Small Cell Deployment Success Factor (Enterprise): Pre-Sales Coverage Improvement Processes

August 27, 2014

In our two recent posts around operations Operationalize Small Cell Systems for Quicker Adoption by Enterprise Customers and Helping Sales Accelerate Enterprise Small Cell Deployments we discussed transforming business processes to industrialize small cell deployments, and applying the right people at the right times in the overall process.

Where we last left the discussion: the sales force has a branded scalable enterprise small cell product with branded support collateral and the E-RAN Estimation App on their smartphones. In the rest of this blog, we’ll connect the dots (no pun intended Ericsson) of how the estimates generated by the App can be used in a “Pre-Sales Coverage Improvement” process to rapidly provide a scalable small cell system quotation back to the Enterprise IT customer.

Please keep in mind, especially if you’re an engineering reader, that this is an E-RAN radio quantity sizing exercise, not a system engineering or design exercise. Consider the E-RAN app a financial pre-screening process designed to free up engineers from working on indoor improvements until there is an approved project. After the project goes through the screening process, and the enterprise customer signs an order for the system, then an actual project is started that ultimately culminates in a scalable small cell system implementation.

Customer Quote Generation

It is important to note that the E-RAN Estimator App can be used immediately with a back office quote generation processes after installation via e-mail.

It can also be easily integrated into a Customer Relationship Management “CRM” environment. A simple example is shown below.

Because the SpiderCloud E-RAN system is installed in a building in a limited number of configurations, it is ideally suited to a standardized quote via a CRM process.

Pre-Sales Model (example)

This example is based on assisting a mobile operator to create Pre-Sales Coverage sales framework. Assume this tool would be used with other known customer information to create a one-stop decision making tool to decide on funding of indoor coverage solutions.

The first four pieces of information are provided in collaboration with enterprise IT with the E-RAN Estimator determining the radio count. Installation by customer and use of VLAN are captured to allow the enterprise customer to see the cost difference if they contribute labor and a VLAN towards improving services in the building. The number of accounts and ARPU are sourced direct from the enterprise’s corporate account information in the billing platform. The business outputs are calculated from price lists and normal installation and project cost metrics.

The “required line growth for payback” is E-RAN/LAN amortization/APRU. We have observed that growth is driven by a “friends telling friends” behavior. At the June 2014 LTE World Summit, the CTO of Telecom Austria made the claim that: “We are seeing rebirth of coverage as an Operator differentiator.” Based on our observations of our systems in production, we agree!

On the systems cost, the enterprise could be asked to increase commitment to more mobiles in the contract, extend the contract, or fund some part of system in form of upfront capital, or a monthly expense to insure the operator has ROI on their capital. Assume that the sales team does not want to tell a valued enterprise that is having coverage problems, “NO”. This leaves the “NO” decision to do nothing firmly in control of the enterprise customer if a creative solution cannot be agreed upon.

The other approach we favor is to set the price of the radios such that it’s an “all-inclusive” cost, and bill them that way. This keeps the actual system costs of each site separated so there is not a complex loading of the actual costs into the billing system for each enterprise building, and keeps a handle on internal Opex of billing platform.

In summary, these are a sample of the approaches to providing a repeatable process that our mobile operator’s have implemented, or are considering, to help realize both the velocity possibilities afforded by an E-RAN, and preserve scarce engineering resources for business qualified indoor improvements.

If the reader of this blog is a SpiderCloud customer or channel partner, please contact us if you want to learn more about CRM Integration, the process, origin spreadsheet used in blog or desire a custom seminar conducted with your organization on creating a Pre-Sales environment that fully exploits our EASY-30 process of E-RAN technology and Estimator App.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @

Helping Sales Accelerate Enterprise Small Cell Deployments

June 26, 2014

In our last post around operations Operationalize Small Cell Systems for Quicker Adoption by Enterprise Customers” we discussed transforming business processes to industrialize small cell deployments and applying the right people at the right times in the overall process.

