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M1 rebrands with focus on Keppel ties, personalised services

New brand strategy comes two years after delisting and Keppel buyout, during which the Singapore telco moved to a new technology stack that runs 90% on the cloud and touted to provide highly personalised mobile services.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

M1 has unveiled a new brand strategy that promises to deliver more personalised customer experience and services that more closely leverage its ties with parent company, Keppel. The move comes almost two years after the Singapore telco delisted and, during which, moved to a new technology that now runs 90% on the cloud. 

This was part of a various digital transformation initiatives that were necessary to enable M1 to transition from a pure mobile operator to a more wholistic technology provider, said its CEO Manjot Singh Mann, who was speaking to local media via video Tuesday. He championed the "brand refresh" as a way to "revolutionise" communications in Singapore with "made to measure" offerings, and address rapid shifts in customer behaviour as well as demand for service personalisation. 

It required significant transformation on M1's part, including a move to a new digital tech stack that now ran 90% on the cloud, compared to 12% previously, and streamlining its applications to 30, down from 150 before. It also slashed more than 200 databases to a single centralised data lake. 

In response to ZDNet's question on the challenges it faced prompting the transformation, Mann said M1 had "a long legacy" of disrupting the market, but the way technology developed over the years meant it did not have the best infrastructure to adapt to customers' changing needs fast enough. 

The transformation was needed to provide more agility to create new services quickly and engage customers digitally, he said.

The new tech platform would provide real-time data analytics and deeper insights that better matched up to customers' needs contextually and instantaneously. It also would facilitate a fully automated frontend offering more self-service options for customers as well as better integration with M1's business partners, Mann added. 

"Now we have the ability to hyper-personalise products and services and business solutions more rapidly, accurately, and contextually, catering to customers' specific needs," he said, noting that the telco had delivered on its original goal of "linking anyone and anything, anytime and anywhere". 

"Today, we want to be measured by a different and higher bar. We want to deliver products that are unique and as personal as they can get, bespoke and tailored...we want to be the brand that is made to measure," the CEO said.

Apart from a redesigned website and mobile app, M1 is looking to do this through three new mobile plans -- Bespoke Contract, Bespoke SIM, and Bespoke Flexi -- the last of which is touted to allow customers to decide, amongst others, how much upfront payment they want to give, the device they want to purchase, and how much data or voice minutes they require.

In fact, some 6 million permutations could be created from the Bespoke Flexi service plan, Mann noted. "The idea here is that once we create this model, we can create ecosystems of other services that can be accessed through our app, which will be tailor-made and personalised for our customers."

All nine M1 retail shops also were transformed to be in line with the new branding.

Betting on Keppel ties, product synergies

The rebranding is a culmination of a two-year journey that saw the Singapore telco's delisting in March 2019 and buyout deal with Keppel, which has been a shareholder since M1's inception in 1994. 

The second telco at that time, in a market held by incumbent Singtel, M1 had to be an "insurgent". And as the market changed, M1 has had to reinvent itself and business, according to Keppel CEO Loh Chin Hua, who was also present at the media briefing, 

This need to transform led to the decision to delist, giving M1 a private setting to be remade, Loh said. 

In particular, he noted that connectivity was going to be an important growth engine for Keppel's own Vision 2030 strategy. Here, M1 played a "pivotal role" alongside Keppel's data centres

"More and more world is connected. You need data, and data needs to be stored and devices to be connected. You need to be able to provide data analytics and actionable insights. It's clear to us connectivity is going to be a key growth sector for the group," he said.

He said the two companies over the past two years had worked to identify potential areas to collaborate that included tieups with Keppel Electric and Keppel Offshore & Marine, the latter of which involved tests that used autonomous vessel technology on M1's network. 

Such partnerships would further expand with the impending rollout of M1's 5G standalone network, Loh said, adding that the group's Vision 2030 strategy aimed to the organisation as an integrated business providing services on urban development, asset management, connectivity, and energy and environment.  

Products and services that both companies developed in Singapore could potentially be rolled out globally, he noted. He pointed to Keppel's development of Saigon Sports City as a potential development testbed for smart urban products.

Mann added that Keppel provided an "in-house" lab that M1 could tap to develop use cases as well as test and learn how 5G could be used to build applications for various industry segments.

Loh said: "There are clearly opportunities for some of our painpoints to be shared with M1 and how M1 can provide potential solutions. Keppel will be the starting point and once we find appropriate 5G solutions for Keppel, our ambition is that this can then be rolled out to other players in the industry."


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