Connectiva – No News is Not Good Enough

I have not written much about Connectiva’s seeming collapse because… well, what can I write? The Indian revenue assurance vendor has gone radio silent for an awfully long time. Their few remaining customers keep being told to wait for imminent good news that never seems to arrive. That leaves no official update to share. The unofficial Connectiva employees’ blog provides a limited opportunity to relay the latest rumour, but even this site is only updated sporadically. And the little information in mainstream circulation has proven to be unreliable. Take this from Light Reading India:

Revenue assurance and analytics systems specialist Connectiva Systems is on the brink of being acquired by IT services firm Mara Ison Technologies, Light Reading India has confirmed.

According to a senior executive at Dubai-based Mara Ison, which currently does most of its business in Africa, the deal is set to close in about a week or so.

That was published on May 30th. A week turns into a month, and months turn into… well, even the most patient of customers will eventually snap.

As for Mara-Ison, or any other potential purchasers of Connectiva’s dried-out husk, you have to wonder why they would want it. Goodwill must be nil, most of the people will have gone, the brand is now less than worthless and nobody will come out of this mess with a net positive reputation. Unless Connectiva has some other, unorthodox assets, the only thing it has to sell is its code. But lots of companies have code. Anybody investing in Connectiva’s code has to ask themselves why they will make more money from that code than Connectiva did.

It is never nice to kick a business when it is down, but Connectiva deserves it. And my best guess is they have no money to sue me, even if they wanted to. They raked in money from investors, but blew it. They talked the same talk as their rivals, but arrived late to the party and failed to compete on any factor except price. When things got difficult, instead of taking the painful path of cutting costs and preserving what they could, the management team drove the business straight off a financial cliff, leaving staff unpaid and customers bemused. But to appreciate the real joke, contemplate what Connectiva’s business was supposed to be selling. They said their products can be used to increase profitability. According to their website, the last event Connectiva attended was called ‘information on demand’. Last year their chief marketeer contributed to a Total Telecom article on the subject of risk management, and loftily explained the need

…to focus on those risks that will have the most impact…

Err… so that would include the risk of running out of cash, would it? But I saved the best for last. In August 2011, Connectiva boss Avi Basu wrote an article called How to Launch a Business in Challenging Economic Times. He identifies three steps in running a successful enterprise, which I will now satirize.

  1. Find your core. Assemble a core team of people who will drive the success of your business. Then stop paying them and refuse to tell them what is happening. Also learn to redirect energies from old to new strategies. That would be like taking the strategy of running a cohesive team and swapping it for a strategy of every man for himself.
  2. Make customers your champions. Honestly, you could not make this stuff up. Connectiva’s strategy was based on the idea that ‘happy customers are the best ambassadors’. True. He forgot to mention that angry customers will bury you.
  3. Understand your growth partners. This means find the right investors. Presumably this is supposed to mean more than finding investors who are glad to put their money in, and expect nothing back.

I sometimes bash vendors because, well, they run businesses that tell other businesses how to do better. Fine. A lot of telcos could and should do better. If vendors know how to run businesses better, then they should share their wisdom. But first, they need to take their own advice.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.