Michael Morisy of TechTarget posted a great, thoughtful article Thursday on revenue generation in the telecom world. He posed a core question in the story’s title: “Without revenue-per-bit stabilization, is telecom a time bomb?”
Mr. Morisy discusses two distinct challenges. The first is: how do carriers grow ARPU? The second is: how do carriers cope with the accounting challenge of recouping technology investments? He suggests that it “could be years” before carriers have a solution to these challenges.
We have a very different view: we offer an immediate solution to both.
The solution lies in carriers selling our valuable, SMB-tested telephone applications, delivered over inexpensive Internet connections. We call this Cloud Telephony for Carriers, and this concept is already a reality.
Growing ARPU is the first challenge for carriers, and we believe the easiest way to do this is to sell customers something they want. DialogTech started by developing telephone automation tools for small business customers who wanted services that their carrier could not provide. Those SMB customers were — and still are — willing to pay additional fees for telephone automation services that help them better integrate the telephone into their business processes.
We helped those small businesses break a compromise that they previously faced: make a small investment in specialized hardware to solve a business telephony need, and hope that the productivity gains delivered ROI, or don’t make the investment and hope you find other ways to improve net income. Using our services, in contrast, allowed small businesses to make a much smaller investment in technology and “rent” the same functionality.
Thus DialogTech started by developing simple, SMB-requested features such as voicemail delivered over email, virtual receptionist routing, voice broadcasting to help SMBs market to their customers, click-to-call for their web sites, and IVR features to respond to customers’ incoming calls.
We’ve since added breadth and depth to these offerings based on our SMB customers’ feedback. They asked us to let them track phone calls in real-time, route calls based on schedules and sales agent availability, queue calls, and integrate IVR into existing databases. We listened and responded because every opportunity to broaden or deepen our tools leads to new business and ARPU growth.
In addition, we found that ease-of-use was critical for our SMB customers, and it was a particular kind of ease-of-use: marketing ease-of-use.
If it takes an IT resource three days to build an IVR, the SMB isn’t interested. We designed our tools to be so usable and intuitive that the SMB’s CEO can log in and build an IVR in 30 minutes. This bodes well for carriers as they roll out our features to their customers: your SMB customers will build real phone solutions quickly via our white label solution.
WIth respect to Mr. Morisy’s second challenge, recouping technology investments, we recognize that telecom companies face a dilemma: make a significant investment to acquire, install, customize and support “voice applications” from softswitch vendors — and hope that your marketing team could sell the new offerings in sufficient volume to generate ROI. Or don’t make that big investment, and hope customers don’t leave. This is the classic “If you build it, they will come” gamble.
In contrast, our proposition in providing telephony to carriers is “build it as they come.”
This proposition requires making a small technical and financial investment to connect to our platform, and start with a little bit of capacity. Sell what you can, then sign up for a little more capacity. Repeat this simple process until satisfied and make money all along the way.
The future of telecom is absolutely in maximizing revenue per bit, but that future is today at DialogTech.