Telcordia Invests in OSS Specialist
The news is worth noting for two reasons: the increasing importance of customer experience management (CEM) in telecom software-vendor strategies; and the fact the OEM deal gives Telcordia ownership of a piece of Fine Point.
First, the trend. In case you hadn't noticed (and if you hadn't, where have you been?), CEM is all the rage in the OSS world these days. It was one of the hot topics at the recent Management World event in Nice, France, and was the driving force behind the sector's most recent acquisition of note, involving Tektronix Inc. and Arantech . (See OSS Firms: Are You Experienced? and OSS News: Tektronix Strikes Again!)
And it's one of the key elements of Telcordia's new proposition, as well as one of the cornerstone's of Fine Point's offering. In essence, Telcordia's Home Network Assurance is a collection of capabilities -- auto-configuration server, monitoring software for customer premises equipment, a customer care tool -- along with consulting and integration support that, according to Telcordia, lets a service provider diagnose problems in customers' home networks. The service provider could even repair home gateways or wireless routers, sometimes even before the customer notices any problem.
All this should, in theory, save the service provider money on truckrolls and tech support, reduce the number of calls to customer service centers, increase customer loyalty, and, of course, enhance the customer experience. Oh yes.
An important part of the new offering is the remote device (fixed and wireless) management software from Fine Point that, under a new OEM agreement, can be resold, rebadged and integrated into other products by Telcordia.
"Telcordia sees the need to drive cost out of broadband customer care operations as critical to service providers' success," stated the company's president of operations solutions, William Wanke, in a prepared statement. "After testing and integration, we have come to the conclusion that the integration of Fine Point’s remote management device software with our service assurance and fulfillment solutions will best enable dramatic cost reductions for our customers."
Fine Point tells Light Reading that Telcordia needed to extend its OSS to "touch the customer," (figuratively, we hope), and that Fine Point was chosen following the evaluation of "various vendors."
But this is no ordinary OEM deal, because as part of the new agreement Telcordia will "obtain a financial interest in Fine Point Technologies." Perhaps not surprisingly, neither of the privately held parties is divulging any details about the size or value of the stake, or why an equity relationship is appropriate in this instance.
Maybe this is an alternative to Fine Point needing to raise a new investment round? The specialist firm says not. In an email response to questions, Fine Point CEO Todd Ruelle states: "Our company has been profitable for the past three years, we are growing, and we were selected for both our product and financial strength… we do business with top Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers and ISPs around the globe."
Those carriers include China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA), Embratel Participações S/A , Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), Teléfonos de México (Telmex) , Verizon Wireless , and Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG).
It's also worth noting that Fine Point recently indulged in some M&A activity of its own: In March this year it acquired a company called Q Inc., which had developed network quality monitoring agents. According to information on Fine Point's Website, the "Q-Agent generates QoE [quality of experience] metrics from the actual data being consumed by end user devices, such as broadband wireless PC cards."
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading