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  Intercomms Issue 18
Issue 18 Articles

Netformx: Helping CSPs to Win More Business and Keep it Long-Term

InterComms talks to Ittai Bareket, Chief Executive Officer, Netformx Inc.

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Ittai Bareket, Chief Executive Officer, Netformx Inc.
Ittai Bareket, Chief Executive Officer, Netformx Inc.

Mr. Bareket joined Netformx in 2000 to re-direct business development, and later maintained responsibility for sales, marketing and operations, before being appointed CEO in the summer of 2005. Prior to Netformx, he held various positions at Mercury Interactive Corporation (now HP) including President of Mercury Interactive Japan K.K. and General Manager for Japan and Korea.

As leaders in innovation, the Netformx team applies their industry knowledge and technology savvy to create solutions for the opportunity-to-provision space focusing on data-driven rules-based collaboration and workflow environments that ensure accurate and timely implementations of IP-VPN, MPLS, Managed and Hosted Services.

Q: With enterprises using more information, communications and technology to power their business, being able to target services and solutions to a specific client’s needs is becoming more challenging. What are the main challenges CSPs face?
A: The diverse requirements across small to large enterprises are evolving dramatically. Enterprises have become increasingly dependent on technology as an enabler to their success. Every enterprise has its own unique requirements, which translate to a custom solution that has to be designed, validated, implemented and evolved. CSPs have become an integral part of the technology supplier ecosystem. They are in the unique position to leverage their infrastructure and data centers to deliver comprehensive, tailored solutions that include services, software and equipment.

The complexity of technology choices is growing rapidly along with a bewildering number of vendors. This along with the fact that enterprises cannot afford to keep on hand experts in all relevant technology areas directly translates to a dependency on solution partners. This is why enterprises, including government agencies and large multi-nationals, are relying on CSPs to deliver end-to-end solutions to their specific requirements. A CSP has to be a consultant, an integrator and a carrier in order to deliver winning solutions and become a long-term trusted advisor.

In order to secure the winning proposal, a CSP has to ensure it remains competitive and offers differentiated solutions from its competition. Competitors include other CSPs but also alternative providers and systems integrators who package complete solutions. To create a superior proposal that will stand out from the crowd requires several key ingredients:

  • First, the CSP has to understand the requirements across several dimensions including potential growth areas. This allows the CSP to present a multi-phased solution with progressive implementation and controlled spending. It also offers less disruptive and risky deployments.
  • Second, the CSP must understand what is already in place that can be leveraged in future solutions. The vast majority of enterprises have existing technology in use that can become an integral part of any new proposal. However, the CSP must also take into consideration that not all existing technology will be compatible with future plans and may have to be upgraded or phased out.
  • Third, the CSP needs to present several options based on best-of-breed designs using multiple equipment vendors. The ability to leverage category leaders, and assemble them into solutions, yields superior offerings. Such offerings can present various price points and feature combinations with an evolution path to meet an enterprise’s changing requirements.
  • Finally, the CSP must create proposals rapidly using cost-effective resources. Arriving to a solution that adheres to the enterprise’s needs often requires many iterations. The ability to quickly modify the designs, and at a low cost, ensures the CSP controls its cost of winning deals and protects profitability.
Netformx Solutions

Q: How can Netformx help them provide targeted solutions?
A: Netformx continually updates the Netformx KnowledgeBase™, ensuring that the Netformx family of products has the most current equipment vendor information available from the largest, up-to-date collection of products, solutions and services. Having access to an up-to-date catalog is a key enabler to ensuring CSPs include current and valid offerings in their proposals. Building upon the catalog with data sheet information, configuration, validation and interconnectivity rules, and graphical representation enables the creation of validated designs and proposals. Having multiple products from multiple vendors in one solution dramatically improves productivity while reducing the potential for errors. The Netformx KnowledgeBase can then be enhanced with a CSP’s unique portfolio, for example a CSP can instantly design an on-premise solution, managed or hosted in their data center.

