ClickOnSite’s evolutions that continue to #MakeTheEverydayBetter for the fast moving tower industry

An interview with IT-Development’s Jerome Perret

Read this article to learn:

  • Who IT-Development are and what experience they have in the telecom sector
  • How the ClickOnSite product has evolved in the past 12 months, incorporating feedback from clients
  • Why the platform is particularly attractive to towercos as well as MNOs
  • What leads to ClickOnSite being typically 50% cheaper than big ERP systems
  • ClickOnSite’s unique level of local support
  • Expansion plans for IT-Development

Living by their four guiding principles, IT-Development remain committed to #MakeTheEverydayBetter for their clients. Their ClickOnSite platform has seen significant evolution in the past 12 months and remains future proofed for the fast moving tower industry. TowerXchange speak to IT-Development’s Managing Director, Jerome Perret, to understand what makes the company stand out from the crowd.

TowerXchange: Please can you reintroduce IT-Development and your ClickOnSite product to TowerXchange readers.

Jerome Perret, Managing Director, IT-Development SAS:

Sure! ITD’s leadership comes from managing telecom tower rollouts earlier in our careers. We saw how technology can make each individual’s work in these processes more efficient, and thereby allow companies to grow while keeping their OPEX under control. We are telecoms operations experts making online software services for the telecoms industry.

MNOs & towercos use ClickOnSite to manage tower sites, rollouts, asset lifecycle and operations at scale. It is an online tool (customer-hosted or SaaS) where everyone from the office to the field works on one set of data, in real-time. It is infinitely more efficient than using Excel, and better in terms of price, speed-to-market and cost-of-ownership than ERP-like systems.

On the user-side, ClickOnSite comprehensively covers the needs for tracking all passive and active infrastructure assets and information, in a highly user-friendly interface on PC, tablet or mobile.

Equally importantly, on the technical side, ClickOnSite can be configured to each client’s needs with no technical developer intervention, except for third party integrations. This means most configurations to each client’s unique needs are quickly done by a Business Analyst, without getting into a development cycle.

Making ClickOnSite powerful functionally, yet easy to use, is part of our philosophy to #MakeTheEverydayBetter.

TowerXchange: How has the ClickOnSite product evolved in the past year since we last spoke to ITD, what new capabilities does it have?

Jerome Perret, Managing Director, IT-Development SAS:

When we went to the TowerXchange Meetups in Africa and Asia in 2017, our main purpose was to show how we had refactored ClickOnSite with leading edge, future-proof technology atop of the comprehensive database model we had assembled over the previous years.

The highlights in the year since then can be grouped as integrations which bring expertise and functionalities from partners into the ClickOnSite interface, and native ClickOnSite features:

Remote Monitoring System (RMS) integrations

As you know from the TowerXchange Meetups, and with the upcoming TowerXchange Meetup Africa emphasising operational excellence, the demand for remote monitoring systems is growing: towercos and site owners need current status, and analytics, of their sites, especially related to power. 

We have built APIs which allow ClickOnSite to display key RMS readings from our partners in the ClickOnSite interface. This means ClickOnSite users don’t have to change application to know the overview current status of their sites. They can drill down deeper at the RMS partner’s site/service directly.

IFRS 16

This is an example of how we apply our industry knowledge in a forward-looking way to create technical solutions. The new IFRS 16 regulation for lease accounting has been flying under the radar, but we recognised early how significantly it will impact MNOs and towercos, so we built an integration with a partner, Blimp 360, to seamlessly sync lease-information in ClickOnSite. This is an example not only our technical prowess, but the application of our deep industry knowledge to foresee issues and needs.

Within ClickOnSite itself, the top 3 functionalities of recent months are:

– ClickOnSite mobile app, which can even be used offline, to upload data from the field straight into ClickOnSite

– Project tracking, which shows managers exactly where all their projects (for example, rollouts) are in the process. This is connected to our unique use in the telecom industry of BPM 2.0. It gives great up-to-the-minute information, and the data can be mined to find bottlenecks and future improvements

– Global search, which indexes all file types stored in ClickOnSite

Additionally, though it is not visible as a feature to customers, we have been maintaining our response target of less than 2 seconds per click (the benchmark for e-commerce sites).  

TowerXchange: Whilst ITD had historically focused on MNOs, can you explain how your product is particularly well suited to the needs of independent towercos?

Jerome Perret, Managing Director, IT-Development SAS:

In fact, the processes and data models of both MNOs and towercos are very close which, because of the flexibility and configurability of ClickOnSite, for us meant just some minor, non-technical configurations to be able to serve both kinds of companies.

As with MNOs, towercos need a tool that works at scale over widely distributed locations. However, towercos require more agility to cope with their fast moving industry, which constantly reinvents itself.  In that respect, our use of the latest technologies guaranties our clients that they purchase a tool which is future proof and able to evolve with their technical needs and business. For instance, fibre is increasingly part of a towerco portfolio, and ClickOnSite can already handle that, in contrast to other systems which do not today and would require heavy development to enable.

