SupportSoft, Fox Mobile and Oracle, Amdocs Expansion

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David Sims
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SupportSoft, Fox Mobile and Oracle, Amdocs Expansion

The news as of the second cup of coffee, and the music is a nice workplace CD, Miles Davis's 1969 album In A Silent Way. Not the masterpiece his earlier Birth of the Cool or Kind of Blue is, this is more moody and ethereal, basically two long (18 and 19 minute) digressions on a theme. For those who are into that kind of thing:

SupportSoft has announced the release of its next-generation Dynamic Agent, described by company officials as software making it "simple for enterprises and service providers to automatically resolve customers' routine tech problems, as well as deploy enhanced services."

The business proposition SupportSoft execs are pushing is that in today's economy, "delivering value-added services is arguably the most effective way organizations can differentiate their offerings and generate new revenue." SupportSoft Dynamic Agent, a desktop-resident portal, is designed to let organizations "extend customer support in order to offer additional products, when the time is right," they contend.

The product is made to provide "point-of-pain services" in the form of "1-click fixes," according to the SupportSofties, "that let organizations provide just-in-time support and help customers resolve their own issues." Because if they're solving problems themselves, they're not eating up your overhead to solve 'em, right? Further, by building on their automated support platform, organizations can create a marketing channel to orchestrate new methods of driving revenue, where personalized and timely offers can be presented -- for example, renewals at or before warranty or subscription expiration; additional data storage upon or before reaching storage capacity or the latest bandwidth enhancement during periods of high usage.

Features of SupportSoft Dynamic Agent include targeting and authoring capabilities to gather user, system and activity data to create offers to customers, as well as tools to capture and analyze navigation data and customer demographics when customizing offers.

It also offers "do-it-yourself tech support," auto remediation of common problems so users don't have to call the help desk except for the real toughies. The product also offers what company officials call "show me," "tell me," or "just do it for me" content.

"Our experience has shown us that customers prefer to have tech support capabilities delivered directly to their PCs and applied at the right time automatically," says Michael Sayer, GM & EVP Enterprise Solutions Group at SupportSoft.


Fox Mobile Distribution, a vendor of mobile entertainment and part of Fox Mobile Group, has implemented Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management as it rolls out new services, to "improve operational efficiency and enable continued growth," according to the Foxes.

Fox officials say they picked Oracle due to its "real-time capability, out-of-the-box functionality and ability to support business requirements."

Wholly owned by News Corporation, Fox Mobile Distribution can reach more than one billion consumers around the globe with mobile products and services such as games, video and made-for-mobile content. it can deliver content in 38 countries on six continents and in more than 20 languages. Fox officials say they'll use the billing and revenue management application to help adapt to diverse market demands, identify areas for revenue growth and "accelerate time-to-market for new products and offerings."

Basically Fox wanted to create simplified billing plans incorporating various payment options, product and service bundles and customer types, as well as maximize revenue and minimize loss associated with fraud and revenue leakage. The vendor says it has reduced rating run times for all transactions and reduced errors by removing nearly all manual intervention in the rating process as well.

"Our previous billing system was not flexible and required much customization, which translated into higher costs," says Markus Peuler, managing director and senior vice president, finance and administration, Fox Mobile Distribution.


Amdocs, a vendor of customer experience systems, has announced 2008 saw the expansion of its managed services offerings "with service providers around the world."

Highlights from the 2008 calendar year include "a significant expansion of a seven-year agreement with AT&T for its legacy ordering and wholesale platforms," to include legacy customer care and billing applications and "new multi-year agreements to support Sprint's Xohm initiative and MetroPCS, supporting both Amdocs and non-Amdocs applications."

Additional highlights from 2008 include new wins and expansion agreements with Tier 1 and Tier 2 service providers in Europe and North America, according to the Amdocents.

The vendor has expanded its managed services offering to include more services, including application management and business process operations, infrastructure management, data center operations, and full hosting. It also offers managed services offerings for both business- and operational-support systems. There's also a new "Managed Transformation" offering, enabling service providers to modernize or consolidate systems while presenting operational and capital savings.

Like other on-demand vendors, Amdocs figures it's in a good place for today's economic conditions. According to Gartner, "Although things look gloomy for the larger economy, the potential for outsourcing to address immediate cost pressures and long-term recovery goals will be unprecedented. Organizations that understand and avoid the pitfalls of cost-focused outsourcing and apply business-outcome-focused outsourcing will be successful."

The company reported revenue of $3.16 billion in fiscal 2008, and claimed over 17,000 employees serving customers in more than 50 countries around the world.


Dexterra has announced the launch of a new online mobility calculator, designed to help IT leaders "better understand the financial benefits of mobilizing their company and workforce," according to company officials.

"At a time of belt tightening and budget cutting across industries," the Dexterrians contend, "investment in mobility technology is now vital for organizations looking to sustain revenues and glean additional efficiencies from their day-to-day business processes."

The mobility calculator provides what company officials characterize as "simple, demonstrable evidence of these benefits," requesting basic information about an organization and the way in which it operates, before calculating "the percentage by which that organization can lower costs or increase workforce productivity."

The fact remains, according to Michael Liebow, CEO of Dexterra, that over the last two years "advances in smartphone technology and lower costs for mobile services, combined with the ubiquity of high speed mobile networks have made it possible to affordably equip an entire mobile workforce. 2009 will be a big year for business mobility - it is a maturing technology with rapid acceptance, and we are experiencing an economy that will drive people to it.  No company would ditch essential tools like e-mail or anti-virus in a downturn economy just to save money. Mobility has now achieved the same status."

Adopting a mobility strategy does not have to involve replacing legacy systems like customer relationship management (CRM) software, accounting solutions or proprietary business systems, and it doesn't mean companies have to reinvent internal processes or the work habits of employees, Liebow says: "A winning mobility strategy is task-centric. It is built on the processes already in place and plays to the way employees want to work.  Mobility lets people complete the things they need to do every day, as they happen, instead of having to disrupt an office worker, find a place to connect a laptop, or return to the office."

Liebow makes a good point when he notes that "whether a business embraces mobility or not," its employees most certainly will, as desirable consumer devices such as Apple iPhone, BlackBerry Storm and T-Mobile G1 become increasingly affordable: "Staff are going to start using these devices for work purposes, even if the company has not sanctioned their use, posing management and control issues that could very well puncture network security and disrupt mandatory compliance requirements such as Sarbanes Oxley."



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