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Interview: Shashank Singh on Telco-to-Techco and Smart City Monetisation in Asia


We catch up with Shashank Singh, Cerillion’s Head of Sales in Asia, as he shares the unique challenges and key trends that he’s uncovered in the region’s telecoms sector.

Hi Shashank – can you tell me more about your role at Cerillion, and the work you’ve been doing in Singapore since relocating?
My role at Cerillion is spread across the full sales cycle, as well as a fair dip into marketing, networking, and brand building.

Since moving to Singapore, my main objectives have been market discovery, partnerships, and networking with various operators, vendors and consultants across the region.
Having spent some time working in and around the region now, what are some key trends or developments in the telecoms sector you've observed as of late?
The region is extremely diverse, with varying demographics, domestic and international geopolitics, economics, needs – you name it.

For operators, it comes down to reducing OPEX and revenue diversification – because traditional telco revenues alone won’t justify CAPEX spend anymore – and developing partnerships with the surrounding eco-system, such as OTT, multi-edge cloud platforms, etc.

I’ve observed many telco operators whose biggest bottleneck is their existing BSS/OSS platform. Either the enormous OPEX is not allowing them to diversify, or their BSS/OSS stack is strictly built for traditional telco services, limiting their options when it comes to digital services and revenue diversification.

That brings us to the second biggest problem that I see: an extreme amount of manual intervention in the lead-to-cash cycle. While operators highlight their biggest problem as time-to-market in their typical RFPs, what they’re really asking is “Can you please automate most, if not all, of my business support processes?”

For the end-customers, whether they’re retail, wholesale, enterprise, or a complex B2B2X customer, there’s a strong need to reduce the friction caused across the lead-to-cash cycle. From the ease of buying and managing products, to the effectiveness of managing customers and payments, tightly coupled with ensuring a smooth digital experience is what the customers aspire to.
What are some of the unique challenges you've encountered while working with telcos in the Asian market?
There’s a general notion that the Asian market is extremely price sensitive; while I don’t deny that, I don’t think it’s particularly different from the rest of the world. Of course, the ARPUs and subscriber volume of operators in somewhere like Singapore will differ dramatically when compared with Malaysia or Indonesia, for example.

Like I said, it’s a diverse region, and, without generalising, a good percentage of the market, both operators and end-customers, are willing to spend if they’re given a good overall experience and value for money.

Their primary challenges rest on the BSS/OSS side – on the openness of their platforms to multi-vendor partnerships and the overburdening OPEX. Many operators are yet to explore a truly convergent solution: we’ve seen CSPs running two, three – even four! – siloed BSS platforms, resulting in an ecosystem that’s hard to comprehend, manage, and most importantly, deliver value.

However, the continuous CAPEX on the newer generation networks means that operators are afraid to take on the risk of digital transformation, but the investment could still be made if they see a real value in their next BSS/OSS platform. So, it is all about how we prove the value of the new solution and showcase new revenue-generating areas.
Do you think there has been a change in operator’s demands or needs over the years?
Absolutely. They’re now realising that they should be concentrating more on product innovation, market research, managing customer churn, and loyalty. Traditionally, operators have been stuck just keeping the lights on with IT operations such as managing the platform, infrastructure, complex configurations, and a lot of frequent manual interventions. They are intentionally moving away from this and now demanding a truly SaaS solution, or BSS/OSS-as-a-Service as we call it.

In the last few years, we’ve transformed ourselves to cater to these needs. In fact, most of our recent deals have been a full BSS/OSS-as-a-Service offering, comprising of the product, professional services, maintenance & support, infrastructure, third-party software, as well as managed services.

There’s a definite, positive visible difference between what operators experience with us, compared with their previous BSS/OSS vendors.
What opportunities do you see for Cerillion’s BSS/OSS solutions in Singapore and the wider Asian region?
There’s immense potential for Cerillion, in my opinion, across four distinct categories:

  • The fix-my-existing-problem type – they have a great business model, well documented business processes, and partnerships, but they’re unable to capitalise on them because of a lack of a trusted BSS/OSS vendor who can deliver on its product suite and work as a true business partner.
  • The explore-new-revenues type – these operators are great in their traditional telco business, but with thinning margins, they’re now looking into OTT or value-added partnerships and digital services, serving bigger enterprise / SME customers, or even professional services.  This is an extremely simplified outcome from what they want from a telco-to-techco transformation.
  • The truly emerging and disruptive type – typically sub-brands of telcos, trying to disrupt the market with private 5G or IoT services, for example, or targeting a specific demographic, like a digital-only version of mobile retail plans suited to youngsters in the country.
  • Smart city monetisation – probably the most exciting of all. With M2M/IoT communication, there are several smart city projects across the Asian region, and sooner or later, they’ll be expecting a return on investment on the billions of dollars put into building these smart cities.

At Cerillion, we do all this and more, and in fact have already done it for many of our customers.

Certainly, the region has its own unique challenges, but plenty of its own opportunities too, and that’s why I’m here – to bridge the gap between our customers and our solutions, bringing value and that certainty of outcome that we’ve previously brought our customers across the globe.

Get in touch today to learn more about how Cerillion’s pre-integrated BSS/OSS suite can transform your telecoms services and enhance your customer experience.

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Adam Hughes


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