Oman Data Park is constantly working to innovate and enhance its services to reach out to all parts of the Sultanate and penetrate new markets outside Oman, says Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO, ODP in an interview with Akshay Bhatnagar. Excerpts from the conversation:
Tell us in brief about ODP.
ODP is a joint venture company between Omantel and 4Trust LLC. Since the beginning of our operations in 2012, as the first managed service provider in Oman, our focus has been on transforming the digital eco-system with a wide array of IT services available on demand. Whether it is managed hosting, cloud services, hosted applications, managed classical or security or support services, we provide guaranteed uptime and unparalleled support to our customers. With an integrated facility management infrastructure, we are uniquely positioned with extensive capabilities to manage, enhance and support the IT and business processes of very large to small organisations.
Looking back at the journey in the last five years, do you think ODP has made a good progress in achieving its objectives?
We have had an amazing journey since our inception in 2012. The way we have built-up our infrastructure, developed a unique portfolio of services and won the confidence of our customers, is spectacular. Our achievements are more remarkable because despite the lower oil price environment, we have grown at an annual rate of almost 30-35 per cent in the last two years. At the strategic level, our success is attributed to our business model which makes our offerings a very attractive proposition to the clients. Many companies are looking at unique solutions to meet the challenges of reducing their Capex and enhance cost efficiency. ODP’s services supports them in meeting their twin objectives.
Why we have been successful is firstly because we have the economies of scale with integrated infrastructure including data centre facility and network operation centre. Secondly, we offer an Opex based model to our clients. The top management especially CFOs within the corporate sector focusing more on cash flows prefer an Opex based model against a Capex model. We work on that model only. They pay as they need, they pay as they grow.
Thirdly, our key advantage is the localisation of services. Omani companies prefer locally based data centres so that they could work with us closely and their data remains within the boundaries of the country. We sign service level agreements, (SLAs) with our clients. In the SLA, we agree on various criteria like response time, availability of infrastructure, security, 24X7 call centre, etc. These parameters are within the broad framework of the SLA.
The constantly growing list of our clients is a testimony to our progress. Exactly a year ago, we had almost 250 companies as our clients. Now we already have 470 corporate clients. They are a mix of large companies to SMEs within Oman. In fact, some of our clients are from outside Oman also. In terms of sectors, our clients are the top names in banking, oil & gas, telecom, manufacturing and diversified businesses. Through our services, we relieve them from their IT-needs related worries so that they could focus on their core business.
As you move ahead, what are the new areas you are focusing on?
We understand that what got us here alone will not be sufficient to take us ahead. In any case, IT services is a highly disruptive world with new technologies and solutions emerging every day to cater to the new challenges or opportunities in the market. As a result, we are constantly working to innovate and enhance our services to expand our market share reaching out to all parts of the Sultanate and penetrate new markets outside Oman. We look forward to growing by 30% or more in 2017 also.
On the specific new products or services, ODP is working and finalizing platforms. This is a new segment that we are entering. So in 2017 we are introducing platforms.
Secondly, we are launching our second upgraded version of assisting public on cloud. We are aiming at launching this new portal by end of the second quarter this year. This will benefit the public with further enriched services. These public services will be at par with similar services provided by global giants and telecom majors. They will be highly sophisticated services targeted at Oman as well as the international market. To give you an example of the benefits to the consumer, we will provide cloud based storage to a consumer. Their data won’t be stored outside Oman. They will get the similar facility and service as provided by global giants now by an Omani company across devices. So far we had focused primarily on the corporate sector. This will be our expansion in the mass consumer space.
We are working towards our strategy to make ICT as a utility. We are making offerings more appealing. We are also working very closely with Omantel 3.0 strategy which is oriented towards pushing ICT solutions in the market. A lot of ODP’s data centre portfolio will be channelled through Omantel ICT. They will be bundling ICT solutions, many of them provided by us, to their customers. This will help us to broaden our market through Omantel’s reach.
Another new initiative for us in 2017 is our Security Operation Centre (SOC). So now we can offer SOC services 24×7, 365 days in the year to our clients. We protect them through our security services in proactive and reactive manners so that they could focus on their core business without the worries of security threats or attacks. The high standard security framework that protects our data centres and other services is now being bundled in for our clients also. So for us, our security operations from being a cost centre have actually become a profit centre. To give you a simple example, before we host a website for a client, we do a thorough security check of the website. So our audit will provide actionable recommendations to the client to ensure their site is fully secured and has no risks. The client could share that report with their web developer who could implement the changes recommended by us.
Many corporates face phishing attacks which are quite common. Many fake websites which are almost 99% identical to the genuine website of a company attracts the visitor, and steal critical information or damage the reputation of the company. Social media monitoring is another concern for the corporates. In case of a listed company or a company with consumer-oriented products, our SOC services will eliminate these concerns of our clients with our proactive approach.
Can you also tell us about ODP’s Purpose Built Resellers Programme?
ODP is excited by the possibilities created through an initiative of bringing together the ICT initiative through a strategic partnership with the resellers of different system integrators and vendors to help and facilitate the local SME’s to sell the cloud services both within and outside Oman.
Over the past few years, trends in consumer behavior have undergone dramatic changes. Globalization of the economy and rapid evolution of the ICT environment, has spurred a revolution in the retail industry. Retailers have found themselves forced to compete for consumer attention like never before. In such an environment, they can no longer survive unless they are chosen by consumers. To survive in the future, retailers must commit to consumer-driven models. To help the retail industry adapt to this new environment, ODP has developed ICT strategies to support retail resellers program for the local SME’s to penetrate and sell products both locally and internationally.
Recent changes are causing a shift in power from manufacturers to retailers and from retailers to consumers. We have entered an era where consumers can choose retailers based on their own judgment. Moreover, the dramatic progress in consumer IT – exemplified by smart devices and applications has shifted the focus of ICT activity from businesses (supply side) to consumers (demand side). These changes compel retailers to develop more consumer-oriented approaches to marketing and sales.
Most of the resellers we work with have been established for many years and have a great deal of real-world experience in looking after SME’s and solving their everyday IT problems. They have rightly become concerned about these new services that are springing up and ODP will give them a way of competing on the same terms. The aim is to spread the network so that it reaches every corner of Oman as well. It will be a completely level playing field and we believe that, once we are up and running, more resellers will want to join in. ODP will be happy to receive such requests and will be happy to elaborate it further.
For more information on ODP, visit www.omandatapark.com