Following the launch of the iCONX Routing Optimisation, iCONX now occupies the happy position of offering a unique proposition to the market – a truly integrated, single database, all-in-one billing and routing optimisation system.

But since we promote this concept so heavily, what are the actual advantages of such integration?

Commonality of reference data

Existing customers of the iCONX billing system are often pleasantly surprised to learn they’re already in possession of most of the data needed to perform routing optimisation! In fact, a good 75% of the necessary reference data is already in the billing system, including commercial products, carrier prices, codes, destinations and dial code lists, plus the network topology and identifications of partners on respective routes & trunks.

In fact, the sheer volume of such data leads us to only one conclusion – no-one should endure the misery of managing all that information twice. Because iCONX is fully integrated, reference data changes are made once, as is normal, but automatically made available for two business applications – namely the interconnect billing system, and the RO system.

This confers considerable benefits; for instance, productivity is greatly enhanced because fewer resources are required. Similarly, removing the manual duplication of effort decreases the risk of human error to a negligible status, noting that human error in a carrier business environment can be pretty catastrophic (e.g. incorrect decimal point on a rate entry!)

In one sense, extra human resource can be thrown at this problem, and you could just ‘double up’ with extra users doing the same task in parallel. But precise synchronisation is almost unattainable – it’s rather like asking two actors to recite the same set of lines simultaneously and at the same pace – tricky to do and sooner or later something will go wrong.

GUI integration

Users hate having to log in and out constantly, hanging around while separate applications boot up. Whilst it’s not the end of the world, such issues reduce morale and again, may promote fatigue and manual error.

Here, the iCONX integration means that the user logs in only once, at the start of the day, and can toggle freely between each application whenever they choose using a simple on-screen icon. Indeed, multi-tasking is fully supported and since iCONX is browser based, the user can always open a second or third screen to play around whilst the other application executes some tasks.

Remember in RO, speed is of the essence in exploiting commercial opportunities. It is not a place where users can afford to get bogged down.

Perils of the alternatives

One alternative which telcos have explored is to create a technical solution which ‘slaves’ two different systems together. Via some kind of bespoke interface, a technology vendor could in theory interface the RO system data with the billing system data (or vice versa). However, in such a dynamic area, achieving perfect synchronization is no easy task.

Direct db updates and file imports/exchanges, data re-formatting and normalisation, and the scheduling or triggering of data exchange to take place would all be critical requirements that present significant technical challenges.

Out in the real world, it is unclear how many, if any, telcos have actually achieved such a technical feat. In order to deliver on such challenges, the telco would need to elicit the cooperation of two different system vendors (who may be each other’s competitor) and/or a firm of system integrators. None of that is sounding particularly easy or cheap! So whilst a technical solution (as with everything) theoretically exists, it’s an approach that is fraught with dangers. How much more elegant, to remove the problem in the first place via a fully integrated system.

Modular freedom

Usually, integrated solutions come with a health warning – “warning, major project ahead!” This may dissuade customers from taking the plunge. However in this particular instance, the reality is the reverse of what may be expected; by taking an integrated approach to billing & RO, the project footprint is in fact much smaller, neater and cleaner and there is less likelihood of getting into project overrun or complication.

In the case of iCONX, we offer our RO solution broken up into user-friendly modules, which telcos may implement (or not) at their own leisure over time and in line with the natural demands of their carrier business growth profile. In this way we offer the best of both worlds, the freedom of a modular, phased approach, but with full, locked-in integration when the module is activated