With a 157 per cent mobile phone ownership, 102 per cent household fixed line penetration and 77 per cent household broadband penetration*, Hong Kong is undeniably one of the most mature information and communication technology (ICT) markets in Asia. With such buoyant development though, industry players need to see where the next growth opportunity will come from, giving them the momentum to push forward in a saturated market.
"We're riding on our well-recognised operations experience and industry expertise to excel not only in Hong Kong but also in the world market," says Peter Lam, senior vice president, network planning, CASCADE Limited.
A wholly owned subsidiary of PCCW, CASCADE offers services ranging from research and development, planning and design, system operation and integration, installation and maintenance of PCCW's quadruple-play products including voice, broadband, mobile and IP television (IPTV) —a successful service that has enjoyed voracious growth and shows no signs of slowing down.
CASCADE credits the success not only to PCCW's product positioning and marketing strategies, content rich and quality service but also to the company's capabilities of planning, managing and maintaining the system and network in a sophisticated manner. "We're proud of this large-scale project and have started mirroring Hong Hong's IPTV success to overseas markets including Bangkok and Indonesia and beyond," says Mr Lam. To this end, the company has developed a specialist IPTV team who are ready to expand the company's services abroad at any time.
Aside from IPTV, CASCADE is also a prominent service provider of technical support and system maintenance services to corporations including the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as well as the Hong Kong government.
Mr Lam notes that CASCADE has been working to export their skills and expertise overseas, aiming to work with business partners in Mainland China, South East Asia and the Middle East on designing and building network operation and management consultancy services.
"By stretching our capabilities outside of Hong Kong, we're not only growing our business portfolio, but also presenting CASCADE's best engineering practices and operations experience to the rest of the world," he adds. "With our parent company's long history in serving the Hong Kong community as a network service operator, we have detailed work procedures and processes well documented to ensure data protection and security. It is also the company's policy to comply with the relevant government law and regulations on data protection and occupational health and safety." In addition, the company has established an independent unit dealing specifically with risk and fraud management as well as security management.
Aside from overseas expansion plans, CASCADE has devoted substantial effort to maintaining a strong network and providing support to PCCW which in turn offers state-of-the-art services to residential and business customers. The company also builds data centers as well as telecom and IT infrastructures for major commercial clients in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. A portfolio of consultancy services are also made available to telecom operators in South East Asia and the Middle East.
In view of the cut-throat competition and high ICT penetration in Hong Kong, many telecommunications network operators are now offering double-play or triple-play products incorporating voice, broadband internet access and IPTV to their customers. Nonetheless PCCW is the only quadruple-play service provider in Hong Kong offering a full range of fixed and mobile services, broadband internet and a 160-channel IPTV service.
With the company's dedicated effort in overseas market expansion, Mr Lam stresses that it is essential to have a team of open minded and highly mobile employees with the cultural sensitivity and awareness required to conduct business internationally.
To meet the pace of further expansion, CASCADE recruits about 70 top university graduates every year. Besides hiring university graduates with the relevant academic qualifications, the company has developed a comprehensive in-house training curriculum, helping staff to swiftly acquire the necessary product and operations knowledge.
More importantly, Mr Lam says the curriculum enable employees to "think out of the box" and learn an array of soft skills ranging from customer care to project management and cross-selling. These are increasingly required at work to differentiate the company from its competitors. "We want our staff to be well-rounded, with not only engineering knowledge and skills, but also with creativity and a service-oriented mindset," he says.
CASCADE currently employs more than 3,400 staff. The company offers job rotation which allows employees to understand the different aspects of the chain of services that the company provide.
*Source: Office of the Telecommunications Authority