Expo 2020 to drive focus on world-class experience

Phil Malem, CEO of Serco Middle East.

Expo 2020 to drive focus on world-class experience

Phil Malem, CEO of Serco Middle East, discusses technology and innovation will also be a fundamental legacy that lasts well beyond the showpiece six-month event

What do you believe will be the long-term legacy of Expo 2020 for Dubai, the UAE and the GCC as a whole?

Expo 2020 Dubai will put the region on the map when it comes to building a world-class destination. Since this will be the first major in-person event since the pandemic, there will be a lot of eyes on the region from international players, who will look to see how the event is handled and how this plays out. This provides an immense opportunity for us to show the world the ambition, innovation and talent that exists in the UAE.

A fundamental legacy that I believe Expo 2020 Dubai will leave visitors with, is its focus on providing world-class customer experiences. Good service doesn’t happen by accident, and this is our opportunity to show the world Dubai’s high standards of service excellence and user experience. We have the opportunity to set the bar high and provide a benchmark to show the world how we do things.

Technology and innovation will also be a fundamental legacy beyond the event. As a company that manages workforce, data and assets, technology is a common theme amongst each of these and digitisation will bring efficiencies and improved experiences, particularly in the asset management field. It’s important not to rely on tech alone, however, we need to remember the people side. If we take facilities management for example, in a live event like the Expo where staff are front-facing, they should also be customer experience trained.

What we are also hoping for, finally, is that Expo 2020 Dubai will spearhead growth and inward investment. The many country pavilions showcasing their innovations to the world will help stimulate further trade and serve as a catalyst to drive the next decade of growth particularly in the UAE and the wider region.

Will the event open up new opportunities in the public services sphere?

It will provide the opportunity to be exposed to and make further connections with senior decision-makers at a government level. As a public services company, we are looking forward to further building our relationships with the governments via events such as Expo 2020 Dubai.

We have already seen new opportunities come to light and we were delighted to start on our frontline hospitality services contract with Dubai Airports recently. First impressions count, and our guest experience team at Dubai Airports will play an important part in shaping the experience of the arrival of the millions of visitors projected with their first glimpse and perception of Dubai.

Technology is also powering the customer experience when it comes to creating opportunities within public services. We are proud to use the latest technology to gather and analyse data and insights to design, evolve and adapt services to cater to their end-users and deliver world-class experiences across major airports, metros, hospitals, events, giga-projects, government divisions and universities.

This combination of the customer experience focus from ExperienceLab coupled with the operational excellence and experience of Serco, provides our clients with an end to end solution to transform services when it comes to delivering excellence.

What are your thoughts on the three Expo sub-themes – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – in relation to the public services sector?

These three sub-themes are unique and show how we’re ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ by unlocking the potential that exists via working together, creating smarter and more innovative ways of doing things and valuing and living in balance with our planet.

When it comes to the Opportunity sub-theme, we are a proud supporter of creating opportunities for local workforces. As part of our focus on nationalisation, our multiple development programmes create invaluable opportunities for Emiratis to learn global best practice whilst developing and gaining experience in an international company. These trained workforces can then be invaluable to the private sector where they can bring these learnings and drive forward as the leaders of the future.

I strongly believe that nationalisation shouldn’t be a tick-box exercise; we should believe it and live it, as it ultimately enables us to input into transforming services and creating a better place for the next generation.

What is your vision for Serco in the next five – 10 years?

I always said we wanted to come out of the pandemic stronger than when we went into it; and we have. The opportunities the UAE has given us have resulted in us becoming a more profitable business and I am excited about the next five – 10 years. We remain positive and resolute, and plan to remain as and push for being number one in each sector that we are in.

The pandemic has given us an opportunity to become an enabler of operational excellence, and we are continuously looking at new ways of doing things such as including automation and artificial intelligence.

With the UAE being in its 50th year, and Expo 2020 Dubai being here for the next six months, there is an opportunity for us to push the country forward for the next 10 years. Expo 2020 Dubai will provide a lot of exposure for the UAE and the region to the world.

We are also looking forward to getting tickets for our staff so that they can enjoy the experience of Expo 2020 Dubai too with their families. In short, this will be a big chance for Dubai and the UAE to put itself on the map and on the global stage. All eyes will be on Dubai from 1st October, and ultimately the customer experience will be paramount.