In an ideal world, businesses would be able to carry out their digital business transactions safely, securely, ethically and reliably. In short, they need “digital trust”. But what does it take to provide that sought-after commodity? Warren Dumanski, Executive VP and General Manager of Subex, outlines the company’s digital vision.
Good day, Mr Dumanski! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. Could we begin with a few words on what made you pursue a career in telecommunications?
Certainly. I was introduced to telecommunications as a student in graduate school. At the time, I worked with Bell Canada and became very enamoured with the industry. After graduation, I was lucky to be employed by Nortel and joined their wireless group almost immediately.
Founded in 1992, Subex has spent over 25 years helping global communications service providers maximise their revenues and profitability. With a legacy of world-class solutions for business optimisation and analytics, what would you say are the cornerstones of your success?
Going beyond the Subex legacy of world-class solutions for business optimisation and analytics, we are now paving the way with solutions that help achieve Digital Trust within our customers’ business ecosystems. These solutions focus on privacy, security, predictability, and confidence in data. Our latest platform, HyperSense, encapsulates all this, making it simple enough for any business, no matter the industry, to embrace disruptive change and succeed with digital trust.
The cornerstone of our approach and our constant evolution is Subex’s 3-Horizon strategy.
Horizon 1 has products for traditional businesses within telecom, and these are a primary revenue generator for us. Fraud management, revenue assurance, partner ecosystem management, and capacity management are the most popular ones. We have also upgraded this entire solution suite with AI/ML to keep in step with the market and support the latest 5G and digital requirements.
Horizon 2 focuses on the internet of things (IoT), security, and analytics. Here, too, we have been upgrading our IoT Security solution to address Operational Technology (OT) use cases. One of the things Subex does very well is securing converged networks that have OT and IoT deployments. Agreeably, this gives us an edge in exploring new growth opportunities in this sector. This year, there have been some exciting additions to our Horizon 2 portfolio, such as Vulnerability Management, Micro-segmentation, and geography-focused cybersecurity solutions. This space will continue to improve with better product capabilities and strategic partnerships for market expansion.
And lastly, Horizon 3 is more about breakthrough innovations around identity and onboarding marketing. One key start-up here is ID Central, which focuses on AI/ML innovation. The main product is an identity verification system that strengthens the digital ecosystems of telecoms, e-commerce, fintech, and other verticals, and supports the API economy.
Subex now acts as a key player in enabling all-around digital trust in the business ecosystems of its customers. For those who may not be familiar with the concept, what exactly is digital trust?
Digital business is creating new rules of engagement, agile but ephemeral digital interactions, dynamic digital supply chains, and an explosion of players that work in tandem within this complex ecosystem. Digital trust is a concept that enables users to carry out business transactions in a safe, secure, ethical, and reliable manner within these ecosystems. But digital trust is multi-dimensional and multi-directional and very hard to build in digital ecosystems.
Subex envisions Digital Trust as the lifeblood of digital business. Through it, entities can quantify expectations, validate themselves, monitor behaviour – all within the boundary-less world of digital. We drive Digital Trust across multiple dimensions, such as Transactional Trust, Competence Trust, and Representational Trust across customer businesses, consumers, and partners. We believe it is crucial to create a complete, robust, and fail-proof framework for Digital Trust. Our portfolio of products and solutions does exactly that.
Give us a quick peek into the evolution of technology at Subex?
Since the very beginning, Subex’s core customer base has been the telecom segment. As we all know, telecom is a mix of very rich data, holding a significant amount of insights, opportunities, and challenges. One of the earliest challenges we’ve faced was how to leverage this data in a meaningful way to highlight opportunities, gaps, threats, and revenue.
Over the years, we have partnered and co-created with our customers by leveraging data to solve complex issues. We have developed a suite of products using powerful technologies that help our clients solve complex business problems. Some of the topmost areas where clients seek our help are maximising revenue, preventing leakages, handling fraud, and optimising spending. We can provide our customers with clear and actionable insights because of our expertise in data engineering and ability to deal with high volume, high velocity, and a great variety of data.
