Subex CEO Vinod Kumar Interview: For over two decades, Subex has championed itself as the data analytics enabler for telecom sector. It systems globally handle over 100 billion transactions each day and these volumes continue to surge. While Bengaluru headquartered firm core competence remain telecom analytics, but now it is expanding its portfolio by infusing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) into its core products.
In an exclusive interview with TechObserver.in's Shalini Shukla, one of the senior executive asserts that the company is heavily focusing on IoT security and in 2019, it intends to intensify efforts to improve IoT threat research as this is an evolving area and has potential application in almost any industry.
“Given that a lot of operators are investing heavily in partnerships in the IoT space, and the fact that use cases for IoT are aplenty, this is an area where we firmly believe we can add a lot of value. Apart from this, we are foraying into deep learning AI that aims to shed light on hard to find business incidences,” Vinod Kumar, CEO & Managing Director, Subex said, adding that “for next phase of growth in 2019, the company plans to launch new range of products and services around new high growth areas such as customer journey analytics, digital identity, and anomaly detection.”
How has 2018 been for Subex in India?
2018 has been an exciting year for us, both from growing our business and diversifying into new areas of emerging technologies like IoT security. We have closely tracked the IoT threat intelligence landscape and built a solution. This solution will not only cater to our legacy customer base, but be further extended to smart cities, oil and gas, and manufacturing sectors. On the legacy products front, we have invested in our portfolio to make it relevant to the current market scenario and meet the changing demands of our customers.
From a financial standpoint, we have performed well, given a relatively flat market marked by geo-political and forex issues. We ended our previous quarter (FY 19 Q2) with a revenue of 8,806 lakhs and an EBIDTA of Rs 1,519 lakhs, a 9% hike in the revenue rate in comparison to FY 18 Q2 results. Further, we added several marquee customer logos and witnessed good traction from the APAC, MENA and African markets. Specific to India, the company's performance has been in line with industry trends. As consolidation continues to gain prominence in the Indian telecom landscape, telcos are commoditizing their legacy services and focusing on monetizing their data. Helping them leverage synergies to improve operational efficiencies has provided us great opportunities and this is expected to continue for the near future as well.
In the recent past, there has been a growing focus on IoT security, digital trust and deep learning-based anomaly detection. What is your take on this?
The last few years have brought about a huge change in terms of innovation in enterprise technology. Intelligent implementation of these technologies is disrupting traditional business models across most industries. One of these emerging areas is IoT, which has potential application in almost any industry and hence an important area of focus for IT products companies.
According to GSMA Intelligence, the number of global IoT connections could increase more than threefold and reach $25 Billion by 2025. This reflects on the magnitude at which these devices will be exposed to the internet and the data that these devices can access and store. Having said that, this may lead to a substantial trust gap when it comes to data consumption, bringing attention on the security aspect of consumption. This is where we see that the technology is changing the entire industry.
Now, companies are adopting a more practical and systematic strategy to deploy a robust security infrastructure. Many enterprise technologies organizations are incubating multi-vertical IoT security solutions to close this trust gap and establish digital trust. Further, this is strongly being reinforced by deploying learning-based anomaly detection, which makes it simpler to detect anomalies in the massive volume of data everybody is going to have access to. It is safe for us to correlate the growing focus on IoT Security, Digital Trust and deep learning-based anomaly detection with the rapidly increasing consumption of data.
What would be the Subex's focus areas in 2019?
Subex has been a data analytics company for nearly two decades now. Our systems globally handle over 100 billion transactions each day and these volumes continue to surge. While our core competence will continue to remain telecom analytics, we are aiming at expanding our portfolio in the year 2019. In our core areas, our efforts will be focused on increasing our market share by strengthening product capabilities. The infusion of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into our core products have given us the required impetus and we are confident of leveraging this to further strengthen our standing in the market.
In terms of newer areas, we are focusing heavily on IoT security. We intend to intensify our efforts to improve our IoT threat research in the upcoming year to cover new grounds as the sources of threats, malware attack patterns and targets diversify. Through our expanding honeypot network (a decoy computer security mechanism that consists of updated, real-time threat database to protect organizations from potential risks), we are aiming at sensitizing our stakeholders and make them conscious of an evolving threat environment that surrounds their business, assets, data and operations.
Given that a lot of operators are investing heavily in partnerships in the IoT space, and the fact that use cases for IoT are aplenty, this is an area where we firmly believe we can add a lot of value. Apart from this, we are foraying into deep learning AI that aims to shed light on hard to find business incidences. For our next phase of growth in 2019, we plan to launch our new range of products and services around new high growth areas such as Customer Journey Analytics, Digital Identity, and Anomaly Detection.
From an industry point of view, how do you look at the Telecom Analytics market in India?
Globally, the telecom analytics market is expected to $4,296.6 million by 2019, at a CAGR of 34.5%, with India being the second-largest telecom market in the world. There is an increasing demand from telecom operators and companies for effective analytics to manage and boost business decisions. Further, the telecom market in India is facing ample challenges in terms of privacy and security. There is a huge trust gap that has been discovered, for which organizations are building solutions. That is why we have forayed into IoT security at Subex and improve on our core products. We also expect the telecom analytics market in India to grow when deployment of 5G goes into full swing.
What are the trends that will impact telecom industry in 2019?
Given the rapid expansion of the technology domain, there are multiple trends that the telecom industry will witness in the upcoming year. I think, AI will continue to be a game changer, enabling telcos to leverage AI effectively to create newer and much more advanced solutions.
Also, more and more telecom operators are looking at the IoT space for growth. As IoT continues to garner traction, the number of connected devices is only set to increase further. This will provide hackers with new avenues to target, and thus securing the IoT infrastructure will become more important. The concept of IoT security, which was previously tied up with proof of concepts and experiments, will now be used to ensure commercial deployments.
In addition, telcos are looking forward to unleashing the power of 5G in the years to come. Since a large part of our customers involve telecom players, we can envision the impact that 5G will have on the industry. The arrival of 5G will also come with new types of challenges for CSPs and hence risk assurance and management will form an important part of the 5G roll out process
Despite stricter regulations, fraudsters are still on the large. With telecom operators now becoming Digital Service Providers, fraudsters too have moved ahead to tap into these newer areas. Hence, Digital methods of fraud prevention will see significant uptake in 2019. In addition, fraud coverage beyond traditional voice and SMS areas will be of considerable focus.