A Strategic Approach to Becoming a Global Player in Communications Technology

Author: Abbas, Imran
Supervisor: Professor Pieter Steyn
Date: March 2008

Plessey is Africa’s leading provider of turnkey telecoms infrastructure solutions.  Plessey’s current core business of supplying services and basic infrastructure equipment for the establishment or upgrade of mainly base station sites within a mobile network has inspired regional expansion into Eastern and Western Africa.  There are many competitors in this market and, yet, there were no key identification criteria that made Plessey outstanding.  Except for the fact that it had a point of presence in various countries, it did not have a strategy or core competency that made it the company of choice and to turn it into a global player within the next decade.

A strategic investigation of expansion opportunities in the African market, other possibilities and capabilities now provide for a more customer-focused solution;   “New products and new markets are other common targets of business strategies … (Schonberger & Knod, 1997:23).  This study also defined a strategy that enables Plessey to become a global player.

The study shows that the primary market is growing steadily:  “Africa is forecasted to grow at twice (60%) the forecasted annual world growth rate” (Deutsche Bank GSM White Paper, 2004:40).  This demand is met by operators investing in infrastructure and by governments issuing more licences to service providers.  GSM as the mobile standard and its prevalence throughout Africa was investigated, as was the impact of subscriber growth on the size of the mobile site infrastructure market which showed that providing maintenance service contracts on the continent would guarantee additional revenue for Plessey.

A decline is already experienced in the growth of the current core business of Plessey, which is site-builds and, despite this decline, this investigation offers Plessey the opportunity to explore ways to increase the workload whilst simultaneously extending service offerings to its customers.  This study also identified some new possibilities that could be worth investigating, thus spurring Plessey on to strategic change.  By identifying opportunities, initiating sales and facilitating financing arrangements, new business with fixed-line operators could, for example, result in the adoption of a project-based approach.