Topics of Interest Archives: Telecom Expense Management

Do Not Let Tech Disruption Kill Your TEM Investments!

tr1From my decades-long perch as an observer of leading edge technology (no kidding – I used to write a column called The Observatory for Internet World back in the day – hmm, in fact I may revive it) I have witnessed many technology-driven business transformations. Some of those transformations were driven by “killer apps” of course, and some emerged over a fairly lengthy period of time.

Over time? Yes – think for example of the “Year of the LAN” mantra many of us witnessed from 1990 – 1992. I believed in it so much I left Microsoft to become part of the startup team for a tech journal dubbed Network Computing (NWC as we fondly knew it) in 1990 to capture the moment. The truth of the matter, however, is that we never had a year of the LAN. Rather it sneaked up on us and one day in 1993 we all woke up to discover that sure enough, we were all LAN-enabled – it had become the “age” of networking. Interestingly, NWC’s own journey echoed that path – we floundered financially (well, we broke even anyway) from 1990-1992 but then became highly charged and immensely relevant once LANs and networking technology became pervasive and business-transforming.

I can say the same for mobile technology. I became a mobile research pioneer (along with a small handful of other brave souls) back in 2002-2003, anticipating a revolution driven by enterprise mobility. Eleven years later, in 2013-2014, enterprises finally woke up to the strategic uses of mobility and are now finally driving the age of mobility.

That bit of personal history now brings me to another technology – Telecom Expense Management (TEM) – that is finally undergoing a unique renewal, at least among some of the more savvy industry players. Now let me be quite honest…some of us – ok, I – have long thought of TEM as the green eye shades end of technology. By this I mean a sleepy cohort of accountant-types reviewing endless wireline, landline and fax expenses, telecom bills, and analysis driven in large part by offloading most of the number-crunching and report generation to TEM vendors.

A somewhat more modern era of TEM began to emerge in parallel with the emergence of the Internet and Web yet the core functionality of “green eye shades TEM” remained essentially unchanged. Yet another age of TEM began to emerge in parallel with the maturing of smartphones, tablets and cellular-equipped laptops but the core functionality of TEM remained entirely unchanged. For me it has long been the case that just as history does green eye shades TEM simply likes to repeat itself. It was safe and reliable to stay the course.

It didn’t help the pace of TEM change that, as I noted earlier, enterprise mobility took over a decade to become relevant at a large enterprise scale. Sure, we had lots of technology change but the changes were not disruptive to businesses but merely evolutionary. Mobile-driven disruption has tended to occur on the consumer side – it did after all give us BYOD. Business technology however generally moved forward incrementally rather than disruptively.

Dig a little deeper into the TEM space and it is utterly clear that TEM has undergone a very long term evolution of incremental improvements since the 1990s but it has never needed to deliver business services that required it to be disruptive in any real sense. Traditional TEM capabilities – green eye shades TEM – have continued to serve businesses well.

 

But…The TEM Times are A’Changin’ at a Supercharged Pace

Ah, but the safe harbor of incremental TEM technology improvements suddenly disappeared over 2013 and 2014. Actually and more accurately it became disrupted.

Enterprises found their way to becoming fully mobile-aware, cloud-driven infrastructure and services adoption (ITaaS and MaaS) grew at lightning speed, big data became really big, and the Internet of Things (IoT) became not only real but profoundly real. Under the covers processors and memory became many orders of magnitude faster and richer in capabilities, and newer technologies such as software defined networks (SDN, SD-WAN), in-memory databases, business intelligence/analytics and machine learning all became enterprise-ready – and deployed.

“Real time” literally became real time…in the moment, of the moment, at the moment. Even simple decision making became disruptive – and a strategic advantage.

These technologies, among others I haven’t noted, suddenly became highly disruptive in nature and began driving enterprises to rapidly adopt the technologies and adapt to the fast-paced technology changes taking place. Enterprises that are seeking to embrace today’s new technologies – and in particular those companies that recognize that today’s technology disruption cycle makes it vital for them to do so – are now declaring “green eye shades TEM” as inadequate for meeting the needs of today’s transformative business ecosystems.

The TEM market in turn suddenly found itself in need of stepping up and greatly broadening its own capabilities, especially in the wake of realizing that there is now  a wealth of new opportunities to extend its services beyond core green eye shades TEM to managed mobility and IT Expense Management (ITEM). The industry’s key association, TEMIA, is itself in the process of defining ITEM and the significant shift it entails for businesses.

History is actually beginning to change for TEM instead of repeating itself. Blue Hill Research has noted these emerging opportunities for TEM vendors – which now includes the need to seamlessly monitor and manage recurring telecom, IT and mobility expenses, including the emergence of IoT expense management.

Our research team has taken a strong stab at looking underneath the covers of what it takes to transform from TEM to ITEM – check out “Applying TEM Best Practices to Optimize Your Cloud Investments” for the inside look on this.It provides a great blueprint to assemble the right enterprise strategy to ensure both your TEM and cloud platforms are fine-tuned for both your present and future needs.

We’ve also been investigating which TEM vendors are best positioned to take advantage of this wave of technology disruption and emerging opportunities for their own business growth. We’ll deliver a research report in the near-future on it.

I’ll wrap this up by also elaborating slightly on the two acronyms I casually dropped earlier – ItaaS and MaaS. “IT as a Service” is a useful term to define the general underlying platforms TEM vendors are now launching to meet the challenges of transforming from TEM to ITEM vendors. In great part this is important as well because a key enterprise consideration for TEM vensor-driven ITaaS is to deploy it to optimize enterprise investments in cloud computing. I recently delivered a webinar on this topic for Calero’s Calero World 2017– check it “Utilizing TEM Best Practices to Optimize Your Cloud Investments (http://connect.calero.com/utilizing-tem-best-practices-optimize-investment).”

“Mobility as a Service” is the emerging means of describing the end to end Managed Mobility Services (MMS) solutions vendors such as Stratix are now deploying. More on this in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!

Posted in Analytics, Blog, Internet of Things, IT Infrastructure, Mobility, Telecom Expense Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

VMware Pans for AirWatch Gold

VMware panning for AirWatch goldToday, AirWatch signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by VMware, Inc., the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, for $1.54 billion dollars. This is fantastic news for key venture investors Accel Partners and Insight Venture Partners as everyone following knows that it was only last February that AirWatch received $200 million in Series A funding. I think I would enjoy attending their VC party scheduled for TBD.

So, how does this play out for everyone else?

This Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) shakeup is a clear shot over the bow by VMware to other titans with a view of the future for global consumers and business users alike, such as Amazon, Google, HP, IBM, and Intel. All of these players are chasing a vision of next generation computing and “AnyDevice,” AKA a device that powers up and ‘connects’ to its world in context to itself.  In other words: a device that understands what it sees, what/who will allow a path forward to other like devices, interconnectivity, and, of course, the Internet and global enterprises.

The AirWatch team will continue to report to CEO John Marshall as part of VMware’s End User Computing business. AirWatch Co-founder and Chairman Alan Dabbiere will be overseeing a new AirWatch Operating Board, which will report to Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO.

Other pure play competitors such as MobileIron and Good Technology woke up to see their world shaken up once again after Citrix acquired Xen and released XenMobile in February 2013. I have no doubt that they are creating their own action plans, talking to people in the know and preparing their own response to today’s “movers and shakers” news.

Oddly enough, I see this news as good for Blackberry CEO John Chen. Whenever there is market disruption, you get a chance to regroup, plan and attack while the market discourse has everyone distracted.  VMware has over 500,000 customers and AirWatch over 10,000, but Blackberry is still formidable with over 80,000 customers. The difference is long-term customers all focused on mobile.  Need proof?  See Alistair Barr from USA Today who said “BlackBerry, the troubled smartphone maker, is focusing more on mobile device management and security and increasingly compete [sic] with AirWatch. BlackBerry shares jumped 7.8% to $10.70 on Wednesday.” WTF is he talking about? Long before the likes of AirWatch and MobileIron, that’s exactly what BlackBerry was doing. Albeit, before John’s arrival they were doing it poorly. Really USA Today? BlackBerry is focusing on security because of AirWatch? Anyway I digress…

AirWatch joining forces with VMware puts a legitimate stake in the ground for the mobile-cloud world.  As both a former CIO and CTO of several publicly held companies I like that I can leverage the EMC portfolio of companies to accomplish the mission of employee AnyDevice.

