• January 30, 2010
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Amdocs Releases CES Version 8

Veteran CRM player Amdocs recently unveiled its Customer Experience Systems (CES) 8 product — a solution that boasts communication scalability, customer satisfaction, and lean technology operations. Analysts describe the solution as an evolution rather than a revolution for the company, but argue that the complete story is one worth telling.

According to a survey conducted by Amdocs and consultancy Frost & Sullivan, the trend toward device connectivity is accelerating, pushing service providers to provide better-integrated, more-agile solutions that conceal "the complexities of new applications and devices from the end user." In doing so, Amdocs claims CES 8 will aid service providers and assist in their initiatives by "exposing network, [technology], and data assets to a growing ecosystem of content and developer partners."

According to the report, "Amdocs' Connected World Survey 2010," there were four main drivers for device connectivity (or, in Amdocs' preferred phrase, "a connected world"):

  • consumer desire for connectivity;
  • improvements in edge devices (faster processors, advancements in user interfaces);
  • improved network capabilities; and
  • new business models and partnerships.

Hindering these developments — points that CES 8 hopes to overcome — are obstacles that include the following:

  • the current, subsidized device market;
  • identifying emerging business models;
  • device- and component-certification processes;
  • buildouts for 3G and 4G networks that are still in progress;
  • the need for additional network openness; and
  • the need for additional industry standards.

"Amdocs really looks at the holistic view of much of the customer experience," says Mark Mortensen, senior analyst of telecommunications software at consultancy Analysys Mason. "[It does] an exceptional job of describing that and showing how that fits in the context of the operation.... Everything fits together in this release." Customers now rarely interact with only one channel when they're shopping, he says, so the whole idea of having a set of customer management functions and sales functions available -- and integrated -- is exciting.

Maribel Lopez, principal analyst and founder of Lopez Research, says she, too, was most impressed by the breadth of the offering, adding that the release "moves Amdocs closer to being a complete platform provider for a [telecommunications] carrier." Typically, service providers have to cobble solutions together themselves, or enlist one or more vendors to deliver a bulk solution.

To address this demand for a more-complete solution, Amdocs says that CES 8 was developed with three primary objectives in mind:

Expand quicker: Amdocs provides a prepackaged solution featuring mobile-network planning and design tools for 3G and 4G networks, as well as cutting-edge long term evolution (LTE) and radio access networks (RAN), which can adapt to new technologies. As a result, the company says, CES 8 reduces upgrade time and total cost of ownership. The company has also integrated the capabilities of Java-based convergent service platform of jNetX, which Amdocs acquired last October for $50 million (net of debt and cash). The solution promises to synchronize network services across legacy and Internet Protocol–based network elements to enable a standardized development environment for communication applications. Finally, the solution combines Amdocs Enterprise Product Catalog with a workflow engine to enhance product-lifecycle management.

Drive customer experience: Amdocs Universal Storefront streamlines the shopping experience across multiple touch points. An integration with a mobile-device management partner allows customer service agents to have resolution insight for smartphones. Amdocs ChangingWorlds's mobile Internet portal allows companies to enhance service by delivering personalized customer interactions based on each customer's search history, interests, and preferences.

"Personalization and online merchandising will be necessary for customer experience and CES 8 helps providers do this," Lopez says. However, she continues, achieving optimal customer service still requires service providers to improve back-end systems management paired with delivering more-compelling customer front-end systems through open-source delivery environments such as jNetX.

Run leaner: The company says its Amdocs Convergent Charging (Turbo Charging) product supports Linux/x86 operating systems that can run on multiple servers, based on the Intel Xeon family of processors or x86 processors. This will enable service providers to deploy low-cost servers and efficient charging operations that can accommodate what Amdocs calls "surging prepared-subscriber bases and data services." Moreover, the Amdocs Configuration Management Database Service Operational Product Pack is a new configuration management solution that supports both technology and network components of an organization's service provision infrastructure in a single database.

Mortensen calls this release "interesting" for its ability to fulfill and strengthen Amdocs' vision of becoming a one-stop shop for service providers. He notes that CES 8 may not include any major shift in direction, but argues the product represents a significant evolution in the company's roadmap. Almost every one of Amdocs' announcements in CES 8, Mortensen says, once required a custom implementation for individual customers. Now, he says, Amdcos has gone back and "productized" the various capabilities to become part of the standard product line.

Going forward, Mortensen says he hopes to see Amdocs build out its partner ecosystem. While companies in the United States and Western Europe often execute direct sales, the rest of the world, he says, executes sales largely through channel partners.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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