Intelligent portal breaks new ground in the channel

When elevating portals to the next level there is no match for taking an intelligent approach, according to plan.com co-founder Keith Curran who reveals the remarkable ‘smart' capabilities of the company's upcoming Version 4 portal.

Since launching into the UK market in April 2014 plan.com has developed three versions of its renowned portal, but the latest ‘smart' iteration, Version 4, comes with a brain. With it, the company has pioneered targeted data penetration and automation giving power to partners who control it. The primary purpose is to enable partners to do things they currently can't do with network operators or distributors, while giving them a helicopter view of their entire operation ‘as things happen'. "Our investment in V4 and a private APN into the heart of the network is huge," stated Curran. "It enables the intelligent management of data and delivers live insights that are invaluable for partners wanting to understand the anatomy of their business in real-time. V4 is the manifestation of our thinking about the future of portals."

Laying your hands on needles in finite haystacks is easy compared to identifying and connecting useful data assets in ever-expanding seas of Big Data. But Version 4 extracts key information automatically and in real-time, putting unprecedented power into the hands of partners. "It's no different to partners having an infinite number of people analysing every aspect of their business 24/7, with key data fed back to them live via a TV, computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone," added Curran.

It is estimated that 90 per cent of the world's data has been created in the last two years, amounting to several quintillion bytes of unconnected user, network and traffic data per day, creating a wilderness of information and a new technology frontier for probing innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). These techniques push the boundaries, they interpret the creation of data in real-time to reveal patterns that put channel partners streets ahead of the competition, pointed out Curran.

"The answer is in the detail, but the challenge with Big Data is that there is no guarantee of finding it," he said. "V4 will be regarded as the industry's first smart portal because it does all of the detailing for partners and gives them the information they need when they need it, online and in real-time on whatever connected device they choose. Partners can manage their business from anywhere in the world. Some partners are ‘one man' operations, others have 500 employees, whatever their size customers will be impressed and astounded by the flexibility."

The portal enables partners to build fully bespoke tariffs and whole solutions in front of customers, calibrated to meet their needs and offering a level of flexibility not currently possible with network operators or distributors. Partners can also build deals according to the most advantageous commission structures based on contract value and likely overspend, and see the commission figures in real-time as the deal is put together.

The real-time management of existing customers is also a boon, and Curran cited practical examples of V4 in action to illustrate this point. "If a customer visits a country its national flag immediately appears to indicate that the client is now roaming there, enabling the partner to react accordingly in real-time," he explained.

Curran also offered a snapshot of the portal's wider capabilities, of which there are many. These include knowing the moment when customers are starting to overspend (prompting an appropriate action from the partner). V4 also identifies which customers are most at risk from the competition (displaying the exact status of SIMs that, for example, are out of contract and how many days are left until they become out of contract); which customers are the most lucrative; the handsets customers use (highlighting upgrade opportunities); insights into the live status of deals made by individual sales people and collective teams (offering quote-to-sale conversion rates in real-time); and shows information such as customers who are having difficulties paying their bill.

Plan.com's claim to have introduced, with V4, the industry's first ‘intelligent portal' is driven by its mission to always put partners first, so much so that the direction of plan.com's portal development is largely governed by feedback from partners to ensure the portal always reflects their fundamental requirements and ‘wish list'. "It's all about the partner and taking them to the top of the pyramid," added Curran. "Enabling them to not only match but go beyond the capabilities of network operators. We also have a partner ‘radar' that blips 24-7-365. They are part of the team and we encourage partners to talk to us. Not a day goes by without a portal enhancement based on their feedback."

Curran says the imminent launch of V4 will render the industry's old ways of doing things defunct, and he believes that the core technology driving V4 will continue to blaze a trail in solving partners' day-to-day bugbears, including spreadsheets and renewals. "Partner commissions are reported on spreadsheets that need reconciling, which for many partners means a full-time member of staff to fulfil this task," he explained. "With V4, all relevant data is automatically fed into the partner's Wallet on screen, in real-time, so they know immediately how much money they are making.

"As for partner growth, losing one customer costs twice as much as gaining a new one, because two new customers must be added to continue the growth. Feedback from partners shows that 75 per cent of their time is spent on renewals, so we developed V4 to remove this costly task, allowing partners to manage renewals in minutes rather than days.

"We are empowering partners to do more than a network operator by just using their finger tips. Our in-house developers have succeeded in their original core usability objective - to make even Apple look complicated. A good portal is simple in nature and easy to use; a great portal delivers what partners want and expect; but a groundbreaking portal delivers the unexpected. As the first intelligent smart portal, that's what V4 is all about."