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Business Transformation

Amdocs: Ideas Are Easy – Value Is Hard

Comms companies have no shortage of ideas for new business. The tough part is executing -- turning those ideas into products that generate business value, says an Amdocs executive.

Collaborating with customers is key to bridging the gap between ideas and execution, Daphne Gottschalk, Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX)'s head of innovation for information technology and services, said at the TC3 Summit in Mountain View last week.

"We see this as an iterative process. It's not a funnel where we have smart people at one end of the room and the customer at the other end waiting for something to come out," she said. "It's a collaborative process, to address customer perspective in a more competitive way."

Innovation doesn't come naturally. It needs to be learned. That can be difficult for a big company like a comms provider -- or a supplier. Gottschalk shared Amdocs' experience balancing innovation while still preserving an existing, healthy, traditional business.

New Ideas
Daphne Gottschalk, Amdocs head of innovation for information technology and services, says good ideas aren't enough.
Daphne Gottschalk, Amdocs head of innovation for information technology and services, says good ideas aren't enough.

Big companies get comfortable doing business the same way as always, and working in silos. These habits need to be broken to create new business for the New IP era.

Amdocs -- a finalist for the 2015 Light Reading Leading Lights Company of the Year and Outstanding OSS/BSS Vendor -- established an innovation unit within the organization three years ago. The unit enjoys the best of the startup and big company worlds: the agility of a startup with the resources of a big organization, such as financial stability and deep pockets. The startup unit follows a rigid and structured process to search the horizon of the industry to get ideas on emerging technologies, find out what Amdocs' role can be in developing those technologies, and identifying opportunities to monetize and go to market. If Amdocs can answer those questions in a satisfactory fashion for any new idea, it goes to incubation for the idea. Typically Amdocs starts with about a dozen topics it's exploring, and hopes to close the year with two or three incubated offerings, Gottschalk said. (See Leading Lights Finalists 2015: Company of the Year (Public), and Leading Lights 2015 Finalists: Outstanding OSS/BSS Vendor.)

"One of the most important aspects on this agile process is doing proof of concept and proof of business value," Gottschalk said. Amdocs isn't just looking to find out if an idea will work; the company also wants to know whether the idea will help it succeed.

Openness is a key principle. "We realize that no one is smarter than everyone. We may be the 900-pound gorilla in the legacy business, but in the new domain we are one of the players," Gottschalk said. Amdocs reaches out to partners, and hosts meetups, joint demos, and proofs of concept to share ideas and experiences before building systems and code.

And Amdocs isn't alone. Many carriers are great at this kind of innovation, including Telefónica, BT, AT&T (with its Foundry program) and Singtel, Gottschalk said. (See Pics: AT&T's Foundry of Things.)

One example of a successful business launched by Amdocs using this process is a mobile financial services solution, in partnership with 30 other companies, launched after acquiring Utiba in early 2014. (See Amdocs Ramps Sales, Adds Customers, Norwegian Operators Use Amdocs for Mobile Wallet.)

"This is imperative for the business. It's not just a nice-to-have approach. This is what continues to drive the business forward," Gottschalk said.

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— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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