See the picture below, compliments of VMware:

VMware vision of anydevice

For too long we have been talking about BYOD for mobile, but my former enterprise peers see it as a “what device and who owns it” world.  The tag team of AirWatch and VMware will enable some core elements of:

- Enterprise grade solutions

- Rapid access to mobile apps and data

- Robust mobile security and management

 

A full story and vision pitch can be found on YouTube:

CEO of VMware, Pat Gelsinger, said in a statement:  “With this acquisition VMware will add a foundational element to our end-user computing portfolio that will enable our customers to turbo-charge their mobile workforce without compromising security.”

From my perspective: VMware’s vision for enterprise users has been a VM workspace for all devices. I spent the morning calling CIOs that I know in the federal space and they said the problem was that VMware’s Horizon Suite “kinda sucked.” I suspect this is why they brought in Sanjay Poonen from SAP. To unsuck it.

However, the marriage of AirWatch and VMware puts Horizon in a totally new light (yes, a pun). It enables a direct line from behind-the-firewall to the cloud to mobile solutions. As I read in their announcement “AirWatch will be VMware’s mobile play and will eventually integrate other pieces of VMware’s EUC division as they fit into an overall mobile strategy.”

Finally, AirWatch threw in some speculation in having some capability around telecom expense management (TEM) as a feature set.  This is a natural extension and will help CFOs globally who want tight fiscal management around mobile devices, especially the BYOD trend.  For members of the TEM industry who belong to TEMIA I would be watching carefully.

 

 

 

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Samsung Knox and its Failed Trojan Horse

On Monday at CES in Vegas Samsung announced their strategic partnership with DMI. In their words this was a “strategic alliance with Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (Samsung Mobile) to provide enterprise managed mobility services. Through this collaboration, the companies will equip enterprises with a portfolio of services throughout the deployment of Samsung Mobile smartphones and tablets.”

While on the surface it makes perfect sense for Samsung to try and revive their failed US rollout of Knox security for leading EMM players who have integrated Knox into their containerized environment such as AirWatch and MobileIron, the bigger question is why are they still making strategic mistakes in the market?  There are many potential suitors in the federal space, which begs the question, why only DMI?

I have no qualms with DMI but why would Samsung choose DMI alone instead of selecting multiple key players in the federal space with companies such as WidePoint Corporation (NYSE: WYY)?  I say this because if Samsung wants to break down the vault (pun), penetrate the federal government, and make a splash as a true security replacement to Blackberry, why choose DMI as your only answer?  A quick search on DMI’s government related revenues show that they made in the $40-$60M range on $250M of revenues. Conversely, WidePoint announced on December 26, 2013 that they had just won a $600M contract with the Department of Homeland Security for their products and services through their subsidiary called ISYS.

ISYS stakes their claim as an experienced vendor to the Federal Government. Their solutions are centered on telecom expense management (TEM), forensic informatics, cyber security, and consulting services. ISYS has been in the game since 1999 (much longer than Samsung has been courting the US enterprise market) and the access that ISYS provides into the coveted federal budget seems like a logical launching point that Samsung would want to take advantage of.

In addition, just yesterday, WidePoint announced their launch of Secured, Cloud Based, Identity-as-a-Service ‘Certificate-on-Chip’ for All Types of Mobile Devices.  This new platform is going to enable enterprises, including many federal agencies and departments, to have the ability to secure digital certificates to all types of mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, laptops, and IP cameras). This allows for the opportunity to enhance the information security assurance level of mobile transactions and access management to corporate networks, databases, and other IT assets.

Yesterday TechTarget writer, Jake O’Donnell, wrote an article entitled “New Samsung enterprise mobility deal may give Knox a kick start.” In the article he examines the impact that Samsung’s move may have on the acceptance of its enterprise mobility offerings. Because of DMI’s track record with federal contracts, O’Donnell posits that Samsung is hoping to use the stamp of approval from the government as a validation that it is ready for the big show.

In order to be successful in 2014 Samsung will need to do more than show up with their blatant Trojan horse. Everyone is already watching and they want to know how Samsung can create a true security solution viable against the Common Criteria framework set forth, as well as ensuring they can meet the guidelines of NIST, DISA and DoD.

