Cyta CEO Andreas Neocleous worked in New York and London at financial giant Goldman Sachs and tech supranational Ericsson before coming back to Cyprus. This gives him a unique perspective on how Cyprus, its technology, and its largest telecoms provider will evolve.
Neocleous sees tech as the main driver of Cyprus economy in the future.
“I believe everything that is changing about Cyprus can be observed by going on a 20-minute drive along the coast of Limassol. Tourism, construction, shipping, financial services, there is even an offshore drill on display to remind us of our rich energy reserves. It is reassuring to remember that in difficult times, Cyprus has managed to successfully re-invent itself again and again and I am confident that it will continue to do so in the future. “
“One thing we have not been so successful so far, is to use technology to enhance our capabilities and transform our economy. Concepts like digital government, online education and smart cities remain as elusive as ever, despite the numerous pledges of technology companies like Cyta, to assist. However, during the last few months, there have been encouraging signs from within the government, and we have witnessed some crucial first steps towards this direction. Digital solutions were chosen to implement the movement restrictions during lockdown, the automation of financial benefits to the workforce as well as the new policy for travelers to Cyprus from abroad. For the first time, there is a real opportunity for technology to become the main force to move the economy to the next level,” he comments.
How does Cyta fit into this perspective?
“Against a backdrop of falling prices, increased competition, and tough regulation, 2020 presented a new challenge for Cyta, to provide uninterrupted and reliable services, in the midst of the adverse conditions of the pandemic. And although almost everything about this particular crisis is uncharted territory, there are already some positive developments.”
“The unprecedented measures taken to tackle the crisis have helped us to understand that communicating with our loved ones, retrieving and sharing critical information, continuing our education and even entertaining ourselves could never be possible without having continuous, reliable and high-quality telecommunication services.”
“On another level, it has always been clear that resilience is a key strength for any economy going through a crisis. What has also become very clear is that a digital society is a much more resilient society. The lessons learned by our government, will lead to new opportunities for us to improve and complement our services. We can safely say that the crisis has created a fast-track path for a digital future with better and faster Internet connections, more online transactions and more pleasant experiences than ever before. At the same time, a whole world of new applications based on artificial intelligence and virtual reality is coming our way much sooner than we think.”
“Even in times of crisis, I believe that these exciting developments will create a solid foundation for growth for the whole industry for the next 5 years. Despite the effects of COVID-19, Cyta is expected to maintain high levels of profitability in 2020, thus ensuring that our excellent performance in 2019 was the rule and not the exception. During the next 3 years, we plan to introduce several new technologies and services in Cyprus, bridging the digital divide in our country and securing growth not just for ourselves but for the whole economy,” Neocleous says.
Speaking of new technologies, what is the plan for 5G and what changes will it bring to businesses and individuals?
“The Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy has recently announced the tender to grant 5G licences to the interested parties. This means that the Government has formally decided that 5G will be introduced in Cyprus. This is a key decision which ensures our country’s economy remains competitive, as we move to a fully digital society and the goal of a European gigabit society by 2025. The 5G licenses for Cyprus will be granted by the end of 2020, so the first 5G commercial networks should be in operation sometime in 2021.”
“With 5G our customers will enjoy faster mobile Internet to the extent that all current limitations on speed, capacity, quality, responsiveness will be removed. As it happens with every new technology, we can only predict some of its different applications before its introduction. The general availability of the technology will allow for new innovative applications to be designed that are certain to improve our daily lives. Most experts agree however, that the greater benefits will be in the enterprise market. 5G networks will touch on almost all sectors of the economy such as energy, public health, agriculture, industry, transport and logistics, public safety, security and defence. Cyta Business is our enterprise business unit and is already looking at solutions that utilise 5G to enable and inspire growth for our business customers.”
Cyta also plans to roll out fibre on a large scale to improve Internet speed.
“As a matter of fact, Internet speed and quality has been continuously improving over the years. Unfortunately, it has not improved as fast as the market would have liked or as fast as most other EU countries have done.”
“However, we have some really good news for our customers. Since the beginning of last year, we have been rolling out a new Fibre-to-the-Home network which will put the Internet speed question to rest, once and for all. Fibre Internet connections work at speeds up to 1 gigabit per second—literally 100 times faster than the copper connections which most of us have.
The new fibre network of Cyta has been expanding fast and is already covering approximately 20 per cent of all urban and suburban areas, while coverage is expected to increase to 30 per cent by the end of this year. We are also going to design our pricing policy so as to ensure that the improvement that everyone will see is not only on Internet speed and quality but also on price.”
With all these new services, can customer service provide the support needed?
“It is true that market research as well as our internal measurements show that with every transaction we are continuously and steadily improving customer experience. Our customers used to have relatively simple requirements, but this is not true anymore. Their expectations have been raised, not by local competition, but by the global game-changers, companies like Apple, Amazon and Netflix.”
“As a result, Cyta is no longer satisfied to be number one in the local market, as this will only bring short-term benefits. We are learning from the global leaders, so as to transform our customer experience in the coming years. We will use data and analytics to take informed business decisions and serve all our customers in a personalized way, according to their own unique demands. By digitizing the customer journey and reducing human intervention to an absolute minimum, we will create unbreakable emotional connections between our brand and our customers.”
All of these efforts will lead to financial growth, Neocleous explains.
“In order to prevail in today’s environment, we need to be relentless in our efforts to squeeze out as much value as we can from our network, monetizing infrastructure investments and boosting data traffic, while taking out unnecessary costs. In this respect, the support of digital society initiatives by regulators and policymakers are of the utmost importance in order to facilitate a healthy economic model for Cyta, enabling us to continue to invest and meet the growing demand for connectivity and IT-based services.”
“It is also extremely important to unearth new revenue streams, which will be critical to sustaining current levels of revenue and profitability. But as we expand our service portfolios into adjacent markets, success in these new areas will depend on deciding carefully which areas we should target, keeping in mind that the grass might not be quite as green on the other side as we think: profit margins are generally quite disappointing.”
“Several opportunities will come knocking on our door, all of them promising growing revenues and profitability. It is our ability to distinguish the extremely small number of opportunities in which to invest, while rejecting all the others, that will decide our future success.”
And growth is accompanied by Corporate Social Responsibility, with programmes to give back to the community.
“At Cyta, we recognise that CSR is a source of innovation which contributes to the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of our organisation while benefiting our stakeholders and society as a whole.”
“We are proud to be the first organisation in Cyprus to have been certified as Zero Waste to Landfill with an average of 97 per cent waste management. We have also succeeded to have become the first organization in Cyprus with Green Offices Certification in almost all of our stores and buildings. Some of our other CSR initiatives include our Safe Internet Applications for homes and schools and our free lectures to schools across Cyprus for protection against hazards from the Internet. Additionally, we offer reduced prices and specially configured devices and services for people of all ages with particular difficulties in communication, vision, hearing and movement.”
“As a company we are inspired by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as set out by the United Nations. For the foreseeable future, our aim is to align ourselves with actions that will actively contribute to those goals.”