Ceo erik aas says they want to help the society change through digitisation

Muhammad zahdiul islam

Banglalink has an eye on its vision — to serve according to the likes and wishes of its customers and to help the society change through digitisation, said a top official.

Joining the second largest operator in bangladesh in december last year as its managing director and chief executive officer, erik aas has set a target to become the largest digital service provider.

An interview with the daily star, he said they want to serve customers with services that are two years ahead of time.

“Simply, our plan is to become a perfect digital company, and we want to serve our customers digitally”

Aas, a norwegian, was in bangladesh earlier as the ceo of grameenphone from october 2004 to october 2007. He then left to join a mobile operator in indonesia as its top executive.

A few months back, banglalink announced its plans on ‘going digital’, while aas said it is the path to the future.

A couple of years ago, operators were selling sim cards saying that they give customers more minutes and smss at the cheapest rates. “but things have changed and now we are offering internet packages with free minutes, which is a big shift in the industry. banglalink is also playing a lead role here,” said aas.

He said they have already flattened the organisational structure to bring employees closer together and closer to management as a way to generate fresh, innovative ideas from all corners of the organisation. with a leaner and more flexible organisation, banglalink will bring new ideas to the market more quickly.

“We are faster in moving operations, breaking bureaucracy in services, for becoming a digital company,” said aas.
the company currently has 1,600 employees and one employee serves around 20,000 customers. “as our employees are more dynamic, they can serve more customers.”

Aas said their network is growing fast with the digitisation of services. according to him, banglalink’s 3G network covered 34 percent of the population at the end of march.

Currently, the operator has 9,700 sites across the country, of which 6,000 are 3G-enabled.

Aas said under their network, 20 percent of customers are now using smartphones with faster data services.

The future is digital and an increasing number of customers are connecting to the internet with their smartphones, which opens up boundless possibilities. “Today, people spend lots of time online via mobile, sharing their lives on facebook, searching for information, or chatting with their friends and family.”

In the digital world of tomorrow, customers will use their smartphones to shop online, read news, stream music, learn about new topics, watch movies, transfer money electronically and manage their mobile accounts.

On the company’s profitability, he said banglalink has never been profitable. “and we are not hiding it. We are hopeful about being profitable by this year.”

Banglalink began its operations in 2005 and since then, it has been the second largest operator in terms of customer base, though they could not secure the second position in revenue.

However, things changed after aas joined the operator. in the first quarter of this year, banglalink has achieved the second position, crossing robi, by logging tk 1,220 crore in revenue.

Though biometric re-registration caused a slight slowdown in subscriber growth, eventually it will help operators get a more secured customer base, aas said.

Banglalink has 3.2 crore active sims as of may and among them 2.9 crore were re-registered through the biometric process.

On the proposed merger between robi and airtel, aas said they support market consolidation and it will be a healthy environment for the industry and also beneficial to customers. “We are welcoming competition and ready to accept the challenges.”

Banglalink is also working as a distributor along the post office where people can send or receive money from any part of the country through its access points.

After the launch of mobile number portability, the market will mature further, he said. The government recently approved guidelines for mnp that will allow customers to switch operators without changing their original eleven digit number.