Posts Tagged ‘TELCO’

MSPs are Trusted Advisers, Solution Aggregators

October 9, 2017

The ever-increasing economy of scale of the Cloud is driving the business computing world towards fewer, larger vendors offering massively scale-able public-cloud platform services, while at the same time also driving a trend towards tighter specialization of on-line applications (“Apps”) that work together to provide integrated business solutions.

Computer media and internet communication concept

The role of the MSP (Managed Service Provider) is evolving towards the following areas;

  • Providing strategic advice and planning for business IT and communication requirements. Helping clients decide on what technologies, platforms and applications are best suited for their needs and which will work together in a coordinated, integrated solution set.
  • Brokering Cloud services – aggregating solutions.  Sourcing, acquiring, integrating and optimizing applications and services to build cohesive, well integrated and economic business solutions.
  • Management, optimization and support of business applications, services and platforms; regardless of where they are located – public or private Cloud.
  • More focus on business processes and the solutions required to support them.
  • Recognizing new adjacent sales and service opportunities, in order to provide more value to clients and thereby maximize potential revenue per client.  For example, many MSPs have recognized that the convergence of phones and computers means that MSPs can extend to providing VoIP, broadband and other traditional telco solutions to their clients – becoming a single point of supply and support – which is increasingly attractive to end-customers.

MSPs are well suited to the role of trusted adviser and solution aggregator, because they typically have a much closer relationship and understanding of their clients’ business processes than the larger telcos, application developers and public cloud providers.

The challenge to MSPs is to recognize and lock in these new recurring revenue services whilst maintaining their own brand & identity, gaining differentiation & competitive advantage – and also keeping their own business complexity down to a minimum.

This is where white-label, cloud billing systems such as Datagate, capable of billing numerous telco & utility services on a single MSP-branded invoice and end-user portal are ideal.  The services, no-matter where they are sourced, appear together on the invoice and portal under the same MSP branding, thereby minimizing complexity and maximizing MSP brand exposure to the end-client.

MSPs that evolve and adapt to this new service-based, knowledge-based environment will be those that lead and win.  Recognizing, locking in and monetizing new adjacent opportunities is key to this success.

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.

Telco_1

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.

Dimension Data successfully brings telco services to NZ clients, with Datagate

May 10, 2017

DimensionData_CoreLogo_Landscape

This week at Datagate, we published a case study detailing our successful partnership with Dimension Data New Zealand and Spark Wholesale, in bringing a full telco service offering to Dimension Data’s clients.

Dimension Data New Zealand is part of  the wider Dimension Data group, which has revenues of over US$7.5 billion, staff of over 31,000, offices in 58 countries and is a member of the NTT Group.  Dimension Data’s clients include some of the largest organisations in New Zealand, with typically hundreds or thousands of staff.

From Datagate’s perspective, it’s great to see that larger customers, like those of Dimension Data’s, are showing a preference for sourcing their IT and telephony from the same trusted supplier.  We have also seen this trend in the SME market, so we can now say that business customers of all sizes are receptive to having a single trusted supplier for all their ICT services.  It stands to reason, as phones and computers have converged and it is clearly preferable for one supplier take sole responsibility for the performance of the complete picture.

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“Businesses prefer to deal with one supplier across all services, which are becoming more intertwined and harder to differentiate” says Dimension Data’s Shaun Bell.

Enabling IT companies, or Managed Service Providers (MSPs) of all sizes to become re-sellers of telephony services, by using our Cloud-based billing and reporting platform, is a big part of what we do at Datagate.  It’s great to be a part of Dimension Data’s success story and we look forward to continuing to work and innovate with Dimension Data New Zealand.

MSPs champion Telco sales

April 3, 2017

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are making major gains in the business and government telephony markets, as customers show a clear preference to buy their IT and telephony services from a single source.  This stands to reason, as phones have become computers and computers have become phones.  The two product lines have converged, making it nonsensical to continue treating them as separate service lines.

Most of the tier-1 Telecommunications providers around the world have now established Wholesale business units to cater for “indirect sales” as they are seeing an increasing proportion of their business and government market shifting away from their own direct sales, in favour of those who have a closer relationship to – and knowledge of the target end-customer.  A sensible and logical business strategy for the Telco’s is therefore to provide a wholesale offering and pro-actively build a channel of re-sellers.   Those re-sellers are in most cases, MSPs.

Examples of Telco’s with Wholesale business units are; Spark, Telstra, Optus, TELUS and Verizon, to name a few.

