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2014

The practice of revenue assurance has evolved from simply identifying leaks to being the process through which continual improvement could be driven.
- TM forum (Revenue assurance - quick insights)

 
 *A single person uses 3-4 different types of telecommunication services in a day. Let's consider India that has a population of around 1.2 billion with 2 plans being offered by a telecom service provider (TSP) and 2 telecom services are being used by each person. 4billion+ bills are generated considering each service and each plan differently. Imagine the bills generated by TSP's around the globe.

 
 The revenue assurance team comes into picture due to the possibility of overbilling and under billing. Revenue assurance team audits few bill from each batch to maintain bill accuracy. But the team cannot audit all the bills generated. Apart from the fact that the manual audit is a costly affair, the possibility of erroneous billing still exists.

 
 TSP cannot create a positive experience with an overbilled monthly statement. And if the same situation repeats, the customer would go ahead and avail the service of another TSP. Now, if a telecom subscriber was under billed for the services availed, the TSP is losing its revenue.
So, the big question for the TSP's is how to ensure it doesn't under bill or over bill its subscribers. Transform your manual revenue assurance into an automated process.

 
 The automated billing assurance system:
 

1. Eliminates human errors in misinterpretation of plans and services activated for each subscriber. Thus, ensuring accurate billing for the different services availed by a subscriber.
2. Automates the audit of bills by referring the services availed by the subscriber, and validates the same with the billing system. Thereby eliminating any computational errors in the bill presentment.
Accordingly, by ensuring error free bill presentment, the TSP is in compliance to the regulations of metering and billing, and the assurance of accurateness is also established. This would certainly be a game changer for Telco's in the field of revenue assurance and would aid the TSP in battling the subscriber churn rate due to erroneous billing. The automation of revenue assurance would be a cost effective way of putting a lid to the revenue leakage for the TSP's.

*Values were considered to show importance of revenue assurance. No real time values were used.
Acknowledgement - special thanks to Praveen Y (Analyst at Intense Technologies) for providing information on this domain

What is the status of the "one laptop per child" program floated in developing countries by institutions such as MIT which was in the USD $100 price range. The spec of this Linux device to my knowledge is extremely minimal to the point of being almost useless.

Nowadays you have HP and Nextbook building sub USD $100 Windows Standard 8.1 touch screen tablets (HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 and Nextbook 8 Windows 8.1) using the x86 Intel Atom processor (Z3735G) which are basically full fledged Windows devices. The review on the tablets is excellent since they can run almost all x86 program/s and are extremely useful even for undergraduate students in the US pursuing a science education. Also there are plans for integrating a GPS/GSM phone chipset in the devices which would make them extremely useful.

Had lots of queries on the popularity (mass usage) of the above devices in developing countries since we build apps mainly for science students and have lots of users in India and China.

http://www.eyepuzzles.net/csp.htm

"The 1000Lookz app can help beauty businesses cut costs, gain deep insights into consumer behavior and create new revenue streams".
--Vasan Sowriraja, Founder and CEO, VDIME

Keeping in view the vast global ‘beauty opportunity', VDime Innovative Works of Chennai decided to foray the market, which is still relatively untapped.

The company, a provider of technology solutions for beauty salons, cosmetic brands (makeup, hair), beauty retail stores, jewellery makers and jewellery retailers, uses an innovative facial image recognition technology that has given it an edge.

"We have made available our flagship '1000Lookz' virtual makeover application on popular platforms such as the web, iPad and iPhone, reaching out to a very large community of users", says Vasan Sowriraja, Founder and CEO, VDime.

1000Lookz enables customers of beauty products to know about the cosmetics best suited to their skin tones. The product's  smart virtual beauty makeup application can automatically identify all the facial coordinates and skin tones of people from a 2D image and recommend the cosmetics that can be used. "With this app, beauty salons can enable customers to ‘virtually' try out different makeup products for the face, eyes and lips besides popular seasonal/ celebrity/ festival looks, hairstyles, hair colors, jewellery and accessories. The apps can help cosmetic users to make informed purchase decisions", Vasan shares.

The 1000Lookz app can additionally help beauty businesses to cut costs, gain deep insights into consumer behavior and create new revenue streams.

It can integrate easily into the systems of clients, leading to low set up costs. Its ability to integrate with external Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for example, Google, Facebook, ERPs, etc., support for CMS based interfaces for back-end capabilities on the platform and procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment are the other positives.
According to the company, its success within this space has been achieved on the basis of its innovations in the areas of technology and product development.

Looking ahead, VDime will be focusing on expanding its client base by catering to large players with its affordable enterprise solutions and small companies through the low-cost SaaS model. It will also target clients in countries not dominated by its competitors.

"We decided to bring automation into the semi-conductor and embedded systems realm where there were high entry barriers and virtually no local eco-system in India"
R.K. PATIL, CEO, Vayavya Labs

 

After spending over 20 years in the semi-conductor and embedded software industry and product roll-outs based on these technologies, R.K. Patil and other co-founders of Vayavya, believed they were ready to launch an Electronic System Level (ESL) Design start-up.

 

"We realized that as electronic gadgets were getting smarter and more sophisticated, the software in them was also improving and expanding exponentially. Clearly, embedded software could not be treated in a conventional way, by adding more heads to deal with the problems. What was required was software for the hardware as well as the real-world software applications," says R.K. Patil, CEO, Vayavya.

 

The company decided to leverage the new thinking driving the EDA industry and bring it into the embedded software space.

 

The company's R&D resulted in Device Driver Generator Tool (DDGen), a software that automates the delivery of device drivers for any system, thereby helping design teams in organizations to meet their product rollout timelines by reducing the time taken, the costs and effort.

 

Attracting the right talent and pitching the company to investors and convincing them that its idea was implementable, was a key concern.

 

Like any start-up story, the founders initially raised their own seed money. They also banked on the success, reputation and credibility they had built up through an earlier venture, which had been acquired. Vayavya spent close to three years conceptualizing the product with a team in Belgaum and finally had a prototype ready which was shown to customers.

 

In late 2010 and early 2011, the company managed to raise its first level of funding from the Indian Angel Network as well as a long-term debt from the Technology Development Board (TDB). This helped it to increase its sales and marketing.

 

Advising peers to protect their inventions through patents, know the real cost and value of their innovations in the market, create core R&D as well sales and marketing teams and build customer traction from day one, R.K. Patil says that building visibility is also important.

 

Going forward, the company is looking to make its technology mainstream, capturing large customers and contributing to the development of industry standards.  "We plan to offer our tools in a SaaS model, which will provide a compelling cost-of-ownership for semiconductor firms", R.K. Patil adds.

 

The company will also work with strategic partners, including operating systems vendors, to proliferate the technology and its acceptance and reach its end customers-system design firms.

"Uniken has changed, found new paths, learnt from mistakes. You have to believe in your creativity and hang on".
Sanjay Deshpande, CEO and Chief of Innovation, Uniken

 

Uniken was envisioned as an organization that would, through its security infrastructure, safeguard the relationships of an enterprise with its customers, employees and partners.
The company's CEO and Chief of Innovation, Sanjay Deshpande, a man who began his career as a scientist, had a vision to break the silos between the domains of research and the real commercial world.

 

Sanjay had the romantic idea of setting up an R&D center in India and for almost 3-4 years, the company created a number of concepts and prototypes. Eventually, it realized that it needed to pick one idea and build on it.

 

And the idea was a product for the security space, that was immediately validated by a leading Indian defence organization.

 

The company developed a Massively Scalable Military Grade Secure REL-ID Private Network with revolutionary app-to-app tunnelling technology, which enables rapid provisioning and secure delivery of enterprise digital services, to millions of users, on untrusted devices.

 

While the company had in place a value proposition, it faced several challenges during its initial journey. Not only were Indian organizations averse to taking risks and being the first or early tech adopters, raising capital itself was challenging.

 

Having been endorsed by the defence segment, the company then targeted the product at the Banking vertical, with a view to helping institutions accelerate their delivery of digital services. "Today we have over two million users in the banking sector on our platform. More recently, we have started work with banks in Israel. It has been a mind shift change for us. The Hacktics security team of Ernst and Young has tested and validated our product", informs Sanjay.

 

Sanjay believes that apart from its product, Uniken is also helping foster an eco-system of innovation that currently does not exist in India. "Because I have seen different aspects of the innovation continuum, I realize there needs to be a path, a road, which can enable an innovation to reach its end of commercialization. We are helping other innovators to create that path", he says.

