The Client

Etisalat belongs to the big league of telecom services in the GCC belt. Since its inception in 1976, the corporation has extended its services to 16 countries in MENA & Asia, serving 155.4 million subscribers. It has a telecom portfolio of USD 12.5 billion. Etisalat has been acknowledged as the world's strongest telecom brand by Brand Finance.

Company Headquarters: Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Challenge

In 2020, Etisalat launched Business Edge— a full-set solution aimed at helping Small & Medium Businesses (SMBs). The telco brand touches over 300,000 Small & Medium Businesses through various ICT solutions like mobile plans, fiber optics internet, integrated communication solutions, web hosting, network security, and managed devices. With Business Edge, most of these services became available as part of their internet bundle plans.

One of the key offerings the client intended to deliver with their internet bundle plans was the managed devices. The Etisalat managed devices would have built-in software and analytics programs to help businesses run smoothly without additional third-party deployment.

The managed devices included IP video phones, conference phones, enterprise tablets, Wi-Fi boxes, and digital signage, among other devices.For their integrated digital signage devices, the client decided to use 39-inch Android TVs.

Narrowing down the hardware brand was the easier part. The real challenge was to find an efficient digital signage software. The client did not design this software in-house, so they needed a reliable SaaS partner with whom a long-term business relationship could be established.

The client's requirement summary:

  • The digital signage software had to be compatible with the Android TVs
  • The content management system needed to be hosted on the cloud to ensure remote accessibility
  • The software partner to be managing the digital signage deployment, training, and customer support on Etisalat's behalf

The Solution

Etisalat was introduced to Pickcel, and it was an instant click. The foundation was laid for a stable partnership. Before the client switched to Android TVs, the solution was rolled out with Pickcel's digital signage media players.

The client decided to integrate Pickcel's cloud-based digital signage software as it would allow their SMB customers in remote screen-and-screen-content management. Cloud software is easy to scale, and Etisalat wanted to offer their SMB clients a long-term solution that would benefit them throughout their business growth curve.

Pickcel provided complete managed services, including hosting and managing the client's entire digital signage solution from the Bahrain AWS server.

Customizing the solution

The Business Edge platform targeted small-and medium-scale businesses like startups, local retailers, and similar organizations which wanted to promote their brand and optimize workflow. Meaning Etisalat would serve a diverse range of domains and industry verticals.

Multiple partakers would be serving the Etisalat customers:

  • Etisalat: the admin of the solution
  • Pickcel: Managing the backend software operations and customer support
  • Third-party: For deployment and installation of the solution

This necessitated the creation of an admin portal that would allow the above three participants to operate in sync.

Pickcel designed an exclusive admin platform for the client. Every SMB customer that avails the Etisalat's digital signage solution would be managed from this comprehensive portal.

Besides designing the admin portal, Pickcel also proposed additional customized applications for the client. Pickcel houses, within its software, more than 60+ content apps, including news apps, communication apps, social media apps, and a few bespoke applications such as digital menu board, car dealership, and digital product catalog.

However, since most of Etisalat's clients were concentrated in the Middle East and African provinces, Pickcel offered to deliver more tailored apps like local news apps, international news apps in Arabic, gold rates & foreign currency exchange apps.

Allocating dedicated customer support

The potential number of SMBs that would subscribe to the client's internet bundle plans was huge. This meant the client had to set up an entirely dedicated customer support division. The Etisalat team was clear from the beginning; they wanted the quality of customer service to be exceptional.

At their request, Pickcel set up a customer support team dedicated to the Etisalat clients. The team of experts was to:

  • Provide the Etisalat customers with software handling training after deployment
  • Help users onboard the software quickly.
  • Assist users with queries over in-app chat (active during the UAE business hours)
  • Resolve technical issues through service tickets
  • Maintain a steady customer relationship and educate the end-users about software updates, latest features, new app launches, and creative digital signage content ideas.

The Result

When telco companies, especially ones with a stature like Etisalat's, migrate into digital signage and other marketing technologies, there is a lofty expectation to fulfill.

After the client launched the Business Edge platform in 2020, the company instantly received an overwhelming number of subscribers.

  • Around 12000+ SMBs are currently powering their digital signage with the Pickcel-Etisalat solution.
  • Monthly, 600-750 screen licenses are rolled out. That implies steady growth in revenue for Etisalat.

From the end user's perspective, a robust digital signage software meant more business. Typically these SMBs do not resort to tens and hundreds of screens; the numbers are limited. And due to such scanty numbers, small businesses have traditionally refrained from using dedicated digital signage software. However, that has resulted in an unfortunate underutilization of a valuable resource.

However, with Pickcel's cloud-based solution, small businesses needed no IT infrastructure. Yet, they could receive quality services, including free software updates and on-demand support.

Once digital signage was offered bundled with other essential telecom services, the technology was rapidly adopted. The Etisalat subscribers now use the Pickcel software to:

  • Launch promotional campaigns
  • Improve communication
  • Manage their digital signage on the fly with the Pickcel Go mobile app
  • Drive in-store entertainment with interesting content apps
  • Update notices and bulletins instantly
  • And also avail advanced solutions like queue management and interactive QR code-based discount coupons.

A revenue cross-section at the individual organization level may not appropriately reveal the true benefit of the solution. However, when measured at a mass scale of 12000+ businesses, the economic viability of digital signage technology touches the height of mountains.