantly ask questions of yourself and your own offerings and the market needs you can’t grow and develop. We are quite happy to have customers challenge us and make us think hard, usually that results in a far better final solution for all.

In our world of telecoms, IT, cloud, managed services there are some amazing technologies out there – proven in other areas such as US and Europe. However, they can often need adapting to suit the region. So we don’t want to be like the traditional box shifters, simply taking products and services from somewhere else and pushing them out into the market. That approach might work fine for some, but I don’t believe its sustainable long term to build a real value which solves customers’ business issues.

There’s lots of best practice to learn from. I really hope we’re not so arrogant to think we know it all – far from it! Let’s not reinvent the wheel, let’s not try and do it all. Partnership with other companies are critical to our success. Partnerships create a far bigger set of opportunities than we could do on our own. Partnerships inject fresh thinking and good practice. Synergy is an overused word in business, but I believe if we can develop strong and mutually beneficial partnerships with compatible companies, and that’s very important, in the overall value chain, we truly will derive additional benefits – and most importantly so will our customers.

What do you see to be the most dominant risks in today’s GCC market?

Business thinking and practice is difficult to change, that’s not surprising because most people are comfortable with the status quo. Often there is lots of vested interest and job protectionism, or aversion to new things because of perceived risk – this is totally understandable since at the end of the day we’re all humans and our own priorities and self-interest drive a lot of what we do.

This complacency can be fatal, I expect we are going to see some major companies really struggle to adapt and change fast enough.

Another macro risk is the overall level of acceptance in the GCC of entrepreneurial thinking and approach, whether that’s within existing large companies or in new start-ups. As a generalization, it’s simply not encouraged or rewarded, so no surprise that many people keep their heads down and do what they’re told, even if they can see so many ways to improve and contribute. This is in my view a terrible waste of the best resource companies have, which is their own people. There is such knowledge, strength and often good will within companies that is mostly going untapped. On the flip side and to be more positive, those originations which have realized this and actively encourage this type of thinking and practice have a big advantage and will forge ahead.

What new technologies do you see having the most impact on the telecoms sector over the next 3 years?

Let’s look at the big picture in our industry. Don’t try and stand in the way of macro global trends, find way to apply and accelerate those trends and technologies here in region. Cloud adoption is a great example. We were one of the early providers of public cloud in this region a few years ago, in fact probably too early as customers on the whole weren’t ready for it. But now the discussion with Enterprises is no longer “why should I use cloud”, it’s shifted rapidly to “how can I use it”. But hold on, does that mean we should try to compete with global clouds like AWS, Microsoft Azure, 365 and others by offering our own cloud service? Well only if we’re deluded, those trends are unstoppable now and gaining momentum right across the region in a way that would have been unthinkable even 2 years back. So instead of pushing against this, let’s bridge between best practice elsewhere and here in the GCC.

As an example, we now have a suite of smart cloud connectivity services, all fully complaint with the telecoms regulatory rules, that help customers make much more cost effective and technologically efficient use of these clouds. That’s lead Orixcom to a position where Microsoft and AWS are now introducing us to their cloud customers here in the GCC to help them.

Another area of increasing focus for Orixcom is in the data centre space. Compared to a few years ago the region has a number of good data centres coming available. Now whilst we don’t build data centres, running them and offering value added services from them such as connectivity, IT, and clouds is a growth area. Because we understand telecoms as well as IT, we’re in a very strong position to ensure customers can make the best use of these great facilities without getting caught out by expensive connectivity issues, which is still something that affects the whole region. This gives us great opportunities to grow Orixcom in different geographic areas across the GCC and Africa as this market picks up more speed and momentum.

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