 

The company believes a large part of its success is owed to the right choices it has made, in selecting its people, customers, partners and investors. "One has to make sure they share the same vision", Sanjay adds.

 

"For us the next step is taking this story global. Speed is the key but we don't want to be brashly aggressive. We are operating in a domain which is fundamentally built on trust, so we have to be very cautious in the way we build the market", Sanjay states.

 

Over the next five years, the company hopes to achieve USD 100 million in revenues by protecting more than 10 million digital end points, with an average CAGR of 200 percent.
"I tell people, believe in the story, don't give up. Correct the path but don't give up on the final goal. Uniken has changed, found new paths, learnt from mistakes. You have to believe in your creativity and hang on", he adds.

"We are looking to change the way e-commerce is done in India by developing more tools and technologies for our stakeholders".
--Krishna Lakamsani, CEO, IPay

"E-commerce is the way to go. Consumers in India are different from consumers in any other country. Here, we depend on personal relationships and trust people rather than virtual entities", says Krishna Lakamsani, CEO of IPay, a company that is helping combat this very challenge, currently being faced by Indian e-merchants.

The organization has launched IPay that is re-inventing the way Indian e-merchants approach their e-commerce businesses. A bridge between consumers, who are wary of making online purchases and e-merchants keen to sell their products, IPay leverages the local kirana store to scale the ‘trust'.   

The innovative ‘Business-in-a-Box' kiosk, seeks to empower the common man in India to consume e-commerce through local IPay cash points.

Using the kirana shop, consumers can access thousands of products available online. The local kirana, meanwhile, using IPay, can sell a vast range of products that it does not have. "In this way, through our business model, customers interact with trusted sellers, they are comfortable paying to, and kirana shops add to their revenue stream by selling products they do not have  on their shelves", he adds.

The technology platform, which took seven months and 20 iterations to build, has been integrated with more than 50 merchant outlets along with their inventory, which includes physical merchandise.

The merchants meanwhile, include companies - selling their products and services online. The platform is integrated with all mobile operators, DTH operators, bus ticket/flight/hotel inventory aggregators, manufacturers and large distributors, among others.

"In a short span of a year, our hybrid e-commerce marketplace has registered more than one 2.4 million transactions, worth over INR 23 crore.  Using IPay, the 700 kirana stores in Hyderabad have also upgraded themselves, becoming high tech retailers within their neighborhoods and increasing their revenues by 20-22 percent!"

Looking ahead, the company hopes to do around USD 1 billion worth of business. "We are acquiring a new customer every 15 seconds. Around 1.2 million customers have walked into kirana stores and purchased products and services using IPay. Starting April 2015, we intend to take IPay to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well and expand our base of retailers from 700 in and around Hyderabad to 1.5 lakh across the country.

Next to accounting packages, communication software and office suites, CRM is the much needed technical adaption or valuable system required for any SME (Small & Medium Enterprises) in India.

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But what every SME really need is not just an affordable CRM but an affordable CRM ecosystem to stay ahead in the competitive environment and grow little faster than their competitors and the market.

 

\"CRM

 

In general, any CRM solution will help the businesses on the below areas:

 

Customer Reach:

Marketing tools that helps the marketing team to initiate and manage both the offline and online marketing campaigns.

 

Customer Acquisition:

Lead generation and prospect tracking tools to streamline the inbound request handling; Sales Force Automation tools to follow-up, negotiate with quotes, finalizing sales conversions; Order management tolls to process sales orders and invoices generations.

 

Customer & Business Profiling:

Data management and filtering tools to easily segment customer data and manage the 360 degree view of customers; Analytics tools such as dashboards and reports to keep track of current status of the various business parameters.

 

But in a rapidly changing business world, these above said CRM capabilities alone will not help businesses to withstand and outgrow their peers. To evolve at a higher pace, businesses needs a CRM ecosystem which can provide them with the additional or extended competencies that aid them in the below areas.\n

 

Customer Communication:

Multi Channel communication tools (Email, Text messaging and Cloud PBX) to easily collaborate with the customers and track the customer communications.

 

Customer Retention:

Customer service platform (HelpDesk, Knowledge Base & Solutions) that makes the customer proactively self-engage with the business and to track & address customer issues.

 

E-Commerce Back office:

E-Commerce integrated CRM systems can act as a back office capturing the retail customer and sales data to gain insight into customer behavior and purchasing habits which helps to improve the business offerings and increasing the sales.

