Xura Emerges from Comverse and Acision Merger to Deliver Boundless Opportunity in Digital Services

Convergence Corner

Xura Emerges from Comverse and Acision Merger to Deliver Boundless Opportunity in Digital Services

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  September 16, 2015

What’s in a name? In business, it’s about power, growth and opportunity. As a result, mergers typically result in a one of the two original brands becoming a stronger and larger one. Comverse (News - Alert) and Acision are bucking that trend, today launching as a brand new entity, Xura.

That’s not to say, by any stretch, that the combination of the two strong legacy brands isn’t about growth – quite the opposite, in fact. Once Comverse hadjettisoned its BSS business to Amdocs earlier this year, it was free to focus more rigorously on its so-called “fourth wave” digital services, seeking to deliver new monetization opportunities to its customers.  Acision (News - Alert) was part of that ongoing strategy, as the combined businesses effectively combined to offer well-rounded and complementary solution elements to its collective customer base, which, in fact, represented little to no overlap, making the deal highly synergistic from not only a product standpoint, but also from a growth perspective.

The truth is that much of Comverse’s traditional business offers little growth opportunity – voice and messaging in and of themselves are not high-growth markets any longer.  As a result, with its own focus on enhanced digital services and Acision’s focus on monetization and engagement, the union was more than logical and would allow the company to drive growth in the all-important mobile digital services space – and, more importantly, the monetization of those services.

For instance, its Collect SMS service – which effectively enables prepaid subscribers to send collect messages when they are out of funds. According to JF Sullivan (News - Alert), CMO of the new brand Xura, its largest current customer generates more than $200 million annually from this service.

“For the user, just being able to send the message is huge,” he says. “For the carrier, it represents an opportunity to recognize revenue on services that otherwise would not be monetized, simply because the user is out of credit.”

He says that, even with the multiple obstructions to using the service – such as the need to manually enter prefixes to phone numbers – uptake is more than 40 percent. But, he adds that the strategic goal around service monetization is not to merely be the provider of these services, but to be the orchestrator. It’s one thing to enable monetizable services. It’s another altogether to cross-coordinate across systems to automate the services and, for instance, eliminate the manual process for users to send collect or sponsored messages – or any other digital services. By automating these digital features, Xura will help increase uptake of services, thereby increasing revenue on services that are inherently high-margin due to existing integration into systems and infrastructure.

When factoring in some of the newer opportunities around WebRTC – in which both businesses had already invested time and resources (both entities have been present at previous WebRTC Expo events) – the groundwork has been laid to not only deliver a new wave of service offerings to both carrier and enterprise markets, but to enable both to easily and quickly monetize the services.

So why the brand change, considering both businesses have a long legacy in the communications market?

The simple fact is that much of the legacy business, as noted earlier, offers little long-term growth opportunity. There’s no question both brands had built success over the years, but it’s also no secret that both have suffered some level of stagnation since the SMS market as a whole faltered half a decade ago. The new “fourth wave” of digital services, while becoming successful, is not something with which either brand has been specifically associated.

“Our growth is coming from services that neither brand really has a stake in as corporate entities,” explains Sullivan. “Customers using our monetization services often don’t associate them with Acision or Comverse. This is a new opportunity for the combined Xura to go in and propose solutions that will not only modernize networks but actually start generating real revenue.”

As such, the new brand, Xura, has been created to reflect the new organization’s direction towards helping both enterprises and operators fully modernize their networks and move from low-growth legacy services to new, monetizable, next-generation opportunities. Rather than forcing customers to piecemeal together systems, or run partially complete solutions, Xura is now able to pitch a full portfolio of monetization services to which its customers had previously not been exposed.

While each legacy brand had a strong portfolio and market presence, neither fully represented the direction of the new entity, built on the idea that in today’s mobile, always connected world, opportunities are limitless with the right technology in place. Thus, the complete rebranding with Xura, a play on the idea of a digital “aura” – a generally positive feeling without bounds, where anything is possible.

“In today’s quickly-shifting world of communications, we will harness our new brand to offer clever ways for operators and enterprises to quickly realize opportunities from existing technology while building richer communication futures,” says Xura CEO Philippe Tartavull. “With a shared set of goals with our customers, the new Xura team will use its insight, knowledge, and thinking to create paths that help them successfully navigate and effectively monetize this next generation of digital communication services and gain competitive advantage.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle