Persistence pays off

Joseph Waring
15 Apr 2011

After a number of years trying to break into the telco market with connected services with varying degrees of success, Microsoft’s investments and persistence are finally starting to yield dividends.

Jim Dietrich, Microsoft's managing director for telecoms, told Telecom Asia that in the BSS segment alone it has forged partnerships with four billing companies - most involving its CRM platform.

He said Microsoft has tried a variety of strategies to enable infrastructure elements. “At one point Microsoft was flirting with, from an infrastructure perspective, building out some of those components instead of a more partner-based strategy.”

“Our core heritage is around the partner ecosystem, which we are very committed to. So that initial foray was maybe ill advised at best. We have put that to the side after re-evaluating the strategy. We’ve done that in the last two years and as a result we’re starting to gain ground.”

Microsoft has been building a variety of services, such as customer experience, call-center and retailed-based offerings, targeted at network operators. He said it has spent a great deal of time over the past year and a half to re-architect internally how it thinks about network operators and how best to provide services to the providers.

Over the past year a number of Microsoft partners have committed to using its Dynamics CRM to build out their billing and customer care portfolios. These include Convergys, Ericsson, Metratech, Redknee, Tech Mahindra and Tribold.

The Microsoft CRM platform is a building block, not an out of-the-box solution, which according to Stratecast’s Karl Whitelock, is a generic platform that requires a good bit configuring to make it do what an operator needs it to do. “This means an BSS supplier can use the CRM platform to blend around its billing offering, and another can use it too but the result will be different,” Whitelock explained.

Thailand’s TOT announced in February it is replacing its billing and CRM system with one from Convergys that runs on Dynamics CRM. Convergys’ Smart Communications Suite will give TOT real-time charging capabilities, enabling it to improve revenue assurance. It expects to release the product this quarter.

Redknee has built out its portfolio using the Microsoft CRM tool. A year after forming an alliance with Microsoft to develop a real-time converged billing and customer care offerings, Redknee announced two wins at the Mobile World Congress. Brunei’s DST selected Redknee to lead its transformation project to introduce next-generation services.

Metratech also has announced plans to provide dynamic converged billing using Dynamics CRM. Tech Mahindra, a systems integrator, has started work building a Dynamics CRM lab in India to develop CRM offerings for telcos globally. The company is also investing in an Azure center of excellence in partnership with Microsoft to offer consulting, development and migration services to Mahindra Satyam’s enterprise customers.

The number of call-center technologies out this is fairly limited, noted Dietrich. “We’re providing another option at a better price point. We think it’s more agile and flexible than some of the established players.”


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