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Expanding footprint

Kalaam Telecom exhibited some of its latest ICT solutions at this year’s GITEX Technology Week. Veer Passi, Kalaam Telecom's Chief Executive Officer, discusses how the company is building focus around emerging solutionsPlease elaborate on the company’s focus at GITEX 

This was our second year at GITEX. The first year was a learning experience and opened many doors for us. Over the past three years, we have built around our strategy to be a complete ICT solutions provider and not be confined to being just a Telecom solutions provider of legacy solutions. Voice and Data have become a commodity and so we focused on a clear vision to become a ICT solutions provider of Managed Services to our customers. Hence we started creating a clear partner and solutions ecosystem. Last year we had demonstrated a couple of solutions and we had received a great response. This year, we came full throttle, showcasing several solutions from cloud to IoT, SD-WAN to IPTV, contact centre solutions. With visitors coming from several regions to GITEX, this is a platform for us to connect with potential partners and end customers and showcase our Managed services portfolio.

Elaborate the value position and traction with the IPTV solutions you offer in hospitality and now healthcare?

We have over 3000 Enterprise customers and these include tier-one and tier-two hospitality customers as well as hospitals.

Seeing the demand for IPTV, we created a solution that covers not only IPTV requirements for a hotel but also went ahead and integrated the same with with the property management systems of hotels. So when a customer comes in to a hotel, he can manage his entire hotel experience through the app, from opening the door of the room to ordering food through the app and even paying bills through it. It digitizes the entire hotel experience and we call it an infotainment platform. We have good clients including Swiss-Belhotel, Fraser Suites, Dusit Thani etc. We have extended the same to hospitals now.

Discuss how the solution suits the healthcare segment’s requirements and the traction you see in the segment?

The requirements are different but the concept remains the same. This infotainment platform can also be used as a digital display, can be used in television. 

Many hospitals have enhanced the experience for a patient during his or her stay comparable; this is all integrated with the core hospital systems and for instance could display the doctor’s availability. It has been well received. This can be deployed on the cloud or on premise and the controls lie with the hospital administrator who can manage the experience given and for internal use from the app. Feedbacks can be realtime and which is essential for the service industry. We have deployed in Bahrain Specialist hospital earlier this year. This was our first win in healthcare and has generated a lot of interest from the vertical thereafter.

The same could be used in retail or restaurants for live feedback surveys. Wherever live interactions with end customers is possible, the solution could be deployed.

How  are you building The IoT focus?

We have partnered with Altizon Systems, a US based company. They are in the Gartner Magic quadrant. They have a strong presence in Europe, US and India. They have deployments and thousand plus live case scenarios across geographies and different industry verticals from oil & gas, to healthcare to industrial. We have created an end to end partnership with them. They bring their sandboxing platform for IOT, wherein they have partnered with systems integrators or developers, who program specific workflows for IoT in different industries. We have in turn, partnered with companies and systems integrators who have deployed probes in different industries and together we are able to provide an end to end solution which includes consulting, create RFQs and then create solutions with sensors that can be moved to the sandboxing platform, which can move data to the cloud effectively via SD-WAN and then do data analytics efficiently. We have done roadshows in Bahrain and Kuwait and would be one in Dubai shortly.

IoT is definitely gaining traction as a solution. We need to understand that the gestation time in IoT is longer, between 8-9 months from POCs to getting the results. In the longer run, IOT will add greater value to the industrial segment including brining in cross-efficiencies.

How are you delivering value propositions in the SD-WAN space?

We are early movers in the SD-WAN space as an operator and are probably the only one who has deployed 100 plus deployments in the region. Prior to SD-WAN, people used to use several boxes to manage their networks. All that could be managed virtually from a single location with a centralized NOC where you can update policies. It gives a complete single widow visibility of your network, across all your access points, the kind of  applications being used, the packet drops etc. This is convenient for a CIO who manages the SLA. We have a huge traction in this and we are not just selling to enterprises but there is demand from telecom operators as well who want white-label solutions from us. We are targeting the Africa market where SD-WAN can be a huge value proposition. 

Is the cloud practice an expanding area of focus for you?

We have been doing cloud solutions for a year now but now have created a dedicated focus by becoming an Microsoft Azure partner earlier and now an AWS partner. We have received two certifications from AWS, both on standard partnership as a consultant for helping companies in implement and migration etc. We have also become a direct connect partner, providing physical connectivity. So we have done an integration with Amazon in London and have created a direct connect back to Bahrain and datamena in the UAE, to offer high-performance cloud connectivity service to transfer data between AWS cloud and customer datacenter, office, or colocation environment.

We want to a be consultant in the cloud space providing end to end solutions, from helping customers frame their strategy, implement and then manage completing the cycle. One of the biggest limitations in the cloud space is that many customers haven't been sure what workloads to migrate, why and how. They have apprehensions on security and the need is to educate them. We want to be a consultant and with our vertical focus and expertise, we can understand the Business challenges and built solutions accordingly. We will be cloud agnostic in our focus and with focus on value proposition for clients. We have hired and expanded our team on cloud, hiring people with live implementation experience; have focused on training for pre-sales as we are focused on improving the skillsets internally with our people.

Elaborate on your expansion across markets?

We have acquired Tawasul Telecom in Kuwait earlier this year, which has offices and presence in other markets including Saudi, UAE, UK.  So we have consolidated our presence in the GCC and are quite strong in terms of customer base. We want to grow into the managed services space very aggressively in the GCC, staring with the UAE, Saudi and Kuwait through channel partners. We have a a direct  enterprise team as well. We are seeing encouraging results and are quite optimistic about our GCC opportunities.