"We want to be one the early and biggest players in an exploding unstructured data market".
--Abhinav Shashank, CEO, InnovAccer

Abhinav Shashank wanted to create a billion dollar product-centric company out of India, when he with other co-founders decided to set up InnovAccer.
"We realized India was brimming with talent, the markets were confident and that peer companies were making their dreams come true. The renaissance India was going through was creating new opportunities and we felt it was the right time for entrepreneurs to realize their vision", Abhinav says.

Since in his previous avatar and as part of an earlier company, Abhinav had been working on innovation strategies, he was well acquainted with background research and data analysis.
"I was working with a Professor at Harvard who was studying the strategies of Indian organizations and to support him, I had to structure a lot of data before I could use it. I realized this was a big issue. That's when I decided to build a product that would solve this problem".
The company set forth with five people in Aug-Sep 2012, and today, 57-employee strong, deals with 18 of the world's top 20 research institutions including Harvard, Wharton, Stanford among others.

Initial support came from founders' alumni connections at IITs and IIMs. "We reached out to our alumni and then it was all about word of mouth. It was our customers who became our sales people!" Abhinav says.

InnovAccer's expertise in machine learning and text analysis to deal with unstructured data, enabled it to achieve unmatched accuracies and became its USP.

"Our competitive differentiation is a combination of data sourcing, processing, and structuring technology that we have built by working with some of the world's best researchers. We deploy a mix of data mining, Natural Language Processing, and Big Data implementations to help structured data access simple", he informs.

Today, InnovAccer is helping researchers, analysts, consultants, and developers save almost 70 percent time that goes into sourcing data.

Going forward, the company is looking to be one of the early and biggest players in an exploding unstructured data market. It believes the problem it is addressing is generic and other industries too require this expertise. InnovAccer plans to go after the legal market now, which is very research-centric and later address the consulting and BFSI segments.

"Our technological competency in structured data creation is going to evolve rapidly, giving our customers an edge in their businesses through better decision making", Abhinav states.

"Our vision going forward, is to launch products which are e-mail-centric and tailor made for specific businesses".
--Niraj Ranjan Rout, Founder Grexit

"The idea germinated in my mind when I was working in a previous venture, on collaboration projects involving more than 30 people. The challenge was managing the tasks assigned to each one of us and collaborating over e-mail. We tried to adopt dedicated collaboration tools, but there was an inertia to move out of e-mail", says Niraj Ranjan Rout.

For Niraj, this seemingly simple idea-of improving the most ubiquitous business tool, e-mail-was the starting point for his own venture Grexit, which was set up in mid-2011. "We decided to make e-mail better, taking  it beyond simple transactional communication and making it fit for solving business problems like customer support, sales management and team collaboration", Niraj adds.

With Grexit, customers  do not need to abandon their e-mail.  "We let users stay inside their e-mail, and still be super-productive. Our key value proposition is that we are e-mail-centric, and do not require customers to learn anything new. We have also built a lot of complex technology to enable workflows on top of e-mails, which will scale to millions of users", he adds.

Despite a robust offering, the company had to face significant challenges in its initial phase. The challenge, of getting the first 150 users to try out the product, was overcome after a period  of 8-12 months, during which we attempted to do things right. "We got international coverage, bloggers wrote about us, we began conversations with people who were using the product and used their feedback to enhance it", informs Niraj.

Today, Grexit's team, based out of India, addresses the needs of its over 2,000 customer companies, almost 90 percent of whom are based out of the country. "We believe the Cloud has provided us with a level playing field, helping us reach and support customers in the US, UK, Australia and even Cyprus and Lithuania. We have not only built a world-class product, we have managed to  market it successfully. We have acquired our clients through Google and other app marketplaces, without spending much on reaching out to them", Niraj informs.

The company's journey taught it many things including the fact that when in doubt, you need to work things out by going back to your product. "Go back to see whether your idea itself can be productized, whether it has been pitched  in the right way, etc.", Niraj says.

Going forward, Grexit is hoping to ride on the growing adoption of SAAS tools and Cloud-based e-mail across organizations and their need to  have more efficient and organized knowledge workers.

"We will be selling to tens of thousands of customers. Our vision going forward, is to launch products which are e-mail-centric and tailor made for specific businesses".

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