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Amdocs Extends Customer Experience Reach with Actix Acquisition

  • October 2013
  • 15 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 1859008

Summary

Table of Contents

This report will examine the significance of this acquisition for both companies and the market. Overall, this was a positive acquisition for Amdocs and Actix. It also confirms the consistency of Amdocs’ long-term vision for continuing to serve the business and technical needs of CSPs.

Introduction

Amdocs announced its planned acquisition of London-based network optimization company, Actix, on September 3, 2013. The transaction closed days later. Amdocs paid $ million cash for the privately-held company. It isn’t the most expensive acquisition in Amdocs’ history; however, it makes an emphatic statement regarding the importance of analytics to the business of telecom, particularly analytics that better link the network to the customer experience.

Integrating Actix will take time. Amdocs, understandably, could not commit to a time-frame for completing the process at this early stage; however, the company did say it would be aggressive, and pointed to the integration of Bridgewater Systems as an example. Following its 2011 acquisition, Amdocs completed the Bridgewater integration within a year.

Actix is a 22-year-old company with a great deal of OSS experience among its leadership, and more than deployments with mobile service providers. It is known as a network optimization and acceptance testing company for radio access networks. But as this acquisition unfolds, communications service providers should be thinking more about the new capabilities Actix has been bringing to market around geo-location, self-optimizing networks and customer experience analytics. Amdocs believes the combined companies can help communications service providers (CSPs) develop the customer focus they say they want, and the optimal architecture they know they need.

As an analytics company, Actix is not the only player in the market that Amdocs could have pursued; but it might be the best match for Amdocs—and, ultimately, Amdocs’ customers—given that both companies have taken a customer experience approach in more than name only. Amdocs and Actix will be combining OSS, BSS, network analytics, and customer geo-location capabilities in order to close the interpupillary distance between the network vision and the customer vision of the experience.

This report will examine the significance of this acquisition for both companies and the market. Overall, this was a positive acquisition for Amdocs and Actix. It also confirms the consistency of Amdocs’ long-term vision for continuing to serve the business and technical needs of CSPs.

The Deal Summary

Amdocs finalized the acquisition of Actix on September 19, for $ million. Actix has been in business since 1991, and has over deployments within the global mobile service provider market. Its solutions enable operators to improve mobile customer experience through a subscriber-centered approach to network quality assessment and network optimization in the radio access network (RAN.) The company has targeted solutions for the emerging small-cell market that address network planning and engineering, and the emerging field of self-optimizing networks (SON.)

The companies have many common customers, but little in the way of joint implementations. Although Amdocs and Actix have been angling toward each other for years, with Amdocs’ increasing reach into the network and Actix’ focus on the customer experience, they have existed in separate domains. It is in the customer experience domain they expect to find the most common ground and complementary technologies.

Actix’ customers include AT&T, KDDI, Orange, Telefonica, Telstra, Verizon and Vodafone. Most of these are shared customers. In addition to leading a company that has just realized its three best consecutive quarters, Actix’ management has a broad range of experience in the OSS space. Their histories include executive roles with IBM, DSET, Watchmark (now IBM), T-Mobile, Alcatel, Micromuse (now IBM), LHS (now Ericsson) and Intec (now CSG Systems.)

Market Context: Data Volume is Only Part of the Story

For the last 2-3 years, much of the strategic response by independent software vendors (ISVs) to the needs of CSPs has stemmed from the need to better manage data volumes generated by the network, devices that connect to the network, and increasing usage by customers. Managing data volumes is a well-known challenge.2 For the most part, this challenge is now met through continuous innovation by suppliers of computing, networking and software solutions. The expectation is that the basic physical challenge will continue to be met.

However, engineering the capacity to generate, transport, route, deliver, store and bill for this data is only part of the challenge, and seemingly not the hardest, given the industry’s history of success in meeting it. Network usage, and the data it generates, has not stopped growing since the telephone became a network more than years ago.

Stratecast believes that the bigger challenge is becoming masters of the data, and leveraging it, to improve both the business and the customer experience. We also believe it will take broad-based, comprehensive solutions—or, at the very least, a new and so far elusive level of open, interoperable solutions—to master the data in this way.

The now familiar projections by Cisco of mobile traffic growth tell the first part of this story. By 2017, Cisco projects a percent compound annual growth rate in mobile traffic, resulting in Exabyte’s of data traversing the global mobile network every month.

The rest of the story will be told by CSPs that employ solutions allowing them to capture and analyze data from multiple sources, in order to make real-time decisions that result in automated, proactive responses and action. Acquiring this ability has been a long-term goal of CSPs, and they have made important steps in this direction over the past - years.

Data capture and analytics solutions have come a long way over the years. However, they have not advanced to the point of providing real-time analysis of all network and customer data, and delivering the comprehensive insight that service providers now seek. In many cases, such analytical solutions must continue to evolve in order to provide real-time interoperability with emerging business applications, performance management solutions, and network planning tools. Only recently have analytics solutions started to make the deep connection to the overall customer experience, which includes the experiences of individual, high-value, or at-risk customers. But much more needs to be done.

ISVs have thus far failed to formulate the complete picture of service performance that CSPs say they want and need. This is partly because the picture keeps changing. As new devices and applications proliferate; as user behavior adapts, and network infrastructure changes (with small cells for example); the reliable customer view remains elusive. Without a clear picture, CSPs can capture neither the customer experience nor the profit margins realized from delivering it.

Over the last two years, analytics solutions for the global CSP marketplace have evolved to become increasingly important to formulating this picture and supporting the means to act on it. While some market projections for big data and telecom analytics have been as high as $ billion to $ billion annually, Stratecast believes the hard data for accurately forecasting this market is lacking.

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