Communications service providers (CSPs) can build the best networks in the world, but if they can't manage them efficiently, understand and take care of their customers and collect the monies they are due, that network prowess counts for little.
The companies shortlisted in the Outstanding Digital Enablement Vendor category of the Leading Lights awards provide CSPs with the software that helps their operations and businesses tick. The award is presented 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."
There are six companies in the running for this award. They are:
The Leading Lights winners, and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced at the Leading Lights Awards dinner, which will be held at the Pinnacle Club in Denver, on Monday, May 6, on the eve of the Big 5G Event. Find out about how to book a table and attend the awards dinner by clicking on this link.
Here's a look at the companies shortlisted in the Outstanding Digital Enablement Vendor category:
Founded by former Facebook executives, LotusFlare has developed a software toolset it calls the Digital Network Operator (DNO), which aims to bridge the worlds of the telecom operator and the OTT giants with a "Telco in an App" proposition.
DNO is a cloud-based system that includes rating, billing and provisioning capabilities that can help communication service providers launch a new brand "with 100% digital touchpoints" in just a few weeks, zero hardware investment and minimal integration effort.
The system enables customers to engage with their mobile service provider in an entirely digital mode, porting or selecting a mobile number, ordering a SIM card, signing up to services, making payments and get help using the service without having to visit a physical store or contact a customer services agent. The DNO system enables this through the use of chatbots and tools that allow bundle customization, loyalty rewards, data buybacks, friend referrals and more, and which enables the CSP to offer personalized packages to different groups of customers at any time.
Deployment starts with a CSP building the minimum viable product that suits their needs and the market, offering it to a small user base and then evolved based on customer feedback.
Confident of its ability to help CSPs develop new business opportunities, LotusFlare "operates a "Pay-as-you-Grow" partnership model that aligns the interests of both parties towards the success of the deployment." Two major Asian operators are already using DNO.
MATRIXX Software is also focused on helping CSPs shift away from legacy business practices and with its Digital Commerce Platform it is offering a "digital stack capable of addressing the complex transactional needs of telcos while helping turn CSPs into true Digital Service Providers."
The system helps operators develop and build a new customer proposition in months rather than years, makes it quick and easy for customers to sign up and enables CSPs to rapidly develop personalized services offered via digital channels that are adaptable in near real time.
Its approach of developing tools that are flexible and adaptable makes MATRIXX Software well placed to help operators with their 5G strategies, which will require business support systems that can adapt rapidly, based on business policies, to customer demands.
MYCOM OSI has tapped into the need for CSPs to leverage cloud platforms to support their operations and business processes with Assurance Cloud, a SaaS (software-as-a-service) assurance system (running on AWS) that helps manage network and service quality across hybrid telco and IT domains.
MYCOM OSI's system offers a broad range of capabilities -- from proactive, real-time surveillance, to lifecycle management and catalog-driven service modelling with automated discovery, monitoring, visualization, alerting and analysis for virtual and physical infrastructure -- in any environment, with interoperability to third party system through standards-based APIs.
Of particular note are the efficiency gains on offer, as operators have no infrastructure management costs, benefit from significantly reduced deployment and operations costs and can test and deploy new applications far more rapidly, giving CSPs the confidence they need to plan for 5G service options.
MYCOM OSI also claims operators benefit from the machine learning tools running on AWS's platforms, "enabling intelligent closed-loop automation" and 99.99% availability.
NEC-owned Netcracker has been expanding its market offerings in the past year, building on its heritage of large-scale BSS and OSS transformation programs to offer more cloud-native functionality and expand its managed service offerings.
It has proven its ability to support the launch of next-generation, virtualized architectures and with the launch of its Netcracker Business Cloud in October 2018, provide managed cloud-based platform functionality that enables network operators to launch new services in weeks rather than years.
The company continues to build an impressive roster of customer engagements that show it is among the leading players helping CSPs to adapt to a more real-time, virtualized environment.
Openet is also on a mission to help network operators shift away from "a legacy world dominated by vendor lock-in and expensive, cumbersome technology that isn't fit for embracing new co-development approaches and encouraging partnerships between operators and vendors."
An example of its efforts is the company's Evolved Charging System, which, as the company noted in its Leading Lights submission, "demonstrates how open, digital BSS can give global operators the ability and flexibility to present real-time, contextually appropriate offers, driving data and new services revenue, and improve customer experience."
Like a number of its fellow finalists, Openet has been focusing on quicker and easier deployment timeframes, developing its Evolved Charging System so that it can be deployed quickly and help generate new revenues within weeks.
It cites Canada's Bell as an example of an operator that now enjoys "better customer engagement via a more personalised and contextual service" following a deployment that used a DevOps approach to adopting cloud-native applications. Since the deployment, Bell has reported notable increases in mobile customer numbers, improved mobile revenues and mobile service earnings.
Synchronoss is another company hell bent on helping CSPs adopt digital practices. Its Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is designed to help telcos, as well as companies in other verticals, to "rapidly build, launch, manage and modify unified digital sales journeys for their retail stores, contact centres and online presence (including mobile) -- all from a single platform."
Key to the DXP is the unification of the user experience: Consumers "can start, stop and resume buying journeys at any point in the process, across different but connected channels -- online, in store, or over the phone." It does this by connecting and unifying the channels, enabling the real-time sharing of "customer data, choices and actions from individual customers’ buying journeys."
The result for DXP users is additional revenues, improved customer relations and a simplified IT process that helps reduce costs.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading