M2 eyes support system overhaul

Vaughan Bowen, chief of acquisition hungry telecommunications company M2, is eyeing a major billing and customer relationship management systems overhaul expected to be kicked off next year.

Vaughan Bowen, chief of acquisition hungry telecommunications company M2, is eyeing a major billing and customer relationship management systems overhaul expected to be kicked off next year.

Off the back of its recent acquisitions of Unitel, Commander's SMB arm and People Telecom, Bowen said M2 now operated four distinct retail customer and billing systems that a team within the company was now scoping out for consolidation.

"Commander, People Telecom, M2 and Southern Cross operate under different platforms in the retail area," said Bowen.

"A big focus in this financial calendar we have just entered, as a result of having acquired a number of businesses, we have acquired a number of operating systems. We bought them as going concerns with their operating system, but there is definitely a good case to be made for consolidation," he said.

The project team was currently assessing M2's options in terms of consolidating its systems, but whether M2 would opt for a new system for the whole business or simply use one of its existing systems was not yet known.

Billing system overhauls, at least for larger telecommunications companies such as AAPT and Telstra have proven risky and costly projects, particularly at the stage of migrating customers away from the legacy systems.

Vaughan declined to disclose the names of the systems currently in use, but said M2 owned three of its operating systems, while one was under licence from a vendor.

Possible vendors are yet to be canvassed but this was expected to be done in the latter part of the year, which would likely be from a specialist in utility billing systems vendor.

"Not so much SAP, but specialist utility billing systems," said Bowen. "We're calling it a business support system project which includes CRM, customer provisioning on the network, and management reporting for customer churn rates."

M2 yesterday reported an 86 per cent ($93 million) increase in revenues for the year to 30 June 2009 of $202 million. Earnings before interest, income tax, depreciation and amortisation was up 45 per cent to $13.33 million, while net profit after tax was up 45 per cent to $7.48 million. Bowen said the company now had 400 staff and said he was expecting to double its earnings next year.