TELCO giant SingTel plans to strengthen its traditional businesses while beefing up its digital offerings as competition in the sector intensifies.
Chief executive Chua Sock Koong outlined the strategy in the firm's annual report released yesterday, which also showed that she received a pay package of $4.9 million for the financial year ended March 31.
This is 9 per cent higher than the $4.5 million last year, but still lower than what most CEOs of blue-chip firms get.
SingTel most recently posted a 30 per cent year-on-year jump in fourth-quarter net profit to $1.29 billion, helped by a tax credit.
Ms Chua said in the report that SingTel aims to ride on the growth of mobile marketing and data services as it lowers costs and improves integration across its units all over the region.
This will include making acquisitions, looking at new pricing models for mobile data services and anticipating changes in the traditional carrier business instead of merely reacting to them.
The mobile advertising and marketing industry is in its early stages and holds significant potential, she noted.
'We are particularly excited about the potential of mobile marketing in emerging markets, where mobile phones offer advertisers the most compelling avenue to reach hundreds of millions of current and future customers.'
SingTel acquired mobile advertising firm Amobee in March for US$321 million (S$411 million) to gain a bigger presence in the industry.
'We will be making similar moves in other exciting digital spaces as we continue to enhance and leverage the assets of our core carrier business,' she said.
SingTel will make 'significant investments' in its networks, such as acquiring additional 'spectrum' or airwaves and introducing more efficient data-handling technologies, in order to grow its mobile data business, she added.
'To fund future network investments, it is critical for us to ensure that our revenue from data services keeps pace with the cost of provision,' she noted.
'We, along with other carriers around the world, are actively seeking new pricing models to achieve this objective without causing unnecessary pain to customers.'
The main challenge in the area of mobile data services is the fact that while mobile data usage has surged rapidly in recent years, revenue has significantly lagged behind this growth and the additional costs it has brought.
While growing in these new areas, SingTel will continue to buckle down in its core business, Ms Chua said. 'We will continually review the core foundations of our carrier business to anticipate industry changes rather than simply react to them.
'To capture scale benefits from the group's operations in diverse geographies, we will also drive tighter integration across Singapore, Australia and with the regional mobile associates, focusing on areas such as procurement, networks and IT.'
In a separate sustainability report, SingTel said that in the past financial year, it raised a record $2.6 million for its SingTel Touching Lives Fund, helping disadvantaged children and young people here. Staff also contributed over 20,000 volunteering hours towards community and environmental causes, a 150 per cent increase from the previous year.
The firm embarked on an exercise to measure and monitor its carbon footprint in the past year and became the first telco in Asia to voluntarily disclose the average speeds of its mobile broadband services so that consumers could make informed choices.
SingTel also won several awards in the past year, many for its corporate governance practices, including the inaugural Internal Audit Excellence Award, given by the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) at the Investors Choice Awards 2011.