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Helping Sales Accelerate Enterprise Small Cell Deployments
June 26, 2014

In our last post around operations Operationalize Small Cell Systems for Quicker Adoption by Enterprise Customers” we discussed transforming business processes to industrialize small cell deployments and applying the right people at the right times in the overall process.

In order to accelerate small cell deployments, we need to consider the lifecycle of the stakeholders:

  • Pre-Sales:  customer facing activity that culminates in a decision to improve indoor coverage/capacity for an enterprise/venue.
  • Customer Satisfaction: internal business qualification of small cells that generate customer facing proposals and cost estimates.
  • Deployment: technical and business activity to build the indoor system.
  • Supply Chain: industrialized processes embodied in the mobile operator’s Supply Chain environment that automate much of the routine lifecycle tasks so operations staff can focus on managing exceptions.

One of the many industry analysts that we interacted with recently commented that “operators are huge process machines that happen to have a mobile network”. His belief that transformation in business processes is needed, is reflected in our actions to help transform business operations with our “EASY-30” program and the E-RAN Estimation App.

The Pre-Sales Cycle

Pre-Sales activities are key to mutual satisfaction of the sales personnel and the enterprise accounts that they are assigned to. To achieve a high level of satisfaction from a sales organization, speed, accuracy and process transparency in support of their accounts is paramount. The sales team plays a dual role where they represent, externally, the mobile operator TO the customer, and internally, represent the customer TO the mobile operator. In both roles, accurate and timely information is needed to maximize success.

Present processes are designed for a high cost/low volume project workload. The diagram below will be used to describe the process flow, issues that arise from it, and how it blocks enterprise small cells from achieving their full potential.

The Process

  • Enterprise IT customer complains about poor coverage in a structure.
  • Sales rep returns to office and opens a ticket to that market’s RF engineering to begin investigation process.
  • RF engineering researches problem and, if design is needed, will return proposals to sales (minimum 2 months). This is dependent on backlog for that market.
  • Sales management has to evaluate revenue from account, decide on capital funding model, and propose it to the enterprise customer.
  • If the project is accepted and approved, whoever is the funding source will have to do capital budgeting, and possibly, wait for next Fiscal Year to begin before it’s available.

Issues that prevent easy adoption of small cells in the enterprise

  • Not fast enough for the Enterprise stakeholders who are trying to relieve the pain of their internal customers.
  • Not fast enough for the sales force as most reps want action NOW.
  • Design resources can be engaged before there is a project approved.
  • If the design cycle is charged to the Sales organization, there may be decisions made to not go forward with researching resolution, by sales leadership, as the revenue may not justify it.
  • For indoor small cells that are low cost and fast to install and commission, the design cycle is too cumbersome.

Future processes are designed for low cost/high volume project workload. The diagram below will be used to describe the proposed process flow, and how it caters to the agility of small cells.

The EASY 30 Process

  • Enterprise IT customer complains about poor coverage in a structure.
  • Sales rep immediately says “We can help”, pulls out their Smartphone and asks customer for three inputs:
     - Number of floors to be improved.
     - Square footage per floor.
     - Total number of mobile device owners.
    Sales Rep calculates number of small cell radios required, emails the estimate to their Customer Satisfaction team and cc’s the customer.
  • Customer Satisfaction team arrives at a not-to-exceed system cost and evaluates subscriber penetration/revenue to determine financial allocation of system cost. This proposal is returned to the sales rep within 24 hours.
  • Sales rep delivers the proposal and system installation collateral to the customer. Further follow-up meetings may be necessary by sales rep and Pre-Sales technical consultants to educate the customer and IT decision makers on system installation and operations.
  • Customer makes the go/no-go decision on proceeding forward.
     - If it’s a no-go, stop here.
     - If it’s a go, proceed to next step.
  • Project is opened for systems design and deployment.

Issues Resolved

  • EASY 30 is fast enough for the Enterprise stakeholders that if they need to make a capital contribution to the project, it’s easier because the complaints are still very fresh.
  • Fast for the sales force as they get the action fast, and the E-RAN Estimator App allows direct participation in the problem solving process.
  • Design resources are engaged after there is a project approved. Keep in mind that the above scenario is for 90% of the sites, and that there will always be outliers that require more work and attention due to a number of factors.
  • The design cycle is bundled into the project costs removed from Cost of Sales.

For indoor small cells that are low cost and fast to install and commission, this Pre-Sales process is aligned with them.

Establish operator brand preference. This is the key success factor to establish a fresh small cells sales process as it creates a sales-foundation that is tangible and can be talked about to the enterprise IT customer. Branding and stratifying small cells offerings enables customer self service for product selection, and easy to understand positioning for the operator’s sales force.

