Archive for the 'New Zealand IT Industry' Category

Paradox of the Telecom Sector

August 20, 2017

The telecom sector is facing a paradoxical mix of circumstances. On one hand it provides the mission-critical technology platform for innovation, growth and disruption across nearly every industry; whilst on the other hand, it faces enormous changes and disruptions to its own traditional business model and revenue streams, more so than perhaps any other sector.

Furthermore, the average revenue per user, across the entire global telecom industry, is falling every year.

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The telecom sector provides the platform for innovation and disruption across nearly every industry, yet faces the challenge of innovation and disruption itself, perhaps more so than any other sector.

Incumbent telecom providers need not be the victims of disruption and reducing revenues in their own industry; they can be the agents of change and disruption, by recognizing (or even creating) shifts in the market, differentiation and moving faster than their competitors to meet the new market dynamics.

Recognition of new trends, agility and speed of execution are critical factors. Reinventing business models, bringing new offerings and services to market must be done in quick time.  A major factor, once new offerings are selected, is how quickly billing systems can be adapted to facilitate new offerings, bundles with new services and pricing plans. Billing is so often the Achilles heel in the telecom world.

Differentiation between Telecom providers can be achieved by bundling complementary or value-adding services or offerings with standard telecom services. This can often be achieved through partnerships with service providers outside the traditional telecom sector.

A significant disruption (or opportunity) for the telecoms sector is its convergence with other on-line service providers.  Telecom services are now being successfully integrated and sold by the I.T. industry, managed service providers (MSPs) and other service sales businesses. Electricity companies are bundling telecom services such as broadband with their offerings. Cloud software businesses are also selling and bundling telecom services.  Phones and computers are now one and the same.

Billing is so often the Achilles heal in the telecom world.

Bundling different yet complementary service types under a single pricing plan, on a single invoice makes it more difficult for competitors to undercut pricing with only a single service type. Service bundling is said to make telecom customers more “sticky” and provide differentiation.

Rather than competing with and resisting new convergent players in the sector, some telecom providers are actively embracing and pro-actively driving this convergence. A prime example in New Zealand, is Spark Wholesale that offers a range of telecom services to its clients, to enable them to sell telecom services under their own branding, giving Spark access to more customers and markets that it might not otherwise be able to reach.

Wholesale telecom providers enable service businesses, such as Managed Service Providers (MSPs) – who have trusted adviser status with their customers, to market and sell telecom services such as broadband, SIP, VoIP and mobile offerings to predominantly business customers.

Telecom resellers require specialized automated usage-billing solutions. Datagate is an agile, white-label, cloud-based billing solution which partners with Wholesale Telcos to get new telecom re-sellers up and running quickly, with billing functionality that integrates with the Telco’s usage data to rate, produce and distribute invoices to their end customers. Datagate can connect to and bill most usage-based services and make it easy for convergent bundling of service types, where multiple service types are combined on a single invoice.

Embracing new business models, new offerings, partnerships, agility and speed to market are the key requirements for success in the telecom sector of this new disruptive, paradoxical world.

Building Business Networks

July 19, 2017

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a well known statement that I partly agree with. It implies that powerful business networks are all that matters, but I would argue that you also need a good reputation and a strong value proposition to go with it.

Can you imagine how hard it would be to be successful in business with a strong network but a bad reputation?  The strong network would certainly ensure that nobody would do business with you.

Building your business network and building your reputation go hand in hand.  You must invest in both throughout your career. Doing this will make your business career easier and more rewarding as time goes on.

I am very fortunate to have worked for the last 30 years within the same closely connected industry sectors and have built up networks throughout New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada and other countries.  I consider my participation and membership of these networks to be a major asset, that I would argue is worth millions of dollars – certainly that would be the cost of rebuilding networks of that size and reach.

By staying within the same industry sectors throughout my career, the networks that I have built up over time are now shared with and valuable to my company and employer, Datagate Innovation.

To maintain any asset, you must continue to invest in it. Datagate and I continue to invest in our networks through participation in industry events, conferences, newsletters, Social Media and industry networking groups.

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Ryan Ashton, AFQY

This month, Datagate signed up with a New Zealand ICT networking group called AFQY (A Few Quiet Yarns). It’s leader, Ryan Ashton is a prolific networker and LinkedIn guru. AFQY has strict rules, such as “no selling allowed” and “meet as many people as you can” in place for the networking events, that are held in bars at strategic locations around the countryside.   The events are great opportunities to invite people from the respective regions around New Zealand to come in, have a drink and get to meet and talk with new industry contacts.

