14 Feb 2013

Eurasia "has become one of the major innovation hubs" says Berna Samiloglu of Turkcell in interview ahead of EurasiaCom

Berna Samiloglu is Director of New Businesses and Entrepreneurship at Turkcell. The Com World Series team caught up with Berna ahead of the EurasiaCom conference and exhibition, taking place at the (SwissĂ´tel The Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey, 26-27 March) to find how companies can encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

EurasiaCom: Please describe your company’s position and objectives in the Eurasia region
Berna Samiloglu: The region has become one of the major innovation hubs. The contribution of the region to the global economy is expected to increase.
Turkey is playing a key role with its growing economy and demographic characteristics. Digitalization has been a major issue for the last two decades in the country and now we are talking about increasing awareness and use of fixed and mobile broadband penetration, internet, social media and many other topics.
The country aims to reap the benefits of digital economy. Turkcell has been leading the local GSM industry since its foundation with now 35 million customers only in Turkey and over 60 million customers in the region.
In partnership with other industries, we continuously introduce innovative products and services to our consumers and corporate customers to provide them with new value added services beyond  voice communication and commodity value added services like messaging. There are big opportunities in areas like Machine to Machine, Cloud, New Media, Digital Advertising and Marketing for both consumers and corporates. We want to be a major experience provider in this region with our large partner ecosystem.

Eurasia om: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in 2013?
Berna Samiloglu: As I just named, we are aligning our business objectives based on major growing topics such as Machine to Machine and Cloud. These areas are expected to creare a large portfolio of services in both consumer and corporate market. For instance, we expect a tremendous growth potential in telemetry applications for areas like healthcare and smart city  including energy management, public transportation, appliances management as well as industrial optimization solutions. Also there will be high demand for cloud services as we provide solutions to meet privacy and security concerns of customers complying with regulatory framework.
In all these areas, telecom operators face an increasing competition from OTT players. We have seen the impact of OTT players in areas like voice, messaging and social media. We believe building smart partnerships will help both OTT players and telecom operators in terms of easy commercialization, fast penetration and differentiation.

EurasiaCom: How can telcos and digital market players understand customers’ needs better?
Berna Samiloglu: Innovating with customers has been one of the top agenda items for our company. First you need to understand pains and needs in the market, both consumers and corporates. You need to build product and services based on expectations of your market. To do that, you need to closely follow local and global consumer and technology trends, you need to invest in market research to gain customer insights.
You need to be in the field with your customers to better observe and understand their needs. Also you have to continuously track use of your products and services after launch to optimize based on customer feedback.

Eurasia Com: What new services will have the biggest impact on the market in 2013 and onwards?

Berna Samiloglu: Besides M2M and Cloud, peer to peer services will also continue to grow and to be disruptive. With increasing bandwidth and speed, mobile applications will be major driver to create these p2p world. With all these new content and applications, of course big data & analytics will be another major topic. We will begin to use multiple personal connected devices and experience seamless services in areas like multiscreen, social TV. Starting with mainly retail, we will see shift towards digitalization of traditional sectors. Online and offline shopping experience will be merging with advanced customer experience. Recognition, recommendation and marketing automation tools will help differentiation. The impact of e/m commerce will be increasing.

Eurasia Com: How can companies encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within their teams?
Berna Samiloglu: Innovation should be a motto for all business units. We have been building an innovation network including all internal and external stakeholders such as employees, partners, vendors, developer communities etc.
Internally, we have been investing to increase awareness of our employees about innovation and give training on how different methodologies could be used to develop innovative solutions. Ideation, concept generation sessions in light of customer insights. We do this through online and offline channels. For instance, We have an internal innovation portal to gain feedback and suggestions from our employees on some themes to develop product and services. These insights help to reshape our concepts, value propositions or solutions.
Additionaly, when you look at external innovation resources like startups, you see that they apply new techniques like lean startup approach for business model and customer validation. Startups have  much more limited resources compared to large corporations and these startups need to be a lot more efficient in their businesses. We need to import these techniques into large organizations as well. In my previous comments, I named OTTs a major competitor for telecom operators. All those OTT players are now equipped with these techniques and they are doing just fine.

Berna Samiloglu will give a presentation at EurasiaCom on Wednesday 26th March on "The next wave of growth opportunities for the telecom industry". For more information and to register click here.