Ezecom is constructing the MCT Sea Cable, a multi-million dollar project that will drastically increase internet speeds and create independence from the current old band.
We sit down with Inge Olde Rikkert, Ezecom’s Marketing Manager, to discuss the significance of the MCT cable and to appraise the situation of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Cambodia.
B2B: What is the significance of the MCT Sea Cable, and how will it affect the ICT industry?
Inge Olde Rikkert: The MCT (the Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand submarine cable) is a partnership between Telecom Malaysia in Malaysia, Ezecom in Cambodia and Symphony in Thailand. We are constructing together the first submarine cable into Cambodia. What that means for the industry and the end users is that we create a bit of independence from the current old band which comes in overland. It will mean that a huge amount of extra bandwidth is available for Cambodia, which will result in more competitive pricing for the Cambodia user base.
B2B: How is Ezecom currently investing in Cambodia to remain attractive and competitive?
Inge Olde Rikkert: We have nation-wide coverage for fiber network, which is very impressive. Holland, my home country, was still rolling out fibers when here Ezecom already had fiber passing by the smallest Cambodian town. We have helped create a very solid infrastructure, which is a huge factor in luring big corporations into the country. We have quite a big client base of the largest corporations in the world. People that have had offices in Singapore or Malaysia find it easier and easier to open up their business here. This is partly due to the solid ICT infrastructure.
B2B: What strategies is Ezecom implementing to stay relevant and in tune with their target audience?
Inge Olde Rikkert: In a market developing so rapidly, staying relevant is a big challenge. We learnt over the years how to quickly respond to a changing market. We’ve seen a very rapid growth in people that demand IT services next to their connectivity, and, accordingly, we have moved away from offering just connectivity. Over the last few years, we’ve added a whole new range of products, including MPLS and IPLC services and IBIZ Cloud, which is the first cloud service supported in Cambodia. This month we have launched BeeDoo – an app combining cloud storage and corporate messaging aimed at SMEs.
We also strive to always know what the market has to say. I believe it comes down to cooperation between departments in your company. We make sure our retention, sales and marketing teams closely coordinate to create the best possible strategies based on what the client wants. You have to listen to what the market has to say, particularly when you are growing.
B2B: Some experts have mentioned lack of professionalism and ethics in the ICT industry in Cambodia as major hurdles. What’s your opinion on this?
Inge Olde Rikkert: What we’ve seen in the last five years is that demand for quality and bigger scale is taking over. Companies don’t have time to run their accounting in a hacked piece of software that crashes halfway through the month. People are expecting things to always work. The cost of not being quick to do business is just getting higher and higher everyday. We see a slow switch: people are moving away from pirated software. They are also avoiding companies that falsely claim to be partnering up with the big players (Apple, Microsoft, etc..). The industry is still beset by a lack of professionalism and ethics, but I do think they are issues of a temporary nature.
B2B: How have the roles of telecommunications companies evolved over the last few years? Have you seen any interesting changes?
Inge Olde Rikkert: We are definitely seeing some interesting changes. With Ezecom we are following the international trend: increasing the offer of services associated with your connectivity. We are now offering a whole range of services to complement our internet connection. There is more and more that we as a company can offer other companies doing business here to make their operations more profitable, quicker, easier and more cost effective.
From a broader perspective, in the last few years, we’ve seen companies change the way we deal with money. Wing, for example, brought a whole new way of dealing with money to the Cambodian market. Facebook has also have a huge effect, changing the way people communicate and what they communicate about.
We have noticed other trends. Many of our clients are branching out and opening offices in the provinces. Suddenly, they have skype conversations, share documents and work on the road. This has had a tremendous impact on the way business is conducted.
B2B: How big of a problem has staff retention been for your Ezecom?
Inge Olde Rikkert: Our experience of this market is that if something changes, it usually does so very quickly. This can have a negative impact on your staff turnover. But, there are also positive sides to it. For example, we’ve seen the quality and the skills that people bring to the work after coming out of university drastically increase in the last five years.
Since its inception, Ezecom has experienced remarkable growth. When I joined Ezecom 7 years ago the team was comprised of 35 members. We are now at 190. Along the way, naturally, you have some people leaving and some people joining. But our core team has essentially remained unchanged since the beginning.
To avoid high turnover it is important to keep your wages competitive. Likewise, you must ensure that your staff have opportunity to grow. People are very keen on learning and on acquiring new skills to move forward in their careers. How you present yourself in the media is also pivotal, particularly for larger companies. Ezecom, for example, has a very active CSR program. Our staff is proud to partake in socially responsible work, and this has helped the company retain staff.
B2B: What would you advise someone eyeing to open a business in the internet service provider (ISP) industry in Cambodia?
Inge Olde Rikkert: The market in Cambodia is overcrowded. Before you come here, you have to make sure you are offering something that no one else is offering.