Even before COVID-19 caused companies of all shapes and sizes to reevaluate the way they operate, the process of weaving new digital enablement capabilities into the mobile and telecommunications arenas was well underway.
But COVID-19 has brightened the light being cast on digital enablement, as service providers around the globe attempt to stay ahead of the curve while they pivot away from old, manual processes and digitize and automate many aspects of their operations, including customer care, customer onboarding and the rapid introduction of service upgrades and enhancements.
In addition to growing engagements between vendors and service providers targeted at these needs, activity in the sector has also picked up in the form of M&A, as two finalists in this category have recently announced that they are tying the knot.
This year, six companies have been shortlisted, with the award going 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.
The six companies in the running are:
- Matrixx Software
- MDS Global
- Netcracker Technology
- Whale Cloud
The Leading Lights winners, and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced online, on August 21, during a special video presentation on www.lightreading.com, one month before the start of the Big 5G Event.
Here's a closer look at the companies shortlisted in the Outstanding Digital Enablement Vendor category:
Amdocs, already a veteran company of the OSS and BSS realms, has been taking on the digital enablement challenge by automating more business processes and by helping its partners transition to the cloud (thanks in large part to strategic partnerships with Microsoft, AWS and Google and Amdocs's own MS360 platform) alongside an increased focus on 5G.
Among other focus areas, the company has recently introduced RevenueONE, billed as a cloud-native, microservices-based, 5G-monetization platform, and is also looking to flesh out its portfolio with important 5G policy and charging capabilities via the pending acquisition of fellow category finalist Openet for a cool $180 million.
Matrixx's recent, big coup in this category arrived via its software connection with "giga!," StarHub's first fully digital mobile brand to be targeted to a millennials sector that, it claims, represents about 22% of Singapore's population. Through that partnership, Matrixx played a key role in helping StarHub build a digital technology stack for a new no-contract giga! service that now operates independently of StarHub's legacy infrastructure and supports advanced digital customer support elements, including an AI-powered chatbot.
MDS Global has targeted this critical and ever-evolving segment of the market with B2BonDemand, a digital platform tailored for network operators and resellers serving a wide range of sectors including businesses and governments. The general gist of the digital platform is to reduce complexities for selling and billing for a wide range of services, including general connectivity as well as cloud services. A prime example of B2BonDemand in action is MDS Global's work with O2 and an online portal – dubbed "My O2 Business" – that enables administrators and end users to manage their account and billing details.
Netcracker's foray into this part of the market has been fueled in part by its 2020 Full Stack Solution, which enables service provider partners to provide digital support for connectivity services, interaction portals and the ability to order and manage services on an on-demand basis. According to one key customer on this platform, the service provider has been able to reduce order-to-bill processes by one month, cut down annual total cost of ownership costs by 20% and improve churn by 3%. Netcracker's Digital BSS platform has also played a big role in the vendor's digital enablement strategy, having secured an important strategic partner role with Japan's Rakuten in the area of a "mobile-first" experience for customer engagement with respect to shopping, billing and onboarding processes.
Among recent wins, Openet, which is in the process of being acquired by Amdocs, teamed with Telkomsel, a wireless network provider in Indonesia, to bring digital-native capabilities to a new sub-brand called "by.U" that is targeted at younger consumers. The new by.U service runs on Openet's Digital Business Platform (DBP), a pre-integrated, modular stack for partners. With help from DBP, Telkomsel managed to sign up an impressive number of subscribers within months of launching by.U. Openet has also been making some noise in other parts of the market of late, providing the default 5G policy and charging function for major players such as Samsung and HPE.
Backed by Alibaba Group, Whale Cloud has become a force in digital enablement and transformation with a broad range of tools spanning 5G, cloud, AI, analytics and blockchain technologies. In the area of 5G, Whale Cloud has been proposing a "Collaboration Economy," with China Unicom as an early prime example. Under that project, Whale Cloud worked with China Unicom on a blockchain-based Data Sharing Platform to share and trade data with enterprises. Notably, that activity resulted in a recently completed proof-of-concept project involving China Unicom and China Telecom focused on 5G network infrastructure co-building and co-sharing to help reduce infrastructure construction costs. Whale Cloud believes this scope of work could also apply to other 5G markets around the globe.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading