Big changes at Liquid Telecom explained

Liquid Telecom Group CEO Nic Rudnick has outlined the rationale behind the company’s operational shift towards digital services, as well as its recent rebranding.

The company said in August 2020 that it would rebrand from Liquid Telecom to “Liquid Intelligent Technologies”.

It has since appointed Deon Geyser as the new CEO of its South African business and Clayton Naidoo as group chief business officer.

“What we are doing really is a fundamental repositioning of our product set and moving away from just providing core connectivity to moving towards a more technology-driven solution – providing cloud, cybersecurity, and access to advanced technologies for our customers,” Rudnick said in an interview with MyBroadband.

“We will utilise the effects of COVID-19 and post-COVID economic environment to help create growth through new technologies and helping our customers transition to a more digital economy.”

Rudnick acknowledged that countries around the world had taken an economic hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with South Africa being no exception.

However, he noted that it has accelerated digital transformation and greatly increased the demand for digital services.

“For many years, people have been talking about a digital economy and how the economy is changing, and the pandemic has been a huge accelerator to that,” he said.

The performance of Liquid Telecom South Africa

When asked about the financial situation of Liquid Telecom South Africa, Rudnick said the company has been doing well.

“We have seen good growth over the years and our operations throughout the group had a very good last financial year. As a group, we have continued to grow and invest, and we just closed a big acquisition of the Standard Bank data centre business,” he said.

“That is a huge acquisition – probably one of the biggest acquisitions in South Africa this year – and it is certainly one of the biggest data centre transactions there has ever been on the continent.”

Liquid Telecom South Africa recently initiated a Section 189 process, although Rudnick noted that the objective of the company’s “strategic repositioning” was not to cut staff but to change its product portfolio.

“The objective is to change the way Liquid Telecom works,” Rudnick said.

“With the different product set, we need to be able to work with [our customers] and have a whole different level of expertise than we have had in the past because this isn’t just about connectivity, it is about the provision of technology on an individual basis.”

“We have needed to take a deep look at ourselves right across the group in all of the countries we are in and we have had to make sure we have the right people in the right places with the right skills,” he said.

There are new positions that have been created because there are new technologies the company did not have the skills for, he added.

New products and network rollout

Rudnick said that while nobody fully understands what the long-term aspects of the pandemic will be, it is clear that it has accelerated the adoption of digital products, and this is part of what Liquid aims to tap into.

“Products and services that a year ago we were trying to convince customers to take and they were reluctant – a few months later and they needed no persuasion,” he said.

“It was the most rapid adoption of certain cloud products that anyone has ever seen.”

Liquid Telecom’s strategy goes beyond video conferencing and working from home, however.

Rudnick believes new applications and technology will be required to facilitate the way business is evolving due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to be in a place where we can be the provider of these solutions going forward as people start to adopt them more and more,” he said.

When asked about how this new strategy would affect the company’s network rollout, he said that this would continue as a crucial part of the business.

“We are not walking away from connectivity; it is not that we are abandoning our infrastructure – we will be building out more infrastructure,” Rudnick said.

“But the infrastructure is now just a means to an end, it is not the end in itself.”

The company will therefore continue to grow its fibre, 4G, and 5G networks in South Africa, with an increased focus on last-mile infrastructure to improve accessibility to its upcoming range of enhanced digital services.

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Big changes at Liquid Telecom explained