January 20, 2011 Amdocs has combined the considerable knowhow it has amassed from acquisitions and in-house development into a holistic service delivery framework that allows service providers to exploit new converged service opportunities in an ever-more complex IP-connected world while maintaining their ability to draw on legacy network resources.
Along with meeting these current needs, Amdocs says the new CES (Customer Experience System) 8 product portfolio establishes a platform for future operations when machine-to-machine applications, smart grids and ever-expanding end-user applications and service categories will transform the way operators drive revenues. By the middle of this decade experts anticipate the number of IP-connected devices worldwide will be in the trillions, which means the need for a new operations framework is not far off.
“We see a lot of vendor solutions aimed at accommodating IP-based service convergence that require whole-hog transformations,” says Ray Bennett, director of marketing for the broadband, cable and satellite division of Amdocs. “But the appetite among service providers is muted for whole-hog business transformation. People want to do the transformation incrementally and in modular ways.”
The Amdocs approach seamlessly integrates new modules such as Amdocs is providing with new and existing modules from other vendors while allowing operators to expose network, IT and data assets to content and developer partners in order to expedite development and implementation, Bennett says. This, of course, requires massive coordination of data.
“We’ve developed an incredibly robust ability to deal with information,” Bennett notes. For example, he adds, in a recent benchmark test that ran charging scenarios for 150 million subscribers, the Amdocs Convergent Charging component of CES measured real-time charging performance for 120 million prepaid subscribers with 230,000 events per second, which was described by Amdocs as an industry record. The charging module employs a single, real-time process flow for both prepaid and postpaid scenarios and supports real-time services such as usage notifications to postpaid subscribers for better insight into individual data consumption.
“Now that the FCC has decided such messages are mandatory,” Bennett says, “you need to be able to do this across the entire customer base. For example, AT%26T can let any subscriber know when they’re about to hit the limit on their monthly data consumption.”
Where data aggregation and analysis is concerned, Amdocs has long leveraged the technology acquired several years ago with purchase of Xaact to provide the mediation stream essential to gathering information from all parts of the network, notes Ken Roulier, deputy CTO for the BC%26S division. “Once you can collect and process all the data at your disposal, you need to be able to easily abstract service definitions in a way that de-couples the service layer from the core network domain,” Roulier adds. “That’s where Amdocs jNetX comes into play.”
The Java-based jNetX convergent service platform component of CES, another acquired technology, now synchronizes network services across legacy and IP network elements on mobile as well as fixed networks, Roulier notes. A Network Service Composition system allows operators and their developer partners to create new blended service offerings by virtually integrating and harmonizing multiple IN (Intelligent Network), IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and Web services, regardless of which vendor components are in use on the operator’s networks.
The SDP platform comes with 150 predefined service configurations, Roulier notes. “We’re expanding the catalog by building many configurations that are specific to cable MSOs’ needs,” he adds.
Another crucial use of the data aggregation and processing capabilities built into CES provides a way to streamline and reduce the costs of CRM (customer relationships management), Roulier says. A key innovation involves use of processing algorithms to predict why a customer may be calling, thereby shortening the reaction time at the customer service end.
“The Amdocs Intelligence Decision Automation system ingests and processes data from anywhere and everywhere you have customer activity VOD, billing, calling, Twitter, etc.,” he explains. “People have habits you can tap into to read what’s going on. For example, rather than calling customer service when something first goes wrong they may jump on Facebook to ask friends if they know anything about the problem. We can track those messages to know what the problem is in advance.”
Many other activities, of course, go into shaping a determination of what’s wrong when someone calls in. The semantic framework pulls data from things like financials, call interactions, and activation history to help an agent decide why that customer is calling and what information they can present to solve that caller’s problem.
“I can tell if a person is calling from a location where there have been packet failures and lost nodes with a lot of network activity,” Roulier says. “Or, I can see that this person has called before about a particular issue.”
None of this is retained in the system so as to avoid any violation of privacy, he adds.