2007 was the year telecoms were thrust into the future by an outside player: Apple’s original iPhone. With a simple interface and general market appeal, the app economy was born — and so was the idea for MATRIXX Software.
For our founder, Jennifer Kyriakakis, the iPhone proved that operators needed to rethink how they monetized. Just two years after the original iPhone made waves, MATRIXX Software was on the scene, offering better tools for operators to capitalize on these new opportunities. In the following Q&A, we’ve gone deeper with Jennifer into how the industry has changed since 2009 and what to expect next.
How has your initial idea about changing how telcos monetized evolved over time?
When the iPhone came out, we realized three things were true: first, operators would need to monetize differently, not relying on the old paradigm of minutes and megabytes; second, consumers would provide ongoing commerce opportunities as opposed to a utility subscription opportunity; and third, how and when people consumed network resources was about to shift dramatically (think streaming consumption vs. voice traffic).
However, there were several technical aspects getting in the way of realizing this shift:
Lack of business agility: Billing and charging systems, in particular, are difficult and expensive to change — and any changes made would be static. Our goal was to move the process of service creation and monetization to a completely configurable, no-code platform. This gives telcos the power to change quickly, fail fast and succeed fast, and our platform uses open APIs that can be extended and automatically use data models and API extensions without adding code.
Immediacy: Rating and billing functions were completely disconnected from the customer — and from the network and services they were supposed to be monetizing. This left telcos unable to sell to consumers in the moment like an ecommerce company can. Instead, customers had to sign up for something and then wait. To address this, we designed MATRIXX to move key monetization functions into the network layer instead of keeping them in the back office environment.
Flexibility: Finally, we wanted to create a highly-scalable, network-grade solution. If a service takes off, or network traffic spikes 100x, monetization systems have to scale elegantly and predictably alongside the network to keep customer experiences at acceptable qualities. Initially, we developed a services-based architecture that did not rely on existing transactional database technology such as Oracle, with the intention to run at network-grade and at scale, while still leveraging low-cost hardware.
What is different about working with telcos now vs. when the company first started?
The main thing that is different is that monetization outside of pure mass market connectivity is top of mind for operators. Because they’re making such large investments in 5G, they have the ability to take back some network control from digital players who innovated on top of 4G.
Many operators are also very focused on service development and values-based initiatives, which is both a major evolution and opportunity. What operators need to address now is the embrace of agility across all parts of the company in order to move as fast as hyperscalers and digital-native companies can.
Are there operators that have been consistently at the forefront of innovation? What characteristics do they have that separate them from other CSPs?
Absolutely! What matters the most is a balance between commercial thinking and technical understanding and capabilities. A lot of operators are currently focused on their networks or on branding and customer service — not both.
What do you think is the next “big thing” in telco?
Private or dedicated networks will really change the landscape of how enterprises can operate. While it’s more hype right now, I think we’ll see some major developments in the next 5 years.
Consumers on the street may not notice anything different, but employees working in retail, agriculture, logistics, shipping, and more will see massive improvements in how their businesses and job functions run.
It’s unbelievable to think that so much has changed about telcos in such a short amount of time. We’re already on the iPhone 14 — and the app economy is now a $167-billion-a-year industry. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, Jennifer!