In order to accelerate small cell deployments, we need to consider the lifecycle of the stakeholders:

  • Pre-Sales:  customer facing activity that culminates in a decision to improve indoor coverage/capacity for an enterprise/venue.
  • Customer Satisfaction: internal business qualification of small cells that generate customer facing proposals and cost estimates.
  • Deployment: technical and business activity to build the indoor system.
  • Supply Chain: industrialized processes embodied in the mobile operator’s Supply Chain environment that automate much of the routine lifecycle tasks so operations staff can focus on managing exceptions.

One of the many industry analysts that we interacted with recently commented that “operators are huge process machines that happen to have a mobile network”. His belief that transformation in business processes is needed, is reflected in our actions to help transform business operations with our “EASY-30” program and the E-RAN Estimation App.

The Pre-Sales Cycle

Pre-Sales activities are key to mutual satisfaction of the sales personnel and the enterprise accounts that they are assigned to. To achieve a high level of satisfaction from a sales organization, speed, accuracy and process transparency in support of their accounts is paramount. The sales team plays a dual role where they represent, externally, the mobile operator TO the customer, and internally, represent the customer TO the mobile operator. In both roles, accurate and timely information is needed to maximize success.

Present processes are designed for a high cost/low volume project workload. The diagram below will be used to describe the process flow, issues that arise from it, and how it blocks enterprise small cells from achieving their full potential.

The Process

  • Enterprise IT customer complains about poor coverage in a structure.
  • Sales rep returns to office and opens a ticket to that market’s RF engineering to begin investigation process.
  • RF engineering researches problem and, if design is needed, will return proposals to sales (minimum 2 months). This is dependent on backlog for that market.
  • Sales management has to evaluate revenue from account, decide on capital funding model, and propose it to the enterprise customer.
  • If the project is accepted and approved, whoever is the funding source will have to do capital budgeting, and possibly, wait for next Fiscal Year to begin before it’s available.

Issues that prevent easy adoption of small cells in the enterprise

  • Not fast enough for the Enterprise stakeholders who are trying to relieve the pain of their internal customers.
  • Not fast enough for the sales force as most reps want action NOW.
  • Design resources can be engaged before there is a project approved.
  • If the design cycle is charged to the Sales organization, there may be decisions made to not go forward with researching resolution, by sales leadership, as the revenue may not justify it.
  • For indoor small cells that are low cost and fast to install and commission, the design cycle is too cumbersome.

Future processes are designed for low cost/high volume project workload. The diagram below will be used to describe the proposed process flow, and how it caters to the agility of small cells.

The EASY 30 Process

  • Enterprise IT customer complains about poor coverage in a structure.
  • Sales rep immediately says “We can help”, pulls out their Smartphone and asks customer for three inputs:
    – Number of floors to be improved.
    – Square footage per floor.
    – Total number of mobile device owners.
    Sales Rep calculates number of small cell radios required, emails the estimate to their Customer Satisfaction team and cc’s the customer.
  • Customer Satisfaction team arrives at a not-to-exceed system cost and evaluates subscriber penetration/revenue to determine financial allocation of system cost. This proposal is returned to the sales rep within 24 hours.
  • Sales rep delivers the proposal and system installation collateral to the customer. Further follow-up meetings may be necessary by sales rep and Pre-Sales technical consultants to educate the customer and IT decision makers on system installation and operations.
  • Customer makes the go/no-go decision on proceeding forward.
    – If it’s a no-go, stop here.
    – If it’s a go, proceed to next step.
  • Project is opened for systems design and deployment.

Issues Resolved

  • EASY 30 is fast enough for the Enterprise stakeholders that if they need to make a capital contribution to the project, it’s easier because the complaints are still very fresh.
  • Fast for the sales force as they get the action fast, and the E-RAN Estimator App allows direct participation in the problem solving process.
  • Design resources are engaged after there is a project approved. Keep in mind that the above scenario is for 90% of the sites, and that there will always be outliers that require more work and attention due to a number of factors.
  • The design cycle is bundled into the project costs removed from Cost of Sales.

For indoor small cells that are low cost and fast to install and commission, this Pre-Sales process is aligned with them.

Establish operator brand preference. This is the key success factor to establish a fresh small cells sales process as it creates a sales-foundation that is tangible and can be talked about to the enterprise IT customer. Branding and stratifying small cells offerings enables customer self service for product selection, and easy to understand positioning for the operator’s sales force.

