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On a cloud nine

Mahnoor Nadeem

Mahnoor Nadeem is heading REDtone Digital Services, one of the fastest growing digital transformation solutions business in Pakistan, offering wide range of products, including digital onboarding, cloud computing, financial technology, blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Mahnoor Nadeem, who is also the vice president of the REDtone Group, envisions making their digital transformation practice and the group’s local loop operations one of the largest in the country.

She has also built the strategy for the group’s local loop operator, expanding REDtone’s fibre footprint across six major cities in Pakistan.

Mahnoor also introduced the digital transformation division at the group, expanding product offerings toward digital onboarding, cloud computing, financial technology, blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

She looks after various business units, which include a long distance international operator, a satellite operator, local loop operator and the digital transformation division.

Previously, Mahnoor worked with businesses across the UK as a corporate law adviser, analysing various business structures and providing advice upon strategy and corporate structure.

She holds an Undergraduate Degree in Law from City, University of London and has completed the Bar professional training course to qualify as a Barrister from The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, together with a Masters in Law from City, University of London.

Here are the excerpts from the conversation Mahnoor Nadeem had with the BOL News.

REDtone group has evolved into a technology company offering diverse solutions. What has the journey been like?

The REDtone Group established its roots in the field of connectivity and communications in 2004 as REDtone Telecommunications and has grown into one of the fastest-growing long distance international (LDI) operators in Pakistan.

Our philosophy has been to provide cost-effective, quality voice, SMS, and data solutions for international and local markets, catering to retail and wholesale segments.

With time, we have evolved and branched into several avenues, while sticking to our core (IT and telecommunications). Some of the avenues in which REDtone has evolved into are Esports, retail infrastructure and fintech, cloud computing, data, network and security among others.

With the solutions being offered by REDtone which areas have received wide acceptance from the consumers?

The new business avenues at REDtone have all received a great response from the market, in both B2B and B2C verticals.

Ventures like GameRED, which is linked to the Esports industry has received a phenomenal response from the gaming community for which we are truly grateful. Similarly, REDRETAIL has fostered growing acceptance, which is linked with bringing financial revolution through retail digitalisation.

The importance of data, networks and security have become key for all the industries. We have several customers and partners that are integrated through our offerings and demand in this space is growing exponentially.

Due to the pandemic the e-commerce segment has gained wide spread awareness and opportunity. Have the market players been able to successfully fill this gap?

While the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for most businesses, we can say without a doubt that it has also created a shift in consumer demand. The acceptance towards e-commerce has been fast. It has been interesting to witness how business operations evolved during the pandemic and the dependency towards e-commerce became a necessity. Throughout the year we saw investments pouring in from all parts of the world to grow the startup ecosystem in Pakistan.

Most of these startups are e-commerce or quick commerce based, which reflects how speed and convenience is going to determine the success of these organisations.

In my opinion, the term “successfully filling the gap” is about identifying space in the market (both current and future), offering the ideal service that meets the demand and then maintaining the quality of services. I believe a number of players have been quick to identify the gap and have developed innovative solutions to capture the demand and consumer interest. However, how they are able to sustain and grow their operations will be a challenge during and beyond the pandemic, which will be a true testament in determining their success towards filling the gap.

The REDRETAIL business is linked with the e-commerce segment. Has the business successfully penetrated the market, how have the retailers responded and the market shown acceptability?

With REDRETAIL, we aim at creating an ecosystem that encompasses a retail-led financial revolution. We began deployments and operations in Pakistan a few months ago and have on-boarded retailers across Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. The “Har Store Superstore” (every store is a superstore) concept went from being an aspiration to a necessity in the pandemic. And so, with a user-friendly UI/UX, and with a dedicated team, enabling merchants, we were able to gather a strong response from the market, where we receive regular requests from merchants to deploy our solution at their stores.

There is, of course, resistance at first, especially when it comes to a major change in the way operations have been run for decades. But with the advancement in technology, the adaptability and penetration across internet usage, smartphone users, etc, the adoption from merchants was and continues to be healthy across the country.

During the time that the youth had been restricted to home-based activities, the Esports market locally as well as globally gained phenomenal growth and demand. Can you elaborate on the vision that RDS holds to promote Esports in Pakistan and the recent initiatives taken by the group?

We aim at opening a new chapter for Pakistan Esports; in line with the government’s initiative to validate Esports as an industry. Our inaugural tournament, “The Infinity Cup” in partnership with a fintech brand and Pakistan Software Export Board was a great success where we witnessed major participation and excitement from amateur and professional players.

Our purpose behind this initiative is to create a supportive and enriching framework for Esports’ grassroots level players by providing them with a multifaceted tournament landscape so they can pursue Esports as a full-time career choice. Having such a competitive playing field locally will help them develop the right skillset, hone their skills and help them compete both domestically and internationally.

We plan on bringing several Esports offerings via GameRED to Pakistan and then expand further into the MENA region. This approach will be imperative in bringing Esports as a service to the private and public sectors and encourage them to invest in the segments led by millennial and GenZ audiences through tournaments, integrations, merchandise, capacity-building, and gamification.

It is a billion dollar industry but how can our local youth benefit from this?

Some of our Esports players are already making waves internationally with the likes of Arsalan Ash regularly succeeding across a plethora of championships. Through GameRED, we aim at building and developing a favourable environment to help nurture the Esports industry by supporting budding players and highlighting their achievements both locally and internationally. Our youth can make use of such opportunities and look to take up Esports as a full-time career, as opposed to a hobby alone.

Cloud computing has been a trend since a couple of years. Is there any offering by REDtone in this line of business?

REDtone Digital Services has recently partnered with Google as their in-country focus partner across Google Cloud Platform, Google Workspace and Google for Education. This is a huge achievement for the business ecosystem of Pakistan, demonstrating the interest and focus of such organisations in their penetration into Pakistan as an emerging market.

We also offer a host of private and public cloud solutions, with a variety of deployment models, to suit the needs and demands of the customers across the country.

One of the most important areas today is data, security and networking. What are the unique solutions offered by REDtone?

Cyber-security solutions have become a necessity with the recent increase in cyber-attacks worldwide. At REDtone, we work with our customers to identify their requirements and build turnkey, comprehensive solutions, together with our partners to truly create a solution-based, complete offering that fits the demands of the customer.

With the spate of current overwhelming cyber-attacks, we have solutions to counter sophisticated cyber-attacks like advanced persistent threats, spear phishing, etc. Our expert resources and comprehensive solutions enable our customers to prevent such attacks at the outset.

Several issues have risen recently in the sphere of cyber security. What are the areas you think require special attention from both the government and the private sector?

I believe the government, including public entities, understand the relevance and importance of cyber-security, and so we have noticed a shift in regulations and the imposition of strict policies and measures by the regulators. The government is also in the process of setting up a National CERT, which I believe is a great step towards national cyber-security.

The private sector is also catching up, but should now look to adopt a preventative approach and explore such solutions before any major setback takes place, which would lead to serious repercussions in terms of financial payouts, operational disruptions and loss to data privacy and reputation.

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