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Tangoe Issued “Bill Shock” Patent for its Mobile Portfolio

Tangoe PatentYesterday the U.S. Patent and Trademark office granted patent 8,626,119 to Tangoe, Inc.  This is the second of its two key “bill shock” type patents. These patents and subsequent technology are behind Tangoe’s Real-Time Telecom Expense Management (rTEM) technology. It allows mobile users to be alerted when they are about to exceed usage limits on their mobile data consumption, thus avoiding the “bill shock” of overages racked up by unknowing users.  A quick read of the Abstract says:

“A system and method for managing a mobile device(s) to provide for a notification(s) when specified thresholds are reached and/or execute defined rules for the mobile device(s). The rules can relate to any function of the mobile device(s), including but not limited to, notification when a percentage of voice/data/SMS is reached during a billing cycle, notification when a mobile device(s) leaves a geo-fence, and restrict a mobile device(s) when a threshold is reached. The system provides a versatile management system allowing a user to effectively control use of a mobile device(s) and manage costs.”

A synopsis of the ‘System and Method’ of this issued patent is the following:

- Prevent mobile device “bill shock” and provide parental control for mobile device use.

- Real-time checking on current usage of a voice and/or data plan during a billing cycle, so as to determine actual usage at that point during the billing cycle.

- Real-time notification to a user/administrator/parent/etc., when certain thresholds have been reached or exceeded relating to a voice/data plan during a billing cycle.

- Enable a user/administrator/parent/etc. to set custom criteria for receiving a notification relating to a voice/data plan during a billing cycle.

- Enable a user/administrator/parent/etc. to set restrictions on the time, location, phone number(s), applications and data source(s) a user may access with a mobile device(s).

- Geo-Fencing whereby is utilizes the location finding ability of a mobile device to provide enhanced security and alerting capabilities for parents and for users.

This signals another sign that the telecom expense management (TEM) industry, MDM and EMM players alike, such as AirWatch, MobileIron and Good Technology, have key visions and strategies on what enterprise mobile will become into the future for both enterprises and consumers.  Additionally, it demonstrates the value of Tangoe’s acquisition strategy and consolidation within TEM. It is becoming more difficult for companies to go to market only off pure-play mobile device management (MDM) feature/functions, as their core technology has become increasingly commoditized. Thus, the new market differentiator for TEM companies relies on the acquisition of novel technology applications to add value to existing product suites or to partner with the leading MDM players mentioned. The question that comes to mind is when will the MDM patent acquisition arms race turn into a patent “Method” war?

I have been doing a study, albeit informally thus far, of the patent ‘pending’ and ‘issued’ portfolios of the leading players across TEM and MDM and wonder when will a first launch strike will happen with some of their key method patents issued to prevent their usage like Amazon once did back in 1997 with their 1-click method patent. The 1-Click patent, which lists Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos as one of its inventors, was filed in 1997 and refers to a “Method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network.” Amazon in the past has used 1-Click to sue rival bookseller Barnes & Noble and licensed the technology to Apple.

Tangoe’s two issued patents; US patent 8,626,119 and 8,412,154 come directly through its acquisition of the Montreal based Anomalous Networks on January 10, 2012 (See: Tangoe, Inc. Acquires Anomalous Networks)

The former founders and executives of Anomalous Networks, Jaan Leemet and Daniel Rudich, are the inventors of this technology. Each enjoyed the $9 million buyout of their company and Tangoe got their patent portfolio (issued and pending) as well as two key executives who are now in SVP roles at Tangoe. I suspect that their story will be the first of many similar stories to follow as the TEM industry continues to gobble up small firms, especially ones with key patent holdings. As Tangoe increases its patent portfolio, the market is ripe for activity, albeit at a miniscule level in comparison to what we have seen in the mobile operating system market. Deals on the scale of Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility largely for its 17,000 patents are beyond the scope of the TEM market, but the TEM-MDM action will certainly heat up.

Finally, as we start 2014 the TEM industry will need to lead with product differentiation and customer intimacy aka service and support to win. This means that product differentiation through company and patent acquisition has become the final frontier.

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Why Samsung Knox has Flopped

In February of this year, Samsung Knox was one of the most hyped mobile device management solutions entering the market. It was a major focus at Mobile World Congress (MWC 2013) in Barcelona, Spain and it had its own ad campaign associated with the launch of the Galaxy S4. Some went so far as to name Knox as a game changer, providing Samsung with a competitive advantage against Apple by allowing people to quickly switch between corporate and personal data.

Yet, as we reach the last day of 2013, Samsung Knox has proven to be a complete flop that will most likely not be adopted by the majority of organizations using Android devices.  To add to these woes, I met with several leading defense contractors and government technology executives in Washington, D.C. in mid-December, who stated that they would not deploy Knox. Samsung has done so many things correctly, so how is it that they messed up Knox so badly?