Netformx solutions often replace as many as fourteen tools and can enable a single individual to perform functions that might have required several employees. Consolidating the number of tools and empowering employees to achieve more reduces the time it takes to create a targeted solution but also lowers the potential for errors. Errors are common in the design phase as multiple individuals collaborate using email or other non-connected tools. This often results with employees out of sync with one another, creating data duplication or information re-entry.

Netformx solutions have the ability to validate what a user is doing every step of the way to produce final multi-vendor designs that are virtually error-free. Not only does this help a user deliver a solution faster, it directly results in higher customer satisfaction. Across the industry, a staggering 40% of proposals extended to customers have design errors, which contribute to poor implementations and ensuing experience. They also end up costing CSPs as delays and remedying the errors impact their margin.

Netformx Solutions

Q: How does that aid in winning more business and preventing churn?
A: Simply put, happy customers are loyal customers. By delivering proposals quickly utilizing Netformx, a CSP will make their customers feel like they are on top of it. With proposals that are well thought out and in sync with the customer’s requirements, their confidence level increases. This is especially true if the CSP can show different options and make on-the-fly adjustments. Finally once the implementation starts, the potential for errors has been minimized and the enterprise customer will likely receive a flawless delivery the first time. The entire process from start to finish, resulting in a working solution, will directly impact the customer’s willingness to stay with that CSP and trust them to take care of them ongoing, enabling future upsell opportunities and expansions.

Q: How are you getting around the CSP’s tendency to be more reactive than proactive?
A: Competition between CSPs and alternative providers such as MSOs and even the likes of Google and Skype have helped create a dynamic environment. CSPs have no choice but to adjust and become more in tune with what it takes to compete successfully. Many CSPs are making the transition away from being a product shop to understanding the power of being a solution provider. Not all CSPs are making that transition, but enough are, so that you can see the impact it has had on the market.

This is especially apparent with cloud-based services where CSPs such as AT&T, Verizon and BT have embraced the model. They are selling many services including VoIP and also storage in novel ways. They have become proactive in demonstrating to their customers they can deliver leading edge solutions built on modern technology. Their scale, experience and technical know-how make them a short listed vendor on most proposals. By taking advantage of Netformx, the difference then becomes their ability to sell a differentiated customer experience and a customized solution priced competitively with room to accommodate growth and the introduction of new technologies.

Netformx’s focus is on enabling CSPs to drive more sales faster that carry a higher average selling price with better profitability. Since CSPs are looking to become more competitive, Netformx has been successful quickly proving the net impact our solutions can have on their bottom line by using case studies and controlled pilots. In the end it comes down to a financial justification, which the CSP finds too enticing to pass up.

Netformx Solutions

Q: How do you view the future in the industry and how are you helping your clients to future proof their service offerings?
A: The future is clear and it is all about clouds. Cloud-based services will become an increasingly important revenue contributor for CSPs. Underpinning clouds are data centers and networking. The fundamentals of solution design have not changed. However, they have become more complex and shifted the responsibilities. With the growing demand for CSPs to deliver and manage turnkey solutions, they need to take ownership of the entire design process. Take VoIP for instance, a CSP selling a cloud-based Unified Communications service needs to design an end-to-end solution. They have to consider all aspects from the headset a user will wear all the way to the core router in their network. This is the only way to be successful and gain the customer’s trust.

I believe that the transition to the cloud will be gradual with many enterprises selectively moving applications and over time. This gradual transition requires a long-term approach to solution design and service offerings. CSPs have to deliver many options with phased rollouts that build on one another. This will ensure the designs are future proof allowing an enterprise to move at their own pace and leverage capabilities both on their premise and in the cloud. Having a design that takes into consideration future implications not only helps a CSP win the business but keep it long-term as new technology opens up additional possibilities to revisit the design for a given customer. By that time, the CSP will have the trust and loyalty of the customer and can continue to benefit from a lucrative relationship grounded by solution designs based on their customer’s individual requirements.

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