The Telecommunication industry in Ghana has been a front-runner in innovation for years. Indeed, since the reform of the telecommunication sector in the early 2000s, to allow private players – the sector has seen rapid innovation and growth, which has led to improved outcomes for telecommunication customers.
The growth of new innovative technologies, such as mobile money, mobile money interoperability, 4G technology, have all contributed to boosting customer satisfaction and customer retention in the industry. In order to continue delighting customers and enhancing their satisfaction, telecommunication firms must encourage this innovation throughout their organization – encouraging employees to take the lead in innovating their current service delivery models. The rapid pace of innovation and growth in the telecommunications industry led to a significant boom in mobile subscribers.
According to the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications), in 2005 only one in ten people in Ghana were subscribed to a mobile service. Today, there are over 11 million active mobile money accounts in the country. The pace of innovation with regards to mobile money mirrors the rate of change occurring within the industry. Initially, used for simple remittances – mobile money has now developed to include a wide range of services including savings, small investments, and purchasing of treasury bills.
Independent entrepreneurs have been able to leverage these technologies, innovating further to make an even wider set of financial services available to telecommunications customers. The willingness for individuals, and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to invest in the telecommunications industry is a testament to a regulatory environment that has undergone much change and considerable reform. It is also a testament to the enabling environment that now allows open innovation to drive enhanced consumer outcomes.
How Innovation is leading to growth in Ghana Telecom Industry
According to a World Bank report published in 2019, Ghana has become the fastest-growing mobile money market in Africa. Now, individuals are able to pay for utilities, and other bills through mobile money, as well as push funds from their mobile money wallets to their banks, and vice-versa. The enhanced convenience has been achieved through sturdy innovation. The tech start-up scene in Ghana is also benefiting through the emergence of mobile money, especially through access to the open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These technological innovators are able to deliver enhanced new and varied value offerings to customers, boosting the stickiness of the technology that enables them.
In order for MNOs to continue to stay competitive in this landscape, they must dedicate themselves to continued innovation. It is their responsibility to encourage their employees internally to leverage their knowledge of their services, understanding of customer pain points, and the ins and outs of their processes to innovate and find new ways of delighting the customers.
Investing in Digital Skills and Literacy
In order to do this, the MNOs must continue to invest in the main agents of this innovation – their employees. One of the most crucial skills to the success of such an initiative is the digital skills and literacy that employees require to be able to unleash their creativity. It is important that MNOs give employees a good technical foundation that they may use to tackle and innovate current processes to improve them. Here, investment in training of human resources – especially digital training cannot be understated. Once equipped with the digital skills, the employee will have the raw materials to be able to take apart and reconstruct the customer experience in a way that can have increased satisfaction.
Cultivating a Culture of Innovation
Aside from the training in digital skills and literacy, there is also a need to cultivate innovation and entrepreneurial spirit amongst the workforce. This can be done by creating reward and recognition systems that encourages and appreciates the habit of thinking outside of the box. It is important that internal reward systems encourage the culture that is being built. It must be clear to employees how they and their creative energy fit into the organization. There must be no fear so that the employees are able to test the limits of what is possible to create new and exciting offerings for customers. Employees have a unique understanding of the business and the pain points, and therefore are perfectly placed to provide service innovations that can have a significant impact on their business. However, it is important to be able to unleash this creative energy. This is the remit of the HR function.
Creating unobstructed information flow in MNOs
Lastly, employees in different functions need to be able to collaborate with each other. As individuals cannot work in silos, information and communication must be allowed to flow between different functions. The cross-learning will cross-fertilize leading to new innovative ideas that can bring about novel solutions that will thrill customers. The learning the employees gain from other departments is crucial. Here again, the Human Resource function can take the lead by working to remove any unnecessary arbitrary barriers that cut-off differently.
In conclusion, firms that are able to make a commitment to innovation in the telecommunications industry enjoy a strong competitive advantage. Innovation can come from anywhere within an organization. Therefore it is the remit of the human resource management function to equip employees with the skills, knowledge, tools, and confidence to be able to rethink and re-engineer processes – in order to find or create additional customer value. This is especially so within the telecom industry where innovators are often trailblazers. The firms that are best able to unleash the creative potential of their employees usually enjoy enhanced customer retention. With this in mind, HR functions must design holistic strategies that encourage this level of innovation – driving customer satisfaction and improving the bottom-line.