First, Samsung made a cardinal mistake of software: releasing vaporware. When Samsung made their initial announcement in Barcelona, they positioned themselves as a direct competitor and alternative to Blackberry. Blackberry, for all of its faults, understands enterprise security policies and governmental concerns very well and both the Blackberry BES and Balance solutions are well understood by CIOs. By contrast, nobody was really sure what Knox could do other than provide containerization. In this, Knox seemed simply to match the functionality that Good Technology had provided for years, but sadly without Good’s Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 4 security. EAL4 means that Good provides the “higher confidence that the system’s principal security features are reliably implemented, specifically the ‘Methodically Designed, Tested, and Reviewed’ parts of the Common Criteria.”

Second, Samsung Knox only worked on Samsung Galaxy devices. Although Samsung is the market leader in smartphones and tablets, it still lacks the clout that a Microsoft Windows had in the 1990s. In reality, mobile device and application management needs to be a cross-platform solution. Just as nobody wants to care about the compatibility of the landline phone or Windows PC he or she buys, nobody wants to care about what kind of smartphone or smart device they buy. For Knox to be viable, it needed to work on all Android devices at a bare minimum.

Third, Knox suffers from “Not Invented Here” (NIH) syndrome. The objection I heard repeatedly in Washington, D.C. was: “because it’s not made here in America!” For much of the past decade, Blackberry represented the best combination of mobile security, usability, and price. As a Canadian-owned company, Blackberry was trusted on a global basis as a safe harbor for corporate, government and private data. South Korea, although a trusted economic ally to many of the world’s leading economies, has not earned that same level of trust with other G20 governments that would seek an integrated and secure mobile solution.

Fourth, Samsung struggled to build support services around Knox for carriers and large enterprises. Although Samsung has done a great job in appropriating Apple’s technology and aesthetic, this skill set does not translate into the ability to fully integrate with the OSS/BSS technologies that carriers support.

OSS - BSS example

Example of OSS / BSS

Fifth, Samsung charged too much. The original price for Samsung KNOX was $3.60 per month per device. This price is not competitive with the current enterprise mobility management market. Many EMM players such as Good Technology have brought their MDM price down to $5.00 per month per device. This means Samsung Knox represents a premium simply to use Samsung devices in the enterprise. Samsung Galaxy devices are popular. However, their utility and popularity are not so great that companies should throw away their iPhones and iPads to pay more to secure their Samsung devices. Especially when other leading EMM players such as AirWatch and MobileIron have solutions today to compete with Knox for their enterprise customers.

Sixth, and perhaps worst of all, Samsung KNOX has been hackable. There is a possible flaw that allows black hat hackers to grab mobile messaging sent through Galaxy devices. In light of Blue Hill’s recent blog post on the increased desire for temporary and untraceable messaging tools such as Snapchat, the idea that a “secure” messaging solution could be intercepted is a big challenge. Samsung seeks to be acknowledged as a compliant solution, but it will need to do more to win hearts and minds.

If Samsung can botch its entry into the mobile device management game, anyone can. There are some lessons for the market to learn. First, mobile management is a multi-platform game. Handling only one platform well makes you a niche solution. Second, price your solution based on what the market is demanding and be mindful that it has to be part of an EMM ecosystem. When competitors are trying to drive the cost of management to $5-$7 per device per month, compared to $3.60 per month, your price is not competitive. Third, accept that FUD is an important part of selling security. If your solution actually adds Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt to your buyers because they want a solution that meets in-country storage and development standards, provide your buyers with that extra level of assurance.

It’s still not too late for Samsung to get into the mobile management game in earnest, if it chooses to do so. However, Samsung need to either get serious and go multi-platform or gently slide away from this business and leave it to EMM companies such as AirWatch, MobileIron, and Good Technology. Each has proven their mobile security chops with real solutions that can enable multiple, layered controls across a device security ecosystem.  These vendors allow the ability to distribute, containerize, and tunnel enterprise data safely and securely well into 2014 and beyond.

 


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MOBI takes the Next Generation Leap in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)

MOBI leaps into Enterprise Mobility ManagementIn my last blog post titled “The $500 Billion Communications Race in TEM” I covered the M&A race happening in the telecom expense management (TEM) industry and the pending fight for the $500 billion dollars spent on enterprise communications globally. This ever-changing competitive landscape also extends to the enterprise mobility management (EMM) space.

