Amdocs Debuts Online Ad, Web Retail For Telecoms

Amdocs, a software maker long known for its billing technologies sold to telecom providers, today is launching new applications designed to help its clients reap more sales from new digital businesses.

The products support tasks such as search and digital advertising, Web-based retailing and a more sophisticated way of interacting with customers.

The launch comes as telecom companies increasingly rely on a combination of Internet, wireless and even video to offset declines in traditional phone use. In these markets, Amdocs customers have become exposed to more competition.

“Service providers really recognize the need to transform from being utilities…to purveyors of a digital lifestyle,” Mike Couture, Amdocs vice president of marketing, told Reuters. “They are really facing some threats from applications providers, like Google, who are vying for ownership of the customer.”

Amdocs clients include the largest U.S. telecom players and their new rivals in the cable industry, including AT&T, Verizon Communications, and Comcast.

The Amdocs products mark new territory for the company, even if similar ones have been developed by Internet media and retail companies.

“In the past, telecom was really driven by the network and you really didn’t think of the customer,” said Shira Levine, a senior analyst at research firm IDC. “But they need to start thinking this way … Otherwise they risk losing [customers].”

In October, Amdocs forecast revenue of $3.05 billion to $3.15 billion for fiscal 2008, at the lower end of analyst forecasts.

Its shares are down 4.3 percent this year and lost 7.6 percent in the last 12 months, versus declines of nearly 6 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX).

The Amdocs advertising component lets service providers use the data they have about customers and serve up ads that specifically relate to their known behavior, across any of three screens: the mobile phone, the computer and the television.

A digital commerce function allows service providers to recommend to customers new products not unlike the user suggestions Web retailer offers.

Other technologies included in the launch help customer service workers keep better track of the different voice or video plans a consumer may have signed up for or shown interest in, whether they did so on a phone or via the Web. They could also as allow the service provider to create tailored packages of digital entertainment.

“We’re already making sales,” Couture said.

He does not expect concerns that the U.S. economy would fall into a recession this year would immediately hurt Amdocs’ ability to sell the new technologies.

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