The sophistication of customers’ expectation from telecom services is at an all-time high, and at the same time the disappointment of unmet expectation equally at an all time high.
“Internet used to be an app for the telecom, now telecom is an app to the Internet.”
Someone tweeted once about the evolving dynamics surrounding telecos.
Thanks to the likes of Whatapp, telecoms are under immense pressure to keep their bottom-line from bleeding for OTT (over the top) apps. To stay afloat telecos have to churn less and retain more customers by offering quality services to build loyalty. In attempting to achieve that, telecoms encounter two hurdles: one, customer data inconsistency, and two, revenue leakage. They need help on this chicken and egg issue. If there is no consistency of customer data, the telecos can’t provide quality customer service. On one side they have to come up with lots of tailored schemes to satisfy customers. On the other side, the more the offerings the more complex it gets to trail which user is availing what service. And failure at tracking that causes revenue leakage where it will make it unsustainable for the telecom to offer any service in the long term. There are legacy companies like SAP & Sibeel attacking this problem, but also some startups as well. Telecosys, the startup that YourStory spoke to from Egypet solves these problems for telecos via its portfolio product called VeriSure. VeriSure is a real-time automated software solution for customer data inconsistency problem; one of the most critical Business Assurance problems faced by telecom operators. Telecosys is founded by three co-founders in Cairo, who have backgrounds working in telecom at different levels.
What is VeriSure?
Business Assurance problems critically impact companies in missed revenue while customer stays unsatisfied due to bad user experience, and as a result both parties lose in this. But with products like VeriSure which is built around the ‘customer data inconsistency problem’, it can address Business Assurance issues.
Telecosys claims that VeriSure products approach the customer data inconsistency problem with a new differentiated real-time automated mechanism that raises the accuracy of almost 100%, and more importantly detects the revenue leakage and customer experience problems in a very early stage, minimizing the problem impact on revenue and customers. Cloud services, Pay TV, and Internet service providers who offer subscription-based services to their customers can use VeriSure. These subscriptions have to be assured to ensure that there is no fraud, no revenue leakage (under charge or even no charge for a delivered service), and no bad customer experience (over charge or incorrect service setup). The Co-founder and business development head of Telecosys Mohamed Esmat says, “Normally, telecom operators have to keep the data of their customers consistent on the different IT/Network platforms. There are many operational challenges that make this mission impossible. Accordingly, telecom operators employ different data reconciliation solutions to detect these inconsistency problems. Those solutions are mostly employing offline mechanisms that rely on offline data dumps from the reconciled platforms. This exercise is repeated on a weekly basis to detect the discrepancies. While VeriSure directly integrates with the IT/Network platforms of a telecom operator for real-time and automated detection of inconsistencies, it is the real-time thing that differentiates VeriSure from other solutions in the market.” If you look at how telecoms used to work for decades, they have two applications (BSS-OSS) that run their entire business on and these two applications/systems have been in silo or saw very little integration till recently. Business Support Systems (BSS) applications used to be handled by the IT departments. Operations Support Systems (OSS) applications have been managed by the network departments. VeriSure sits at the middle of BSS-OSS making sure data redundancy is eliminated and leakages are patched.
An example of revenue leakage in telecom operator is, for example, a customer pays $20 for a monthly mobile internet package of 4GB. Because there is an inconsistency between the operator’s platforms, the customer is allowed to have a monthly mobile internet package of 8GB that is worth $30, for example. So on a monthly basis, the customer is paying $10 less than what he is supposed to pay.
When vital customer info is duplicated across applications, overtime it falls out of sync thus making it inconsistent and unreliable because it will be difficult to determine which version of the information is correct. The untoward outcome is that telecos lose opportunities that could have been pursued to generate additional revenue/profitability. This is all due to inconsistent data and meta-data about customers’ persona varying at the IT department level and at Network department. VeriSure is a real-time application, Shady Hatem founder and MD at Telecosys claims about its accuracy saying, “Definitely there are other similar products in the market, however, we offer a differentiated real-time automated mechanism that gives higher accuracy (we are 100% accurate vs 70-80% accuracy of other products). We have new innovation that allows detecting the revenue leakage and customer experience problems at earlier stages because we are proactive rather than reactive.” Currently, Telecosys sells its software VeriSure per-license basis with an annual support and professional services for installation, customization, and integration.
How the idea for Telecosys came to be?
Hatem said, “The aha moment came when the custom real-time & automated revenue assurance tools we developed at the multinational telecom operator we were working in over achieved, by far, the results of one of the top branded Revenue Assurance solutions deployed at the multinational operator.” Additionally, he remarks, "We now know the secret mix that can make us over achieve the top existing Revenue Assurance solutions in the market, why don’t we put in a new branded product and compete in the market."
Funding and Acceleration
“We have already raised our seed investment fund and we are now raising the second round of investment. We are currently running negotiation with investors for that purpose, but nothing has closed so far,” Hatem says, without disclosing any numbers. Telcosys is a one of the Flat6Labs cohort. Hatem talks about the mentorship and access to network – benefit of being accelerated, “Telecosys is offering a B2B solution where connections and relations are key factors for sales and success. In addition, we have been introduced to very strong business advisers like Eng. Tarek Abu Alam (Ex-CEO of Telecom Egypt), Amr Shady (CEO of TA Telecom), and more people.” For the team, the main challenge in building Telecosys has been that Telecom funds are very limited in the Arab world and Africa. Investors tend more to invest in online and mobile products. Telecosys is one of the top 40 African startup that will be pitching at Demo Africa 2014. Mohamed Esmat remarks, “Well, being one of the top 40 startup in Africa is really amazing and increases your enthusiasm and passion about what you are doing. It is an important chance to look for investors, clients, and strategic partners in Africa.” Ernest & Yong Global Revenue Assurance Report 2013 pointed out that the annual revenue leakage in the telecom industry is about $23 billion. Customer Data Inconsistency constitutes major sources of revenue leakage, 55% of total leakage.
Typically any telecom operator has two headaches ‘how can we increasing ARPU and cut churn rate.’
Seems Telecosys has come up with a paracetamol for that headache in the form of VeriSure.