NeXgen has rebranded its organization as NXN – following the evolution of the business from a leading consulting services firm to a fully-fledged digital services provider. It has combined its expertise in Smart City consulting and knowledge of the GCC region to become the leading digital services provider in the Middle East. Telecom Review spoke to charismatic NXN CEO, Ghazi Atallah, to discuss in more details the thought process behind the rebranding, its role in smart cities and the digital transformation services it provides for its customers.
Can you tell us about your experience in the smart city realm, your passion for smart technology and how NeXgen came about?
Well, the passion in relation to technology has always been there. Technology is something ,I’ve enjoyed since I was young, and it has always fascinated me. But then in my professional life, the issue became how to use technology to address some of the core business, customer and city issues that were present in the sector, so that’s how my passion around technology started, has subsequently continued and is still there. NeXgen, which has now been rebranded to NXN, came about around ten years ago as an entity that firmly believed that there was a huge gap in the market in terms of expertise. We are confident that we have a team that on one hand knew what they were doing, and on the other hand, actually cared about the region and understood the region so well that we could make a difference.So, that’s simply how NeXgen came about. We knew there was an opportunity with smart cities, and we knew that with technology advancing at a spectacular rate, the technology would be able to impact cities in the way that cities conduct business and the way that real estate developers do business. So, we identified this as a great opportunity, and we wanted to build an organization that had brilliant expertise, but also understood the region and cared passionately for the region.
As a smart city and digital transformation service provider, how is NXN working towards helping companies to achieve digital transformation?
We do two things with our customers primarily. Firstly, we help them plan their transformation so when you’re transforming, especially around digital, we firmly believe that you have to have a well-defined plan, digital transformation plan. Secondly, we then utilize our consulting expertise to help them plan the transformation. Normally, we establish a five-year transformation plan with specific objectives and specific initiatives which outline what you want to attain in year one and year two and so on; basically, a clear roadmap. We also engage in delivering on those initiatives, delivering on those roadmap initiatives with our customers through our Smart City as a Service digital platform. We help them plan and then we help them execute on their digital transformation through things like our capabilities around data, analytics, blockchain technology and AI, which represent some of the key technologies that we’ve built into our platform that allows us todeliver those digital.
What are the benefits of a city or a company recruiting NXN to be its digital partner, and can you elaborate on the term reduced time-to-service which you have often spoken about?
I think one of the most important benefits is enhanced customer experience. This is something that digital brings to the table. And as a government, real estate developer, agency or as a department, once you have this capability as a digital entity you’re now dealing with your customers in a very different way.You’re actually understanding what the customers’ needs are; you’re understanding how to deliver this service, when to deliver this service, the right way of delivering the service. So, the customer experience is so much better. We work a lot on enhancing customer experience, but that doesn’t necessarily have a direct number related to it. So, you can’t say because I enhance customer experience I’ve increased revenue by 10%. It’s very hard to do that, but our numbers and our experience say that you actually increase revenue dramatically when you enhance customer experience. And at the same time you’re creating a very efficient organization by reducing operational expenditures and otheraspects also kick in.
In relation to reduced time-to-service,in the digital age, and especially where we are today, the way we’re addressing the problems is actually something that allows us to bring to our customers the ability to start from point A to point B in timescales that are very different from the past. So, if you’re talking about time-to-market or time-to-service, as a customer I have an idea, I have an opportunity. I’ve got a customer enhancement idea that I want to bring to market; it used to take you 12, 18 maybe even 24 months to do something when you talked about technology. Because of our investment in a platform and our investment in capabilities that our customers would need such as big data, analytics, security – the whole packet of a digital platform, we went ahead and invested in and implemented this platform across the GCC union. That takes away 80% of customer’s efforts in terms of implementing a service, so what’s left of that 20%, we can do in the space of 2-3 months. As a customer, you’re up and running; you have a service implemented after two to three months versus a technology project that usually took 18 months to implement.