On December 4th, MOBI Wireless Management announced that it would merge with Bluefish Wireless. MOBI has traditionally focused on the enterprise mobility management space and has steadily attracted larger enterprise customers over time, while Bluefish has focused on business solutions based on Sprint relationships. This merger is a natural progression of events, since the two companies shared the same ownership group but had previously focused on separate market approaches for mobility.  With this merger, the combined entity now called MOBI dedicates over 100 employees to mobility management. The most important aspect of this merger is a reminder to both customers and vendors that the differences between enterprise mobility management and carrier-enabled mobility management are receding quickly.  End user companies increasingly seek more direct access to carrier OSS/BSS systems to optimize inventories and usage and provide real-time support.

OSS BSSExample of OSS / BSS

Way back in the Spring of 2012, Sprint clearly saw where the puck was going and announced “Sprint Professional Mobility Services expand to offer more choices for businesses to simplify management and security within a complex ‘bring your own device” workplace.’”  It is also interesting to note that Sprint’s mobility management employs key partners such as AirWatch, Citrix XenMobile, formally Zenprise, Managed Mobility, and an OEM white label deal packaged into the mix from WidePoint Solutions Corporation.

The ultimate winners in the enterprise mobility management space will bring together all of the aspects of mobility: device management, expense management, data management, content management, application management, and carrier management.  The days of mobility management silos are coming to an end. Just don’t hold your breath yet, as 2014 isn’t here for another 19 days.

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The $500 Billion Communications Race in TEM

TEM Acquisions Tango WidepointOne of the key themes for telecom expense management (TEM) over the past couple of years has been M&A and boutique consolidation.  Both Tangoe and WidePoint Solutions Corporation have completed multiple acquisitions. This is a testament to the activity in the industry, given that each of their acquisitions had previously acquired smaller vendors of their own. Companies previously content to leverage partners to fill gaps in service, capability, or vertical expertise are increasingly finding that, strategically, it is more valuable to own these capabilities. By combining wireless, IT management, sourcing, and consulting skills in-house, TEM companies continue to expand their competencies and market expectations. The most recent TEM M&A announcement will drive further changes.

On December 9th, the investment firm Clearlake Capital announced the creation of Calero, which aggregates the businesses of three veteran TEM organizations: Veramark Technologies, Movero, and PINNACLE. The consolidation is financed by Wells Fargo Capital Finance and Stellus Capital Management. Mooreland Partners provided mergers and acquisitions advisory services.  Although all three TEM companies possess deep experience, each brought a different focus to its client base. As such, understanding the future of Calero, one must first look at the past.

Veramark initially started as a call accounting company in 1983 that tracked local and long distance usage in business organizations.  With its call accounting software, Veramark supports market-leading voice systems including Cisco and Avaya.  This experience provides Veramark with experience in supporting landline end user endpoints.  In addition, Veramark acquired consulting group Source Loop in 2010 to strengthen its professional services. This burned their limited and critically important cash reserves, arguably not a smart decision by the management team.  Through this combination of usage management, audits, licensed software, hosted software, and consulting Veramark provides its telecom expense management solutions.

Movero is the result of a 2011 rollup of three TEM-related companies: Integrated Mobile, Broadsource, and Movero Technology.  Broadsource started as a TEM company focused on mid-sized organizations with spend in the range of $2 million to $20 million. Through the backing of Tripp Rackley, Noro-Moseley, and Harbert Venture Partners, BroadSource acquired managed mobility service provider Integrated Mobile in 2011 for $14.8 million. This acquisition opened up access to much of the Fortune 1000, who were existing Integrated Mobile customers.  Soon after, this combined company acquired Movero Technology, a company focused on mobile help desk support. Since May 2011, this combination of software, mobility services, and help desk services has gone to market as Movero with a focus on wired and wireless TEM solutions for large enterprises.

PINNACLE has provided telecom management software since 1988 and was originally created by the CLEC PAETEC (since acquired by Windstream).  Because of its carrier background, PINNACLE has traditionally demonstrated a wider focus than most of its TEM peers. This includes IT service management and vertical solutions for education, government, financial services, and healthcare.  This IT financial management position is reminiscent of ComSci, an IT financial management company recently acquired by Upland Software in November 2013.

