Enabling the world of tomorrow, today
Business View Magazine interviews Chris Drake, CTO of iconectiv, for our focus on Innovation and Growth in Communications and Technology
In these days when ‘in-person’ is not often a viable option, the importance of adapting our means of communication via technology cannot be understated. The need and ability to connect is mission critical in a world without boundaries. Yet, while technological advances make communications simpler and more ubiquitous, interconnecting it across the infrastructure and delivering it to the right person is enormously complex. That’s what iconectiv does best. Efficiently interconnecting disparate applications, networks and devices in a world where accessing and exchanging information anywhere, anytime needs to be simple, seamless and secure.
As a trusted partner in the communications industry for over 30 years, iconectiv is well positioned to share knowledge and insights about innovation in the voice and data communications space. Which is why more than 5,000 service providers, enterprises and governments rely on iconectiv to create, operate and secure their communications infrastructures serving more than two billion people everyday. Here is a prime example: As the Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA) for the United States, iconectiv manages the nation’s Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC). The largest system of databases of ported phone numbers in the world, the U.S. NPAC handles ownership changes near instantaneously for more than 850 million phone numbers moving between 1600 service providers and service bureaus.
Today more than ever, there is a need and desire to restore confidence in voice communications and there are many players in the ecosystem helping make that happen – from service providers, to analytic engines, to regulators. Within that realm, iconectiv is squarely positioned as a neutral, trusted partner to help resolve this growing (and expensive) problem. To discover why, how, and why that matters, Business View Magazine recently spoke with iconectiv CTO Chris Drake. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.
BVM: To begin, can you share the background history on iconectiv?
Drake: “Our origins are with the Bell system. We spun out as an independent software organization when the AT&T divestiture occurred and we were called Bell Communications Research, better known as Bellcore. It’s a venerable name in the industry. So, we hearken back to the Bell Labs days, and we have deep expertise in things you’d expect like numbering and network operations, but we are also very involved in fraud mitigation and identity management. We are very much focused on ensuring that all communications – voice, text, and data – are built on a strong, secure and trusted foundation.”
BVM: How is your business adapting to the Covid-19 situation?
Drake: “Actually, being involved in communications, and enabling people to confer with each other and engage remotely, has made us quite resilient to the situation. As a company, we’ve moved from basic audio conferencing to full video-based conferencing and collaboration. That extends across the company and to our customers and partners. Our messaging and fraud prevention services have been in high demand and we have made significant progress on rolling out several key components of our trusted communications portfolio globally. I believe we will come out of this a stronger company and we’ve managed to master adapting to the changes pretty well.”
BVM: Do you think more companies will continue to carry on with remote work, given what they’re learning and the capabilities that are available?
Drake: “I read an article that said digital engagement as opposed to face to face has gained five years of adoption in the course of five weeks because of Covid-19. Everyone’s learning to engage their customers remotely – customers who never would have done such a thing and would have insisted on transacting in person are engaging in these ways. That is absolutely a trend. I’ve even heard, anecdotally, from good friends in different companies that prior policies about work at home that were discouraged are no longer seen that way. So, I think we’ll find that work at home and customer engagement, all has a new face to it.”
BVM: Dealing with an onslaught of fraudsters has become a major issue. How does iconectiv address one-ring call scams and other communication fraud concerns?
Drake: “We have a very competitive and differentiated solution for the one-ring call scam with much better accuracy in our numbering intelligence. With this type of fraud, the scammer intentionally hangs up after letting the call ring just one time. When the recipient calls back the number, they are unwittingly charged a premium amount for the phone call. Some of these callbacks can be as much as $50 a minute. Our focus is on helping service providers identify and prevent the fraud from happening in the first place – rather than evaluating it after the fact and course correcting. For example, we have customers that have saved their subscriber base from over half a million incoming attempts to trick end users into calling these expensive numbers back. Our solution helps service providers catch them at their source and stop them before ever reaching the consumer.
“We know the impact on companies that don’t use our data is substantially worse. And we also know how lucrative this can be for the fraudsters. For example, in just two hours, with a 4 percent yield on millions of calls, fraudsters could make $2-10 million with that scam. This kind of thing is operated at industry scale by the fraudsters, and you need an industry-scale data set that’s curated, which is what we provide within our Information as a Service TruNumber family. In addition to protecting service providers and their customers from contacting high risk numbers, we help companies route legitimate calls and content all around the world with the latest information. That’s another big piece of TruNumber and its family of platforms.”
BVM: What solutions do you provide for simplifying B2C communications?
Drake: “TruReach is a B2C-oriented family of platforms. We manage a cloud-based API suite for texting between a business and the subscriber they wish to reach on whatever network they are on and via any phone number type – whether it is a traditional 10-digit number, a toll-free number, or a short code. Fundamentally, that’s because the texting backend is really complicated with all the networks it might have to traverse to connect. So, we provide that layer of simplification to make business texting seamless. That’s really important for brands to be able to focus on their business. After all, their business may not know the complexities of text messaging networks. We also manage the identities and branding of enterprises who want their consumer audience to trust that they are engaging legitimate businesses. Our platforms provide information services to manage this trust at national scale.”
BVM: What are the most important things you’d like people to know about iconectiv?
Drake: “We provide ecosystem-wide solutions at national scale. That is a very unique skill in the industry and comes from our DNA. We are at the core of trust for robocall mitigation in the U.S., plus we chair various industry forums and working groups chartered to ensure trust in communications. Our highly secure cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions simplify information exchange on a global scale and make it instantly available. We make those complex communications systems and processes comprehensible and we are trusted with the critical data that allows people to confidently communicate via voice calls, text messaging and data. I am proud to say that curating a globally connected world is what iconectiv does better than anyone.”
For more than 30 years, iconectiv has been on a mission to deliver innovative market leading solutions to complex communications challenges. Now, that ability is more essential than ever before and iconectiv is proving up to the task. Through its industry leadership and expertise, iconectiv is realizing its vision of a world without boundaries, where the ability to access and exchange information is simple, seamless, and secure.
Private and government organizations rely on iconectiv’s cloud-based Information as a Service solutions for trusted communications, numbering intelligence, fraud prevention, network and operations management, and industry registries. The highly experienced iconectiv team, headquartered in Bridgewater, New Jersey, understands the complexities involved in creating, operating, and securing the communications infrastructure for service providers, regulators, enterprises, aggregators, and content providers. In essence, iconectiv is trusted to protect the critical data that makes the world run.
Through its three signature platform families – TruOps, TruNumber, and TruReach – iconectiv simplifies the complex communication challenges that customers face every day.
TruReach: New technologies, emerging regulations and evolving industry guidelines have revolutionized the way brands and consumers connect and engage with one another. Building that engagement on a foundation of trust is paramount. The platforms within TruReach help simplify the increasingly complex messaging ecosystem and drive consumer confidence
TruNumber: Between maximizing efficiencies, decreasing operational costs and safeguarding customer data, service providers have more phone numbering challenges than ever before. By leveraging authoritative, precise data, TruNumber’s comprehensive suite of numbering platforms enables service providers to seamlessly transfer phone numbers from one service provider to another, improve network planning through data insights and combat fraud. Businesses powered by TruNumber provide a more positive customer experience while driving revenue growth and operational efficiencies.
TruOps: Service providers are expected to manage their networks and interconnection arrangements, route, rate and bill for billions of calls and messages accurately, while under constant pressure to maximize efficiencies and improve network planning, with less time and resources. Achieving these objectives takes efficient access to reliable, scalable, and proven systems and processes. That’s where iconectiv TruOps comes in.
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AT A GLANCE
What: Global communications systems solutions company
Where: Headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey