LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MENA, DUBAI: Outgoing du CEO Osman Sultan (pictured) urged the industry to avoid past mistakes and focus more on the individual to ensure a profitable 5G future.

Speaking in one of his last keynote appearances before stepping down after 14 years at the helm of the UAE’s second-largest operator, Sultan reflected on how operators had ridden something of a boom and bust period in the last few decades.

“In the mid 1990s it was very difficult not to have profitable telcos,” he commented. But this was followed by the era of the OTT player from 2005. “Why was it so difficult for us to monetise the data? This is something I still feel bitterness about, it was an opportunity lost. The entire telco community didn’t manage to be more creative to monetise data.”

A successful 5G future will require operators to rethink the way they provide services, “a fundamental mindshift,” Sultan said.

“Tomorrow’s VIP will be become a Very Individualised Person,” he quipped. “We will move from a USP to an Emotional Selling Proposition.”

Sultan used the example of Apple as a company embodying this philosophy. “When Apple launch a new product it isn’t about the features of that phone that people want, it’s about Apple. Apple are getting the experience right.”

With the move to 5G the du boss urged the industry to focus on showing consumers the real value in new services. “Right now we’re missing those conversations,” he warned. “Everything we do needs to have the human component at the heart of it. We need to move from having the right answers to asking the right questions.”