Liquid Telecom is undergoing major changes – including a rebranding and a revised strategy for the next financial year.
Last year, the company announced a rebranding to “Liquid Intelligent Technologies”, as well as restructuring which saw it retrench a number of employees.
Its new strategy is to reposition its product set and move away from only providing core connectivity to its enterprise customers, instead offering a suite of managed and cloud services.
The company also got a new CEO this year – Deon Geyser – who sat down with MyBroadband to explain the major changes at the company.
Geyser said he was excited for the business’s growth potential this year, following the implementation of its revised strategy.
“Liquid Telecom South Africa in the second half of last year embarked on a restructure and a transformation journey, which is moving Liquid from a connectivity player to more of an intelligent technology solution-oriented business,” Geyser said.
“That, of course, was the start of the transformation plan which included a restructure locally in South Africa, which ended at the end of November last year.”
A formidable player
Geyser cleared up the issue of the company’s rebranding, which currently remains unchanged, stating that this was a step it would take in Q2 of 2021 at the outset of its next financial year.
“Our financial year starts first of March so part of our new financial year planning is the rebranding exercise,” he said. “We expect that to happen, I would imagine, in quarter two of 2021.”
He noted that Liquid Telecom’s existing infrastructure and skill base make it a formidable player in the South African market, and he is confident the company will be able to succeed in the solutions space.
“There is a gap in the market for a B2B-focused company which can do connectivity plus solutions on top of that,” Geyser said.
“If you look at our asset base of infrastructure, spectrum, customer base, our strong employee base, the skill base that we have – I think it makes us a formidable player in the market.”
He noted that the growth the company saw in its solutions business after the advent of COVID-19 was exceptional, and he expects this to continue growing.
“As the market shifted with the start of COVID-19, it just brought digitisation forward five years, so the way we looked at the market changed.”
“We are addressing the work-from-home environment for our enterprise customers with a product that we launched in Q3 last year, and we have our first orders that have come in,” Geyser said.
This does not mean Liquid Telecom will halt its connectivity business, however. It plans to reduce expenditure on rolling out infrastructure according to its previous strategy and instead focus on the connectivity needed to deliver its new solutions.
Fibre business and spectrum
Liquid Telecom is a major telecommunications player in South Africa, with significant resources in terms of fibre infrastructure and radiofrequency spectrum.
“We will not say no to developing infrastructure more to areas that still need to be connected,” Geyser said, but he added that the company has significant coverage already.
“With the NLD routes we have built over the last 11 or 12 years as Liquid connecting the major CBDs, we have covered a big part of the major routes already.”
“In the next financial year, we don’t see a major new massive network expansion from where we are because we believe that we’ve covered a major part of that,” he said.
Liquid Telecom still plans to expand its network, but it will be more focused on where it derives value when doing so.
“It is not killing our connectivity business at all, it is strengthening what we have,” Geyser said.
When asked about the spectrum ITA and Liquid Telecom’s application for high-demand spectrum, Geyser said that acquiring this resource remains a part of its strategy.
“We are participating in the ITA process, it is part of our strategic view of the future and we support government’s initiative to auction high-demand spectrum,” he said.
When asked what Liquid Telecom planned to do if it was awarded spectrum in the auction, Geyser said he was unable to publicly comment.
Betting on the “new normal”
A major component of Liquid Telecom’s revised business model is to build on the growth in solutions sales it saw last year when many businesses relied on it to enable work-from-home setups.
The company, therefore, believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has irreversibly changed the way businesses work in South Africa, and it is betting on the future demand for these types of cloud services.
“Last year, we saw a five-fold increase in our cloud business as people decided to move home and businesses did not have the right product set to manage that, we were there to support them,” Geyser said.
He said that Liquid Telecom had commissioned a working-from-home study in October last year to gauge the outlook of businesses post-COVID-19, and he said the initial results were aligned with Liquid Telecom’s strategy.
“The initial results are showing that a lot of people working from home do not have the required connectivity in place, which leads to a very interesting opportunity for providing that connectivity,” he said.