My advice to people at all stages of their career, is to keep investing in your networks and reputation.  Make sure all your business deals are a winner for all parties where possible, whether the deal is with an employer, colleague, customer, investor, supplier, partner or acquirer of your business – that way you are building a positive network, not a negative one.  Get out and meet new people on a regular basis – join networking groups and associations. Keep investing…

 

Arron Patterson joins Datagate’s board

January 23, 2017

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This week at Datagate, we are pleased to announce that Arron Patterson has joined our board as a non-executive director.

The board and I are delighted to welcome Arron to this formal role with Datagate. He has previously been an investor and supporter of Datagate through the Flying Kiwi Angels over the last year and has an excellent knowledge of our business, our technology and the IT service provider market in which we operate.

Click here for the full story.

Update: Unfortunately Arron had to stand down from Datagate’s board on 10th February 2017 due to requirements of his employment. Arron remains involved with Datagate as an investor through the Flying Kiwi Angels. 

Billing sorted for Telco resellers

December 9, 2016

Spark Wholesale

This week Datagate received a great endorsement from Spark, New Zealand’s leading Telco, for the work we’re doing with their wholesale resellers.

Spark and Datagate have worked together to make the normally-complex job of billing Telco services as painless and efficient as possible for Spark’s wholesale resellers, – whilst also providing portal-access for their reseller’s customers, so they can analyse their service consumption and view & pay their bills on-line.

Making Spark’s resellers more competitive and profitable is what it’s all about. Their success is our success.

Read all about it in the Spark Wholesale Case Study.

Opportunities in the “Usage Economy”

November 20, 2016

Given my location in New Zealand and all the earthquakes that have occurred here recently, I’m not sure if it’s in good taste for me to talk about “seismic shifts” in business, but that’s certainly how I would describe the enormous change in consumer behavior that’s been evolving over the last decade and which is still evolving rapidly at this time.

The Cloud and smart phones have influenced customers’ attitudes and expectations. Consumers now expect a more immediate service experience and they are more inclined to subscribe to services than in previous decades. I refer to this as transition to the “usage economy”.

The “usage economy” is that which is based on consumers paying to use a product or service. Rather than buying an asset, they are more inclined to just pay for the use of that asset. The amount they pay is usually based on how much they use the product or service. This is the fundamental business model of the Cloud, on-line services, IoT, utilities and many other business categories (both new and old). This is the “usage economy” and this is where fast business growth is happening.

An interesting development within the “usage economy” is the emergence of service re-sellers. These re-sellers are businesses that typically have existing customer bases, maybe they are I.T. service companies or support organizations, utility re-sellers or agencies. These service re-sellers have the opportunity to aggregate numerous complementary services within their offering, to become a one-stop service shop – in the same way bricks & mortar shops sell numerous products to a defined customer demographic. Combining services, gives them more sales traction, more opportunities for increasing their sales margin and differentiating themselves from their competitors.

My company, Datagate is in the business of Usage Billing for Re-Sellers. We provide a white-label, on-line billing and reporting portal that connects to usage information and generates bills and reports that can be accessed by the re-seller and their customers via on on-line, re-seller-branded portal. Today we provide this essential service to re-sellers of telephony, utilities and on-line Cloud services, but the growth of the wider “usage economy” is bringing in new opportunities for us to service an increasing range of usage-based businesses.

“Internet of Things” (IoT) offers exciting business opportunities

March 14, 2016

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As part of my work with Datagate Innovation, I enjoy helping our clients investigate and monetize new billing opportunities.

Datagate provides a comprehensive Cloud platform for billing recurring charges, plus variable charges for measured consumption of services – and it’s amazing how many on-line businesses and new business opportunities tend to fit this model.

One of the most interesting subjects I’ve investigated recently (that fits the Datagate billing model), is the level of maturity and viability that “Internet of Things” technology is currently reaching. New cost-effective, low-power consumption devices are now being produced that can run for up to ten years on a built-in battery and be used to remotely measure and report on all sorts of things. These devices connect to a standardized LoRa radio network which will soon be widely available in New Zealand and around the world.

LoRa networks are cost-effective, low-bandwidth and can reach areas that traditional cellphone networks can not. The LoRa networks are in-turn connected to the Internet and enable Internet applications to access low-cost measurement devices in remote locations.

To my mind, the technology and the levels of standardization are reaching the point where new viable high-growth business models are now within reach.