Small Cell Customer Segmentation:

  • Residential: Standalone Femtocell
  • SMB: Enterprise Femtocell
  • Medium-Large Enterprise: SpiderCloud E-RAN

For mobile operators who want to move small cells from the RF toolbox to a product that Sales can lead with to enterprise IT customers, Branding, Sales Collateral, and an easy to comprehend Business framework must be available.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss “Customer Satisfaction” business operations and process flows that can be used to qualify business case and accelerate small cell systems for large enterprise customers.

- Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider

Our Very Own “Solsbury Hill”?
June 06, 2014

“Climbing up on Solsbury Hill, I could see the city light, Wind was blowing, time stood still. Eagle flew out of the night.”

Last weekend I enjoyed watching the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of some great rock bands like Kiss, E-Street Band and one of my all-time favorites, Peter Gabriel. Interestingly enough, our (soon-to-be) 12 year-old son and daughter were mesmerized by the old folks on stage and the cool music. My son loves Kiss, and both of them have heard me work out to Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” more than a few times.

Besides the spiritual meaning of the song, climbing any hill is an accomplishment for a person, a team or a company. This week, we have done exactly that. We climbed a major hill together, our very own “Solsbury Hill” you may say. On June 4, we announced findings from our LTE trials using our award-winning SCRN-310 dual-band 3G/LTE Radio Node. One year ago, on the same day (June 4, 2013), we announced our 3G KPI. The findings of the new LTE trials show performance reliability results consistent with similar 3G small cell test results released 12 months ago.

  • Average Call Setup Success Rate of 99.5%
  • Call Drop Rate 0.4%
  • Intra-E-RAN Hand-over Success Rate 99.9%

With our dual-band Radio Node, operators enable better access capacity for its enterprise subscribers, and therefore create an overall better user experience in the small cell network. Since each Radio Node has its own dedicated capacity for fast user access, the E-RAN system with dual-band Radio Nodes will need fewer Radio Nodes to connect more devices more often, as say compared to a shared antenna system.

We have already started to ship commercial orders of the multi-band 310 Radio Node to select customers. And, later this summer we’ll kick off trials of the dual-band LTE version.

Maybe we did not climb a hill, but a big mountain with this announcement?

Next week we’ll be at the Small Cell Summit & Small Cell Forum for four days of meetings in London. We’re looking forward to the June 11 award night. We’re honored by the industry and peer recognition bestowed upon SpiderCloud Wireless, HP, Intel and Vodafone. SpiderCloud is nominated for 3 awards:

  • “Small cell innovation leadership”: SpiderCloud & Intel. Intel’s Edge Cloud Processing with SpiderCloud’s E-RAN
  • “Small cell access point design and technology innovation”: SpiderCloud Wireless Enterprise Dual-Band 3G/LTE Radio Node
  • “Small cell network element design and technology innovation”: Vodafone, HP and SpiderCloud – Enabling Context Aware Applications for People and Internet of Things

Earlier this year, SpiderCloud and Vodafone UK won the “2014 Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award” for “Wireless Network Infrastructure Innovation” for Vodafone’s Sure Signal Premium, a reliable indoor mobile coverage and capacity service using SpiderCloud Wireless’ scalable small cell system connected to NEC’s security gateways in Vodafone’s network.

After London, SpiderCloud is off to Singapore for CommunicAsia and to Chicago for LightReading’s The Big Telecom Event to speak about Enterprise Small Cells.

In Chicago, SpiderCloud is nominated for 2 awards in LightReading 10th annual “Leading Lights” Awards taking place on June 17.

  • “Private Company of the Year” Awarded to the privately held firm that stands out from it competitors, innovates constantly, makes investors proud, and makes employees happy" SpiderCloud Wireless is one of eight companies nominated.
  • “Best New Product for Mobile” Awarded to the company that has developed a potentially market-leading product that, through engineering and technical excellence, enables the deployment of profitable next-generation mobile services. SpiderCloud’s award-winning dual-band Radio Node (SCRN-310) is one of eight products nominated.

After Chicago, we’re off to Amsterdam on June 23-24 for Informa’s LTE World Summit where we are also nominated for Telecoms.com’s “Most Innovative LTE Application/Service” award for our E-RAN Estimator Application.

This summer, find your own hill or mountain to climb. And, if you need a highly motivating song to help you, fire up Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.” 

A big thank you to our investors: Charles River Ventures, Matrix Partners, Opus Capital and Shasta Ventures.  Have a safe and sound summer.

- Ronny Haraldsvik
SVP/CMO

Twitter: haraldsvik
spidercloud_inc

Operationalize Small Cell Systems for Quicker Adoption by Enterprise Customers
April 29, 2014

SpiderCloud recently released an E-RAN Estimator smartphone app that enables operator sales teams to swiftly identify enterprise customer requirements for in-building small cell systems, to improve the service relationship between the operator and its enterprise customers

The E-RAN Estimator is part of the EASY-30 implementation program. The app actually helps start the operationalizing of small cell systems for enterprise deployments -- removing weeks of cumbersome technical tasks, while making it a competitive sales differentiator.

