How Indonesian operator Telkomsel ran its 14 month digital transformation journey

Telkomsel has spent over 14 months on a digital transformation journey with SapientRazorfish

Many businesses are at some stage, or deciding how to start, a process of internal digital transformation, and it’s not just the luddites.

Even a digital business needs digital transformation, take General Electric for example. So too found Telkomsel, one of Indonesia’s biggest mobile telecoms firms.

In Alistair Johnston, director of marketing at Telkomsel’s words: “The key driver was to transform Telkomsel into the leading digital company for digital and data services by delivering a market leading customer experience for our customers. We observed our customer base moving from an analogue world to a digital world.”

Analogue to digital

Three factors played into the need for major change, according to Johnston: Indonesia being an advanced and savvy digital market, huge smartphone growth for Telkomsel’s customer base (50% of the Telkomsel device base in Q1 2017) and increased investment from Telkomsel into the 4G network.

“Indonesia has the third largest Facebook user base globally, therefore our users were ready for a deeper digital engagement with Telkomsel,” he said.

Officially, the project started with the launch of the ‘MyTelkomsel’ self service app in March 2016, but Johnston says the process can be traced back to 2014.

It all started with an app

“The digital transformation journey began 14 months ago, with the revamp of the MyTelkomsel app. However, the real journey of the Telkomsel Digital World project began in the late of 2014, where we had to define clearly the scope of work for the project by understanding the gaps of customer pain points and the business objectives,” he explained.

The success of the app, and being set up to now react faster to digital needs, means the benefits have been rolling in thick and fast for the telco. According to Johnston, contribution to revenue from the digital business increased 35.4% in 2016.

“Since launch we have gotten 18 million downloads in a 14 month period and we estimate we will have 28 million downloads by year end 2017. Recently we have been focusing on personalisation features that allow customers to get relevant offers, mobile payment with T-Cash in the app and new digital revenue creation from over the top (OTT) services. We have seen revenues from video, games and music increase over 50% year-on-year. We quickly moved onto a total overhaul of the www.telkomsel.com site to improve ease of website navigation to find products and services. We see www.telkomsel.com as the tool to introduce a fast call to action to complete user journey, from discovery to transaction,” he said.

Choosing partners is the toughest part

As with many brands now, due to so much choice and differing offering from different sides of the industry, knowing whose hands to put the digital transformation job into is one of the toughest parts.

“Identifying the right team to drive the digital transformation through Telkomsel was a big challenge for us. It took months for us to choose the right partners. We used a mixture of internal and external consultancy to design, build and market our digital transformation to the Telkomsel user base,” he said.

“A key learning is the importance of keeping the same team in place as you move through different elements of the transformation. We deliberately worked with the same team from SapientRazorfish, across MyTelkomsel, the website, Langit Musik, T-Cash and the upcoming Video Market Place. Having consistency in UX design thinking across platforms has delivered multiple benefits. In addition to that, working in an agile environment across multiple stakeholders has helped us in streamlining the process of the digital transformation journey.”

Relationships matter

The relationship between Telkomsel and SapientRazorfish continues, according to Johnston, as the challenge now is to look at how they can use the self service platforms to upsell, as well as service the customer base on their terms.

“We will also be focusing efforts around our ‘digital lifestyle products’. There will be more integration with T-Cash, as our mobile payment will ease our customers to transact within our app. Langit Musik has a continuous roadmap of development in order to be the market leader in Indonesian music consumption. We will also continue with our OTT partnerships that have seen our video payload consumption increase 700% year-on-year,” he concluded.

Perhaps no two digital transformation stories are alike but Telkomsel’s journey with SapientRazorfish, a relationship that started with an app, is going to start seeming a lot more familiar, as brands seek long term partners for customer-centric thinking, over campaigns and projects.

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Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte