Protect Your Profits – Fight Voice Fraud with Big Data Analytics

The Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) estimates global telecom fraud losses at $38.1 billion in 2015. Tackling fraud in a service provider business will lead directly to increased profitability. Carriers must take a proactive approach to fight against fraud and find ways to prevent and mitigate continually changing threats. View our recent webinar with Cataleya and find out how Orchid One offers a new level of network visibility capable of identifying fraudulent activity and increasing the ability to prevent fraud.

We don’t just shift the tin we lift customer expectations

By Jay Ludgrove, Account Manager at Netutils.

Jay Blog 2Views expressed in this post are original thoughts posted by Jay Ludgrove. These views are his own and in no way do they represent the views of the company

Ok, so we know we are not the only IT technology reseller out there. But let me tell you a little about why I think we are different. It’s actually all about when to shift boxes, and when to add real value by working closely with customers to ensure they get the most from our expertise and their technology investment.

When an IT reseller is simply focused on volume sales the likelihood is that the customers’ needs and requirements get left behind when the reseller moves onto the next ‘big volume’ order. This begs the question – can you, the customer, only get the best pricing by sacrificing the service?

I have been with the IT industry for the last 12 years and worked on both sides of the fence, both within technical teams and within sales environments and the one question that has plagued me is how does the customer get the best service at a great price?

This is obviously dependent on the customer’s choice of supplier; do they want a technically accredited company to help with consultancy / development / installation / configuration and future needs? Or would this be plain useless to them because they have an in house team who are already employed specifically for these duties?

As a sales account manager that has emerged from a customer service background, I have always wanted to be able to show my customers a value and experience that they can’t get anywhere else and continue to strive to provide the best service that my technical counterparts are able to deliver.

So what about those customers who are not interested in the services that their resellers can provide, they simply insist on the cheapest price? Is this down to years of being ‘sold to’, that has hardened them to any outside help assuming that all sales people are simply out to get the highest deal value possible without any focus on corresponding service levels? Or do they feel that they have gone through the lengthy recruitment process of employing skilled engineers themselves so they simply don’t see the necessity or value in this level of additional support? And what guarantees do they have that they will be sold the ‘right ‘solution and not just the most expensive?

I believe that this is where the reseller’s reputation comes in. In the past I have worked for IT companies that have quite simply told me ‘Whatever the customer needs we can do. Anything at all, just find out what they need.’ I have never felt comfortable within these types of organisations. Common sense told me, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I never had the confidence that they were going to be able to deliver on this and although they could be exceedingly cheap the post-sale service was generally left to the vendor who may have little or no knowledge of the initial requirement or challenge. From my personal experience these resellers are used for price comparison only and are seldom called upon to discuss or help deliver future projects or resolve existing problems.

On the other hand resellers that are focused on service over price are going to lose out on a number of deals when the client is only interested in the best price. For this reason I feel it is important to not only have a reputation as an expert in a few core areas but to continuously strive to deliver this message to customers. Ultimately these resellers will not make as many sales as their ‘tin shifting’ counter parts but the retention of business is higher year on year and the customer’s will generally come back for consultancy, development and for open discussions on how to move forward with a particular project or requirement. When you achieve this level of trust you can truly start to become an extension of the customer’s IT team, with their goals and needs coming first and front.

Working for the latter type of reseller requires some adjustment in approach as you will have to concentrate more on what the client needs and less on what you can sell them. This will mean that some sales are smaller than they ‘could’ be and it will mean that you will lose out ‘’on price alone’’. Ultimately building mutual respect can lead to a far superior service and experience for the customer. I sleep better at night, knowing that my customers got the best technology solution that their money can buy that meets their challenges and needs. After 10 years, I finally got to work for a company that promotes relationship building and value with a great ethos that means it’s never really just about the price alone.

So I guess the question you need to ask yourself is for your next technology purchase are you looking for a Tin Shifter or an Expectation Lifter? I know where Netutils fit.

ISPs, are you ready for your next customer?

By Oliver Reynolds, Service Provider Account Manager, Netutils.

Views expressed in this post are original thoughts posted by Oliver Reynolds, Service Provider Account Manager, Netutils. These views are his own and in no way do they represent the views of the company.

It may seem like a very strange question, but have you ever asked yourself if your business is really ready for the next big win? Now, this isn’t a question to ask in order to provoke a long winded response about the work you’ve done to understand your customer’s requirements, but simply: “do YOU believe your current infrastructure can handle the additional load that next customer your sales guys are so eagerly fighting for will bring?”

If your sales team bring in that big business win they’ve been shouting about and if your current infrastructure is ready then maybe the rest of this blog isn’t for you. On the other hand, the initial question may have made you think and maybe even highlighted some concerns about your ability to facilitate their requirements, either way, I challenge you to read on and question if you are truly ready.

With the industry ever-evolving , ISP’s are constantly under pressure to provide bandwidth against new services that, at point of conception, are not necessarily developed to be efficient in their bandwidth use, but to enable new value add services to increase revenue. Video and data are key examples. Both are services that have required specific compression codec development to decrease their bandwidth and improve quality of service.

So, has this started to make you think if you’re ready yet?

What if that new customer you bring on-board is the next Google or Facebook wannabe? Will they be looking to move forward with niche and unique services that haven’t had the efficiencies considered? Will your network be able to support the increased strain this new customer is going to bring? Again, your answer may well be yes as this was a consideration when purchasing your latest datacenter switches, routers etc. Brilliant! But what if it’s still not enough? How easy is it for you to increase that capacity and how much is it going to cost you? Will it still be stable running at 80% utilisation? Will that imply a reduction in the quality of service the rest of your customers have experienced for so long? You can answer these questions by engaging an experienced technology partner to review your existing infrastructure and provide competitive analysis on how you can move forward.

The question of whether you are ready for that next customer simply asks how much that customer is going to cost you at the point of overloading your network. Just considering that fact and reviewing the potential future risks to your network expansion with the right partner, will ensure that you align yourself to a solution that enables easy scaling when your business requires it, without pain to either your pocket or your customer’s quality of service.

I’m going to close with a statement by Colt’s Nicolas Fischbach, taken from a case study illustrating a deployment of Juniper MX Routers:

The future of networking is more simplification, more automation, and more elasticity,” says Fischbach.

We need architectures and technology components that enable us to achieve that. We can create a new virtual machine for a customer in minutes, so why should it take weeks to deliver a new service over an existing infrastructure? The network has to evolve to be very elastic, highly integrated, and fully automated to provide the flexible services that our customers demand today.

Juniper is one of our key partners enabling us to realize our vision, says Fischbach.

The MX series router effectively supports our IP routing and switching requirements as well as future carrier Ethernet demands. Juniper collaborated closely with us to develop our Virtual CPE capabilities, which will take us to the next step of our high- performance, cost-effective, cloud-based vCPE solution.

Ensure you are planning not just for your business’ future, but also for that of your customers, both in resourcing and in the right technology partner. Otherwise that next deal may be the one to cause more pain than happiness!

What sets us apart?

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Ok, we know it’s not the done thing to talk about yourself and bang on about how much better we are than the competition but with so many different resellers out there how do you differentiate one from the other? We made a short video with our Sales & Marketing Director David Silsby to help you find out a little more about whats sets us apart. Thanks for watching.

M2M Made Simple

In this video blog our technical team discuss M2M or Machine to Machine, essentially a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provided by your mobile carrier on the mobile network.

[vimeo vimeo.com/48003020]

A deeper dive into the benefits of Exinda’s UPM to the Enterprise

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In this video blog we are joined by an expert from our service provider team who illustrates how Exinda can enable an even more agile network for the enterprise.

