In an interesting one-on-one between Naji Bou Harb, CEO of MobiMind, and Telecom Review, at MWC 2021, Barcelona, Bou Harb talks further about MobiMind’s portfolio and what made this company stand out among other competitors in the field.
Can you tell us briefly about MobiMind and its line of business and solutions?
MobiMind is a leading mobile VAS and Unified Solutions company. We have been in this industry since 2011. Knowing the market, the management of MobiMind has more than 15 years of experience with a VAS background. So, we decided to take a chance and penetrate the market, even though it was saturated back then. For example, in Saudi Arabia, there are around 120 service providers already in the market. So it was very challenging for us to kick start the business and to prove that there's always room for people like us.
What makes MobiMind stand out among others?
First, as previously mentioned, the management of MobiMind has great expertise in this domain in the region, whether being the CEO, CMO, CTO, CIO, R&D director, or operation director. So, our vision was very simple, yet very complicated since it was a saturated market. But, we knew how we were going to lead our business and stand out in the region.
Our first target was the Middle East region, keeping in mind that the biggest market in the region was Saudi Arabia. So, our focus first was on the Saudi market. The challenge was, as stated, entering this market saturated with big names with a small entity trying to prove itself. Fortunately, we succeeded by promoting all our expertise and hard work. Step by step, we were able to take the lead in the market, until we became a hard number in Saudi Arabia, next to the three operators: stc, where we were very remarkable as a provider, Mobily, and Zain.
When the business strategy changed in Saudi Arabia and they started adopting aggregation models, we were selected in 2017 as one of the aggregators of stc among less than 10 candidates and we operate there under the name of IDEX. So, we took on that new challenge with stc first, and then in 2018 with Mobily.
By being the aggregator of the two biggest operators in the region and Saudi Arabia, we were able to record the first part of MobiMind’s success.
Though our focus was not only the Saudi market, knowing that it is the biggest market, our plan was to start there, and then cover all the Middle East region.
Our role is to facilitate the operation of businesses and serve their needs in all the region by being their partners and master aggregators. Internationally, there are also big players wanting to launch their services in the region. So, companies are always searching for people who have the expertise, are well connected, have a good reputation, and are financially stable.
It’s true that we started in 2011 as a small player, however, today, we are a hard number in the market, and an elite service provider or massive aggregator in the region.
In the MENA region, digital transformation is ongoing. What can be the major role of MobiMind in this digital transformation journey?
We have an R&D department that’s after all the new technologies introduced in the market by the operators and technology players. When we created our platform to serve the SMS needs first, we thought that it should be scalable, not only for technical needs and technology needs, we started to add features and add-ons on the platform to support whoever has a content but lacks a portal to be digitally accessible to players. Even if the person wants to go create his own app, he can do so without the need to have the knowledge of technology.
In addition, with digital advertising, the operator is no more supporting VAS services as it used to be five, six years back. So, the only main channel of doing acquisitions and bringing new subscribers to the service is through digital advertising. Pus, inside the platform, we created something to help them advertise in a correct and safe way, either for the in-app advertising or the web-advertising. We introduced as well a third party interaction with our platform for companies to be connected with our platform, without the need of the third party to do anything from both sides.
Operators still haven’t decides whether to integrate such solution in their operations, so we took the initiative to do it on our own platform on behalf of the operator. So we are protecting them, and we are protecting our partner.
With all of these services and solutions, how do you ensure cybersecurity to your clients?
Recently, the CITC in Saudi Arabia is requesting all players in the telco industry to comply with cybersecurity measures and guidelines. We were among the very few to be ready for this step and among the very few as well that have a NOC department available 24/7 to serve any need.
This put us among the top or the first ones to apply the CITC’s cybersecurity guidelines, and we're ready to help others who lack the appropriate expertise to achieve this. So, after the Saudi market, we are going to take this experience to other territories.