By Fred Dawson
November 18, 2013 – Network service providers lacking time or money to undertake massive back-office overhauls are discovering they can get relief from an unrelenting stream of new service and customer care challenges through engagement with an Argentinian IT company.
Intraway Corp., which got its start 13 years ago integrating broadband operations with CRM (customer relations management) and billing systems for a South American MSO, has built a customer base in Latin America and the U.S. that now extends beyond cable into wireline telephony and mobile. “We saw virtually every provider was using their network capabilities at around 20 percent of what was possible for service activation, CRM, quality assurance and other applications,” says Intraway CEO Leondro Rzezak. “It gave us an opportunity to develop software our customers can deploy to get the most out of their network investments without having to put more money into network equipment.”
The message is simple, Rzezak says. “You just need to use DOCSIS or other technologies properly. For example, with quality assurance, our software allows operators to get a lot more functionality out of the network without investing in more probes.”
Intraway’s ability to help customers solve problems without incurring inordinate costs relies on a hands-on approach to tailoring solutions precisely to the existing back-office environment, which can’t be done with one-size-fits-all solutions, Rzezak notes. “We provide professional services to integrate systems and get things done,” he says. “The balance of products to professional services in our engagements is about 50/50, where the professional services include consulting on how to get the most out of the existing BSS/OSS infrastructure as well as enabling iterations of our solutions.”
Another major part of cutting costs through smarter use of back-office software is a topic that’s long been a mantra in operations support circles, which is to “break those silos,” as Intraway COO Ricardo Simpson puts it. “Everything converges into the subscriber,” Simpson says. “We’re bringing one interface, connecting information from billing and network resources to our CRM, quality assurance, service activation and other solutions across all services.”
Although Intraway started in cable, over the past few years it became evident that the need to collapse silos was common to telecom carriers as well, Simpson notes. “Companies like [Mexican telecom provider] Telmex have mobile, cable, DSL and POTs, and they’re facing the same issues,” he says.
Along with Telmex, Intraway’s customer base in Latin American includes several MSOs and telecoms such as Telefonica, Cablemas and América Móvil, another Mexico-based company with 325 million subscribers across several countries. Over the past two years, the company, operating out of a U.S. base in Miami, has quietly been adding customers in North America, including Mediacom, which is using modular Intraway products to enhance OSS and quality assurance on voice and Internet services.
Intraway has brought other unnamed North American MSOs on board as well, Simpson says. In all, he adds, the company now serves 12 of the top 20 telcos in Latin America and more than 45 MSOs and telcos in 17 different countries.
To buttress efforts to deliver custom solutions in a complex environment involving different mixes of BSS/OSS vendors from one service provider to the next Intraway has established a broad-based partnership program involving the likes of Cisco Systems, Oracle, Salesforce, Dell and many other concerns. It recently acquired Baking Software, a company specializing in subscriber home network configuration and quality of experience, to support more applications for its CRM and self-help solutions.
“Our partners like Oracle or vendors we integrate with like Amdocs tend to be focused more in the business flow, billing system and service provisioning layers,” Simpson says. “We ride on top of these systems on the service activation and assurance side.”
While Intraway’s portfolio of solutions includes a comprehensive provisioning suite, its market momentum is anchored in the modular components it brings to bear to fill in pieces that are essential to streamlining overall operations and customer care. “We don’t do forklifts to replace existing BSS/OSS platforms,” Simpson says. “We complement what our customers have and bring more intelligence into their networks.”
These intelligent modules span a broad range of applications targeted to key pain points in operations and customer service. Resource and service management solutions include applications such as proactive monitoring, advanced monitoring and network planning, automatic firmware management, IP flexible version selection and much else. Solutions in customer relationship management include billing and revenue management, cloud CRM and billing, customer care automation, fraud control and other applications.
Whatever the application, Simpson adds, Intraway’s goal is to move the service provider from legacy impediments such as provisioning based on batch and best-effort processes or CRM processes that lack device awareness. By helping customers establish a real-time stateful BSS/OSS architecture the company’s activation suite converts the OSS database into an active network player, he explains.
“One of key features is our online capability – real-time monitoring, activation and assurance in one interface,” Simpson says. “In the cable space, because of the nature of data services over cable, you need to be actively online on the DOCSIS side.
“On the other hand,” he continues, “we’ve built a lot of tools that integrate with the business flows. One could be self-provisioning tool for technicians to use in bringing up whatever modem the customer has, whether it was purchased at Best Buy or somewhere else. The tool is providing information and levels until the order is closed, which is tracked into our database and can be provided all way into CRM.”
This becomes part of the larger customer service support system, he notes. “We can generate a certificate for the installation process that remains in the data record for use for other purposes,” he says. “If the CSR receives a call from a customer, she can compare current levels to the initial installation levels and get parameters from different points in time and compare them.”
As another example, he says, “We also have tools that can extend video services over the Internet. If an MSO provides a subscription service, the operator can extend that service into OTT by using our tools to activate the service and enable entitlements.”
The company is continually developing solutions as new pain points and service opportunities come into view. A case in point, Rzezak says, is the problem with activation of IPv6 addresses on subscriber devices which are touted as IPv6 ready but often don’t respond to the operator’s activation process.
“The problem is operators are enabling IPv6 by region but don’t have the capability with existing provisioning systems to activate by device type,” he notes. “Our software product allows operators to enable IPv6 at a highly granular level, per sub, per CMTS, per device type. The operator can avoid trying to activate IPv6 on devices they haven’t verified through lab testing. Or if a customer’s modem supports IPv6 but they have a computer running an old Windows OS that doesn’t support v6, the operator can disable v6 for that particular modem.”
In another move tied to emerging needs, Intraway in October announced it was enhancing its M2M management platform by adding support for BioScience hardware for use in delivering telemedicine services. The BioScience BioWave hardware acquires patient biological signals through various sensors and transmits the results on a 3G mobile network to the Intraway M2M platform, Rzezak explains.
“M2M Middleware was created to offer telecommunications companies a solution that facilitates telemetry’s mass delivery and managing several devices available in the market that connect to mobile networks to provide remote follow-up, monitoring and management solutions in all industries,” he says. “BioScience products promise a technological breakthrough to improve the quality of service for outpatients, providing a great opportunity to involve new technologies in the health care industry.”