Developing a BYOD Strategy – where do you start?

By Toby Makepeace, Technical Director, Netutils

This post contains original thoughts posted by Toby Makepeace, Technical Director, Network (Utilities) Systems Ltd. These views are his own.

As the boundaries between personal and professional devices continue to blur as do the risks to your sensitive corporate data. This places significant and increasing pressure on the IT department to devise & implement a robust BYOD strategy.

As Juniper’s trusted mobility index reports ‘…Already today, nearly one-third (30 percent) of all IT leaders report their company has experienced a security threat as a result of personal mobile devices accessing company data.

It is likely that your staff already access your company data via their personal devices. So you probably already need a BYOD strategy but the big question is where do you start?

First, consider your reasons for implementing a policy in the first place. In our experience the most common initial reason for considering a BYOD strategy is because the IT department is experiencing pressure from the users themselves. Today’s digital society means that more & more people have smart devices as personal devices, and want to use them!

According to the Juniper Networks’ survey, ‘ mobile users worldwide own an average of three Internet-connected devices from smartphones and tablets to eReaders and portable video game systems. Nearly one in five people (18 percent) own five or more devices. And today, people depend on these devices for everything from financial transactions and business operations to personal connections.

Based on those findings we know that initial user demand is for access to the internet, so users can access media rich content, normally on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and to access online banking services. However, users probably justify their requirement for internet access around a desire to access their business applications and email.

What we have experienced however, is that once users start using their personal devices for business use their productivity increases. Employees start responding to emails at lunch, reading emails at home, tweeting at the weekend, that kind of thing. So it’s worth considering the cost benefits here – after all users pay and maintain their own devices – so perhaps you should consider how your BYOD strategy can support this.

So why allow access to business applications on personal devices when you probably already supply users with a business device like a blackberry or laptop?

This question is best answered with another .How many users do you know who leave their personal mobile at home when they come to work? None, that I know off. People are glued to their mobile devices and feel lost without them. And following on from that – how many people take their business devices down the pub at the weekend? Or out shopping with the family?  Not that many would be my guess!

So its clear there are company and cost benefits to be had, but what are your reasons for considering BYOD? Is it just user pressure or does your company actually see the benefits of the BYOD trend and want to embrace it?

If you do not fully see the need to embrace the trend, and are bowing to user pressure to bring personal mobile devices to work then I suggest you provide a simple guest access network, where the staff can self-provision access for themselves or the guests visiting your company.

Remember though there is still a requirement to audit access to the internet however you provide it, whether it is for guests, contractors or staff. To do this a flexible wireless system with a multi SSID VLAN separation is recommended with a system that allows you to put together a flex authentication process that can separate a trusted device from an un-trusted device on your network (Network Access Control). Do not fall into the trap of just putting up a quick fix of an “Open Guest” network, you (as the corporate IT department) have responsibilities to provide an audit of who is using your network to access the internet. (Read our follow up article about providing guest access, coming soon)

If you do intend to fully embrace a BYOD strategy, what do you need to do.?

Well much the same as providing a guest network, you need a flexible wireless system with a multi SSID VLAN separation, a system that allows you to put together a flex authentication process that can separate a trusted device from an un-trusted device on your network (Network Access Control). So not a lot of difference on the basic requirement really, however what is different is the policy you are going to put in place to support it.

The questions you need to ask yourself and the business are:

  1. What business applications and resources are you going to allow your users to access?
  2. What level of checks are you going to put in place to support access?
  3. How are you going to separate access?

In addition, my suggestion is that your BYOD strategy needs to flow directly from a company-wide business policy which considers these 3 questions.

In summary and to answer our initial question on where to start – consider why you need a policy in the 1stplace –a) to simply provide guest internet access? or b) to fully embrace the BYOD trend and realise the cost and company benefits?

Additional blog topics:

Perfecting guest access – If your name’s not down you’re not getting in!