Cerillion plc (LON:CER) Chief Executive Officer Louis Hall caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss operator investment, what makes 5G such a significant step forward, how the use cases impact on telecom software, how the pandemic affected investment in telecoms software and why the company is well-placed for the future.
Q1: The telecom software sector seems to be very buoyant at the moment, what’s driving operator investment?
A1: I think there are really three main themes going on.
One is that 5G is finally coming around in terms of investment cycles so we’re probably 2 or 3 years into a 10-year cycle of investment in 5G and that’s obviously boosting telecoms vertical.
We then have a renewed emphasis on B2B so a lot of telcos are now identifying B2B as a significant opportunity for them to do more in the enterprise space where there are higher margins.
Finally, digitalization, digital business is a huge driver so a lot of telcos are now focused on automating their customer interactions and that’s driving a lot of investment.
Q2: What makes 5G such a significant step forward compared with 4G?
A2: First of all, it provides a faster broadband so that that’s a fact, it provides a lot more capacity which again is a significant factor but if you look further than I think it creates new opportunities for new types of business. For example, the opportunity to do network slicing, to create private networks that can be optimised for very specific, high bandwidth, high latency use cases.
Also, you’ve got the whole area of enabling technologies like autonomous vehicles but also, more automation in manufacturing factories, in logistics, and healthcare and so on. So lots of these things can be automated more highly through connecting cameras, sensors etc. to these very high bandwidth, low latency, 5G networks.
Q3: So, how do these use cases impact on telecom software?
A3: I think in a number of ways. First of all, just the big investment in 5G is driving operators to look at the ancillary systems that support the network so upgrading and that in itself is driving change and investment in BSS.
Also the relationship between the telco and the customer is more complicated because a lot of these new services involve multiple partners and third parties who need to be settled with so that in many cases will mean a change of BSS/OSS software.
I think that the telcos also need more flexible systems that can respond more quickly to new products and services they’re going to introduce.
So, whichever way you look at it, these sorts of use cases are a catalyst for investment in BSS and OSS.
Q4: Now, as we know, COVID has affected many companies in many different ways. How has the pandemic affected investment in telecoms software and what will change post-COVID?
A4: I think that the pandemic has definitely accelerated investment in digital transformation so I think the way that telcos interact with their customers has probably changed forever and there’s a lot more focus now on self-service models by mobile apps, via online applications etc. to enable customers to manage their own services. There’s obviously huge cost savings for the telcos in closing down call centres and making us all more automated. I think in terms of the customer experience, where the telcos get it right, it does provide a much more efficient way of managing their services.
So, I think the other thing is that we’re seeing that digitalisation expand into the B2B side so for enterprise customers we’re also seeing development of digitisation to support those customers as well, which are typically more complex than consumer business, and that is a whole other angle.
Of course, the fact that we’re all dependent on telecoms to survive these days and support all of this remote working which will likely continue, I think that’s a clear way in which the pandemic has influenced things.
Q5: Finally Louis, can you just summarise for us why Cerillion is well-placed for the future?
A5: I think our big USP is that we have a broad product suite but our product is a product, it’s a true products, we have a solution that works out of the box and is delivered over the cloud, or it can be delivered on premise if the telco prefers that deployment method.
That productization, which is very much in the SaaS mould, enables a huge amount of flexibility which means that we can deliver this very quickly, we can deliver this very cost effectively, we’re not creating customised solutions for each different customer.
All of our customers have the same core software, and that is a very important piece of Cerillion’s positioning and why we feel that we’re very well-placed to capitalise on all of this investment that’s going into telco at the moment.