Opting for flexibility
believes its smaller size gives it the nimbleness to offer niche ICT products — something that really interests him.
It’s worked for him in the past. Like Huge Group, Nashua Mobile and ECN started out as least-cost operators, but morphed into specialised electronic offerings aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.
Openshaw sees a lot of opportunity in offering these kinds of services to smaller businesses. He says larger ICT businesses essentially offer the same service to enterprises. This basically means they’re selling large volumes at low margins. “The customer must take it or leave it,” he says.
When the economy is good this formula is fine, but it doesn’t work so well when conditions are less than ideal. This is what happened with Telkom subsidiary BCX, whose revenue dropped 4.6% to R21.2bn in its latest results because a weak economy led to a drop in volumes.
With many of the larger ICT players focused on servicing bigger companies and only offering generic services to small and medium-sized businesses, Openshaw believes Huge Group has much to gain by offering bespoke products that cater to the specific needs of these companies.
He is optimistic about his move to Huge Group — it puts him in the same company as a number of ICT heavy-hitters.
Vodacom’s former head of finance, Rob Burger, joined Huge subsidiary Huge Telecom as FD on August 1. Brian Armstrong,
Telkom’s former COO and chief commercial officer — and current professor of digital business at Wits Business School — sits on its board. Former telecom analyst Duarte da Silva is also there, serving as Huge Group chair.