Q: How has people’s behavior regarding telecom and internet consumption changed during the last few years?
Jean-François Fallacher: Consumers’ behavior has changed. The first trend we’ve started to see this year is that of Romanians coming more and more to us for subscriptions. They are taking commitments with operators and use prepaid cards less. The second trend we see in the market is smartphone adoption. If we look at the number of subscriptions we sell and at what we call smartphone attachment – the ratio of people that are buying smartphones – it is really growing.
It means that in Romania, like in Western Europe, people are really equipping themselves with these nice devices. This change has started three years ago, but we’ve seen a real increase this year.
I think the two trends are linked. They are caused by Romanians’ interest in buying nice devices. Because in subscriptions we subsidy them and people don’t pay them at their market price. This is the main reasons why Romanians are shifting from prepaid to postpaid. We are also striving to differentiate the types of subscriptions to different types of consumers. It is obvious that a mature person will use telephony and data services differently from a teenager or an elderly person.
Q: Have you anticipated these trends? What can we expect next?
Jean-François Fallacher: We expected these trends, as Romanians’ behavior is quite similar to that of other Western European countries. I think they will go on. We see a larger adoption of tablets and of connected objects as well. These are devices that can be equipped with GPS and are located in cars, in refrigerators, in glasses and watches. They will have SIM cards and will be able to communicate. This is definitely the trend.
Q: How do you see the future business model of the telecom industry?
Jean-François Fallacher: We are in a market that is evolving fast. Technologies are changing fast, so we are changing as well. We need to adapt ourselves constantly. Talking about the future, I think we are in the right industry because it’s about people’s communication. This is absolutely key and it is growing. In the future it will be more and more about communication between devices. There are a lot of ways our industry can grow and a lot of new technologies arriving on the market.
One way of looking at the future is to look at the past. Project yourself ten years ago, in the 2000s, when we were still using those gray phones with a few buttons and all we could do was send sms. If we look at what we are doing now with the devices and the communication tools we have around us, I’m not sure if we could have imagined that ten years ago.
I expect that in ten years from now this trend will only be accelerated. We’ll see usages that we cannot foresee today.
Q: How important is innovation for you? Do you have a special department that focuses on that?
Jean-François Fallacher: Innovation is absolutely key. We have a special department focused on innovation. At the group level, we have more than 4,000 colleagues that are working just on innovation and are looking at future trends.
Innovation is a mindset. It is not only a technical thing. We can innovate daily even in the way we serve our clients, by simplifying things. We are pushing and incentivizing our employees to be innovative. That’s the most important.
In all businesses, telecom included, there are some structural trends that are completely modifying the rules. Look at the impact of digital photography on certain industries. There are huge brands that have disappeared.
We are extremely cautious with adapting ourselves. It’s important to understand the fundamental market changes and trends and to adapt yourself to these trends. If you don’t, you might have bad surprises. On the other side, it creates lots of opportunities for new ways of doing business and for new businesses that haven’t existed before.