This became the core of what we do, i.e., analytics.
As CSPs become DSPs (digital service providers), there is a new surge of interest in digital infrastructure and next-gen solutions. We have been riding this wave by experimenting, prototyping, and deploying industry-class solutions to meet this demand. In addition, we now leverage AI and ML in our products and push cloud-first solutions.
We have also evolved beyond traditional licence-based models. In the digital future, we aim to deliver innovation rapidly, give customers control over their data, and have the confidence that their digital ecosystems are secure, safe, and reliable.
Interestingly, HyperSense, our latest platform, is the culmination of this journey of technological evolution at Subex. As an open cloud-native platform built on microservices architecture, it is composable and includes several studios that give customers the tools to solve problems in-house.
You recently announced the launch of HyperSense. Could you please introduce us to the capabilities of HyperSense?
HyperSense is an end-to-end AI orchestration platform that helps enterprises make faster, better decisions by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) across the data value chain.
It takes away the need for CSPs to invest in multiple-point solutions to solve different problems and keep the software and human resources up to date. It aggregates and organises data generated across the enterprise, eliminating challenges with data integration and siloed data sets.
HyperSense seamlessly marries data and analytics, making it extremely simple for the end users, who can be developers, data scientists, and even business teams. IDC estimates that the analytics market will reach $500 billion by 2025, and HyperSense helps enterprises tap into this.
We designed HyperSense by tapping into our extensive data analytics experience. As a result, it contains all the augmented analytics capabilities that enterprises need in one flexible and modular platform. Another thing that HyperSense does very well is help businesses use AI. Around 70 to 80 per cent of enterprises struggle to find a uniform AI and data stack, organise data for AI models, and find the right talent. Since it is a no-code platform, users without coding knowledge can easily aggregate data from disparate sources, turn data into insights, build and tune AI models, and share findings.
Diving into its capabilities, HyperSense has five studios.
The Data Management Studio handles data governance aspects like curating, cleansing, validating, and storing data. The Business Modeling Studio codifies business rules and simulates business processes. The AI Studio helps make smarter, profitable, and agile decisions through easy drag-and-drop capabilities. The Business Intelligence Studio helps explore, analyse, and visualise complex datasets. The Process Automation Studio provides closed-loop feedback, visualisation, and reporting for better stakeholder collaboration.
For enterprises, HyperSense will change how AI is adopted and used to cement profitable offerings and strategic partnerships. For Subex, HyperSense is the start of our platform journey.
Can you take our readers through Subex’s journey towards making AI/ML an essential/powering factor within your products?
Subex started on the path of AI/ML a couple of years back. Early adopters of AI/ML have different success stories. A common refrain is that the RoI seems limited, even as the technology matures and becomes more affordable. In a few cases, companies have started to reduce their investments in AI, because they do not reap the expected promises.
What we have done at Subex is created “AI Labs” to foster experimenting with AI. For customers, it gives them an idea of the actual benefits of AI, i.e., how it solves precise problems, the substantial efficiencies they can gain, and costs they can reduce. This simple approach has steered us to create powerful products. Alongside, we are also building competencies in AI talent, tools, and solutions. We, too, have an AI-first approach towards building our own products. We are investing in the right AI talent and have been identified as the 15th among the Top 50 Best Places for Data Scientists to Work in India by Analytics India magazine.
Please give us a few insights into your technology labs and virtual start-ups. How is it helping Subex to come out with innovative products and solutions?
Innovation is part of the culture at Subex. At the outset, we have designed a framework to support innovative ideas and proofs of concept. An example of these efforts is our anomaly-detection solution. We have an internal virtual start-up ecosystem for internal tech entrepreneurs to run with their ideas and test how these solve real-world business problems. Taking the case of the anomaly solution, now any company can learn about attacks on its payment gateways and how these attacks evolve.
In a similar vein, our technology labs have churned out products such as Capacity Management, an AI-enabled network investment planning solution, and IDcentral, a consent-first identity and access management solution. There are some prototypes in the pipelines. We also build solutions in collaboration with customers, like the revenue reconciliation solution using blockchain technology.
