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Get To Know Azizi A Hadi, Chief Network Officer of TM

It is all about connecting, enabling and empowering people

Photo by Stephen Poon

In today’s world, let’s admit it. We can’t live without the Internet. Even when our network decides to go 3G, we would go berserk like it’s World War 3! So, Marketing In Asia had the pleasure to sit down and have a chat with TM’s very own Chief Network Officer, Ir. TS Azizi A Hadi or better known as Chief among his fellow peers.

Hi there, Chief. Welcome to Marketing In Asia. Congratulations on winning the CxO of the year award and your appointment as the new Chief Network Officer at TM. So, Chief, tell us about your role in TM. 

TM is an integrated network service provider where we have voice, broadband and the Internet – those are application of services. So, my role as the Chief Network Officer is to ensure the products and services offered to the market are supported by network. From a new product, we will do the planning, architecture and processes. We also do the rollout, integration and then we operate and maintain. These are basically the three basic functions in network – planning, rollout and operations. Once services are launched and network is present, we have our network operation centre that will monitor and manage the services at this level – from network all the way to the customers layer. So, yeah. It is a very simple job.

Formerly, you were in the Malaysian Army. What was your journey like since then to get to where you are today? 

I work into the organisation, as simple as that. I was in the Royal Signals Regiment of the Malaysian Army for 10 years, Maxis for another 10 and Telekom Malaysia for over 14 years. So, my journey started upon graduation where I was commissioned into the army in which I was working in the field, then was assigned to workshop to do repairs and testing for the equipment before moving to training school. Then, in Maxis I started in operation, slightly more than two years later, I moved to marketing. When I was in marketing, I started as a product manager and when I left I was already the Head of Broadband Business Unit. I then joined TM in technical strategy and moved to product, to SME, to webe, to TM One and now I’m here in group network technology. I would say I had a very interesting journey. 

Honestly, Chief, I can’t remember how life was before the Internet or to be more specific when WiFi and 4G came about and the Internet literally has the power to hypnotise people. Can you share about how such a thing can make us engrossed from the digital and marketing perspectives? 

I think it is all about information. It is all about connecting, enabling and empowering people. But when people started to abuse this one thing, that we cannot help. I mean, from a business perspective, we want to provide technology to the people and enable the business. We want people to be connected to the world in getting information.  For consumers, it is about connecting with family and friends. The boundary between business and consumer is blurring as you can be an executive during the office hours and consumer after hours. When you look at the journey of the people, they wake up, they go to work, they spend time in the office, go for lunch, go home and spend time at home; they want to be connected and our role is to provide them the communication connectivity seamlessly.  

That is why you have home broadband, wireless broadband, fixed business broadband with wifi in the office or when you go out for lunch and mobile data when you are on the move. Our job is to provide the services regardless of the technology because in the end it is all about being connected and networking. In today’s world, the pace is really fast and WhatsApp for instance, is as good as using email. Phone calls have been replaced by apps and social network now is the in-thing and they love to share what they do and that we can’t help. As long as they are happy, we are happy. 

There are talks about how Malaysia’s efforts in collaborating with telecommunications industry players and engaging with the public to support the 5G initiatives will help Malaysia to become the pioneer of the technology in the region. Can you expand about this, Chief?

It’s a journey and it is not going to happen overnight. Earlier this year, we have a 5G demo in Putrajaya and after that 5G demo, there is an industry collaboration on use cases of the telcos, celcos and industry key players. The whole idea is to showcase the use cases that we are able to offer using 5G, even though most of the use cases can be delivered with 4G. Smart traffic lights for example, today you can use 4G but if you want to do HD facial recognition at the traffic light, then you probably need 5G because you capture the video then send it back to the platform, do the analytics and come out with a decision.  

We started off with about 36 use cases and use cases will continue to expand depending on the need for Malaysia and the industry. While I was in TM One, part of the work we did was to align the team into the industry vertical to understand the needs of the verticals so we can come out with these use cases for the vertical. That is why for smart city, we have smart traffic lights, smart streetlight management, smart parking and many more. For agriculture, we have this aquaculture, hydroponics and aquaponics. Let’s take aquaponics as an example. You have a shrimp breeding pond and shrimps in particular are very sensitive – you then put sensors, monitor the water, ammonia and acid levels and all sorts of things without even sending someone on the field because this can be done automatically. Imagine you have this large pond to collect data and analytics – the same concept, you can use for industry level. 

Chief, share with us how is 5G different from 4G? 

With the right spectrum, backhaul and rollout technique, 5G can give about 10 to 20 times the speed of 4G and we’re talking about 1gbps or 1 million devices in 1 km/s. 5G also offers a very low latency. So basically there are three types of services that you can offer: enhanced mobile broadband means faster speed. When we have 2G, it is all about SMS and emails while 3G is about video. 4G is actually designed for data and it is IP end-to-end and 5G, if you are talking about competing to the edge, things will be much faster. If you are still wondering about the difference between 4G and 5G, in a layman’s term, 4G equals faster video while 5G equals even faster video. 

What are the marketing strategies for TM when it comes to 5G? 

It’s still premature to comment but every technology goes through a hype cycle – this is where people start doing testing, POC (Proof of Concept), showcase and so on. We do that because the standard has been finalised. So you probably have a few vendors that are ready with their initial equipment that would go to a hype cycle, then people would understand a bit more and equipment is available in volume. Devices will become available because devices is the biggest barrier at the moment. When you talk about chipset makers like Qualcomm, who made ODM (Original Design Manufacturing) where you have low-end, mid-range and high-range devices. First, they will produce high-end chipset for those who can afford and move along the technology evolution. Eventually when ODM companies start to manufacture the low-end chipset and becomes available, this is where we get volume of users in the network. This goes well with the marketing and sales strategies where operators always bundle their devices and go to their loyal customers or to customers with high usage especially the ones that follow the technology track.

Going forward, is there anything we can look out for or look forward to? 

We are participating in the national fiberisation and connectivity plan and we are playing a major role in finalising the baseline of the project and we will be announcing it soon. So stay tuned. 

For those who wish to get in touch with you, what is the best way? 

Where the professional playground is, LinkedIn.

Anything you wish to share with our readers, Chief?

Stay tuned and come back for more!

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Geogyiana Shahirah
Written By

Geogyiana Shahirah is the Marketing In Asia's Editor for Malaysia. As a scribbler, she helps brands and individuals to create great content and solidify ideas as well as thoughts into meaningful stories. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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