Managed Services

AlcaLu Gets Motivated About CEM

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has thrust itself into the smoldering customer experience management (CEM) sector with the launch of Motive Customer Experience Solutions (Motive CXS), a mix of software tools and associated professional services. (See CEM Set for Center Stage.)

The vendor has used the Motive division it acquired in 2008 -- which is best known for its broadband-access remote management and diagnostics tools -- as the foundation for the new offering. (See BT Deploys AlcaLu's Motive and AlcaLu Completes Offer.)

The package comprises three software tools and an accompanying service:

  • CX Management -- device configuration, remote software updates, end user activation.

  • CX Analytics -- monitoring tools that feed device and service performance data back to dashboards that interpret the data to provide visual representations of key CEM scores and metrics.

  • CX Optimization -- further analytics capabilities that enable network operators to plan their resources to match customer usage patterns.

  • CX Consulting -- services developed around a proprietary methodology with a benchmarking system that helps to identify an appropriate CEM strategy for a service provider and an implementation plan, according to Ben Geller, senior director of solutions marketing for the Motive CXS portfolio.

Key to its ability to develop Motive into a more broadly applicable CEM solution is the division's experience in the fixed-network world and the recent evolution of the software tools to support mobile subscribers, a move that lead to a deployment at Verizon Wireless . (See VZW Picks AlcaLu for LTE Device Management.)

"Other companies are focused on customer experience in the mobile world. That's important, of course, but it's a narrow and shortsighted view of the market," Geller says. "For true customer experience, it's not just about the handset but also the experience at home and at work."

Geller also believes Motive's presence in the market (more than 200 service provider customers) will help. "We appreciate that CEM is something that encompasses all staff. Every employee is a stakeholder in CEM, so we need to be able to talk with the call center staff and the network operations team as well as those at the CxO level," he says.

AlcaLu believes this is the right time for CEM to flourish in the service-provider sector, as differentiators based on networks, service portfolios and price have largely been exhausted, leaving customer experience as a key battleground for customer attraction and retention. Indeed, the AlcaLu team believes it has seen a shift in mentality at CSPs in recent months, with senior executives being appointed specifically to drive CEM strategies and with senior executives having compensation measured against customer experience metrics. (See Time for a New Experience.)

One thing AlcaLu doesn't have yet is CEM as a managed service. "We're working to make the connection between our CEM group and the managed services team," Geller says. "Those businesses will become more tightly aligned."

What the vendor does have is competition for CEM engagements.

Nokia Networks has "done a great job in articulating its capabilities," Geller says. He expects Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) to ramp up its efforts further now that its acquisition of Telcordia has closed. And then, of course, there are the point players that have focused on the development of CEM tools. (See Ericsson Shines a Light on CEM, Analysts: NSN Focus Makes Sense, Comptel & HR Explore Mediation's Makeover, Amdocs Unveils Data Experience Offering, Arantech Tackles Customer Experience Management and Tekelec Adds Customer Experience Management .)

"But I think we are doing things differently, from an approach and technology [standpoint]," states Geller.

Does the concept match the motive?
But is AlcaLu doing enough to catapult itself into the thick of the CEM melting pot?

Well at least it's doing something, says Heavy Reading senior analyst Caroline Chappell, who notes that Motive appeared to operate at "arm's length ... left on the sidelines to do its own thing" following the 2008 acquisition, despite some "impressive wins."

"Alcatel-Lucent has now come to its senses, realized the market opportunity for CEM -- and the fact that NSN is making a lot of noise about it -- and pulled together a more coherent strategy that puts the Motive brand and existing capabilities center stage," states Chappell, who identified CEM as being at the heart of the "smart telco" in a report published in late 2011. (See Turf Wars Threaten Telco CEM Initiatives.)

"This seems sensible to me. Motive has been making good progress in the CEM market, but Alcatel-Lucent has other products and services that can enhance it further, and this is what it has integrated into the enlarged offer. There is a strong professional-services aspect to CEM, as it's easy to introduce CEM products in specific organizational silos to get quick wins, but this risks a telco ending up with multiple CEM platforms with duplicate function -- not a good way to spend money," Chappell says.

A better approach has the service provider introducing CEM in chunks "as part of a holistic move towards becoming more customer-centric," she says. "The telco is able to reuse and extend the same tools and technologies across different organizational silos, but then there is all kinds of consultancy revenue to be made from telling it where to start and in what order to do things."

AlcaLu, then, appears to be playing to its strengths as one of the telecom market's leading professional services players with an existing brand and mature tools already established in the customer management market. "It's the nature of CEM that, apart from real-time analytics, there's not much that is new about it -- it's an amalgamation of existing capabilities around managing customers, applications, devices and networks -- and it's the way that these are brought together and the quality of the insights that can be driven from them that makes a difference."

AlcaLu has all the pieces, but the real question will be whether it "can make customers quantitatively better at CEM," Chappell says. Analytics will be a factor, but so will AlcaLu's experience of network optimization and best practices for customer management.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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