It’s not often that a company gets to be a metaphor for its own success. But Connectiva Systems really is growing while the economy is shrinking, and it has recovered $500 million in lost revenue for clients, increasing their margins while their revenue is shrinking.
Connectiva Systems is a revenue chain management software company, whose solutions enable telecom operators improve their business performance, productivity, and profitability. Their solutions find lost revenue that is owed but has not been paid, due to either fraud, or falling through the ether’s cracks. In this climate, where phone companies are hard-pressed to find new revenue streams, it is not just that Connectiva clients don’t have to lay off employees in order to meet stockholder expectations, but in some cases they have passed some of their significant savings onto their phone customers.
Avi Basu, CEO of Connectiva, runs his own business like an enterprising watchdog. He doesn’t waste anything, doesn’t believe in bloated business models, and walks his talk. By running a purposefully modest office culture, he created the lean-times approach before the recession. Now that times are bad, Basu and his team have the habits that help not only to survive, but thrive. Basu says, “We had to learn how to survive in bad times. We had no options as capital, both human and financial, was non-existent. We just had to buckle down, figure out how to weather the storm and make every possible move so that we come out strong at the end of a downturn.” Since then Connectiva has grown exponentially and is now doing business in every continent across the globe.
But Basu isn’t miserly when it comes to what counts. He invests in the cream of the crop human resources and infuses all the capital it takes for the technological innovation that gives him the competitive edge. His motto is to have the finest intellectual property and solutions that work for less capital outlay than his competitors, and with a better ROI.
He calls it American technological ingenuity and an Indian business model. Whatever he calls it, it’s working. Under Basu’s leadership, Connectiva has transformed itself from an early stage product company into a leading provider of revenue chain management solutions. Basu has led Connectiva by securing strategic sources of capital, closing major customer acquisitions, and establishing key global alliances, all of which have driven 100 percent growth annually for the past four years.
Uniqueness of Connectiva Products
To understand Basu’s product line is to understand his approach: He and his team closely watch their existing clientele to see what new needs arise. The research and development activities in their state-of-the-art Global Innovation Center in Kolkata, India, are based on what new business problems and opportunities the clients are discussing about.
Again they’re doing something right, because their newest solution was chosen by the TeleManagement Forum to be showcased in its prestigious Catalyst Program in Nice in early May. Connectiva demonstrated its Margin Assurance solution, which is part of its new enterprise analytics suite, Connectiva INSIGHT™. It enables telecom service providers develop insight into business performance along the entire value chain.
There are two reasons why TMF organizers chose Connectiva for their ‘Margin Assurance & Verification’ program. Firstly, there is only one competitor for Connectiva in the margin assurance arena, but they don’t do predictive analytics. Vero Systems, acquired by TEOCO in late 2008, has solutions in margin management, which provide detailed visibility into network costs, combined with automated switch updates that enable optimal cost routing. Other than that, none of the other key competitors have solutions in the domain. Secondly, TMF organizers predict that after the TMF event showcase on ‘Margin Assurance & Verification’, telco operators’ awareness and interest in margin assurance will be significantly enhanced.
What TMF organizers have seen first hand is that margin assurance products are compelling because the business implications have cross-organizational impact. For instance, telcos can figure out how to price plans for different customer segments, how to negotiate better deals with interconnect partners.
With INSIGHT™, telecoms can create ‘what-if’ scenario analysis, and automatic recommendations for subscriber consumption data. The result is to drive visibility into business performance and enable informed, timely business decisions.
This product marks Connectiva’s first foray into Enterprise Analytics, which is the next wave of innovation for any enterprise. And Connectiva’s products can apply to any enterprise, not just to its cornerstone telecom clients.
Basu is convinced that the market dictates what products should be in development. If a company pays close attention, and has the flexibility and springs in its own business model to adapt research and development quickly, it will always have a competitive edge.
AVI says, “One of our biggest competitive edges is that unlike most software companies we are not entrenched in long development cycles which don’t keep up with the times. We invested in resources for enhanced analytics including margin assurance two months back and the product will be shipping by end of Q2, 2009.”
The backbone of the fast, efficient, and right-on-the-money development was the team; the technical development team, as well as a team of advanced mathematicians and statisticians. Knowing when to devote the best and brightest to research is a hallmark of Connectiva’s success.
While many other companies lay off their employees, or instituting hiring freezes, Connectiva is doing the opposite: They are hiring six new executives worldwide.
The other key to its product success is that its solutions are all based on the award winning Connectiva ONEREViEW™, a Web-based open integration platform that permits a telecom to continuously add new data dimensions and performance measures to its margin analytics without custom programming or disrupting production applications. Its underlying framework allows it to draw data from legacy systems, and third-party data feeds, to establish a persuasive unified vision of operational performance.
ONEREViEW™ provides a complete set of building blocks needed for enterprise revenue and risk management systems, and exemplifies Connectiva’s groundbreaking “configure, not code” architecture philosophy, which allows service providers customize to their specific requirements easily, without any intervention or assistance from Connectiva.
The platform integrates revenue assurance, fraud management, credit risk management, test-call generation, re-billing, and re-rating into one comprehensive enterprise revenue and risk management system. Until now, this multi-application platform approach has never been available.
ONEREViEW™ also offers one of the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for revenue management systems, and tightly integrates three enterprise-grade applications into one product suite. These applications can either be deployed independently, or as one end-to-end solution. The core applications that have been integrated in ONEREViEW™ are:
Unlike most companies in pretty much any industry today, the timing couldn’t be better for Connectiva. The worst times seem to serve Basu the best. His last two rounds of funding came in the venture capital nuclear winter of post 9/11, and the most recent in September 2008.
The reason bad timing is good is because what companies must do during recession is optimizing margins without the benefit of new revenue streams. So the market landscape goes far beyond telecoms to include utility, financial services, healthcare, and many other industries.
“In times like this when revenues are down and margins are getting squeezed, we are able to provide recession-proof solutions that put cash back into a service provider’s wallet. When times are better, our products allow them to boost the top line as well,” Basu explains.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man!