Light Reading

Amdocs Ain't What It Used to Be

Ray Le Maistre

Amdocs Ltd. has been an influential and powerful player in the back-offices of communications service providers (CSPs) for decades, helping operators build and maintain their billing and customer care systems.

But for many of those years it was labeled (in a pejorative way by its rivals) as a company that marketed products but delivered expensive services (consultancy, integration, bespoke software builds) that would stretch an implementation timetable into years. "Amdocs has no real products," its critics would say (though they often neglected to add how much business that approach generated…).

Now, though, such criticisms carry less weight. And not just because Amdocs has spent the past 10 years expanding its product portfolio with a series of acquisitions, which has included (but which is not limited to):

2003 -- Xacct: Amdocs Buys Xacct (At Last)
2005 -- DST Systems: Amdocs Buys Into Cable
2006 -- Qpass: Amdocs Buys Into Content Delivery
2006 -- Cramer Systems: Amdocs Snaps Up Cramer
2007 -- SigValue Technologies: Amdocs Continues Spending Spree
2008 -- JacobsRimmel: Amdocs Provisions $45M for JacobsRimell
2009 -- jNetX: Amdocs Rallies, Fills SDP Hole
2011 -- Bridgewater Systems: Amdocs to Buy Bridgewater for $215M

Having more products isn't enough -- actually integrating them and developing a Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) software system that ties them together is something else. And developing tools that enable customers to build their own applications is a step further again.

But it's that level of integration, and the capability to enable application creation, that can be found in CES 9, the latest software suite release from Amdocs.

The company has gone to town with its press release pitch -- it's extensive, to say the least, and full of buzzwords and phrases. At the first read, I expected "espresso-making function" to crop up as one of the bullet points, because everything else of use to a CSP's operations and marketing teams appeared to be in there.

You can see all the details by reading the press release: Amdocs Releases CES 9. (We're still waiting for the first telecom tech company to include a caffeine-related application in a new release, but we live in hope.)

But there are a number of key elements worth highlighting that, for different reasons, point toward a shift in corporate mindset.

Three developments of note
First, there's the integration between various Amdocs elements. Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Ari Banerjee, who is well versed on Amdocs and its portfolio, notes that the vendor has "done a lot of plumbing and created a lot of ready-made connections between different elements."

This is evident in the Omni Convergent Charging part of CES 9, which combines the company's "real-time charging, policy control, enterprise product catalog and service platform." Banerjee notes that this is the first time the Bridgewater policy management capabilities have been truly integrated with other Amdocs elements.

Then there's the Business Building Blocks element, which, according to Amdocs, offers "pre-integrated and pre-tested software functionality designed to support specific business needs and reduce time to market." Of course this only works if you are building applications with the Amdocs building blocks -- it doesn't cater for stitching in third-party code -- but this is empowering the customer, enabling CSPs to develop new capabilities themselves. That's a major change in thinking for Amdocs.

And then there's Proactive Care, a new customer care module that enables greater efficiency and availability of relevant information for customer care staff and the customers themselves. This is based on the analysis and processing of real-time information (it comes with the Big Data tag, of course) and it utilizes analytics capabilities that Amdocs has developed in-house. Banerjee believes it incorporates a "very good concept" in terms of customer care and notes that it "isn't slideware -- this is already functional and being used."

Amdocs is being a bit coy on naming names. Eric Carrasquilla, general manager of the customer management division at Amdocs, told Light Reading that CES 9 has been tried and tested by: a cable operator in Europe, which piloted the Multichannel Self Service capabilities; a mobile operator in North America (Proactive Care); and two fixed-plus-mobile operators in North America (Multichannel Self Service and Proactive Care).

Fiscal muscle
What hasn't changed so much is the financial clout of Amdocs. It has just reported quarterly revenues of $826 million and net income of $99 million for the three months to the end of 2012.

The company is something of a money machine. In its full fiscal year ending September 2012, it generated revenues of $3.25 billion and a net profit of $391.4 million.

But Amdocs knows it can't sit pretty on that business. It faces tough competition from the likes of Oracle Corp., NetCracker Technology Corp. and CSG Systems International Inc. for major billing deals, has a new international rival in the form of aggressive Chinese vendor AsiaInfo-Linkage Inc., and is challenged in multiple niche areas by a host of specialist vendors with real-time policy and charging, rating, mediation, customer experience management (CEM) and many other SPIT applications. (See NEC to Buy Convergys Unit for $449M.)

That's one reason why Amdocs is looking to do lots of things differently, including working with Microsoft Corp. (instead of Oracle) as an IT platform and database partner. (See Why Amdocs Is 'Seeing' Microsoft.)

Of course, Amdocs is still a company that relies on services for that financial strength: In that full fiscal year, only 4 percent of its sales came from product licenses, while the remainder was generated by services, and that ratio is hardly going to alter dramatically overnight.

But its DNA has changed -- it's now a company that is developing product solutions for customers. And that's not the way it used to be.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading and Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Moderator
2/14/2013 | 8:27:06 AM
re: Amdocs Ain't What It Used to Be
Did Amdocs happen to mention their own Net Promoter Score?
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/5/2013 | 9:33:58 PM
re: Amdocs Ain't What It Used to Be
Amdocs held some briefings about CES 9 recently, including one in NYC last week I had a chance to check out. The briefing covered a lot of groundm and like a lot of BSS/OSS products, demos with examples of what those products -áactually *do* in the real world sometimes offer a better sense of how those products can help out service operators.

One demo showed how CES 9 would proactively tell a mobile customer (via a pop up on the -áphone or tablet screen)-á that their video streaming minutes for the month was about to hit the ceiling, and that they were in line for a -á50 percent discount for an additional 50 minutes for $2.50 and have it charged to a credit card or the service provider bill. The idea behind this real-time interaction/proactive self-service -áwas to anticipate things like byte caps and help customers make changes on the fly versus having to wait for the next billing cycle.-á I imagine that sort of proactive care will come in very handy as more ISPs roll out metered and/or consumption-capped data policies.

Amdocs execs also spent some time talking about how these -átypes of proactive features and personalized self-service apps can help to boost a provider's so-called Net Promoter Score, which is a customer loyalty metric, while also boosting revenues (Amdocs told us that the service provider average is 22, noting that Apple's is somewhere in the mid-70s. If a company is really bad, they can have a negative NPS). -áAnyway, NPS improvements apparently can also improve how much money is rolling in the door.-á Amdocs said that a 4 point increase in NPS equals a 1 percent increase in revenue. -áJB
Ray Le Maistre
Ray Le Maistre,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/5/2013 | 9:24:16 PM
re: Amdocs Ain't What It Used to Be
Now watch Amdocs announce tomorrow that it is acquiring a major IT integration and consultancy firm... :-)
From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Sonus Shakes Up SD-WAN

10|2|15   |   7:22   |   (0) comments

Sonus CTO Kevin Riley sat down with Light Reading to discuss the trajectory of the company, its SDN ambitions and why Sonus is taking a market-disruptive approve to SD-WAN.
LRTV Interviews
CityFibre's Gigabit Vision

10|1|15   |   03:18   |   (1) comment

Mark Collins, director of Strategy & Public Affairs at competitive UK city network operator CityFibre, talks about his company's plans to help build Gigabit Cities.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Automate, Scale & Create With Juniper's vCPE Solution

10|1|15   |   6:34   |   (0) comments

Join Kireeti Kompella, Juniper Networks CTO, and Steve Saunders, Light Reading Founder and CEO, as they discuss Juniper Networks' approach to NFV showcased with a turnkey vCPE solution, which demonstrates how service providers can use automation to rapidly deploy services.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe: Day 1 Takeaways

9|29|15   |   05:47   |   (5) comments

Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre and Iain Morris sup a beer and discuss some of the key takeaways from the first day of Gigabit Europe 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit in Europe

9|29|15   |   04:24   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe 2015 event in Munich, Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie talks about the availability of gigabit broadband in Europe.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Band of Women

9|28|15   |   4:36   |   (0) comments

Brooks McCorcle, the president of AT&T's partner solutions divisions and a mathematician by trade, shares stats on AT&T's diversity and advice on how to create your own band of women at work.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Communication service providers realize that an ICT transformation is critical to their long-term survival, but most haven't yet committed to making it happen.
Hot Topics
Verizon's Go90 Is Live – Will Anyone Watch?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/1/2015
Eurobites: Dunroamin'
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 10/2/2015
Good News for NFV Interoperability
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 9/29/2015
TiVo Takes Aim With Bolt
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/30/2015
Google Acquires Jibe to Bring RCS to Android
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 9/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
Hold My Calls, Indefinitely Click Here