Across the board, today’s Telephony service providers face more challenges than ever before. For converged IP and related offerings, such as hosted VoIP, video, IPTV (News - Alert), cable, ISP, etc., selecting the correct partner for billing & OSS is critical and should provide the differentiation needed to stand out in an ever-increasingly crowded market.
We caught up with Ryan Susanna, Director of Sales for LogiSense (News - Alert), a hosted billing and OSS software and services provider, who shared his insight on what works – and what doesn’t – in today’s marketplace.
Q: We hear a lot of jargon coming from vendors as to their respective positions as “industry leaders.” Can you cut to the chase for us and describe what, in your opinion, is most important for service providers to think about before selecting a billing & OSS partner?
RS: The most successful companies we work with that enjoy healthy profit margins and happy subscribers are those that knew exactly what they wanted before issuing and RFP. There is an abnormally high number of failed deployments which are caused by sales teams pushing features and functionality as a one-size-fits-all package without first capturing the essence of what their customers need or their principle business objectives.
Our approach at LogiSense is different in that we work with our clients to first understand their business and their core needs before selling them on any features and functionality. Frankly, it is tough to evaluate the success of billing and OSS systems without truly understanding where you want to go in both the short and long term. Too often, deployment evaluations are based on the criteria that the vendors want to be evaluated on – what their salesman told them they needed – as opposed to what the Service Provider wants.
Q: How important is rating for hosted VoIP providers? Can you please elaborate on any specific scenarios that highlight your point?
RS: Rating is a critical component of any voice vendor – or any type of IP and high-speed broadband services provider.
For hosted VoIP, what I like to call, “Near Real-time Rating,” is ideal. The constant data updates on user activity into the system, which, for example, can be input as often as 5-minute intervals, provides the ability to detect fraud, manage credit thresholds and ensure that the respective service providers remain in-line with revenue assurance.
Also of note, is the inherent fraud detection that Near Real-time Rating provides. If configured properly, a rating system should alert operations managers on abnormal patters with termination, call length, geography, etc.
Q: What other considerations and characteristics of deployments have been key factors for success?
RS: Scalability and support – without question.
Though it may sound overtly obvious, support is absolutely essential. What truly differentiates LogiSense from any other vendor is the exceptional, high-touch service and support we provide. Candidly, it’s a recurring theme communicated to us by our customers – specifically those that have come to us from competing vendors. You would really be surprised!
A billing & OSS system must have the ability to scale for both a current subscriber base – as well as projected. In a hosted environment, service providers are usually protected in terms of scalability. Reputable software vendors will have procedures and policies in place so that if you are trending upwards towards a level of scale that is going to cause concern for the installed the level of infrastructure, you have the means to take pre-emptive measures that proactively address the situation and prevent any downtime or drops in service levels. Scalability also ties into both Service Assurance and Revenue Assurance. As an organization grows, these factors become critical to maximizing profitability. Services must be continuously synchronized; revenue assurance on the upstream side to ensure that what you’re being billed equates to traffic and service assurance on the downstream side to ensure uptime and operations.
What makes LogiSense unique is that our EngageIP platform is developer friendly. We have been operating in this industry for a very long time, and have seen a lot of technologies and professional services come and go. In building EngageIP, we maintained the mindset that it must be flexible enough to be maximized by any type of service provider, yet simple enough so that they won’t need a team of NASA engineers to support them. Further, EngageIP enables service providers to minimize costs by maximizing their previous investment, optimize their workforce and streamline processes.
Q: Any closing thoughts or comments?
RS: As much as every service provider does everything they can to package their solutions as sexy and unique, there are people who make the argument that it is essentially a rewrapped commodity. By selling billing and OSS that does what it supposed to, it can, and should, serve as a critical marketing tool that communicates the power, flexibility and reliability of their systems.
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page. Follow Erik on Twitter (News - Alert) @elinask.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi