Digital transformation is the bedrock of many telco strategies, which is why so many companies take great care and attention when entering the Outstanding Digital Enablement Vendor Leading Lights category.
This award is given to the next-generation OSS/BSS/analytics/digital commerce systems vendor that stands out from its competitors, innovates constantly, helps set the industry trends, makes investors proud, and makes employees happy.
This year's shortlisted companies in this category are:
The winners of all 24 Leading Lights awards and the three Women in Comms awards, as well as the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced at the fantabulous Leading Lights dinner/party, which will be held during the evening of Monday, May 14, at the Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas, following a day of pre-BCE workshops. Then, the morning after the awards party, the doors open to this year's Big Communications Event (BCE) at the Austin Convention Center.
To find out which companies were shortlisted across all of this year's Leading Lights categories, please check out Leading Lights 2018: The Finalists and Congrats to 2018's WiC Leading Lights Finalists.
So, let's take a quick look at why these ten companies made the shortlist.
Accurate and reliable visibility of network performance and user experience is absolutely key to service providers and that's what Accedian has been focusing on with enhancements to its SkyLIGHT platform, with more than a bit of help from a strategic acquisition. (See Accedian Acquires Performance Vision.)
The acquisition enabled Accedian to add real-time insight into virtualized systems and hybrid clouds, enabling operators to analyze all traffic crossing physical, virtual, cloud and software-defined network (SDN) infrastructure. In addition, the vendor has added recently developed machine learning and analytics capabilities plus a "streaming API."
The company has introduced these new capabilities to more than 300 customers globally, including Orange, T-Systems, cloud service provider CGI, and major enterprises.
Amdocs has been advancing its portfolio during the past year with the introduction of DigitalONE, a cloud-native digital enablement system, and CatalogONE, both of which are built in a microservices architecture. DigitalONE enables customer-facing processes such as commerce, ordering, customer management and care to be managed as "value-based business capabilities," while CatalogONE enables marketers and business users to build on those capabilities with modular service offerings.
The approach has been praised by analysts and adopted by service providers.
EnterpriseWeb's CloudNFV addresses a particular digital transformation challenge faced by network operators -- the onboarding and management of virtual network functions. It does this with a model-driven methodology that is unusual in the market but which delivers efficiencies through simplicity.
The system requires no complex middleware, uses standard interfaces and requires no changes to the VNFs being onboarded or the need to write additional code to do so. These attributes were demonstrated at the ETSI NFV PlugTest #2 earlier this year.
The CloudNFV system is being evaluated by major network operators, systems integrators and vendors. (See EnterpriseWeb Onboards a Virtualization Vet.)
Itential provides a route towards greater automation in network operations processes with its Pronghorn Intelligent Network Automation Manager, which manages inventory data in a way that is optimized for dynamic rather than static networks. Instead of trying to own the network data, Itential federates data from OSS systems and the network for the most accurate view of what's in the network at any given time.
It also removes some human interaction processes associated with most OSS systems by integrating manual steps into a workflow, while applying full automation on other tasks with southbound controllers and orchestrators. "This power is placed in the hands of network operators to allow for self-innovation in a low code environment through implementation of the Intelligent Network Automation Manager," notes the vendor.
Lumina is another focused vendor that is tackling a particular part of the digital transformation journey -- enabling automation through the introduction of software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities. In particular, Lumina is focused on helping operators to apply SDN technologies not just to new virtual network functions and white boxes, but to the existing network.
To enable this, Lumina has developed an open source-based multi-domain SDN controller, the SD-Core platform, based on OpenDaylight. It offers operators "something that proprietary vendors can't -- freedom to evolve from legacy MPLS/BGP networks to an SDN-based MPLS core," notes the Lumina team.
This enables operators to add MPLS-capable white boxes to their networks gradually, with the existing network recognizing those white boxes as regular BGP-capable elements and by using a TOSCA-based service description language, operators can provision SDN-based circuits across the combined infrastructure through simple templates. This brings not only a workable upgrade strategy but, according to Lumina, a lower-cost approach (about 40% lower) than if technology from traditional MPLS vendors were deployed. (See Lumina Ties BGP/MPLS Into White Box Switching and NoviFlow, Lumina Networks Team on SD-Core.)
SD-Core has already been deployed by some major network operators.
MYCOM OSI is helping to take network management into the telco cloud world with its Experience Assurance & Analytics (EAA) product, a cloud-native, integrated assurance and automation solution, which has already been deployed at UK mobile operator Three as well as other major operators. (See Three UK to Monitor Its Telco Cloud with MYCOM OSI and Three UK's Core Network Transformation Requires New Approach to Assurance.)
Alongside the introduction of EAA, has introduced a subscription business model that is more in line with the cloud world.
With Netcracker 12, the vendor aims to help communications service providers transform into digital service providers (DSPs) by "digitalizing customer engagements, infrastructure, business processes and operations." (See Netcracker Targets Latest Software at Bridging Digital Divide.)
The suite comprises pre-integrated modules built on the microservices-based, open source-friendly Netcracker Cloud Platform and can be used to address numerous business challenges and opportunities, such as consolidating billing and rating across multiple business lines, something that Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone have done, or launching virtualized services, something that Telefónica Business Solutions has done.
The vendor claims that by introducing business process automation and information centralization with Netcracker 12, service providers can reduce their time-to-market by 19% and improve order-to-activation by 16%.
Openet is looking to shake up the support and services sector market with its Digital Business Platform, a digital BSS platform that integrates best-of-breed systems from independent vendors covering BSS through to core network applications.
Partners include Etiya for CRM), IoT Billing and MDS for billing, Quortus for evolved packet core (EPC), Casa Systems for network edge capabilities and Metaswitch for core network applications. They are integrated using Openet's Digital APIs and the platform comes with pre-configured use cases, shortening implementation costs and timescales. Such capabilities have attracted users such as Globe Telecom.
Sigma Systems has spent the past year expanding its portfolio, team and business with a focus on simplicity and meeting the business needs of more than 80 customers.
The company has developed a range of configurable and catalog-driven tools that focus on the create-sell-deliver process of service providers and in May 2017 launched Sigma Insights, which is designed to enable communications service providers to understand customer experiences and behavior (such as order completion rates, product time-to-market or sales effectiveness of a product line, across multiple systems). "The intelligence derived from this type of insight helps CSPs take immediate action to improve their digital business," notes the Sigma team.
Sigma expanded by 10% during the past year to more than 400 staff in 15 countries in response to growth in the Americas, EMEA and Asia. High customer satisfaction with Sigma's products, business operations and people has resulted in very high customer retention (greater than 97%). In addition, the company has won the Deloitte's award for Canada's Best-Managed Medium-Sized Employer three years in a row.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
TCS's HOBS (Hosted OSS/BSS) is a pre-integrated BSS and OSS cloud platform for communications and media service providers and was launched on Microsoft Azure in January this year.
It is designed to simplify key operations through the automation of complex processes and the seamless handling of "made to order" products using a catalog-driven architecture. It also enables digital customer experience management through omni-channel capabilities and a suite of more than 100 open APIs, and enhances monetization by enabling the swift launch of personalized products and the creation of a digital marketplace, the ability to bundle in partner products and the development of subscription-based business models.
The system is already being used by major US service providers to digitize contracts and improve the billing process and, within weeks of using the system, that customer identified charging anomalies worth millions of dollars, according to TCS.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading