Today’s interview is with Gary Miles, who is the is the General Manager for Amdocs’ Big Data and Strategic Innovations unit. Amdocs is a leader in the customer experience software solutions and services space for the world’s largest communications, entertainment and media service providers. Gary joins me today to talk about working with their customers as partners to produce innovations that drive improvements in customer experience and operational efficiency.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Having a goal of reducing customer service calls to zero – Interview with Ian Siegel of ZipRecruiter – and is number 155 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.
Highlights of my interview with Gary:
- This interview came about as a result of a previous interview (Smart proactive customer service that delivers results – Interview with Jim Dicso of SundaySky). As it turns out, Amdocs runs an innovation foundry for AT&T that helps them identify and nurture innovations that improve their operational effectiveness and their customer experience. SundaySky’s association with AT&T was a product of that foundry.
- AT&T have five foundries and one of them is with Amdocs. However, theirs is based in Israel and is the only one that sits outside of North America.
- AT&T established the foundry with Amdocs in Israel as they wanted to tap into the technical innovation that is happening in the Israeli market.
- The way that they (Amdocs) look at the foundry initiative is that it is a set of competencies that they can use to go out and identify new innovations and then apply their skills to them to help them drive operational efficiencies and/or improvements to the customer experience for AT&T.
- They are currently exploring innovations in the areas of connected core, cyber security, network virtualisation, video bill presentation and video technologies in general.
- The way it works is that an AT&T business line will indicate that they would like to explore innovations in a certain area (like the ones above) and then Amdocs will work with them to identify, where appropriate, agile technology start-ups that can help solve that problem.
- Whilst the foundry/partnership relationship they have with AT&T is the most advanced they also have co-design and innovation relationships/partnerships with many of their Tier 1 and Tier 2 telecom carrier customers.
- One innovation that Amdocs is excited about is network virtualisation which allows telcos to move from physical networks to network clouds. That enables them to offer consistent service delivery across major peaks and troughs in a quick and cost effective way and doesn’t rely on a serious investment in new hardware. That is a next-generation OSS (Operations Support System).
- Another innovation that they are excited about is the connected home which allow their telco customers to improve ARPU (average revenue per user) and customer retention through the delivery of a new generation of connected home and digital services including home security, heating control, assisted living and multimedia services.
- Amdocs is traditionally known as an IT billing company but about 15 years ago they started venturing into new and innovative areas that would help deliver better operational effectiveness and customer experience for their customers.
- Failing fast and failing cheaply is an art in and of itself.
- The key to this for them is the co-design nature of the partnerships that they have with their customers.
- They find that when they are developing an idea they will find a leader who has experience in this space and then combine them with a set of experienced developers, product managers and technical architects that all have experience of doing this before, particularly in big companies. This allows them to crystallise really quickly the idea and the product and then push it out to their installed base. They also find, ironically, that they can tend to do this quicker and better than many start ups as they have the experience of working with big companies.
- Innovation in large companies is not only achievable but maybe even better than in smaller companies in some cases, given the knowledge they have of corporate environments and how things can be scaled.
- However, the trick with innovating with partners and customers is not to distract customers with too many ideas. Therefore, Amdocs maintains and manages its relations with its clients but focusing on only presenting ideas to their customers that are ‘needle movers’ or that are small things that require little investment but can bring real value to them and their customers quickly.
- Gary is also excited about how some of the large telcos in emerging markets that are leveraging their strong brands and getting into financial services. That is an exciting space to be a part of and to watch.
- Amdocs has been working with big data for decades now but the current focus is a little ‘hype-y’. However, the key is try and make it simple and focus on delivering value and useful, actionable insights.
Gary is the General Manager for Amdocs’ Big Data and Strategic Innovations unit.Prior to Amdocs, Mr. Miles was a founder and CEO of jNetX which was the global leader for Next Generation Intelligent Network Platforms until it was sold to Amdocs in 2009.Before jNetX, Mr. Miles established and ran a billing and customer care company that had more than 30 GSM customers in 20 countries when acquired.Mr. Miles holds a Master of Electrical Engineering degree from Southern Methodist University and Bachelor of Business Administration degree from University of Texas at Austin.