Dialog: harnessing tech for a greater purpose

SUPUN WEERASINGHE, GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AT LISTED DIALOG AXIATA PLC EXPLAINS HOW THE COMPANY IS SUPPORTING THE NATIONAL RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Our vision is to empower and enrich Sri Lankan lives and enterprises with unparalleled cutting-edge connectivity and technology. Helping Sri Lanka stay connected and providing access to inclusive digital solutions to stay safe was more important than ever in the face of a global pandemic such as COVID-19.

While the Sri Lankan government and health authorities work together to find solutions to protect people and flatten the curve, Dialog, as Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider and No 1 Brand, leveraged its resources and platforms to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic. At times such as these, we bring together the extensive resource pool of Dialog, the support of Axiata Group Bhd, our partners and over 15 million valued subscribers to help solve the biggest challenges we face as a nation – to help and empower our customers, colleagues, communities and country.

Our customers are at the heart of our business

To enable over 15 million Sri Lankans stay connected to family, friends and work, we empowered our subscribers and the public with connectivity, tele-medicine, e-learning, entertainment and remote working solutions while team Dialog and our partners worked tirelessly to introduce new services while adding required network capacity and ensuring an uninterrupted service across all our platforms during the outbreak.

e-Connect – Free Emergency Reloads, Free Calls, SMS, and Data worth over Rs 2 billion:  We introduced multiple initiatives across our businesses to ensure that Sri Lankans stay connected during the pandemic, including a free Emergency Reload Relief pack for all mobile subscribers (more than 8.5 million customers were served and 25 million packs activated with 25 million GB of data and seven billion minutes).

To support the growing demand for data to work and learn from home, we doubled data across mobile and home broadband networks. We provided nearly Rs200 million worth of emergency loans to all low balance customers to stay connected and facilitated credit enhancements for all post-paid customers. Furthermore, over 600,000 Home Broadband users were provided free data and unlimited free calls between Dialog fixed lines.

e-Learn – Establishing a National Education Coalition:  In our efforts to minimise the disruption to the education system amidst the pandemic, Dialog together with our partners and the Ministry of Education created new platforms for e-learning, aimed at providing curated digital resources and solutions for teachers, administrators, students and families. Accordingly, free access without any data charges was provided for Guru.lk, e-Thaksalawa of Ministry of Education and all official e-Learning platforms of State Universities. Furthermore, to ensure that no child is left behind, Dialog’s Nenasa Distance Learning initiative was extended as a toll-free hotline (1377), and inclusive teleconferencing solutions were facilitated to 112 schools.

e-Care – Ensuring Uninterrupted, Accessible and Exceptional Customer Service: Remaining committed to providing an exceptional service while taking additional social distancing steps to protect team members and customers, Dialog’s widely available and easily accessible digital selfcare platforms including www.dialog.lk, MyDialog App, 24×7 WhatsApp platform 777 678 678, along with its Social Media Channels helped users receive round-the-clock assistance.

e-Tainment – Providing the Best Avenues of Homebased Entertainment: To help the public stay informed on the latest developments of the pandemic while providing them with prime content to stay entertained during the isolation period, Dialog extended access to Dialog Television’s full bouquet of over 130 premium channels at no additional charge to the entirety of its 1.4Mn DTV households. Customers also enjoyed free access to Sri Lanka’s largest movie and LIVE TV collection on the Dialog ViU App without any data charges.

e-Work – Supporting Customers and Enterprises Adapt to Working from Home: As working from home became the new normal, we took extra measures and forward-thinking approaches to support our enterprise customers and ensure that their productivity is not hindered by connectivity challenges. Dialog’s work-from-home solutions delivered a dedicated, secure, enterprise-grade connectivity experience at home while increasing work productivity through bespoke solutions including 3 months of free double data, MS Office365 Business Basics and data bundles, Dialog BizConferencing, G-suite, ILL & VPN, and remote assistance.

Supporting our colleagues through covid-19

To ensure the safety of our employees, we immediately provided all necessary resources to Work from Home, provided transportation for essential staff, and maintained regular communications/engagement activities, including health & safety awareness campaigns. The Dialog team responded to the crisis supporting operations 24×7 helping to keep all Sri Lankans connected and facilitated the authorities with their mission critical communication requirements. The dedication and commitment of our team and our partners in frontline, contact centre, distribution, technical and field support functions during the lockdown period was truly remarkable.

Helping our communities in times of need

Building on our long-standing tradition of supporting the communities in which we operate, Dialog’s team mobilised to implement an extraordinary range of measures to support communities across the country with our media partners ‘Manusath Derana’, ‘Siyatha ’, ‘ITN ’ and ‘Vasantham TV/FM’ – which provided urgently required daily relief in the form of dry rations worth over Rs56 million, to over 128,000 people covering 400+ villages in 22 districts, helping families that are most in need and unable to obtain even the most basic food necessities during the lockdown.

In addition to donating essential PPE kits to hospitals, Dialog also extended to all Sri Lankans a toll-free IVR Service (135) for latest Information and Preventive Advice from Ministry of Health and a free helpline (1390) for the latest medical advice from qualified doctors which provided over 100,000 consultations during the time.

Supporting the national response to covid-19

Pledging Rs200 million for Urgently Required ICU Capacity Development: To serve the public not only during the current pandemic but also in the long run, Dialog Axiata pledged Rs200 million for the immediate development of urgently required ICU (Intensive Care Unit) capacity in hospitals selected by the Ministry of Health (MOH). In less than a month, we gifted a fully functional ICU at the Negombo District General Hospital. At present, we are commencing the second component of the pledge to establish a fully functional ICU at the Homagama Base Hospital.

Using Technology to Serve a Greater Purpose: Closer to our core strengths, Dialog is supporting the national efforts in mitigating the pandemic via multiple innovative technology-based solutions, including Telepresence, Telehealth and connectivity solutions to 30 hospitals and established 36 telemedicine units to empower the MOH and IDH with a national collaborative e-Health system, delivering centralised healthcare, education and information services via remote collaboration technologies.

Additionally, Dialog will be facilitating speedier PCR testing of international arrivals at the Bandaranaike International Airport with the help of 3 Robotic Testing Arms, a first for Sri Lanka. Beyond primary medical care, Dialog also provided free WiFi and TV services to all Quarantine Centres managed by Tri-Forces, and provided the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) with mobile phone connections and handsets free of charge, to establish a Remote National Psycho-Social Support Service (RNPSSS) to reach out to affected minors and communities.

Today, the company is stepping into a 5G era with purpose and a renewed passion for empowering and enriching Sri Lankan lives and enterprises.