A major stumbling block for MSPs moving into selling Telco services, such as VoIP, data circuits, mobile, MVNO etc is the billing process.  Telco billing can be very complex, especially in the areas of mobile, tolls, toll-free and other usage-based services.  Billing complexity and the time & effort needed to produce Telco-style billng and reporting is often the barrier to sales and success in this space. This is the problem that my company Datagate solves for re-sellers of Telco services (as outlined in this brief YouTube video).

With a suitable billing solution in place, MSPs are adding significant extra recurring revenue to their businesses, by selling and providing the data connectivity, VoIP and mobile solutions that they source from their local Wholesale Telco provider.  This is also good news for the end-customer, who gets a full-service offering from their MSP, less bills to pay and access to better analytical reports and information via an on-line portal.

Read more from the perspective of Spark Wholesale and VoIP HQ.

Datagate’s “Ecosystem-as-a-Service” Strategy

October 13, 2016

The path to value creation in business is very much about managing and balancing your tactical everyday decisions with the strategic big picture of where you are heading.

A year ago, I took on the CEO role at Datagate, an exciting fin-tech start-up, after spending over a decade as CEO of a larger business group. In an early-stage business, this balance between tactical and strategic is even more critical, because your decisions will shape the nature of your business for (hopefully) many years to come.

Datagate as a business and a Cloud service, can (like many technology businesses) be described at both a tactical level and a strategic level;

Datagate at a Tactical Level; Datagate is a white-label, Cloud-based billing and reporting portal for service resellers. We connect to all sorts of different service usage data (mainly from Telco’s, Electricity companies and Cloud services) from which we produce invoices, reports and customer portals for resellers of those services and their customers.

datagate-diagram

Datagate at a Strategic Level; Datagate is an “Ecosystem-as-a-Service”. We are building our base of service resellers and our base of service suppliers and enabling them to work through each other to strengthen their business reach and profitability. As we add more resellers and suppliers, the strategic value of our ecosystem increases dramatically.

  • We are strategic to our service resellers because we enable them to sell a range of services from a range of suppliers and combine or bundle them on to a single offering and/or a single invoice. For example we enable Telco resellers to sell Telephony combined with Electricity.
  • We are strategic to our service suppliers because we enable them to sell through our channel of resellers, who all use the Datagate billing portal.

ecosystem-as-a-service-v2

On a day-to-day basis it’s easy to get entrenched in the important but tactical demands of your business, such signing up deals, building revenue etc, but it’s important to keep in mind where it’s all heading. Do the suppliers, deals and customers you’re signing up fit with your strategic long-term view of the business? In my case, Datagate is building a valuable ecosystem through our product and the partners we sign up – and that value will become more self-evident as the business grows.

At the start it is a visualization, but over time it becomes a reality.

Five changes in the market that underpin the value of Datagate

May 18, 2016

I get asked why I stood down from my role as CEO of Enprise Group and diverted my focus and investment to Datagate, which at the time, was the newest and smallest of Enprise’s businesses.

I did this because I recognised the very strong demand for Datagate by companies that sell IT, Telco and/or Utility services, driven by five big changes that are happening right now in the marketplace, as listed below;

  1. The rapid rise of Cloud computing is leading IT Companies of all sizes to shift their business models towards selling services (instead of selling hardware). Subscription service revenue instead of product sales revenue. For IT Companies, this has progressed through selling data circuits, Internet connects and on to SIP / VOIP Telephony. Datagate makes this type of subscription billing easy.
  2. Computers and Phones have become one and the same. Businesses of all sizes are deciding that one supplier is preferable to provide their IT and Telecommunications services, because the technologies have merged. A relationship with fewer service suppliers is easier and less expensive to manage, whereas having more suppliers is more complex and costly to manage. Datagate enables resellers to aggregate multiple service types such as Telco and IT services in their billing and portal services.
  3. Power companies are starting to sell broadband successfully. At the reseller level, we are starting to see an emerging pattern of convergence between electricity and telephony (at least at the broadband level at this stage). Telephony & IT resellers are interested in selling electricity to their customer bases – essentially it’s just another on-line service to add to data services. Electricity companies are interested in selling broadband and other Telco products. Datagate provides billing and portal services that can combine different services types, such as Telco and electricity.
  4. Billing of telephony and electricity is complex. A product like Datagate is needed to make this billing easy. Furthermore, it’s even more complex when you try to mix different service types. Standard accounting and billing systems cannot handle this complexity efficiently. A specialised product, such as Datagate is required.
  5. Further to billing, customers’ service expectations are increasing. They expect immediate on-line access to their bills and reports analysing their consumption of services. The large established electricity and telco vendors all offer on-line analytical portals and so have already set the market expectation. Resellers of these services therefore need to offer similar on-line portals. This requirement becomes more complex when the reseller is selling a combination of services, such as electricity and telephony. Datagate is built to handle this requirement.

