‘We Are Planning to Work with Multiple SIs in India’ – Vivek Malhan, country manager, LHS Group in India

Vivek MalhanLHS Group of Germany is the most successful billing product vendor in the
Indian GSM operators’ market. Despite its product BSCS being so popular in India, the
company has managed to avoid one major mistake that other vendors have
committed–ignoring the local systems integrator(s). This conscious strategy of
working with Indian SIs has given the company a good support base and a reputation of
being committed to India. LHS has recently opened an Indian office. The new country
manager,
Vivek Malhan, who comes from Tata IBM, spoke to Shyamanuja Das
on how his company plans to retain the dominant market position.

 

LHS can be easily termed the most successful GSM billing company in the Indian market.
How did it manage to achieve this?

Deregulation, increased competition, emerging technologies, and the
expected shift from in-house mainframe system to third-party client/server applications
are driving the growth in billing and customer care. LHS operates in this fast-paced
market.

We have made substantial investments in products, people, and
facilities to drive our growth. We have a strong marketing partnership programme. The
abilities and competencies of strong marketing partners not only enhance our proficiency
to serve customers, but also provide the added prestige of respected industry names as our
alliance partners.

With GSM, we are strictly adhered to recommendations made by the GSM
MoU and other organizations. This allows our products to inherently support the specific
billing requirements of GSM. These factors have resulted in LHS being the most successful
GSM billing company in the country.

Globally too, LHS has been extremely successful with its customer care
and billing solution, Business Support and Control System (BSCS), with over 130
installations in more than 60 countries and in 13 languages world-wide.

What are the major factors an operator considers while choosing a billing system?

  • How close does
    the system meet his business requirements?

  • What is the road map of the
    billing system? Does it grow along with his subscriber growth and future business
    strategies/plans?

  • Does the system utilize current
    computing technologies?

  • Does it score over other
    packages in deliverables and functionality?

  • What is the support like?

  • Does the package offer the speed
    to market services and plans to win over competition?

These are some of the critical factors an operator looks at while
evaluating billing systems. LHS looks at each one of them and our product evolution is
based on the inputs from our users and the market needs.

So far, in the private basic round, the success of cellular round has not been
repeated. What is the reason?

We have not yet participated in the private basic round. Our latest
releases of BSCS, i
.e., Ver. 5.x onwards have delivered the
functionality desired for the private basic operators. We would be very much there in the
next round when operators will be evaluating the billing and customer care packages. We
would be gearing up with an Indian delivery organization to meet the requirements of the
operators.

Don’t you think you are a bit late in opening an office?

Well, we are not late in opening our office in India. We feel that this
is the right time. The operators are on the threshold of breaking through the initial
barrier and will then foresee a substantial growth in the subscriber base.

The pie is very large in India and there is enough for everyone. It makes
business sense for LHS to develop the Indian telco market-place

In future, do you plan to work with multiple SIs or a single SI in India?

We have many international SI partners globally. We have Satyam as our
partner in India. We are also working on the concept of having multiple SIs within the
country.

Some operators have already changed their billing system from a foreign product to an
Indian product. Others are planning such moves. Why? Is it because Indian companies score
in pricing and support?

This is purely based on the evaluation criteria of an operator. I have
already given some of the major points that are to be considered while taking a decision
on a customer care and billing application.

I do not think that pricing has a very
high weightage. It does not mean that the buyer is not price-sensitive. However, support
does have a major consideration. Whether it comes from within the country or outside, if
it meets the response and economic criteria set forth by the user, then there should not
be an issue.

Do you have plans to develop software in India?

Initially, we will be concentrating in setting up of the support
organization in the country. Once this is achieved and the unit starts operating smoothly,
we would consider other plans.

What is the Indian telco OSS market like, qualitatively and quantitatively? Which other
areas, apart from billing, will see LHS as a major player?

The Indian user has an exceptional understanding of the application and
wants quality from the vendors.

Indian operators have enjoyed the
technology advantage by acquiring the latest application packages and then working ahead
on these applications. Indian software knowledge being acknowledged world-wide,
qualitatively the Indian user is always ahead of others. The various plans and packages
being offered by the telcos test the quality of the applications. There is no doubt that
qualitatively there is no compromise.

Quantitatively, the pie is very large in
India and there is enough for everyone. It makes business sense for LHS to develop the
Indian telco market-place. Billing and customer care is a cyclic requirement. There are
additional features, new technological requirements, new market-driven requirements, which
arise all the time.

In addition to our BSCS billing
application, we will be marketing our APSIS pre-paid application, ICRS inter-connect
revenue system, and InfoCell Converge, a point-of-sales system. We also have a range of
add-on products to BSCS such as Web Service Center (WSC), a web-based application which
allows users, channels, and branches to connect to the billing system via Internet, and
Cash Drawer, a payment collection system.

What will be your agenda as the chief of LHS in India?

I would like to strengthen the presence of LHS in India. LHS will work
closely and support its existing customer base and help them to be the most competitive
telcos in their respective circles. Furthermore, I would be delighted to move and support
more operators on to the LHS-BSCS application. I would want to retain LHS’ leading
position in India.

LHS has a strong global resource team.
We will develop a strong team in India to support our products. We will manage our Indian
projects from India and create a win-win scenario for both LHS and our customers. I am
sure that our partners will also find us comfortable to work with.

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