Can you tell me some of the work Subex is doing around the blockchain space and how this will evolve in the next few years?
Blockchain will soon be a force multiplier across multiple industries, with applications ranging from cryptocurrencies to vaccine tracking. By enabling immutable trust, blockchain melds very well with our vision of digital trust. At Subex, digital trust has three components: the “non-negotiable” foundation layer of risk management; the “sustenance layer” that binds identity and security; and the strategic layer, which creates competitive advantage and supports brand reputation elements. Our view is that, on the three-point trust scale, blockchain is a layer-three technology; that is, it can enhance brand reputation by delivering the immutable trust required in transactions.
There are many opportunities for blockchain adoption in telecom. By 2023, we expect that it will be worth $993.8 million in the telecom industry. Top of mind, some of the immediate use cases are dealer management, margin management, and data governance.
Blockchain seemed like a natural choice for us at Subex. We were named as one of 10 technology provider partners supporting the Communications Business Automation Network in 2019 by the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum. We are also a member of the RAG Wangiri Blockchain Consortium and take part in several telecom forums, focusing on developing real-time industry threat intelligence on fraud by utilising blockchain.
Can you tell us about the work Subex is doing in the space of IoT?
We have upgraded the Subex IoT Security solution to address Operational Technology (OT) use cases. One use case is cybersecurity. In the past two years, cyber-attacks have become more prevalent, and every industry is grappling with these. Recent reports estimate that the global OT security market will reach US$25 billion by 2026. Hackers are bent on exploiting technology gaps to steal valuable and sensitive corporate data. One common means of hacking systems is through connected devices on the Internet of Things (IoT).
Having significant expertise in securing converged networks that have OT and IoT deployments, Subex is constantly evolving its products in this space. For instance, we have added features such as Vulnerability Management and Micro-segmentation into our product to meet specific client needs.
Some of the clients eager for our IoT cybersecurity solutions are in the maritime, appliance manufacturers, automotive manufacturers, O&G, and (of course) telecom sectors. To achieve this, we are actively engaging with key distributors and resellers to make our geography-focused cybersecurity solutions available to different markets.
Could you please give us insights into the R&D cycle in your company?
We are firm believers in the principles of continuous innovation and a start-up mindset. So, we fund teams that come up with the best ideas. They also have access to mentors, incubators, and time off to actualise their ideas. All of this spending is part of our R&D cycle that helps us bring out relevant digital products and solutions that add value for our customers.
Your thoughts on the kind of talent needed to veer Subex into the future in terms of technology?
Given that technology is the bedrock of most operations, we will be investing significantly in upscaling our talent. This includes hiring certified talent and upskilling our engineers through our internal Learning Management System (LMS). Internal journeys are supported by a robust career architecture that we dedicatedly built to help our employees chart meaningful career journeys.
In terms of technology talent, we are strengthening our expertise in the cloud space around cloud infrastructure and cloud-native development. Some of the roles we focus on are programmers and OSEs, technical architects, and product management talent. We also want to refine competencies around AI/ML by investing in data scientists, data engineers, and people with AI/ML or Deep Learning skills. And finally, UI/UX architects will be crucial to ensure that all of these capabilities are customer-centric, and we are looking for the top talent in those areas as well.
Please talk about customers and partners and how Subex has adapted based on their changing requirements?
Subex works with over 200 operators globally, and 75 per cent of the top 50 telcos are our partners. We have 300+ installations across 90+ countries, which will give you an idea of the scale at which we operate.
This year, we announced deals with a few marquee names for our core products. At the same time, our newer focus areas like IoT Security, Capacity Management, and IDcentral also had good traction, and we should see more growth coming from these areas in the next year.
As a customer-centric company, we pride ourselves on being able to listen and adapt as per our customer needs and the changing market landscape. Customers today want control. They want to choose their best course of action to solve their problems. Since the beginning, Subex’s core customer base has been the telecom segment, which has access to a vast amount of data that holds insights, opportunities, and red flags. The challenge comes from leveraging this data.