Business and consumer applications for IoT devices and applications seem limitless, especially in areas where remote monitoring and reporting is required. These include applications for security, agriculture, automobiles, medicine, military – to name a few. Official estimates for future take-up of IoT are astronomical. 50 billion IoT devices on-line by 2020…

This is definitely a fertile space for application-developer entrepreneurs – …and Datagate‘s billing model.

Flying Kiwis invest in Datagate

February 6, 2016

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This month I am very pleased to welcome the Flying Kiwi Angels as new investors in Datagate.

The Flying Kiwis have invested $242,000 of new capital in to the business. In addition, they bring a wealth of business experience and valuable industry contacts for Datagate.

This investment brings Datagate near to completion of our current investment round where we sought to raise $1.5M of new capital in order to expand and accelerate sales of Datagate’s Cloud Billing & Customer Service Portal. The Flying Kiwis’ investment brings us to a total of $1.46M raised in this round.

The Datagate shareholder-base now includes NZAX-listed Enprise Group, the Ice Angels, NZVIF and the Flying Kiwis, among others.

Datagate welcomes new investors and a new director

December 5, 2015

Datagate

Today I am very pleased to announce that Datagate Innovation Limited has signed up two new shareholders, Ice Angels Nominees Ltd and NZVIF Investments Ltd, as well as gaining a highly-respected non-executive director, Malcolm MacDonald.

The new shareholders have invested a total of $569,000 of new capital into Datagate, bringing the total capital raised in Datagate’s current investment round up to $1,219,429 so far.

The investors were led by Malcolm MacDonald, a successful IT entrepreneur, having been a founder of BankLink, a major New Zealand based accounting software success story, that was sold to MYOB in 2013 for $139M.

Malcolm joins the current Datagate board, consisting of Dr. Jens Neiser (representing NZAX-listed Enprise Group Ltd) and myself. I am extremely pleased to be working with Malcolm and Jens as fellow directors, who are both very knowledgeable, experienced and successful individuals in their own right.

I am also delighted to have the Ice Angels and NZVIF join Datagate as investors. The Ice Angels’ members have already been very helpful to Datagate and myself with strategic advice and valuable introductions.

Datagage is expecting to be able to announce further new investors within this round, in the very near future.

NZAX:ENS Enprise Group’s market announcement

Enprise moves to a tighter focus

November 7, 2015

This has been a momentous week for Enprise Group, with the sale of Enprise Software (our SAP-aligned software development business) and getting shareholder approval to allow new investors to invest directly in to Datagate (formerly a 100% subsidiary of Enprise Group).

These changes bring about a much stronger and sharper focus to each of the current and former Enprise Group businesses.

Enprise Solutions is the only business remaining 100% within Enprise Group and it is tightly focused on selling and supporting MYOB Enterprise software solutions to mid sized businesses in New Zealand and Australia. It has nearly 1,000 customers in total across both countries and is the clear market leader in New Zealand. Enprise Solutions is a strong, growing and profitable business that gives excellent support to its customers.

Enprise Software is now part of ProjectLine, a very successful North American SAP partner that is dedicated to sales and support of SAP Business One. That puts Enprise Software into a home much more aligned with it’s core business, which is Enprise Job for SAP Business One.

Datagate Innovation is now the master of its own destiny, with its own board of directors and its own shareholder base (including Enprise Group). My own personal focus is on working with the Datagate team to make this business a winner on a global scale. Datagate is all about monetising on-line services, the Cloud, billing and customer portals – an excellent focus for building value!

Datagate gains new shareholders, new board and increased independence

November 7, 2015

Datagate Innovation Ltd

On Wednesday this week, Enprise Group held a public meeting of shareholders to approve resolutions to allow Datagate Innovation Ltd to issue up to 2.5M new $1 shares to new shareholders and to allow me (as a director of Enprise Group) to buy shares in Datagate at a pre-money valuation of $1.5M. This allows investors to invest directly in to Datagate and for Datagate to become its own more-independent vehicle.

As soon as these resolutions were passed I wasted no time in buying Datagate shares, along with two other investors. More investors will follow in buying Datagate shares in due course, bringing even more new capital in to the business.

This has changed Datagate’s shareholder composition from being 100% owned by Enprise Group to being partly owned by Enprise Group and partly owned by other shareholders (including myself). As of today, Enprise Group owns approximately 70% and other shareholders approximately 30% of Datagate. This will of course change further as other shareholders come on board.

Datagate’s board of directors currently consists of Dr. Jens Neiser as chairman (representing Enprise Group) and myself. Other directors will be added in due course.