These three varied approaches leave Calero with the challenges of integrating operations. They must avoid the plight of Tangoe, which is struggling to be perceived with one public face as opposed to a fragmented network of acquired vendors. Tangoe must support their customers with one voice and one platform. Word on the street is that Tangoe cannot keep their project management teams on schedule, resulting in team churn every six months. At the same time, Calero has the opportunity to grow beyond some of the artificial constraints that TEM companies have placed on themselves.

Calero needs a rapid roadmap to consolidate the PINNACLE, Movero, and Veramark platforms. From an integration perspective, it is apparent that one of these firms is not like the other. PINNACLE and Veramark were both established TEM companies, but lacked significant growth potential based on current technology and service capabilities.  Movero, on the other hand, quickly sought to increase both market share, new expense and support capabilities.  For Calero to succeed, Calero needs to embrace Movero’s ability to acquire new employees and to dramatically transform itself.

From a capabilities perspective, the new Calero is able to bridge the gaps between enterprise endpoints and carrier management based on core competencies.  For Calero to live up to its claim as a “Communications Lifecycle Management” company, it will need to support as wide a variety of enterprise communications as Tangoe.  Veramark’s strength with supporting PBX usage, Movero’s experience with mobility, and PINNACLE’s experience with IT systems will help, but one important aspect is still in question.

As communications capabilities increasingly move to the cloud, Calero will need to provide some way of supporting Skype, hosted unified communications, and other SaaS solutions that provide some method of conferencing or calling.  In addition, Blue Hill has recently covered the increasing importance of Amazon in providing new cloud services, which will need financial oversight similar to telecom expense management.  Our research and face-to-face interviews with CIOs show IT is moving to the cloud and fast.  This leads to a new set of expense management challenges as the traditional CapEx world of IT quickly changes to an OpEx and subscription world that is very similar to telecom.  Currently, the PINNACLE side of Calero is probably best suited to tackle the impending challenges of cloud management. Still, the cloud will prove to be a key test of Calero’s ability to evolve even as it integrates in 2014.

In addition, Calero now faces a new set of challenges accompanying its sudden growth in size.  From a revenue and future market cap perspective, Calero is now on par with the largest companies in the TEM industry: WidePoint ($90M) and Tangoe ($590M).  This scale has provided challenges to TEM companies in the past, such as Telwares and Control Point Solutions.  The creation of Calero will be a test for the TEM market to see if further consolidation will make it stronger or result in an unwieldy amalgam that forces customers to change TEM vendors yet again to find smaller and more nimble solutions.

The keys to success for Calero are simple:

- maintain and expand the current customer base;

- move to a consolidated platform as customers want and need one throat to choke;

- accelerate implementation times so that new customers are not stranded with an incomplete platform after 12-18 months

Calero must realize that this merger is only the beginning of its challenges. It is going down a road that many other TEM companies have travelled in the past and all of whom were devoured by Tangoe (Anomalous Networks, HCL Expense Management Services, Information Strategies Group, InterNoded, ProfitLine, Symphony Teleca, Telwares, Traq Wireless, TtMobiles Ltd., etc.).

Should Calero persevere, I expect an S1 filing to ensure investors, the management team, and employees see their returns on this strategic bet and sweat equity.  However, to succeed, Calero must take George Santayana’s creed about history seriously: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

FULL DISCLOSURE: On December 8, 2008 I was appointed to the Veramark board of directors and resigned my appointment on March 5, 2010. On Feb 1, 2011 I joined the Advisory Board of Avalon Global Solutions, which later was acquired by WidePoint Solutions Corporation on January 4, 2012.

Posted in Blog, General Function, General Industry, High-Tech, IT & Infrastructure, Mobility, Research, Telecom Expense Management | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

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innovation

knowledge

design

usability

USER Applications

ROI

Time-to-Value

AI

Questioning Authority

Domo

Yellowfin

Nexla

DataKitchen

Iguazio

Trifacta

DataRobot

Informatica

Talend

Qubole

Pentaho

Attunity

Striim

Anodot

Tableau

IoT

fog computing

legacy IT

passwords

authentication

Switchboard Software

GoodData

Data Wrangling

Data Preparation

TWIDO

Information Builders

Mobile Managed Services

Analytics

Enterprise Performance Management

General Industry

Human Resources

Internet of Things

Legal

Mobility

Telecom Expense Management