Even before big data became a mainstream word, Subex has been building capabilities in data engineering and dealing with large-scale data. As technology progressed, so did we. As a result, we consistently reimagine how we serve our customers and how our customers will be conducting business in the future. For example, we shifted from software primarily for on-prem deployment to Hadoop as a platform and innovations around big data.
Recently, we augmented our entire product suite to support 5G and other digital requirements by leveraging AI/ML capabilities. This product strategy and our focus on Digital Trust continue to see an encouraging response from customers. We endeavour to help our customers across the chasm of using AI capabilities to get a disproportionate advantage, despite the harsh realities of lack of data science skills. HyperSense is the outcome of this. Built on open cloud-native microservices architecture and using a studio-based approach, HyperSense puts the solution in the hands of the customer.
Please tell us about your team and how they stood by company values during the pandemic?
Subex’s employees are spread across the globe, and the larger centres are our offices located in Bengaluru, London, Denver, Dubai, and Singapore. We have 1,000+ full-time Subexians on our rolls globally. Subex and Subexians are united by our values of Make it Happen, Win Together, Think Customer, Create Value, and Be Open, Be Fair. I believe this unity and strength helped tide us through the pandemic. Each Subexian worked tirelessly, channelising all their energy and skills to meet the needs of our customers and partners. Through their continued efforts, we ensured continuity in operations and business growth. With the rapid changes in telecom, Subex has been quick to understand the market needs and build capabilities to support this. These achievements are possible only because of our strong community of employees.
At Subex, talent acquisition and retention remain a key focus area and will always be essential to building Subex as a fast-growing technology company. We continue to hire top talent wherever we see a role fitment. Given the direction that Subex is taking, our current talent pool lies in the cloud space, towards cloud infrastructure, specifically for cloud-native development. On the other side, hiring investments are also directed towards building additional competencies around AI/ML, an area where we are expanding and upscaling. This includes data scientists, data engineers, folks with AI/ML or Deep Learning skills, etc.
What trends do you see influencing the telecom industry in the coming decade?
The world is gradually moving towards 100 per cent mobile coverage. Growth across mobile adoption, mobile internet, and 4G adoption has been steady. Two years ago, 50 per cent of the global population used mobile internet. Telcos want to bring the rural and gender deficit of users within their networks.
5G is also seeing steady growth across developed and developing markets, with an average of eight new 5G networks being added every month. Some estimate that we will see 150+ 5G networks growing in nearly 60 global markets, with over 200 million connections.
IoT tech will become more mature, driving new-age use cases of 5G. Integration with existing ecosystems, data security, and implementation costs are the topmost expected hurdles, and telcos will need strong solutions to help them ride the wave.
All of this makes cost management more critical. Many CSPs were weighed down by a sharp fall in mobile revenues during COVID-19, due to low roaming services and the need to discount services to help deal with the pandemic. In the future, US$900 billion is the expected capex of operators by 2025, 80 per cent of which will be dedicated to 5G. We see significant interest in open network technologies to reduce cost, widen supplier choices, and make network investment planning more judicious.
And lastly, how would you define success?
Success will be measured in many dimensions. First, with our customers. Do they see value in their relationship with Subex? Is Subex top of their mind to help solve pressing issues? Is Subex a trusted partner?
Next, with our employees. Is Subex a great place to work? Do our employees recommend us to their friends? Are people treated with respect and dignity? Are they proud to be called a Subexian?
When we can answer all of these questions in the affirmative, we will undoubtedly be considered “successful”.
Warren Dumanski heads Subex’s North America business, and is responsible for overall P&L for the region. He brings with him over 30 years of experience, spanning across most conceivable areas of wireless and communications technologies.
Prior to joining Subex, Warren was General Manager, Americas at TEOCO Corporation for eight years, where he managed the Sales and Account Management teams. Warren has also played critical, revenue generating roles in other organizations like Celletra, Newfield Wireless, NextG Networks, Spectrian Corporation and Nortel Networks amongst others.