ItsOn Scorns OSS/BSS Rivals as It Snags STC

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.

Want to know more about cloud services? Check out our dedicated cloud services content channel here on Light Reading.

Fast-growing minnow
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, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

iainmorris 5/5/2016 | 6:25:21 AM
Re: Unreliable Information I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. They are a startup and, as you well know, still have a very limited market presence. We have not indicated otherwise anywhere in the story.

As to your point about Sprint, we have now heard back from an ItsOn representative, who says: "ItsOn continues to be a strategic supplier to Sprint for several innovative SaaS cloud services used for both the main Sprint brand and the Virgin brand. There is no currently contemplated end to the contract which has a multi-year renewable term. There are also ongoing discussions to expand the relationship and scope of ItsOn SaaS deployments."

You had also claimed the Telefónica and MTN deals were only for PoCs. Regarding the former, ItsOn says: "The Telefónica commercial deployment of ItsOn-enabled services has been launched in Mexico under the main brand of Movistar, and is available to 100% of their customers."

The MTN deal does appear to be at an earlier stage but the contract signed is for a commercial deployment, according to ItsOn. To quote their representative: "MTN and ItsOn publicly announced on January 21, 2016 the details of our contractual relationship and certain details of the commercial services that will be launched using the ItsOn SaaS cloud."

As regards your point about Vodafone wanting nothing to do with ItsOn, the company had this to say: "Vodafone is a current ItsOn investor and there are on going discussions at both the Vodafone Group and at country-specific operating company levels for commercial deployments of the ItsOn SaaS cloud."
piedpiper 5/5/2016 | 5:44:43 AM
Re: Unreliable Information Nice retort. Perhaps when you look for clarifications from ItsOn you should also ask them how many customers they have live, fully deployed, and servicing over 1m subscribers today. Perhaps the story will be a little different then. Oh and by the way, Sprint has definitely thrown them out.
iainmorris 5/4/2016 | 11:27:46 AM
Re: Unreliable Information Thanks for your interest in Light Reading. 

To respond to your various points, we must first emphasize that we are an independent company and do not accept payment for editorial content.

Second, the story is a news report, not an opinion piece, and in no way endorses ItsOn. Greg Raleigh, the company's CEO, has been very critical of competitors including Amdocs, Ericsson and Huawei, but that does not mean Light Reading necessarily believes any of those organizations have inferior offerings. As the piece notes, ItsOn is still a tiny company by comparison with any of those players.

As regards the facts, ItsOn has presented deals with Telefónica, MTN and STC as commercial arrangements -- even if these may be limited in scope -- and its press releases include statements from all three operators implying the same. To quote Hernan Ozon, the chief marketing officer at Telefónica Mexico: "Our customers want more control over their mobile plans and monthly bills, and the ability to purchase and manage services via their smartphones is extremely attractive to them. ItsOn is the leader in providing this type of digital experience that is so important when engaging with customers. We also chose ItsOn's solution because it allows us to quickly and flexibly design and deploy new services, offers and network access policies for millions of subscribers."

It is Light Reading's understanding that in 2014 Sprint stopped using ItsOn's Zact personalization service but subsequently signed up to the cloud-based software offering.

The details of fund-raising activities have been widely reported before now and the figure of 70% for revenue growth over the past four years was provided by the CEO during his conversation with Light Reading.

Nevertheless, we have approached ItsOn requesting that it confirm it is still working with Sprint and that its deals with Telefónica and MTN are commercial arrangements and not just proof of concepts. We have also asked for more information about Vodafone's involvement with ItsOn -- although we made no reference to this in the story.

Light Reading would also like to point out that Bloomberg went to press at around the same time with its own take on ItsOn's latest deal. The Bloomberg story includes many of the same details about ItsOn's arrangements with Sprint, Telefónica, MTN and STC and -- while it has less to say about itsOn's plans regarding systems integrators and service development -- also includes some analyst perspective from Recon Analytics' Roger Entner: "It looks like a well-presented, self-service platform that lowers the cost to serve a customer."

You can see the full Bloomberg story here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-04/silicon-valley-cloud-startup-itson-enlists-saudi-carrier-stc
piedpiper 5/4/2016 | 8:48:26 AM
Unreliable Information Never let the facts get in the way of a good story hey?. Either ItsOn is paying you to print this BS or you are just bad journalists.

Some facts - Sprint has thrown out ItsOn, MTN is a POC as is Telefonica - there is no guarantee they will move to production. Vodafone has stopped anything to do with ItsOn even though they have invested in the company.

All in all it's a disaster and they are having muppets like you print this garbage to make it sound credible.

You should get a grip on your facts.

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