Datagate exists to help IT, Telco & Utility resellers capitalize on the opportunities that these changes in the market are driving.

We are experiencing fast uptake of Datagate by resellers in the New Zealand market and we plan to take Datagate to overseas markets, where the same market changes are happening, in the very near future!

The Convergence of IT, Telecommunications and Electricity

October 14, 2015

Converge02

This is a time of great opportunity and also great risk of disruption, for businesses working in the fields of IT services, Telephony and Electricity.  Each of these three industries on their own are under increasing margin-pressure, because each industry can be seen to lack a great deal of differentiation.  All can now be classified as on-line infrastructure services. Phones are computers, computers can be phones – all require a network and electricity to operate.  Increasingly, all must work together to provide a working platform for the common customer.

The needs of the market, the customers, will ultimately drive the outcome of who wins and who loses.  The market favours those who are efficient, those that have the best understanding of the customer’s needs, those who adapt, those who offer the best service, those who are easiest and least costly to deal with.

Increasingly we are seeing the rise of businesses who offer combined IT and telephony services. These are now intertwined services, where phones and computers share the same networks, Internet connections and infrastructure,  They are now very much one and the same.  The technology of both has converged.  Furthermore, the sales process and the customer relationship are now the same. It no longer makes sense for the customer to source telephony and IT from different suppliers.

Now add the supply of electricity to the mix of IT and Telephony.  It’s a logical addition – another on-line service. It can leverage the same sales process and the same customer relationship as IT and Telephony. Companies that provide all three of these services to their customers, can offer a better, more complete offering, while at the same time getting maximum return on their sales and on-going relationship effort.

This convergence of on-line services, is the reason why I’m so convinced that my new company Datagate is on the right path.  Datagate is a white-label, Cloud-based billing engine and customer service portal for companies that sell services including Telephony, Electricity, Hosting, IT services and other utility services.  Datagate produces a single unified bill for the end customer that includes all subscribed services and lets them review and analyse their bills and consumption of services in their own private on-line portal.

Datagate is rapidly building a base of on-line service re-sellers, covering IT, Telephony, Electricity and other services, enabling these businesses to pick and choose the services they want to sell and allow them to create their own bundles and pricing plans.

Convergence is a great creator of business opportunities …and also a great disruptor.

 

 

 

CEO changes at Enprise and Datagate

September 11, 2015

Datagate_Logo

There is a lot happening at Enprise this week!

After almost thirteen years as the CEO of Enprise, I have decided to change my focus at this time to become the full-time CEO of our high-growth Cloud-Subscription Billing Engine subsidiary, Datagate Innovation.

Datagate is a new business with a compelling value proposition to the global “Cloud Economy”, in particular to resellers of Telco, Utility and on-line services. It has an exciting growth path ahead of it, which is going to involve serving businesses, large and small, all over the world.

Enprise Group has a new CEO – Elliot Cooper, who is no stranger to the business as an Enprise co-founder and CFO for almost thirteen years. In addition to his financial expertise, Elliot has extensive experience in the financial software business and was a designer of popular software products including Enprise Job and Exonet.

I will stay on board as a non-executive director of Enprise and retain a significant shareholding in the business.

We believe these changes will maximize Enprise Group’s shareholder value and better fulfill the potential of each Enprise business.

Enprise Group will retain a significant shareholding in Datagate and a director on the Datagate board, whilst allowing other investors, including myself, to invest directly in to the business.

As a high-growth Cloud company, we will raise direct investor capital to build Datagate through its formative years, before crossing over to profitability through its build-up of recurring SaaS revenues.

Why Datagate? Why Now?

October 9, 2014

Datagate

People ask me what the logic is behind Enprise Group acquiring Cloud Portal provider, Datagate Innovation Ltd. Here is the background;

Datagate Innovation Ltd is an early-stage, cloud-software developer that is building a product called “Datagate” which is a Cloud Portal for Telco and Utility Resellers to offer on-line rating, billing and usage analysis to their customers.

Datagate is a browser-based Cloud Application which is built on the latest Microsoft technology and is deployed on the highly-scalable Microsoft Azure global platform. It has data feeds coming in from major Telcos and Utility Providers from where it collects the raw data upon which it’s billing and analytical reports are based.

Go-to-Market Strategy

Datagate is building and demonstrating the value of the Datagate product within the New Zealand Telco and Utility markets, before expanding into larger countries with much larger sales potential. New Zealand is considered an ideal test market because it is a small-scale representation of the Telco and Utility markets of larger economies.

When Datagate reaches the stage of targeting markets outside of New Zealand, it will have access to Enprise’s SAP Business One reseller channel, with nearly 100 established reseller relationships in USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. To these partners, Datagate is a vertical industry solution for SAP accounting software that will open opportunities in the Telco and Utility space. This channel will give Datagate an immediate effective international sales and implementation workforce.

Datagate’s sales strategy is to partner with major Telco’s and Utility companies in order that they promote Datagate to their wholesale channels. This is a win-win partnership because Datagate gets the qualified referrals to potential customers and the Telco or Utility Company gets a more efficient and effective reseller channel with tighter integration and lock-in to their own services.

Convergence of Telcos and Utilities

Datagate enables Telco resellers to sell Utility Services such as electricity and likewise, enables Utility resellers to sell Telco services, such as broadband, Cell phone services, SIP trunks etc.

Datagate’s Value Proposition to the Channel Owner

Channel Owners are Telcos and Utility companies who typically have reseller channels through which they wholesale their offerings. Datagate removes a major obstacle for small to medium sized resellers of Telco and/or Utility services – by automatically handling the complex tasks of on-line rating, billing and analytic reporting. This enables the Channel Owners to expand their reseller channels faster and wider than previously possible and for the resellers to operate more quickly and efficiently. Datagate’s agility also enables Telco’s and Utility companies to bring new products and services to market potentially faster through their wholesale channel than through their direct channel in many cases, given that their own systems are not as flexible as Datagate.

Datagate Value Proposition to Retail Resellers (Datagate’s customers)

Rating and billing of Telco services is very complicated, with high volumes of billing lines, complex pricing formulae and relatively low values per line – all typically on a monthly recurring basis. Standard, off-the-shelf accounting software cannot handle this complexity, so specialized billing and analytical systems, such as Datagate are required. Some resellers have attempted to create their own in-house software at large development and on-going support cost. Datagate lowers this barrier and is cheaper to maintain as it is spread across multiple resellers.

Datagate enters the market at a time when hugely scalable host platforms are now available, such as Microsoft Azure that can handle “big data” at relatively low cost. Datagate makes the complex job of Telco billing easy and is charged on a friendly monthly subscription basis, with relatively low up-front costs.

Datagate Value Proposition – End Customer

End customers have now come to expect on-demand access to their Telco and Utility billing accounts on-line in a similar manner to which the large players such as Spark, Vodafone and the large power companies provide their billing and usage analysis reporting. End customers of the smaller resellers who use Datagate will get all the advantages of data immediacy that they would have in dealing with a large corporate supplier (thanks to Datagate billing and analytic services) with the added advantage of dealing with a smaller, more flexible supplier. This expectation will continue to grow; something that many resellers are unable to economically provide.

Datagate will continue to raise these end-user expectations in the market, whilst giving resellers an effective way of delivering to this expectation.

Optimum Time

Datagate is entering the market at an optimum time when global Telcos and Utility Companies are under increasing price and margin pressure and are seeking to expand their reach through wholesale reseller channels (on the basis that smaller business customers are best served by smaller, more agile resellers). A major barrier to smaller resellers operating in this space is the complexity of Telco and Utility billing. It is not economically viable for smaller resellers to develop their own specialized systems and standard off-the-shelf accounting systems will not handle this billing complexity (nor be able to automatically process the Telco & Utility data-feeds).

From a technology perspective, Datagate’s timing is perfect, as Cloud software and mobile computing have reached widespread acceptance and massively-scalable yet relatively low-cost global deployment platforms such as Microsoft Azure have emerged.

The technology answer to the needs of large Telco’s & Utility companies and their reseller channels, is a common Cloud-based solution charged on a subscription (per end-customer) basis, with relatively low up-front costs. This is Datagate.

The need is there, the technology and the low-cost scalable hosting platform is there. The time is right for Datagate.

TELUS of Canada sees growth in hosted services double with Cortex

December 22, 2010

“Cortex typically supports new Microsoft releases within 90 days – which is twice as fast as our previous control panel vendor.”

TELUS hosted service customers are embracing the self-service capability provided by Cortex software. TELUS Customer Solutions is using the Cortex cloud control panel to support hosted Exchange, SharePoint, Microsoft Office Communications Server, and Blackberry Enterprise Server.

“Cortex is supporting TELUS’ strategy of differentiating itself in the market by giving customers the tools to combine new products with existing ones,” says Renaldo Scalabrino, Marketing Director TELUS Customer Solutions.

“We offer our customers the ability to add hosted Exchange to business Internet or Blackberry services, for example,” he says. “With Cortex self service,TELUS customers can add or remove users and select the services and service levels they want for each of their employees. These changes are automatically reflected in their monthly bill. Customers can try things on a smaller scale because it is so easy for them to self provision. Blackberry add-ons to email is one example: people are adding the Blackberry service to their existing email account. It’s a very good growth path.”

TELUS Case Study