Ian Watson, CEO of Cellcard, discusses how his organisation is setting the standard for a digital revolution in Cambodia
Writer: Sean Galea-Pace | Project Manager: Donovan Smith
All eyes are on 5G.
And with 5G there will come opportunities like never before for Cellcard and all of its customers across Cambodia.
Cellcard’s CEO Ian Watson a self-described 5G evangelist and innovation leader sits at the forefront of this technological evolution. Having worked in the telecommunications industry for over 25 years, Watson has witnessed first-hand how the industry has transformed during the past few years as the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold.
But that doesn’t perturb Watson - far from it. It’s clear that Watson thrives in the face of pressure and he is tasked with driving Cambodia’s digital transformation journey and overseeing the launch of the country’s first 5G network. He’s aiming high.
“We’re excited about 5G. We’re not just here to digitise a company - we’re here to digitise a country,” he explains.
“That’s our mantra, and we believe that 5G is the way to really digitise this country and drive Industry 4.0 after COVID. We believe we will have one of the best 5G infrastructures across Southeast Asia.”
Cellcard is fully-Cambodian-owned and is committed to connecting Cambodians wherever they may be. Watson is adamant that his organisation is at the forefront of the latest technological innovation and is well-placed to be a trailblazer within Cambodia.
“We’ve invested a substantial amount,” he informs us.
“All our 5G roll-out plans are ready, we’ve identified all the sites and place orders with our partners. We’re ready to launch new products and services that are very exciting.”
In a bid to help Cambodia’s most ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cellcard introduced the country’s first 5G use case - a telemedicine service at four locations across Phnom Penh. The service saw Phnom Penh’s best doctors assess patients via video conference link to mobile phones and devices across Cambodia. The service could be used to connect to patients in their homes, clinics or other hospitals.
The service allowed doctors to provide real-time standard clinical care, counseling and therapy, in addition to education for patients and professional consultation and supervision for the on-the-ground medical teams. It installed the service at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital, The Chak Angre Health Center, and Ministry of Health.
In addition, Cellcard gifted doctors and nurses free data packages and calls to help with the 5G telemedicine project.
“Fundamentally, we wanted to help the country,” affirms Watson. “We just wanted to do our part. We had several 5G sites which we were testing and people were impressed with how quickly we got this rolled out.”
As the disruption of COVID-19 has been felt globally, Cambodia has been one of the few countries to keep cases to a minimum. The country has recorded just 474 cases and no deaths, which is stark contrast to the impact felt by the rest of the world, something Watson is full of praise for.
“Hats off to the Cambodian government because they’ve been very diligent with their handling of the pandemic and have been one of the shining lights of not just Southeast Asia but the whole world,” says Watson.
“For Cellcard, we split working between home and site and monitored staff every day as part of our commitment to the cause to ensure they were safe and well. We took it very seriously to try and prevent any COVID entering the building.”
With the global esports market now worth over a billion dollars in revenue, Cellcard is at the forefront of the industry’s prominence in Cambodia. With around 60 percent of the population under the age of 30, Cellcard has acted quickly and has partnered with Tencent, Moonton and NetEase in a bid to accelerate esports within the country.
And Cellcard has signed more than 30 influencers to represent.
“We have all the best teams here that we sponsor and engage with,” he explains. “We’ve really embraced esports and I expect that to continue.”
However, Watson admits that it’s impossible for Cellcard to achieve the level of success it has enjoyed on its own and stresses the importance of partnerships.
“In this digital age, it’s all about partnerships and it’s essential,” he states.
“We all share the vision about digitising Cambodia and it’s important you are aligned with short, medium and long-term goals because ultimately, you’re only as good as your partners. We have a number of strategic partnerships and we conduct regular reviews to ensure we’re all on track and meeting our KPIs.”
Employees are a key component in making all companies successful but when it comes to Cellcard, Watson is adamant that Cellcard wouldn’t be the company it is today without its staff.
“I know I’m only as good as the team,” he admits.
“And I am so lucky that I have one of the best management and employee teams that I have ever worked with. My most valuable asset here is the staff. We could have the best of everything but unless we have the right team to drive the business forward, we’d be nowhere.”
In order to ensure staff feel acknowledged, Watson affirms that Cellcard values its employees and wants them to feel like ‘part of the family.’
“It really is a family at Cellcard and I always have an open door policy where anyone can come to me with their ideas,” he explains.
“We include everyone in the decision-making process because I believe if they don’t feel part of the process then they don’t feel connected. We recognise employee’s hard work and really highlight that to ensure it becomes part of their routine. We also provide digital training and education to encourage development.”
With the future in mind, Watson is excited about what the next few years at Cellcard looks like.
“I see Cellcard as one of the key drivers of digitisation in Cambodia,” he says. “We’re very excited about the future, 5G and its influence on the economy. We’ve just launched Cambodia’s first digital app and it is groundbreaking. We have to make sure we give back to the local community and in our opinion, we will be the template for emerging markets to launch 5G and digitisation.”