Cool Consolidation 2: Amdocs acquires Changing Worlds Ltd.
I just published a post regarding Oracle’s acquisition earlier this week of Tacit Software, and felt obligated to also report on another cool deal in our industry–just announced yesterday: Amdocs to acquire ChangingWorlds. You probably haven’t heard of ChangingWorlds (OK, I admit I hadn’t either), but they specialize in delivering an excellent customer experience for accessing corporate information using different devices, with particular emphasis on mobile devices.
If you are an iPhone user, you’ve noticed that more websites now detect your device/browser and present you with a special iPhone interface. This is common for retail/e-Tail, and Amazon, Target, Home Depot and Wal-Mart all have special iPhone websites. American Airlines also introduced one a while back. Let me be clear: the existing sites are a step in the right direction, but still offer a lousy experience (in my opinion). Target’s iPhone site doesn’t show pictures or prices of items on search lists, so you have to open each item individually–horrible. American’s site makes a few things easy (checking flight times) but many options (vacation planning) aren’t even accessible from the iPhone site. It is all very hit and miss, and by default I’ve started bypassing the iPhone site and going to the regular website.
ChangingWorlds can solve this problem. Their technology translates content access and process execution to mobile devices, so an iPhone website can represent all the capabilities of the normal site. And that’s really interesting to me, because one area I don’t see anyone porting to the current iPhone sites is service and support. Although ChangingWorlds’ focus has been more on delivering highly personalized content (and advertising) to consumers, obviously their platform has greater implications across the enterprise.
It also is a strong step towards Amdocs view of converged services, and in the press release Amdocs states that they intend to expand the technology to three screens (mobile, PC and television) to personalize the customer experience across all touch points. ChangingWorlds and Amdocs already share several customers including Sprint, the Vodafone Group and Telefonica O2, so this vision is grounded in reality.
The takeaway on this for service professionals: Self-service isn’t one-size-fits-all. More companies (Xerox and Linksys are two great examples) are implementing multiple tools for self-service to meet the needs of novice, intermediate and advanced customers–all of whom have different expectations and skills levels for self-service. The obvious extension is to also create self-service experiences highly tuned to the browser being used. This didn’t matter much in the past since all browsers operated more or less the same. But with Safari and the iPhone, that is lo longer the case.
I know we are already seeing a lot of acquisition activity, and it will only increase in 2009. I plan to write about deals that emphasize an existing trend, or seem to indicate an emerging trend. If you see any cool acquisitions or mergers impacting service and support, add a comment or shoot me an email. And as always, thanks for reading!