Rob Johnson is Chairman of Telecom2 Ltd and has been for the life of the company for 12+ years. He says of himself that he used to be a Service Provider but crossed the divide in 2009… here he outlines just what that means and how core the company is the telemedia world.
What does your company do?
My business partner always says we are a mini BT – however I am not sure that is a claim to fame tbh. (Mr BT please note I am joking)
What sectors does your business operate in?
- UK and Spanish Premium
- Cloud VoIP PBX for small business and Contact centres
- Credit Card Billing
- Open Banking
Which countries or regions do you feel represent the greatest opportunity for your telemedia services in 2022?
UK and Spain plus Eire
To what extent has the pandemic affected your customer’s behaviour and have you been able to explore new opportunities as a result?
All our PBX clients rushed to work remotely from home and we managed the changeover smoothly – for one client this involved collecting 600 laptops and driving them to Scotland which I was proud to do myself.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
People calling and Meeting on Zoom/Teams/Google Chat was all fine but trying to make those meetings as productive springboards to action was a challenge – at one point we had a meeting about meetings
What new opportunities have arisen as a result of the pandemic?
One of our PBX Contact Centres was involved in Track and Trace and being flexible and able to scale up and down at short notice was key to keeping that contract – we kept it 😉
Which content and/or applications do you see being the most likely to benefit from telemedia billing technologies?
I have to say the old services never really die, they just get revamped, reworked and re-invented. What has changed is the origin of the traffic promoting them.
Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which markets?
I think it already is, gaming and upsell-able content is ideal for DCB so top ups and rollovers. The good news is the billing is incremental, so just turn it on.
How do you balance payment flows, operator relationships and customer satisfaction?
Risk is always there and always will be – for the first time in T2’s life we have started to factor some traffic for our clients to facilitate reasonable payment cycles (at a cost).
What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?
In my experience, Telecoms always does well in a time of recession. However, it is difficult for us as an industry to increase our prices, when at the same time all our costs are increasing, lets see where this all ends up as something has to give somewhere.
What major factors do you think will impact the future development of mobile payments and which other payment options represent the biggest threat?
Open banking represents Armageddon for the high street banking industry, initiating payment and even starting DD’s via your mobile will be key growth areas – this has only just started with companies like GlobalCharge and Nupay at the forefront in what I would call the Telemedia arena.
How likely is it that crypto currencies will become popular telemedia/mobile payment mechanisms for premium content, services and applications?
I would say it is a 100% definite “Maybe”
Is SMS future proof?
No, but it’s dropping down from a great height
What’s the secret to optimising engagement, sales revenues and retention?
Google rules I am afraid, however I am of the opinion that Newspapers/TV/outbound still hang in there and at the right price are well worth trying.
What other messaging platforms do you offer and why?
As a call centre software provider we integrate with social media in whatever way they will currently allow so SMS, Whatsapp, RCS, and social media are all being used by our customers to either originate sales or deal with customer service.
Do you consider yourself a CPaaS provider or any other variant of the “XXaaS” service provider model?
I am too old school to learn new acronyms. I remember going to meetings and someone would drop a new TLA (three letter acronym) and I would sit there nod wisely and think WTF…
What are the biggest challenges of offering CPaaS?
Whatever you have, someone always wants you to produce a variation bespoke to them, you then have to make judgements on is this of value to anyone else.
VALUE ADDED SERVICES
Which specific VAS verticals are you expecting to have a great year and why?
Data, Data and more Data.
How might you answer that same question in 5 years?
Data, Data and more Data.
What’s the most effective business model for an mVAS customer acquisition strategy?
Do you see affiliate marketing being a primary, trusted channel for telemedia propositions or do you think alternative routes to market will become more popular?
Rev share or pay for traffic is always a difficult choice – rev share from trusted partners always wins out.
What are they likely to be?
TV is still strong, Youtubers are also ruling the world.
Digital twin energy management
I keep getting “you have been watching porn please pay us Crypto and we will not publish your details demands”. The biggest negative to that is it is a no reply email so I can’t tell them I don’t care.
On a more serious note one of our clients recently had a 24 hour massive DDos attack. They have revenue from 2 main territories and the DDos was coming from world wide. We contained it by shutting out traffic not from the 2 main territories and using cloudflare to spread the traffic. We won.
What action has your business taken to maintain / improve consumer / partner trust?
We have had a few years now of obtaining ISO accreditation and we have a wall of fame showing our ISO 27001, ISO 9001, PCIdss and Cyber Essentials Certification. This does have an effect on the company’s outward facing image.
Your words of wisdom: On a more personal level, what is the most inspiring piece of advice that has seen you through a life in business to this day and who gave that advice to you?
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
… And— which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
– Rudyard Kipling
In the next 12 months what key technical developments or innovations do you feel will have the most positive impact on mCommerce?
Open Banking by a country mile…..in the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive “You ain’t seen n..n..nothing yet”