Software Rules OK

Upon walking into ICUK’s office in Croydon I was overcome with a sense of calm, no-one was on the phone, no one was crying in the corner because of a network failure they couldn’t fix, if I didn’t know any better I would have said it was a yoga retreat run by a small group of technology gurus!

ICUK’s Paul Barnet

ICUK’s Paul Barnet

I asked Paul Barnet this question when I arrived and he simply said. “It’s our software, everything is written in-house and it just works. People generally don’t need to call us!”

He continued, “People buy from us because of the portal, we have over 800 partners. I look at some of our competitors that have spent large amounts of money on office space, their portals, and have hundreds of staff. Many of them have huge debts to pay off, we don’t. We have sixteen staff, half of which is development and the other is provisioning. There is no accounts team, no sales people and our portal is pivotal to that set up.”

An off the cuff comment from one of ICUK’s resellers summed it up, “ICUK wants to be lazy!”

“We aren’t, honest!” says Paul, “It’s just the way we do things, the ICUK way.” At just shy of £10 million in revenues it’s an impressively lean business which has utilised all the benefits that writing good software, in-house, can bring.

Lately, Paul has turned his focus to the provisioning process of leased lines. His latest development includes an overlay of Openreach duct information on top of Google Maps. He believes this is that extra differentiator partners need when selling leased lines to businesses.
“This tool gives real world information to partners so they can instantly tell which category of install it is and can even estimate ECC charges. On the map you can see the ducts on the street and where the lines enter the buildings and what kind of connections are present in the customer location.

The information is also available in the satellite and street views which can tell you where various nodes are. Partners can also see if there any capacity issues and immediately build up timescales with a customer. For customers this really instils confidence that the partner knows what they are doing!”

“At the moment installs typically take between 60-90 days, but we do see installs as quick as two weeks and some as long as two years. This feature gives a much clearer idea of the speed of install whereas generally you would get a quote and however long it took customers just had to put up with it and wait.“

So where to from here? Paul said “Eventually we want to plot mobile coverage onto the maps and also G-fast connections too. We want to be the first provider to plot Virgin’s infrastructure over Openreach data also, no one has ever done that. This is just the start of us using these kind of big data sets.”

When I asked Paul what he had coming up I nearly choked on my water when he said WLR3! Paul said, “We are working on our WLR3 at the moment which may raise a few eyebrows in the market. We are finding people are moving their estates to us because of our platform and interface so there is still quite a bit of growth there for us.”

“People are still ordering ISDN30’s and ISDN2’s despite what the press are saying! It’s not all about VoIP as people like to think. We are the sixth company to complete the direct integration into Openreach so we are actually more integrated with Openreach than TalkTalk now. That process has taken quite a while but it allows us to strip out some costs and makes us more competitive. People keep talking about the ISDN switch off in 2025 but that is still a very long way away, Openreach are still investing in their platform and developing it. We joined with the intention of delivering the most advanced WLR3 management platform.“

“Again, the delivery of everything we do is so important. People talk about multiple portals when delivering services but we have one integrated portal. No one has managed to integrate all their services into a singular portal and make it easy to use with their own network and write all their own software. That ethos will always be a part of our DNA.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine