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August - 2010 - issue > Cover Story
Roamware Ruling the Roaming Space
Christo Jacob
Monday, August 2, 2010
‘Action is eloquence’ and Bobby Srinivasan, President and CEO, Roamware is proving it just right by showcasing India not only capable of body shop business but also can be armed to build smart global product company. Srinivasan, who left India in 1985 to pursue higher studies, had always dreamt of building a world class product completely out of India that could transform lives of billions globally. It was this passion and sheer belief that helped him align his thoughts during the initial years of founding Roamware. The mantra worked well, with Roamware entrenched as the global leader in voice and data roaming solutions and a leading provider of mobile financial services. The company’s comprehensive suite of technologies and services helps operators globally to make mobile roaming better and easier.

Now Srinivasan has a reason to be pleased with roaming revenues forecasted to grow to $146 billion by 2011 . Founded in 2001, currently Roamware’s products are deployed in over 464 mobile operator networks across 154 countries and its services available to over three billion mobile users globally. Additionally, Roamware’s mobile finance solutions have been successfully deployed by major banks and operators around the world, and serves a wide range of needs across the domains of mobile commerce, banking, remittances and payments. “For nearly a decade, we have successfully nurtured and grown this business —- despite the challenges of global sales, delivery and support across diverse markets, e global events including wars, global pandemics like SARS and the financial meltdown in 2008-2009,” says Srin.

He could achieve this only because he envisioned the business to be global in nature at its inception. Srinivasan ensured that the senior management always had the appropriate DNA required to challenge the Roamware team in building world class products. This philosophy of the company has cracked the so called misconception of building your initial business within 10 miles from where one lives. With his chin up, Srinivasan proudly says “Today we are operating across 154 countries, serving over 460 mobile operator networks around the world.”

Bee in the Bonnet

No matter where the customers are located, mobile operators need to drive down the costs associated with their businesses. Current roaming trends have resulted in decreasing revenues, declining margins and fierce operator competition. Moreover today telecom operators could lose up to 10 percent of roaming revenues because of quality issues. According to a recent industry report, an average of 39 percent of all mobile calls falls below the industry minimum standard for voice quality. Given that roamers represent a profitable customer segment, the implications of poor quality of service include lost roaming revenues and potential churn. New regulations, roaming price reductions, stiff competition and a sharp rise in data roaming traffic are some of the key drivers forcing operators to search for innovative business solutions to increase traffic, drive usage, optimize costs, and meet their goals. “Roamware’s strategy from the inception has been to play the role of the preferred strategic partner on the roaming business front for mobile operators globally and this philosophy has been the fundamental reason for the success and widespread adoption of our solutions in the world market,” says Abraham Punnoose, VP – Global Marketing and Business Development ,Roamware .

Old-fashioned, bilateral relationships among Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are no longer sustainable as they require massive manpower, significant costs and an inordinate amount of time. Established MNOs have spent 10-15 years setting up 400 to 500 roaming agreements in place with contract / relationship management departments in charge of bilateral roaming relationships. It’s a timescale and a workforce allocation that definitely does not fit at all in new entrants’ requirements in terms of time to market and operational effectiveness. If MNOs continue to follow the traditional model, it would be a tremendous waste of energy in negotiating hundreds of bilateral agreements, energy that instead might be better utilized o promoting their own core business. Once the roaming relationships are set up, the daunting task for operators is to leverage these agreements and garner incremental market share and consequent revenues and profit.

To address these challenges, one of the earliest solutions from, Roamware was the innovative Roaming Replicator solution that would reduce go to market timelines for a full fledged roaming offering in under 12 weeks. Built in a modular way, the suite of roaming solutions reduce the overall complexity, provide operators with powerful technology solutions to address business challenges and enable them to focus on the end-customer instead of inter-operator relationships. Today, Roamware is the preferred and primary solution provider of roaming solutions for the majority of tier 1 mobile operator’s inlcuding AT&T, T Mobile, Orange, Airtel, Maxis, Etisalat and Vodafone globally and this trust is further reflected in joint hubbing initiatives with some of the major mobile operator companies across regions.

“Our business model is a blend of software license, transactional revenue, revenue share and managed services resulting in a robust and predictable revenue model with recurring revenue constituting 30 percent of company’s revenues. By 2012, recurring revenue is expected to touch 50 percent of overall revenue. The global footprint and market penetration ensures that there is no revenue concentration in any region or select customers, effectively eliminating risks arising from regional downturn or loss of key customers,” says Richard Grohol, EVP World-wide Field Operations, Roamware. Today the company enjoys a leadership position with its comprehensive bouquet of roaming solutions and other line of key business like carrier service, social network commerce and mobile financial services. Roamware’s group relationships in mobile operator world include Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica, Airtel, Claro, Orascom, Telia Sonera, Telenor, MTS, Vimplecom, STC, T Mobile and Etisalat among several others.

Comprehensive Suite of Roaming Solutions

It’s been nearly decade since Roamware was set up, and the company developed its solutions completely out of India using local talents. Srinivasan’s vision was to create a world class product suite that could meet global standards. The company had the good fortune to work in a market where they were surrounded by the Indian GSM operators who were very focused on value added solutions and services. “The company always wanted to build products in sync with customer’s business requirements and we had the privilege of engaging most of the operators in India and Asia Pacific at that time, clearly a market where the adoption of value added services and new services was far more advanced and aggressive than the U.S Market at that point in time. Within the roaming segment, Roamware’s product innovation has been instrumental in driving quiet a few industry standards. Key industry standards including Open Connectivity, Steering of roaming and global roaming quality are standards that were introduced as a result of industry adoption of innovative Roamware products,” says Dr. John Jiang CTO & EVP Product Management, Roamware.

Dr Jiang, further adds the invention of a “Method and System for Cellular Network Traffic Redirection” was widely embraced by the GSM Association’s mobile industry standards known as “Steering of Roaming”, empowering a mobile roamer’s home network operator’s system to direct any of its subscribers to roam on its preferred roaming partner’s network when using their mobile phones abroad. The network-based approach that Roamware first created in its Roamware Traffic Redirection systems permits the mobile network operators to apportion outbound roaming traffic to its roaming partners in line with their business commitments, customer’s service requirements and global alliance and is agnostic to locations, time zones and mobile handset make.

Today, Roamware’s voice and data roaming solutions are installed in over 464 mobile operators’ networks across 154 countries and generate incremental revenues for mobile operators, whilst increasing their operational efficiencies and reduce subscriber churn. The solutions are built on the Roamware Service Delivery System (SDS), a carrier-grade platform based on open standards that enable seamless integration of multiple applications which can be seamlessly added as blades to the core platform, each blade representing a product. “The robust carrier grade Roamware SDS ( Service Delivery System ) is the underlying platform and bedrock of all Roamware products and solutions and enables for our customers a range of capabilities that reduces time to market for new services, and constitutes a significant barrier to entry for competition. Roamware’s thought leadership coupled with our global execution capabilities have been the keys to our success This outstanding effort has resulted in over 196 patent submissions , introduction of several ground breaking products in the past few years and 28 patents awarded till date,” says Avnish Chauhan, Executive Vice President Engineering

Product Suite

Roamware’s product portfolio consists of over 40 solutions across the GSM and CDMA domains that are built on the Roamware Service Delivery System (SDS). The Roamware SDS facilitates seamless deployment and integration of network applications and services with a mobile operator’s core network l and IT infrastructure. The Roamware SDS is the backbone of Roamware’s solutions and supports the smooth deployment of value-added applications and services. It embodies a modular, component-based layered platform architecture that enables applications to achieve optimum performance, while supporting seamless integration with an operator’s network management and operation support systems, through open and standards-based protocols and interfaces. It allows the operator to unify critical subscriber and network information for the design and deployment of intelligent personalized services on 2G, 2.5G and 3G networks, on an easy-to-use application deployment framework. The platform enables applications to deliver high availability through redundant deployment of software and hardware elements.

Applications are equipped with intuitive web-based interfaces for administrative operations, application information provisioning and generation of business and technical reports. The Roamware SDS includes active network interface support over protocols such as ISUP, CAMEL and IN variants, as well as passive monitoring capabilities for sniffing relevant information exchanged over the signalling network. These interfaces are available for SS7 and SIGTRAN and facilitate seamless compatibility of Roamware’s applications with evolutions in network technologies.

Roamware’s suite of services, built on the SDS, addresses a range of business challenges including the quick roll out of roaming infrastructure, traffic management acquisition and retention of roamers, driving roaming usage , acceleration of prepaid roaming, seamless service experience, quality of service, market intelligence, cost optimization among several others. In addition, the global availability of converged voice, messaging and data services fosters subscriber loyalty and increases competitive differentiation. Roamware’s suite of roaming services are Traffic management, communication and service experience, virtual home environment, roaming and local multi-number, roaming and network infrastructure and business intelligence and quality assurance.

In line with the strategic role that its sees for itself for is mobile operator customers, the company has now rolled out a range of carrier solutions to enable a number of roaming carrier services in partnership with global voice and data carrier partners. This would enable Roamware to optimize roaming calls cost and would carry the roaming and interconnect voice traffic for its customers. Dr Jiang says, “We are committed to the success of our customers and operator’s readiness to allow us to carry voice traffic is a reflection of the confidence in our technology, strategic thought leadership and overall business value we bring to the table.”

Leveraging global footprint for Mobile Financial Services

The company after building out a global footprint in roaming space with an estimated 65 percent market share has catapulted itself to the next level with Mobile Financial Services. The move into mobile banking and m-commerce was a logical extension for Roamware as it leverages its existing global customer relationships, business partnerships and technology platform. According to Juniper Research, the Service Provider market revenues will exceed $5 billion globally by 2013. These revenues are based on the commissions and charges acquired from the gross value of money transactions derived from mobile money transfer services and remittances. Juniper Research highlights a significant opportunity for the providers and vendors of mobile money transfer (MMT) services as the market takes off, beginning as early as 2010. Moreover 3–15 percent of international money transfers currently handled by formal or informal agent networks will be carried out using a mobile handset by 2015; generating $1.2–6.2 billion in service revenue. Roamware is eyeing to grab this market through strategic partnerships and acquisitions.

In line with their plans for the Mobile Financial Services business, Roamware acquired Macalla, a leading developer of mobile financial services (MFS) solutions and strive to become a market leader in MFS, specifically addressing the needs of low income, unbanked communities across the world. “Macalla’s m-commerce and mobile banking solutions are successfully deployed by banks and operators around the world; these solutions include credit transfer, international remittance, person to person transactions, top-up and bill payment. With Macalla’s acquisition, Roamware aims to build upon its roaming expertise and its global operator relationships,” says Richard Grohol EVP, Worldwide Field Operations, Roamware.

Roamware’s Macalla Platform enables a wide range of innovative mobile financial services including direct top-up, agent top-up, bill payment, person-to-person payments, mobile banking, cross border VAS and both national and international remittances. “The platform is designed for ease of integration into existing infrastructures. Because of the use of open standards such as SOAP, XML, J2EE and its pluggable component design, it can easily integrate with existing legacy systems and third party software,” says Avnish Chauhan, EVP Engineering, Roamware. Adaptors and plug-ins are used for major transport mechanisms such as JMS, IIOP, MQ Series, Tibco, EJB and standard support for CM, CRM, billing and location based services.

For instance, Bank of Ireland identified the need to deploy a prepaid mobile top-up service which takes advantage of the increased consumer use of SMS as well as using its existing ATM channel. Using Roamware’s technology which enables mobile transactions, Bank of Ireland launched a prepaid mobile phone top up service. The service, called Text Top Up, went live in 2005 and is available to all Bank of Ireland customers in Ireland on Vodafone and O2 networks.

The Roamware Macalla Platform enables Bank of Ireland customers to top-up their own prepaid accounts and others, including friends and family, directly from their mobile phones. To do this, customers simply send a free text message. The transaction is automatically paid for via their Bank of Ireland account.

Registration is extremely easy and instantaneous via any Bank of Ireland ATM. Once registered, a customer can top-up from his mobile phone anytime and anywhere in Ireland or overseas. The top-up call credit is applied automatically within a matter of seconds.