Small Cell Customer Segmentation:

  • Residential: Standalone Femtocell
  • SMB: Enterprise Femtocell
  • Medium-Large Enterprise: SpiderCloud E-RAN

For mobile operators who want to move small cells from the RF toolbox to a product that Sales can lead with to enterprise IT customers, Branding, Sales Collateral, and an easy to comprehend Business framework must be available.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss “Customer Satisfaction” business operations and process flows that can be used to qualify business case and accelerate small cell systems for large enterprise customers.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @

Operationalize Small Cell Systems for Quicker Adoption by Enterprise Customers

April 29, 2014

SpiderCloud recently released an E-RAN Estimator smartphone app that enables operator sales teams to swiftly identify enterprise customer requirements for in-building small cell systems, to improve the service relationship between the operator and its enterprise customers

The E-RAN Estimator is part of the EASY-30 implementation program. The app actually helps start the operationalizing of small cell systems for enterprise deployments — removing weeks of cumbersome technical tasks, while making it a competitive sales differentiator.

We must operationalize small cell systems to help speed up adoption:

  • Small cells as a product: branded and available online
  • Simple engagement process: where costs, technology, initial system sizing and ordering process are clear to both sales and customers
  • Easy to order: integrated fulfillment, Supply Chain, operations and billing

To set the context for the acceleration discussion and why Supply Chain integration is key, it is important to keep in mind that enterprise small cell system acquisition and installation price points are lower than traditional indoor systems. In addition, the Total Addressable Market (TAM) of buildings that can be improved is much larger as well. More buildings are now addressable for improvement.

Thousands of mobile operator sales people want to address this pent up demand for better coverage and capacity. Thus, an industrialized process for pre-sales, ordering, deployment, lifecycle management and billing is necessary to handle operational scale and sometimes national and geographic differences. What is needed is a business and operational process to address a truncated small cell systems time approach of days and weeks vis-à-vis 9-to-12 month or longer approach to distributed antenna systems.

Lets look at the present situation for context.

  • Building improvements, other than residential, are generally in the domain of RF engineering experts. Medium-large enterprise facilities generally don’t have off the shelf branded solutions and RF specialists from the mobile operator must be dispatched to survey the structure(s) and develop a solution to resolving the customer complaints. This can take up to six months to fully develop, and may involve taking interim steps in the macro-network (e.g. change antenna tilt) and evaluating success before an in-building solution design cycle gets the OK to proceed. The people that perform this work are both expensive and scarce and, if the design is charged back to the sales organization, may result in sales teams not escalating complaints for resolution of smaller enterprises.
  • In present model, sales teams have minimal involvement with the process of improving a building. Having spent time in pre-sales activity, there is nothing harder than having an ill-defined product, and something where the costs are so high the customer seeks alternatives. In the present approach, sales may have limited involvement in developing or ratifying a solution for a customer. Resolutions to the issues are developed and returned to sales for presentation to the customer. In many cases, if the customer has to contribute capital, it can be 12-18 months before the customer can budget it. This assumes it would be approved, as some large enterprises don’t believe they own fixing licensed spectrum problems in their own structures. This is partially due to the acquisition and installation costs of the present generation of systems. Anecdotally, we have learned that 95% of the building improvement requests where the operator has to pay the full system cost are turned down. In summary, sales opens a ticket for research into improving services, and may have to disappoint the customer six months in the future.
  • Supply Chain integration does not exist. When we depart the realm of hand crafted indoor systems and need to industrialize the processes for the rapid installation timeframe of an E-RAN system, it must involve the mobile operator’s Supply Chain environment (potentially an Amdocs, Oracle or SAP environment). If you acquire a great small cells technology that satisfies your customers, brand it, and enable your sales force to sell it, without Supply Chain integration you’ll create an implementation backlog. In our experience, there are a lot of parallel activity triggers that can be done by a system, and free up back office resources to manage the overall service delivery without having to do everything manually. As mobile operators move to large-scale enterprise deployments, driving the process from a system keeps labor costs in check while keeping scheduling commitments to both sales and the mobile enterprise customers.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss examples of business operations and process flows that can be used to operationalize and speed up the deployment of small cell systems for large enterprise customers.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @EMobilityInside
Visit our Enterprise IT site @