SPONSORED Q&A: Tesh Kapadia, VP of sales, Ascom
Tesh Kapadia, VP of sales at Ascom,explains how carriers can get up to speed in today's fast-changing interconnect environment.
What are the main problems that occur because of the different age and complexity of deals or contracts that CSPs have in supplying capacity and transit?
While the types of issues vary from carrier to carrier, there are four principal categories:
1) Outdated Contracts: In with the New, Out with the Old
The first category contains contracts that haven’t been updated in years due to geo-political events, such as wars or embargoes. The traffic amount is minimal, but contains higher pricing than today’s marketplace. So it’s easy to overlook the problem -- the products no longer exist. As a result, the network is underutilized and financially underperforming. The challenge is to replace outdated products with newer counterparts.
2) Updated Contracts: Comparing Apples to Apples
This classification includes contracts that carriers update regularly, but contain old billing and pricing models that cause huge problems on the billing side. In one case, for example, we found that the Account Manager was conducting the financial analysis in an old excel template, but that the back office hadn’t built the contract with modern pricing models.
3) Older Contracts: Over and Over and Over Again
These are bilateral contracts that carriers have had for a long time. They’re updated regularly, but contain minimum usage and traffic commitment language that’s ambiguous and interpreted differently, forcing billing departments to have a “second negotiation.”
4) Unclear Contracts: Where Did the Revenue Go?
The number of interconnect agreements found to contain paperwork that can’t be matched to billing is surprisingly large. Even the largest carriers don’t have this area fully under control.
How is Ascom helping to simplify this area and what are you doing to bring more transparency to the data that is logged and collected to allow greater and simpler analysis?
One thing that helped carriers to focus on this whole area was the deployment of B2BSimpleX. With as many as a hundred or more agreements to manage, manually attempting to calculate the effects of changes to various commercial models is not possible or cost efficient.
In the financial analysis area, for example, carriers rely on tools that are far off the mark due to a dependence on excel. While excel is flexible enough, it has two issues:
1) Entering contract details requires extensive manual inputting, which is prone to errors, and;
2) Managing and ensuring what was agreed to is met is difficult due to the complexity of bilateral agreements.
Our solution ensures contract analysis matches the same model used for the billing. In addition, the results of an analysis are brought into standard format to make it easier to directly compare different contracts.
Ascom has been deploying B2BSimpleX and CAMTool for operators globally. Can you discuss deployments and the ease of transition and end results?
Global deployment has its challenges. One of the reasons why we are so successful is that we have facilities throughout the world. Many factors are involved, including static conditions, such as connectivity and connection speed to the servers. There are also different computer set-ups and local security restrictions issues on the technical side that need to addressed. On the process side, we work with several legal entities and governmental agencies worldwide.
We also invest a lot in training, education and certification requirements for our project managers.
Looking forward, what are the key developments and trends you see?
Carriers develop the most modern communications technologies in the world.
However, they don’t often work with the same speed and innovation when it comes to the interconnect business. To fill this void, we developed B2BSimpleX, which automates carrier to carrier business processes.
By exchanging contracts and other forms in a digital, standardized way, processes that took days or weeks can be done within seconds. This allows carriers to be more flexible and react much faster to market trends and changes. Even a daily reaction according to exchange rate fluctuation is possible. Advanced tools include the ability to model business cases, conduct ‘what if’ scenarios, analyze contract performance and measure profitability in real time.
The other large area we see is data products. We are working to help our customers increase profitability with their data products and exchange of data traffic like IP and data roaming. We are convinced that there is a lot of unused potential in terms of pricing, billing and implementation. By working in this area, we believe we will play a pivotal role in helping carriers achieve business success.