We must operationalize small cell systems to help speed up adoption:

  • Small cells as a product: branded and available online
  • Simple engagement process: where costs, technology, initial system sizing and ordering process are clear to both sales and customers
  • Easy to order: integrated fulfillment, Supply Chain, operations and billing

To set the context for the acceleration discussion and why Supply Chain integration is key, it is important to keep in mind that enterprise small cell system acquisition and installation price points are lower than traditional indoor systems. In addition, the Total Addressable Market (TAM) of buildings that can be improved is much larger as well. More buildings are now addressable for improvement.

Thousands of mobile operator sales people want to address this pent up demand for better coverage and capacity. Thus, an industrialized process for pre-sales, ordering, deployment, lifecycle management and billing is necessary to handle operational scale and sometimes national and geographic differences. What is needed is a business and operational process to address a truncated small cell systems time approach of days and weeks vis-à-vis 9-to-12 month or longer approach to distributed antenna systems.

Lets look at the present situation for context.

  • Building improvements, other than residential, are generally in the domain of RF engineering experts. Medium-large enterprise facilities generally don’t have off the shelf branded solutions and RF specialists from the mobile operator must be dispatched to survey the structure(s) and develop a solution to resolving the customer complaints. This can take up to six months to fully develop, and may involve taking interim steps in the macro-network (e.g. change antenna tilt) and evaluating success before an in-building solution design cycle gets the OK to proceed. The people that perform this work are both expensive and scarce and, if the design is charged back to the sales organization, may result in sales teams not escalating complaints for resolution of smaller enterprises.
  • In present model, sales teams have minimal involvement with the process of improving a building. Having spent time in pre-sales activity, there is nothing harder than having an ill-defined product, and something where the costs are so high the customer seeks alternatives. In the present approach, sales may have limited involvement in developing or ratifying a solution for a customer. Resolutions to the issues are developed and returned to sales for presentation to the customer. In many cases, if the customer has to contribute capital, it can be 12-18 months before the customer can budget it. This assumes it would be approved, as some large enterprises don’t believe they own fixing licensed spectrum problems in their own structures. This is partially due to the acquisition and installation costs of the present generation of systems. Anecdotally, we have learned that 95% of the building improvement requests where the operator has to pay the full system cost are turned down. In summary, sales opens a ticket for research into improving services, and may have to disappoint the customer six months in the future.
  • Supply Chain integration does not exist. When we depart the realm of hand crafted indoor systems and need to industrialize the processes for the rapid installation timeframe of an E-RAN system, it must involve the mobile operator’s Supply Chain environment (potentially an Amdocs, Oracle or SAP environment). If you acquire a great small cells technology that satisfies your customers, brand it, and enable your sales force to sell it, without Supply Chain integration you’ll create an implementation backlog. In our experience, there are a lot of parallel activity triggers that can be done by a system, and free up back office resources to manage the overall service delivery without having to do everything manually. As mobile operators move to large-scale enterprise deployments, driving the process from a system keeps labor costs in check while keeping scheduling commitments to both sales and the mobile enterprise customers.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss examples of business operations and process flows that can be used to operationalize and speed up the deployment of small cell systems for large enterprise customers.

- Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider

Enterprise Small Cell Deployment Insights
March 13, 2014

The Do’s & Don’ts of the Enterprise Small Cells Lifecycle

In our work with mobile operators to accelerate small cell systems inside medium to large enterprises, we have learned much over the last five years to create win-win formulas for enterprise IT and our mobile operator customers. It is hard-earned knowledge that only a seasoned executive team could have anticipated and managed by an experienced field team.

So, in the spirit of sharing our knowledge, here are “5 Small Cell System Do’s and Don’ts of Enterprise.”

Do’s

Establish operator brand preference. This is the number one Do as it creates a sales foundation that is tangible and can be talked about to the enterprise IT customer. Branding and stratifying small cells offerings enables customer self service for product selection and easy to understand positioning for the operator’s sales force.

Small Cell Customer Segmentation:

  • Residential: Standalone Femtocell
  • SMB: Enterprise Femtocell
  • Medium-Large Enterprise: SpiderCloud E-RAN

A Normal Operator-Enterprise Conversation:
Customer: “I have very poor indoor coverage or service experience. Can you help?”
Sales Rep: “Let me show you our available offerings.”

Or, for a Sales Rep with no product offering: “Let me file a report and our engineers will look into it…”

Which response do you think creates brand preference from the enterprise IT director?

Empower the pre-sales force. There’s an APP for that” (article quote). The EASY-30 smartphone application enables Sales teams to swiftly identify customer requirements for in-building small cell systems and starts the business approval process at the first point of contact, in response to a customer concern with in-building coverage and capacity.

Imagine the surprise and brand preference that an agile and responsive mobile operator can create when a sales rep is empowered to start the review/approval process immediately.

Leverage existing Ethernet infrastructure. There is nothing more empowering than an enterprise team participating in solving the problems for their internal business customers. A cornerstone of EASY-30 deployment is leveraging the installed enterprise infrastructure (private VLAN) and the facility knowledge of the employees. A winning relationship for something as fundamental as making mobility work everywhere enables other services conversations to be openly received in the future.

Supply chain integration. Small cell systems that can scale, have lower price points and less deployment complexities than traditional in-building DAS, and can be deployed in days vs. months. This expands the total addressable market of enterprise customers that can be cost-justified for coverage and capacity investments. With the EASY-30 lifecycle and simplified operational procedures, mobile operators can use their supply chain to scale up and automate the fulfillment of the inbound requests to address and deploy systems for thousands of enterprise customers per year vs. hundreds.

Enable an eco system of implementation partners. We are on the early side of the small cell lifecycle. Any company who can install an enterprise Wi-Fi system should be able to install a scalable small cell system for medium to large enterprise customers.  The potential “winners” are the incumbent INDOOR cellular contractors that are adding small cells to the installation portfolio. The operator relationship with enterprise IT is directly correlated to the strength of the implementation partner. 

Don’ts

Over-Engineering. When you have a Self-Organizing/Self-Optimizing “SON” system like the E-RAN implements, trust it to do the “heavy lifting.” The EASY-30 approach and SON enable the system to configure itself at commissioning time. Adding engineering and planning resources early in the mobile operator learning curve is OK to help RAN engineers build a comfort level, but after trust is built, these additional resources can both slow the process and damage the business case. Unlike DAS, a scalable small cell system with SON does not require a heavy-handed RF engineering approach.

Complicated pricing models. There are two ways mobile operators are currently offering an E-RAN system:

  • Amount of devices and cash flow from the account justify the operator to directly fund the coverage and capacity improvement.
  • Enterprise IT provides the funding for the coverage and capacity improvement.

In cases where enterprise IT provides funding, keep the charging structure simple and straightforward. The benefit to the mobile operator is the ability to create a repeatable and easy-to-understand invoicing process on the billing platform.

Outside of monthly billing, cost recovery can be a monthly lump sum, or per-device line charge over a term.

A simplified pricing structure increases enterprise IT satisfaction with the mobile operator. 

Lose sight of longer-term services opportunities. There are a host of possible managed mobile services opportunities available to mobile operators who look beyond basic coverage and capacity. Exact Ventures, in their market study, showed a path to profitable managed services using a small cell system capable of enabling services. Such services examples were also demonstrated by Vodafone, Intel and IBM at Mobile World Congress 2014.

As the blurring of lines between enterprise and mobile operator technologies increase, there are a number of template services that are well suited for mobile operators to provide, that leverages the point of presence inside the enterprise by establishing trust between the operator and the enterprise with improved coverage and capacity.  In-building mobility services are a golden opportunity to strengthen brand preference for mobile operators and the go-to-market partners. See more in this market study.

Underestimate enterprise customers. Enterprise IT people can be your smartest and, yet, your most difficult customers. There are many cost and business pressures in IT that can translate into a win-win for both parties. To enable the move from 80% Capex to 80% Opex in the IT services arena requires a long-term migration in both technology and thinking. Find your smart mobility architects in medium-large enterprises and absorb their vision. In turn, share your vision with them. Goals: create trust in direction and joint collaborative skills.  Move from Dating (SIM’s and Devices) to Marriage (deep services and shared IT relationships).

Hold back channels. Mobile operators cannot fulfill the myriad amount of needs coming from the enterprise IT base. Enabling a set of trusted channel partners to build and implement E-RAN for these buyers is very important. A CTO at a mobile operator was pondering with us the concept of “Bring Your Own Network” where the enterprise buys E-RAN and the operator supplies the transmission link to the mobile core. There are many logistics and operational considerations around shape of ownership model, but even this type of conversation illustrates that we are in the midst of major changes in mindset.  Create, use, and evolve your channels to meet the unmet needs of enterprise IT and enable service opportunities.

While these five Do’s and Don’ts only scratch the surface, the issues beyond small cell technologies are more important in the longer term. As an ex-mobile strategist in a multinational enterprise, I was driving for the emergence of platforms and tools that made the internal cost model better and satisfied our business customers. I assure you, that there are thousands of enterprise mobility people awaiting your call.

- Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @ http://SpiderCloud.com/EInsider

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