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SPIT Week Spotlight: Aircel's Transformation

Ravinder Jain, the chief information officer at Indian mobile operator Aircel Ltd. , is nothing if not a Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) evangelist. (See Aircel's CIO Talks Innovation .)

Essentially, he says an overhaul of the operator's IT and service support systems has enabled Aircel to tap in to the essential value-added mobile data services sector and keep pace, in terms of service creation and delivery, with the requirements of the carrier's marketing team.

Jain says a decision was made in early 2008, when Aircel had fewer than 10 million customers, to create a "blueprint to take the business to the next level." That journey involved transforming Aircel from a regional, voice services company into a national voice and data service provider. (See Aircel Touts Subs.)

[The operator currently holds licenses to operate in all of India's 22 service areas, or "circles," and currently offers services in 17. (See A Guide to India's Telecom Market.)]

At that time, Aircel "didn't have the right IT legacy, and couldn't support value-added services or data. It just had a billing system and some homegrown CRM [customer relationship management] capabilities," he tells Light Reading.

So "we looked for a best of breed stack to transform our IT," says the CIO.

For Jain, the most important capabilities he needs as a CIO to run the company, increase efficiency, and promote innovation, are billing, CRM, mediation, interconnect management, service delivery platform (SDP), and order management. After that, he says, the remainder of the systems fall into place.

And although he says the intention was never to source multiple capabilities from one company, he ended up getting his CRM, SDP, order and inventory management, network discovery and reconciliation, and provisioning systems all from Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL). (See Aircel Uses Oracle.)

He says the company's Services Gatekeeper SDP platform is "the most critical."

Oracle's not Jain's only supplier, though. He also obtains SPIT systems from the likes of Comverse Inc. (Nasdaq: CNSI) (for billing), Telcordia Technologies Inc. (real-time charging), Business Objects SA (Nasdaq:BOBJ), Intec Telecom Systems plc (London: ITL), and Telarix Inc.

The result is that Aircel, which now has more than 30 million customers, is now able to offer services such as the Pocket Internet (Web services for pay-as-you-go customers) and "Dialer Tunes Eat-All-You-Can," which allows customers to change their mobile ringtones as many times as they want within a certain timeframe. (See Report: Mobile Internet Yet to Take Off in India.)

And as Aircel, which is majority owned by Malaysia's Maxis Communications Bhd. , continues to grow its customer base -- it added another 2 million customers during the first month of this year to take its subscriber base to just over 33 million at the end of January -- the operator is now getting into the hot app store market, where it is working closely with IT services giant Infosys Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: INFY). (See Aircel Plans Mobile App Store, Tower Sale and SPIT Spotlight: India's Infosys Eyes 3G Opportunity.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading


Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Three OSS Imperatives: Customer, Cost & Cloud, a Light Reading Virtual Event for service providers that need to understand how to adapt and transform their operational support systems to put customers first, drive out cost, and support new cloud-based services. To take place on Tuesday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, access is free. For more information, or to register, click here.


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