Moreover, our SaaS version is particularly attractive for towercos that have scarce IT resources and appreciate handing over database administration and security concerns to a specialist.

TowerXchange: Traditionally ERP-like solutions are often criticised for their high cost and cumbersome nature, can you explain how ITD offer a more nimble and cost effective solution?

Jerome Perret, Managing Director, IT-Development SAS:

There is how we do it from a business perspective and there is how we do it from a technical perspective.

First of all, let’s look at the current state in the marketplace. Companies that don’t know about ClickOnSite think they must decide between two extremes:

– Use Excel in order to avoid the high license and implementation costs of the big ERP-like solutions. But Excel, or a simple database, comes with a host of other inefficiencies and is, frankly, an awful compromise.

– ERP-like systems which have associated high costs (license and implementation) and, also significantly, forces the staff to work according to the processes defined by the software.

ClickOnSite is modular so you only pay for what you need/use. On the one hand this means cost savings for the software license. But, as I mentioned before about how non-technical people can do most customisations, it also means very low costs for technical development, both during the implementation phase as well as over time.

And being able to do non-technical implementation has another bonus: speed! ClickOnSite can be fully implemented within a few months, whereas most of a year is not uncommon with the big systems. We see all these factors together as a win-win-win situation for the customer.

All told, typically we are at least 50% cheaper than the big ERP systems.

It all boils down to the fact that we are telecoms people making software and services for the industry, not software people who are trying to make round pegs fit into square holes in diversifying into telecoms.

TowerXchange: What feedback has your system had from clients and how has this translated into product evolution?

Jerome Perret, Managing Director, IT-Development SAS:

The integrations and features over the past year I talked about earlier are the direct result of talking with clients. Not only in “formal” feedback channels, but also from being active in the industry and listening to what people are talking about, where their pain points are.

At a high level, the density of 5G nodes will clearly drive need for passive infrastructure management. Closely related to this is fibre. ClickOnSite can handle both of these types of implementation today, but they will bring with them new requirements, for example GIS, as I talked about. Through our customers we will learn which things to prioritise.

A more hands-on example, and one which shows our agility, is that we had a requirement to be able to visually diagram passive infrastructure on a tower. Literally within 48 hours our technical team discussed how this could be done within ClickOnSite and had a prototype working.

For context, when we think of what to add or build next, we prioritise by applying the four guiding vision principles of ClickOnSite:

– Users must be able to easily access data

– Data must be useful (usable in reporting)

– Performance (speed) is not negotiable

– Data & system security are not optional!

It’s fun to think about future functionalities, but there is a lot of need for what ClickOnSite does today out there right now!

TowerXchange: How do you ensure that your solution is correctly implemented and used optimally in the field?

Jerome Perret, Managing Director, IT-Development SAS:

First and foremostly, everyone at ITD subscribes wholeheartedly to the philosophy that for us to be successful as a company, our customers must be very happy with our service. We live this philosophy every day. Our tagline #MakeTheEverydayBetter fits perfectly our corporate philosophy and culture.

In practical terms to ensure optimal implementation and use of ClickOnSite by our customers, also fairly unique to the industry, is the fact that we do the implementations ourselves; we don’t use integrators.

We believe personal connection is important, so we have Business Analysts go to the customer locations to work with them during the implementation through acceptance and training. Additionally, for some clients, we hire a local support person in their market.

Perhaps uniquely for companies like ours, we also hire & train local people in-market to support our clients on-site and in close geographical proximity.

We also organise ClickOnSite user workshops, which are great both for gaining insight to how users use the software as well as for advanced training for them. And it builds community among ClickOnSite users.

We remain in close communication with our clients, not only in person via our customer support team, but also through regular short, targeted surveys.

TowerXchange: What is ITD’s geographical footprint and how is this expanding?

Jerome Perret, Managing Director, IT-Development SAS:

Currently, most of our customers and users are in Europe and Africa, with Southeast Asia starting to roll.

We have concentrated a lot on Africa and the Middle East because our management has spent a lot of time there rolling out towers (including in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Congo, Iraq and Egypt), which means we have a lot of contacts there and feel close to the African and Middle Eastern countries and markets. And we see a great need for our services there — demand to roll out and manage sites is strong and the companies are dynamic, like us.

We have opened an office in Vietnam which does sales, support and technical development, the latter expanding the technical team working day by six hours from our development teams in France and Slovakia. There is a lot of action happening in SE Asia, especially with towercos and fibre and we expect to have some big announcements from that office soon.

This industry moves so fast that every day there is a new interesting nut to crack, technically, operationally or commercially. Never a dull moment! My team and I enjoy our work.

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