The Roamware Macalla Platform enables top-ups and associated processes in a fully secure and reliable manner. It also provides connectivity with the mobile operators’ SMS delivery and prepaid billing systems as well as the bank’s payments systems. The platform includes a suite of web-based applications for call centre and supervisor staff to ensure the smooth and efficient ongoing operation of the service. Roamware Macalla worked directly with Bank of Ireland to deliver the application together with a complete range of consultancy, technical integration and on-going support services.

From launch the system proved to be a very popular service with Bank of Ireland customers and exhibited an increase in frequency of top-up as well as a higher transaction value. The service has also proven popular with bank customers who travel abroad as they can now top-up their phones as easily as at home. Today the platform is used by mobile operators, banks and independent service providers internationally including VIVA (STC), mPay, Jawwal, permanent tsb, O2, Bank of Ireland, MoneyText, Illuminat and Vodafone.

Aiming high

“In a market that is largely known for its IT services capability “I am proud to be on deck of on organization that has built a world class product suite completely out of India and has been instrumental in shaping the global roaming business in over 150 countries,” says Srinivasan.Soon Srinivasan will be comparing the performance of Roamware with the 11 great companies that Jim Collins talks about in Good to Great.

The Man Behind the Scene

As a co-founder Bobby Srinivasan’s leadership, passion and keen insight has been crucial to Roamware’s success. Due to his extraordinary vision and deep market acumen, the company grew by over 25 percent in 2009 despite the worst economic downturn in recent history. Srinivasan’s career has included senior level service with SoftPlus (acquired by U.S. Interactive in February 2000), Objectivity, Hewlett Packard, Apollo Computers, the World Bank and Shearson Lehman Brothers and this helped him to play the right card for Roamware. Over the last nine years he has been instrumental in transforming the company from a start up into a global leader in roaming and value added solutions. In fact this earned him lot of applauds in the industry including Distinguished Honoree medal in Executive of the Year in North America in the 2010 International Business Awards and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 2010 Award Finalist for Northern California The International Business Awards are the only global, all-encompassing business awards program honouring great performances in business.

For him the early days of aligning Roamware were focused around instilling values and cultural elements within the enterprise. He credits the success of Roamware to his leadership team, and the smart move of building products in India. His continued focus on achieving the vision has helped Roamware to achieve a leadership team comprises of a multicultural, experienced and professional team with global experience and an optimum mix of mobile operator and technology background. “The core leadership team has worked together for over nine years with several decades of cumulative experience in telecom, banking and enterprise software,” says Bishal Bisht, SVP Finance and HR, Roamware. The leadership team has been recognized for professional excellence in several industry forums including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year, Stevie Business Awards and World Brand Congress.

Today the company is riding high receiving several industry recognitions including the Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation Award, Deloitte Technology Fast 50 and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 in 2006. In 2007, Roamware won the Red Herring 100 Most Promising Private North American Technology Companies in 2007 and Deloitte’s 2007 Wireless Fast 50.

There is no looking back for Srinivasan, but he believes that there are billions of people who own mobile phone and he aims to transform each mobile phone a bank account for them, where they get paid their daily wages and other things. He says, “How do we make that mobile phone, more than just a mobile phone and that is what we strive to do.” Roamware is building microfinance applications and believes that it can change the world of the unbanked and underbanked and make them economic citizens of the world. “I am aiming at not just make money for the stake holders but also want tos transform the lives of billions of poor people. That is what success means to me and I think that is what we are going to do in the next five years,” says Srinivasan.

Quick Facts
Founded: 2000
President & CEO: Bobby Srinivasan
Headquarters: San Jose, CA
Other Offices: Amman, Brussels,
Bangalore, Dublin, Hong Kong,
Johannesburg, Mumbai, New Delhi and Singapore
Headcount: 374
Global Customer Base: 464 Mobile Operator Networks, Banks and
Financial Institutions
Customer Footprint: 154 Countries
Investors: Shelter Capital, Primera Capital, Doll Capital and Accretive
Vertical: Mobile
Website: www.roamware.com

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