ItsOn has claimed another victory over the likes of Amdocs, Ericsson and Huawei by landing Saudi Telecom as the latest customer of its cloud-based IT platform.
The Saudi Arabian incumbent has today launched an entirely new mobile business based on the ItsOn Inc. platform, which the Silicon Valley startup is pitching as an "end-to-end solution" for operators focused on the digital transformation of their IT systems.
The deal with Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) follows similar agreements earlier this year with South Africa's MTN Group Ltd. and Telefónica 's Mexican subsidiary, and further illustrates the superiority of ItsOn's technology for operators looking to overhaul their traditional way of working, according to Greg Raleigh, ItsOn's CEO. (See ItsOn Slams 'Stale' Ericsson, Huawei as It Lands Telefónica.)
"We don't really see Amdocs as a competitor in any new deployment and Ericsson and Huawei don't have a cloud model," Raleigh tells Light Reading. "They talk about it but they are just changing software on existing boxes."
Having previously dismissed Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as "stale," Raleigh acknowledges the two equipment giants are winning back-office deals but says these usually entail making changes to legacy systems rather than anything really transformational.
"Ericsson and Huawei are winning deals to incrementally innovate, not fundamentally innovate," he says.
Naturally, he believes ItsOn's latest contract with STC, which serves about 160 million customers across Africa and the Middle East, falls into the latter category.
Using the brand name of Jawwy, the Saudi Arabian telecom giant is specifically targeting younger customers in its domestic market who are keen to take advantage of new digital offerings.
After ordering a SIM card and downloading the Jawwy app -- which is being launched in beta in both Android and iOS versions -- customers will be able to activate and personalize their plans using social-networking credentials.
Other benefits will include greater visibility of service plans and pricing as well as ecommerce capabilities.
"There are many features about this service that are cutting edge," says Raleigh. "There is an integral use of social networking in the service experience and STC is using the ItsOn platform to adapt services based on the feedback it gets."
Although Jawwy is only an STC "sub-brand," Raleigh insists that all of ItsOn's customers are planning a much broader transformation in future and that he would resist deals if this were not the case.
"We do not intend to be a sub-brand provider," he says. "It's an objective of ours to help operators transform the base because that is where they will make money, save money and build market share."
With bigger projects on the horizon, ItsOn has built up a systems integration and deployment team allowing it to serve "multiple operators" every quarter rather than just one contract every four or five months.
Nevertheless, having come up with a set of standardized processes, it is now in discussions with actual systems integrators so that it can "scale faster than we can hire people," says Raleigh.
Founded in 2008, ItsOn remains a minnow in comparison with Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), Ericsson and Huawei -- the rivals it references -- but its revenues have been increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 70% over the past four years, says Raleigh (who would not disclose actual numbers), and interest in its technology appears to be rising fast.
Besides the emerging-market agreements announced so far this year, ItsOn is also working with US mobile operator Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Raleigh says further deals in Europe and North America are in the pipeline.
Attracting investors such as Andreesen Horowitz, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Verizon Ventures, the company has also raised more than $50 million in several rounds of funding, including $12.5 million in December.
"We're now launching new features," says Raleigh. "Our plan is to keep adding them at the same price point and overwhelm the capability of our competitors -- because we run a SaaS [software-as-a-service] model we can add features at ten times the pace of competitors."
Features ItsOn looks set to introduce for existing customers later this year include technology that will let operators offer unique digital content based on a customer's specific preferences. "This is going to be very similar to the mobile Internet where you can segment the user population and address a particular group appropriately," says Raleigh.
The ItsOn CEO is as dismissive of younger competitors as he is of his longer-established OSS and BSS rivals, saying none has the end-to-end capability of ItsOn.
"There is a hodge-podge doing pieces of what we do and some have been trying to gang together to offer a complete solution, but they haven't been in the final stages of truly transformational deals," he says.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading