“The fifth industrial revolution will be defined by personalisation. It will be made possible through mass network collaboration, a collaboration of human and machines/things, big data & AI, and 4IR as a base,” says CEO of Axiata Digital Labs, Thushera Kawdawatta. Since its founding 2 ½ years ago, ADL has played a pivotal role in the digital transformation journeys of its clients. Technology trends like 5G, IoT, AI/ML, and mass network collaboration promising to disrupt industries once more. Seeing this, Axiata Digital Labs is positioned as a leader in navigating these trends to seize the opportunities of the evolving digital future.
Inside Axiata Digital Labs
As its name suggests, Axiata Digital Labs predominantly operates in the digital transformation in and around the telecom industry, FinTech, Media & Entertainment, and adjacent industries. It is the technology arm of Axiata Group Berhad Malaysia – an Asian telecommunications giant consisting of telecom operators in 6 countries with approximately 350 million subscribers.
“At its core, digital transformation stems from connectivity. Telecom infrastructure is the foundation of the digital world. That’s why Axiata Digital Labs is uniquely positioned as a leader. ADL’s core competencies were formed in the digital communication infrastructure industry,” says Thushera.
In its mission to help guide companies on their digital transformation journeys, Axiata Digital Labs looks at both product development and services. A unique combination that has allowed the company to be a powerful asset for its clients. Thushera proudly states, “If you talk to us about products, we have significant digital transformation enabling products you can leverage to accelerate your journey. If you talk to us about services, we offer them some of the best digital transformation experts. Bringing both worlds together allows us to provide a comprehensive and consolidated set of services to our clients.”
ADL’s tales of digital transformation
Over the years, Axiata Digital Labs has developed a range of solutions that have enabled digital transformations. Equally, its services have also helped digitally transform existing solutions utilised by businesses. All of them are backed by heavy R&D investments.
The AXP platform for API management is one such example of this. An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows different apps to communicate. Today, you’ll find that everything from Facebook to Netflix and every other app or service we rely on are built using APIs. It’s not an exaggeration that the world runs on them!
Having APIs allows companies to leverage existing infrastructure and collaboratively develop new revenue streams. But large companies like telecom operators have several APIs. Many of which are utilised by developers and companies alike to build their solutions. This is where the AXP platform comes in to offer a robust, flexible, and effective means to manage the many APIs used by a conglomerate.
ADL has also built a robust microservices and BSS (Business Support System) platform, the Digital Telco Enabler (DTE). The DTE platform enables rapid service delivery, increased agility and allows telcos to capitalise on potential revenue growth opportunities. It also functions as a comprehensive ecosystem that is used to develop software products and services. DTE is a core component of Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s Convergent Billing System platform.
Axiata Digital Labs has also built a range of successful fintech apps for its clients. One example is the smart wallet, Genie, from Dialog Axiata, which allows customers to pay, send, and request and store money with their smartphones. Earlier this year, Genie hit the milestone of processing Rs. 10 billion worth of transactions, and 12,000+ now use it to accept payments.
When it comes to the services side of Axiata Digital Labs, a notable success story is that of the Celcom Life self-care app. The 3.0 update to the Celcom Life app brought a vastly improved interface for Celcom’s customers. It offered several helpful features, including support for multiple languages and billing options. Following the 3.0 update, Celcom Life shot up to become the #1 self-care app in Malaysia with a rating of 4.8 and 4.38 on the iOS and Google Play Store, respectively.
The people behind the success of Axiata Digital Labs
Today, Axiata Digital Labs has approximately 1000 IT professionals operating in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia. All of whom are specialists in a wide range of innovative technologies. Among them are over 100 cloud computing experts specialising in the top 3 platforms – Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Platform.
With this team of talented professionals, ADL can offer its unique combination of capabilities to help its clients with their digital transformation. These capabilities and the company’s success haven’t gone unnoticed.
ADL has been the recipient of two TM Forum awards. In 2019, ADL, along with Robi Axiata, Dialog Axiata, Huawei, Ericsson, Appitum Technologies and Deutsche Telekom, collaborated on the Catalyst Project: “App Trading Marketplace: A Framework for CSP Collaboration Catalyst project”. The project, based on the merits of the DTE framework, clinched the award for outstanding use of TM Forum assets at TM Forum’s Digital Transformation Asia in Kuala Lumpur.
Last year, ADL, alongside Dialog Axiata, won TM Forum 2020 Excellence Award. The award recognises outstanding achievements in digital transformation across Communications Service Providers (CSPs), solutions developers, and innovators globally. Amongst the shortlisted candidates for this award were giants like Salesforce and Infosys.
Recently, Axiata Digital Labs was appraised at maturity Level 3 for version 2.0 of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), becoming the first organisation in Sri Lanka to achieve this. “We’re very proud to have received this appraisal as it recognises us as a mature organisation,” said Thushera.
Reflecting on these awards and the many other achievements of Axiata Digital Labs, he humbly goes onto say, “The credit for the success we enjoy today doesn’t belong to a single individual. The credit belongs to everyone in the company working tirelessly. It was all because of our exceptionally talented people and a culture that pushes us to innovate constantly.”
Predicting and preparing for the future
So how is Axiata Digital Labs preparing for this future? By investing heavily in developing people, its R&D, enabling collaboration, building marketplaces, along with big data, AI, and machine learning.
Thushera states, “Constantly changing technology, user dynamics, heavy environment focus, and various demanding skills requires a constant focus on innovations, we at Axiata Digital Labs predominantly focus on these demands and invest in our people to enable them. This requires having the right platforms and capabilities in place. Thankfully, we have the talent at Axiata Digital Labs to do so.”