August 3, 2015
Heading the product management and marketing in Redknee Inc., Chris Newton-Smith spoke with Telecom Review about the company's new acquisitions and the transformational changes it created in Redknee.
When did you join Redknee? Can you give us an idea about your role and responsibilities?
I head the product management and marketing and responsible for developing Redknee's market strategy. I originally joined Redknee back in 2001, in Munich, Germany which were our regional headquarters and then moved to the UK.
Regarding the acquisition expansion that started two years ago, since you acquired Nokia and now Orga, have you been able to absorb this acquisition and create a synergy between both portfolios?
Starting with NSN's history, I was in Redknee when they bought NSN billing and was very much involved in the NSN BSS unit. It took us two years to complete the full integration of the NSN BSS into Redknee. Redknee's acquisition was smaller than NSN BSS so we had to integrate a bigger company into our company. Therefore, we integrated across the people, acquiring all of the customers and integrating the full product lines. It took 20 months to complete that after the acquisition closed.
That actually gave us confidence to go ahead with the Orga acquisition, since we finished the integration of NSN BSS and then it was time to move ahead to some additional projects.
Prior to the Orga acquisition, there were about 14 hundred people around the world and we were working with some of the largest operators like Vodafone and other companies, but with the NSN BSS acquisition, Redknee went through a transformational change; it became a company that gains 260 million dollars a year of revenue.
In terms of the products, we actually fully integrated the product set from NSN into the end-to-end offering for Redknee. We took the charger once unified, which was the core charging engine of NSN and we made that the core of the Redknee offering and we also acquired the policy product from NSN, which became Redknee's policy offering.
What recent services have you provided for customers and has there been a significant demand for them?
It was a good opportunity to bring together the product portfolio and give us a strong real-time monetization offering. We even invested on research and development over those two years to make that happen. We shipped the first combined release which is called Redknee Unified Version Tent that was shipped in last September, and then in April 2015 we shipped the second release of the combined product to market. The customer feedback has been very good; we have probably upgraded 80 to 90 percent of the complete customer base to the latest release, giving us a very positive feedback.
Regarding Orga acquisition, can you give us a summary about the deal?
There are some unusual key points about the acquisition; some of the creditors of Orga had put the company into insolvency. For this reason, we worked not just with the Orga management team, but also with the German insolvency administrator who is responsible. It was a competitive process and there were numerous companies that were bidding to close the acquisition, therefore it was a success to us that we were selected to be the future owner when the acquisition closes.
Since you have similar products between both companies doesn't that cause a challenge of merging both companies' solutions?
My ambition is to find an investment where we can merge the product tents together; we managed to do that successfully when we acquired NSN BSS. Orga however, have invested in some specific areas which will help our product offering. They have invested in product catalogue in which our customers around the world are looking forward for Redknee to offer.
According to me, Orga has been one of the market leaders in addressing non-telco markets. They signed a large contract with BMW to support the monetization in order management for all of their connected drive products. Redknee has already started to work on the non-telco markets and Orga has been a market leader in that area, therefore when we combine our efforts we will become a stronger competitor for those kinds of non-telecom deals.
What are your plans for the future?
The most important thing for us is the customer and we will acquire a number of key tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 customers; we will work extremely hard to make sure that they're successful. We have already shown that with the NSN acquisition, we are willing to invest significantly in research and development to make sure that the products come together well. However, from a customer perspective we will deliver a solution that allows Orga customers to move forward with Redknee and hopefully we will come up with new interesting capabilities that we can take to Redknee customers as well.
After the acquisition, on which market will you be focusing?
One of the things that Orga has done is to invest in expanding in the South American and CIS market, so those were the two markets where we had some initial successes. Moreover, Orga has large teams of people on ground which we are looking to build on, adding those markets to the markets that we focus on. We are already quite present in North America, South East Asia, and Japan; these are markets that Redknee had already addressed clearly. We will have a larger team on the ground in South America who can immediately start as a combined team to win the new business.
Both companies were and still focused on an opportunity for real-time monetization and data monetization in the telecom's market. We will bring our efforts together outside the telecom market; Redknee had addressed the utility market and the transportation market and Orga had addressed the automotive market. Strategically, that will continue to be our focus along with some of the things that are happening in the industry with the growth of the internet of things market and mobilizing many new enterprise markets. We see great opportunities for billing and real-time monetization in those new non-telecom markets.
Moreover, we see additional acquisitions in the telecom's market, whether it's for customers or for products, therefore you will see us do additional acquisitions as well.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role especially with the acquisition of Orga?
From an executive perspective, the most important thing is the customer relationship; working with the customers that were acquiring from Orga to make sure that they understand who Redknee is, what is it that we can offer and making sure they understand our commitment to their business going forward.
Furthermore, our business is all about the employees who are going to join us from Orga, we will have over 500 new Redknee team members and it's my job along with the management team's job to make sure they feel they are a strong part of Redknee.
What is your marketing strategy?
We have gone through a major change in our company over the past couple of years, so one of the key parts of the strategy is to continue positioning our brand in tier 1 software supplier for the telecom and non-telecom market with a strong services component.
Yet, from a marketing perspective although we don't do a lot of big traditional advertising, still we focus a lot on customer events and social media. Compared to some of our competitors like Ericsson, Huawei etc., we seek to differentiate our marketing by using some of the new non-traditional channels to market to get the people's attention.
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Redknee monetizes today's digital world for communications service providers. Our market-leading portfolio of monetization and subscriber management solutions includes real-time billing, charging, policy and customer care modules and is available on premise, cloud-based, or as Software-as-a-Service. With a central focus on driving customer success, Redknee's products power growth and innovation for operators globally. Established in 1999, Redknee Solutions Inc. (TSX: RKN) can be found on the Toronto Stock Exchange. For more information about Redknee, please go to www.redknee.com
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