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Magic Quadrant for Integrated Revenue and Customer Management for CSPs

Published: 23 October 2017 ID: G00318747

Analyst(s):

Summary

We rate solutions that provide billing, customer care, rating, charging, pricing, partner relationship management, policy management, mediation, self-service, analytics and other related functions. Target buyers are communications service provider CIOs.

Market Definition/Description

The integrated revenue and customer management (IRCM) market is composed of communications service providers (CSPs) looking for commercial off-the-shelf software packages that address business-critical revenue and customer management business processes.

IRCM meets all transaction-charging processing requirements, regardless of product, service, delivery network, customer type or payment method for a particular CSP. It includes a set of integrated customer- and network-facing solutions that support customer acquisition, retention and monetization functions.

Functional Footprint

The IRCM functional footprint extends into two areas:

  • Core functionality is related mainly to traditional billing, charging and customer care features. Its features are a must-have for any IRCM suite and are provided usually in-house by the IRCM vendor.

  • Adjunct functionality is nice to have, but it is not essential. Its features can be provided in-house or through partners.

Core Functionality

Core functionality includes the following:

  • Analytics and reporting

  • Balance management

  • Billing and account management

  • Customer self-care

  • Customer/service product life cycle management

  • Dynamic discounting

  • Multichannel support

  • Partner relationship management

  • Policy management (policy and charging rules function [PCRF])

  • Product catalog

  • Real-time rating or charging

Adjunct Functionality

  • Electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP)

  • Interconnect/wholesale billing

  • Mediation

IRCM unites these functions in a single solution and process that simplify and expedite the order-to-cash process.

Magic Quadrant

Magic Quadrants provide a snapshot in time based on a specific set of evaluation criteria and corresponding weights.

Gartner advises readers not to compare this year's placements of vendors with those of previous years because:

  • The market is changing, and the criteria for selecting and ranking vendors continue to evolve.

  • Scores are relative, rather than absolute, reflecting the advancement of all vendor solutions' Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute.

Gartner advises CSP CIOs against simply selecting vendors that appear in the Leaders quadrant because:

  • All selections should be buyer-specific.

  • Vendors from the Challengers, Niche Players or Visionaries quadrants may be better matches for these CIOs' business goals and solution requirements.

The sliders in the interactive Magic Quadrants allow decision makers to adjust the evaluation criteria according to their preferences.

This Magic Quadrant will help CIOs who are developing IRCM strategies assess which vendors to include in their RFIs and RFPs.

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Integrated Revenue and Customer Management for CSPs
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (October 2017)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Amdocs

Amdocs is a publicly traded global software provider and system integrator. Branded as Amdocs Customer Experience Systems (CES), its IRCM portfolio is complemented with solutions covering operations support system (OSS), network operations, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and media and entertainment requirements of CSPs. IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016 include Brite:Bill, cVidya, Pontis and Vindicia.

Strengths
  • Amdocs provides a wide array of IRCM solutions and services. It complements these offerings with solutions and services that are complementary to IRCM, such as network operations management, OSS and analytics.

  • With global scale and focus on increasing its revenue outside of North America, Amdocs is among the preferred transformation and managed service partners of large CSPs in many parts of the world.

  • Among IRCM software vendors, Amdocs is among the largest investors and contributors in communications industry initiatives, such as Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), public cloud deployments and Open API initiatives.

Cautions
  • Amdocs prefers to offer solutions and services itself as compared with partnering with other system integrators. This may not be a strategic fit for some CSPs.

  • Amdocs has been known to be rigid in its product implementation methodology, and it may not suit CSPs developing a customized stack for their specific needs. Amdocs is trying to improve this situation with its DevOps methodologies and monthly microservice releases.

  • Many CSPs consider Amdocs' pricing to be higher than their expectation and regard the company to be inflexible in contracting.

BearingPoint

BearingPoint is a global management and technology consulting firm. BearingPoint's IRCM product portfolio is branded Infonova R6. BearingPoint has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • BearingPoint's IRCM suite has been built in-house rather than through acquisitions. It offers a comprehensive, preintegrated IRCM portfolio, digital ecosystem management (DEM) and complementary consulting offerings.

  • BearingPoint continues to differentiate itself by its multitenant architecture that supports CSPs' enterprise business and enables enterprises to extend the platform components to their customers.

  • Customers rate BearingPoint's future product architecture highly and appreciate the timeliness and quality of its technical services.

Cautions
  • BearingPoint's mind share remains limited. Its platform business value proposition has not yielded a sizable number of new customer wins.

  • BearingPoint's main geographic focus remains Western Europe and Asia/Pacific. Its presence in other regions is limited.

  • BearingPoint's system integrator ecosystem is limited; therefore, onboarding the preferred system integrators requires additional time and effort.

Cerillion

Cerillion is a publicly traded provider of billing, charging and customer management systems. Cerillion's IRCM products are branded as Cerillion Enterprise BSS/OSS. It is a set of preintegrated modules, including CRM Plus, Convergent Charging System and Revenue Manager. A complementary product portfolio called Cerillion Skyline focuses on cloud (SaaS) billing application. Cerillion has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Cerillion is an IRCM product supplier to Tier 2 and Tier 3 CSPs globally, with its product suite built in-house rather than through acquisitions. The suite is service-agnostic, supporting mobile, fixed-line, cable and Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) services across prepaid and postpaid offerings.

  • Along with Skyline (cloud billing SaaS), Cerillion offers multiple commercial models to its prospects and customers.

  • Reference customers surveyed for this research indicated positive overall experience with Cerillion as their IRCM vendor.

Cautions
  • Even though Cerillion has a partner program, its system integrator partnerships remain limited to Nokia, Huawei and GE.

  • Compared with the largest players, the company has a relatively narrow focus on the Tier 2 and Tier 3 CSPs, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs)/mobile virtual network enablers (MVNEs) and the TETRA markets.

  • CSPs looking to leverage Cerillion components in the microservice architecture may need to wait until the second quarter of 2018, which is a bit longer than is the case with some other vendors.

Comarch

Comarch is a publicly traded multinational and multi-industry software and service provider. Its IRCM portfolio is branded as Comarch BSS. Comarch has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Comarch has a comprehensive product portfolio and a well-defined roadmap of continually evolving features and functionalities, including support for digital sales, omnichannel and IRCM in the cloud.

  • As the business support system/OSS partner of Next Generation Enterprise Network Alliance (ngena), it is working with network equipment supplier Cisco to develop global, multitenant, multicounty and multiservice environment operating platforms.

  • Comarch has been evolving its product portfolio, in line with industry standards and through in-house development, instead of acquiring components from outside, leading to a well-integrated portfolio.

Cautions
  • Comarch mostly relies on its own product and service capabilities instead of extensive partnerships with system integrators or other product vendors.

  • Outside of Europe, its customers are limited to a few regions and countries, such as Latin America, the Middle East and Malaysia. CSPs outside of these markets need to evaluate Comarch's support capabilities in their countries.

  • Comarch's IRCM implementation is restricted to private cloud only. Comarch has yet to deploy a public cloud instance of its IRCM suite.

CSG International

CSG International is a public company. It is a global supplier of software and services to CSPs. CSG's IRCM product portfolio is branded as Ascendon (digital commerce platform), CSG Singleview (convergent charging and billing platform) and CSG Interconnect (billing for roaming and wholesale). CSG has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • CSG's Ascendon has implementation of internet and digital service offerings in its IRCM solutions, with functionalities to enable multiplay CSPs, such as cable and media service providers.

  • With an increased footprint outside of North America and Australia, CSG provides multiregion support to CSPs in other markets, such as Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia/Pacific.

  • Reference customers surveyed for this research appreciate pricing, flexibility and responsiveness of CSG.

Cautions
  • Some customers of CSG's products report lack of consistency among engagement models of subscription-based SaaS, solution provider (CSG product plus CSG services) and product implementer (CSG product plus a system integrator for services).

  • The CSG Singleview platform has mixed reviews on product capabilities, services and support.

  • The company derives 60% of its revenue from Comcast, Dish Network and Charter Communications, all of which CSG supports mainly with legacy products. This has the potential to influence the company's investment decisions, and prospects should validate that CSG maintains its historical pace of investment in innovation.

Ericsson

Ericsson is a global network equipment, software and service provider. Its IRCM portfolio is branded Ericsson Revenue Manager, Ericsson Charging System, Ericsson BSCS iX, Ericsson Charging and Billing in One (CBiO) and Ericsson IoT Monetization. Ericsson has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Ericsson has a comprehensive portfolio of IRCM solutions, which includes its established BSS solutions and the newly created Digital BSS solutions for enabling newer commercial and operating models.

  • Ericsson's solutions are used by several large CSPs with a high volume of subscribers and a complex operational environment.

  • Ericsson is extending the boundaries of IRCM with its new Digital Support Systems (DSS) portfolio, which combines all customer-facing and network-facing BSS and OSS components into a single architecture. DSS is built natively for the cloud, and it also supports other deployment models.

Cautions
  • Ericsson is in the process of conducting structural changes and cost reduction measures.

  • The integrated IRCM platform — Ericsson Revenue Manager — is still evolving and has not yet overcome the fragmentation of Ericsson's overall IRCM product portfolio.

  • Reference customers surveyed for this research indicate that there is room for improvement in Ericsson's presales support, pricing and implementation services.

FTS

FTS is a privately owned subsidiary of Magic Software Enterprises — a global provider of software platforms for enterprise mobility, cloud applications and business integration. Its IRCM products are branded as FTS Billing, FTS Policy Control and FTS express (an all-in-one IRCM product). FTS has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • FTS provides a comprehensive and integrated IRCM suite, including partner management solutions, supporting various business models such as MVNE and MVNO, as well as mobile money, Internet of Things (IoT) and other nontelecom verticals.

  • Reference customers surveyed for this research value FTS's flexibility in engaging with them.

  • Users indicate that FTS provides good value for money spent on the company's solutions and services.

Cautions
  • Most of FTS's customers are Tier 2 and Tier 3 CSPs. CSPs looking to engage FTS in complex and large transformation requirements need to evaluate the company's scalability and support capabilities extensively.

  • FTS lacks visibility and mind share among CSPs beyond FTS's customers.

  • FTS has not executed any project with any global system integrator, and its system integrator partnerships are limited to a few local players in Israel, Europe and Latin America.

Huawei

Huawei is a global network equipment provider (NEP), mobile device manufacturer and software provider. Huawei's IRCM product portfolio is branded Convergent Billing Solution (CBS) and Customer Engagement System. For digitalization requirements, it has consolidated IRCM components as a platform called Business Enabling System (BES). Huawei has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Huawei has identified IRCM as a strategic area with continuous investment for technological capability and market presence.

  • Huawei's scalable and broad IRCM solution supports some of the largest CSPs in multiple geographies.

  • Its focus on cloud enablement for CSPs has led to augmenting all IRCM components to be offered as a service (BES SaaS), for different types of CSPs, with some early market traction.

Cautions
  • Huawei labels most of its IRCM-related activities as innovation, blurring the distinction between traditional and truly innovative activities.

  • Huawei prefers to use its own system integration resources for on-premises IRCM deployments, and it will use system integrators only when the client stipulates it.

  • Huawei has not yet implemented its vertical strategy for enterprises outside of the CSP market.

Mahindra Comviva

Mahindra Comviva is a part of Mahindra Group. Mahindra Comviva's IRCM product portfolio is branded iPACS (BSS suite), mBAS (service delivery platform) and MobiLytix (customer analytics suite). Acquisitions since January 2016 include a controlling stake in Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) in Latin America and Emagine International.

Strengths
  • Mahindra Comviva's IRCM solutions are scalable, easy to configure and implement, and provide a low total cost of ownership (TCO). These attributes resonate with customers, and Mahindra Comviva's business is growing above the market average.

  • Mahindra Comviva's product portfolio combines digital service monetization with value-added services.

  • Mahindra Comviva receives above-average customer feedback on most of its IRCM solution modules.

Cautions
  • Most of its deployments are in emerging markets, and only recently has the company been focusing on developed markets.

  • Mahindra Comviva prefers to do its own system integration work and only has a limited system integration partner ecosystem.

  • Mahindra Comviva received below-average feedback from reference customers for service capabilities and proactivity.

Matrixx Software

Matrixx Software is a software vendor for IRCM systems packaged and branded as Matrixx Digital Commerce. Matrixx has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • The Matrixx solution has been architected from the ground up with a single database, which eliminates the need for middleware and data synchronization.

  • Matrixx Digital Commerce is a high-performance and flexible solution, and it offers good price performance with a low hardware footprint.

  • The company has been successfully expanding its mind share and customer base during the past year, including new wins with CK Hutchison's Three Group (operators in the U.K., Denmark, Italy and Sweden).

Cautions
  • The company's IRCM portfolio is not as complete as the market leaders, and innovation focus is mainly for digital marketplace components, which may not meet all requirements of large CSPs.

  • Matrixx Software has limited presence and experience in many global regions, including Latin America, Eastern Europe, Eurasia, China and Africa.

  • Since Matrixx Software is a small company, it can be challenging for users to get access to the right technical resources.

Mind CTI

Mind CTI is a publicly traded software company. It supplies billing and customer care solutions for voice, data, video and content services to customers globally. Mind CTI brands its IRCM portfolio as MINDBill. It complements its IRCM offerings with solutions for smart city/IoT billing requirements. Mind CTI has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Mind CTI has reliable experience of supporting CSPs with small- to medium-scale IRCM solution requirements across multiple geographical regions, such as North America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

  • Apart from its integrated IRCM solution, Mind CTI has partnerships to help with adjunct requirements, such as payment solution, taxation, plant management and field service management.

  • Mind CTI can be a cost-effective solution partner for Tier 2 and Tier 3 CSPs looking for a convergent IRCM and provisioning solution.

Cautions
  • Large-scale transformation projects are not the forte of Mind CTI. CSPs with complex requirements should evaluate whether the company is a good match for them.

  • Mind CTI has a very limited system integration partner ecosystem, and it works on implementation on its own.

  • As Mind CTI has not engaged with CSPs in certain markets, such as Eurasia, China and Asia/Pacific, CSPs in these geographies should evaluate Mind CTI's support capabilities extensively before engaging.

Netcracker

Netcracker is a division of NEC — a global NEP, software provider and outsourcer. Netcracker's IRCM product portfolio is branded Netcracker. IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016 include CoralTree Systems.

Strengths
  • Netcracker has a scalable and comprehensive IRCM portfolio, including associated services for fixed, mobile, prepaid and postpaid offerings for CSPs, as well as some enterprise offerings.

  • Netcracker has one of the most cohesive innovation strategies among the companies in this Magic Quadrant. It is effective in demonstrating the results of investment with case studies and examples.

  • Netcracker is ahead of most of the IRCM competition in building a vertical strategy beyond the communications industry to help CSPs with their vertical aspirations.

Cautions
  • The price point for Netcracker's IRCM products and services can be high for smaller prospects.

  • Netcracker's mind share remains below that of its major competitors, despite aggressive marketing campaigns.

  • Netcracker continues to deploy its IRCM solutions directly to its customers, rather than working with system integration providers.

Nokia

Nokia is a global NEP, software provider and related service supplier. Nokia's IRCM portfolio includes mediation, charging, policy, customer engagement automation, analytics and customer care capabilities. IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016 include Comptel.

Strengths
  • The combination of Nokia's and Comptel's IRCM portfolios creates a comprehensive and vendor-agnostic IRCM software suite.

  • Nokia is one of the very few NEPs that is investing in verticalizing its IRCM offerings for CSPs' target markets, such as IoT, smart cities, smart metering and smart farming.

  • Survey reference customers for Comptel solutions are more satisfied than average references regarding the overall experience of working with their IRCM solution provider.

Cautions
  • Most of Nokia's IRCM offerings are relatively similar to those offered by other IRCM vendors.

  • Nokia is integrating the acquired Comptel assets into a more cohesive portfolio. CSPs are better off with modules for the time being.

  • Nokia's relationship with system integrators is based on joint wins and implementations, rather than on a formal certification program. This limits the options for CSPs that prefer system integrators that do not have prior relationships with Nokia.

Openet

Openet's core business is IRCM. Openet's IRCM product portfolio is branded Policy Manager, Evolved Charging and Convergent Mediation. Openet has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Openet's charging, policy management and business intelligence (BI) solutions provide module-based adjunct options for CSPs that do not want to embark on large-scale legacy transformation projects.

  • The company's software is fully virtualized and in production with Tier 1 CSPs. It provides a virtualized network function (VNF) life cycle manager, called Weaver, free of charge via a community model.

  • Openet offers a broad use-case library focused particularly on mobile operators' policy management, mediation and BI challenges.

Cautions
  • Openet has limited system integration partnerships, affecting its implementation services.

  • Openet has limited experience and presence in Eurasia and the Middle East and Africa (MEA) regions, and it lacks a focused geographic strategy.

  • Openet's revenue during the past 12 months declined slightly — mainly due to lower-margin sales in the U.S. — challenging the company's ability to grow R&D investment.

Oracle

Oracle is a global hardware and software provider. Oracle's core IRCM product portfolio is branded Oracle Communications (OC) Concept to Cash to Care (C2C2C), Oracle CX for Communications and OC Rapid Offer Design and Order Delivery (RODOD) solution. Oracle has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • The company has made cloud transformation the centerpiece of its IRCM strategy, which includes Oracle Monetization Cloud (OMC), a billing-as-a-service offering.

  • Oracle's IRCM product portfolio is comprehensive, ranging from CRM and billing/revenue management to service fulfillment. It provides the option of a phased and modular approach to incrementally move from on-premises deployment to a full cloud-based deployment.

  • The company has a proven vertical strategy that enables CSPs to use its products to their target vertical industries, such as financial services and connected cars.

Cautions
  • Product customizations by system integrators can result in the product not working as intended, as well as lead to project delays and cost overruns.

  • The company's repositioning of its IRCM portfolio around its "cloud first" mantra has yet to resonate with a large section of relatively conservative IRCM solution buyers who prefer on-premises implementations.

  • Oracle's on-premises product licensing is less transparent than that of other vendors.

Peter-Service

Peter-Service's core business is IRCM. Peter-Service's IRCM product portfolio is branded Peter-Service BSS Platform. Peter-Service has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Peter-Service has a comprehensive IRCM product suite built in-house, with a high-scale, real-life implementation of more than 75 million users on a single platform.

  • The company is on a solid financial foundation. Peter-Service has achieved double-digit year-over-year growth during the past two years, which is due largely to its work with MegaFon, Russia's third-largest CSP.

  • Peter-Service has an ambitious vision for future expansion. This vision includes, among other initiatives: continuously evolving the product portfolio and architecture to support CSPs' digital business model requirements; supporting large-scale digital transformation projects; expanding into new geographies; and supporting industries outside of the CSP vertical.

Cautions
  • Peter-Service's success as a major IRCM competitor depends on its ability to quickly convert its product and sales vision into tangible wins outside its "home base" of Russia within the next two years. Such an endeavor will likely be difficult, judging from the experience of other vendors in this and previous iterations of this Magic Quadrant.

  • The company currently only has a minimal brand recognition outside of Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

  • The company currently is not working with any system integrators.

Redknee

Redknee's core business is IRCM. Redknee's IRCM product portfolio is branded Redknee Unified. Redknee has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • The company has active clients in nearly every geographic region.

  • Redknee provides a comprehensive set of IRCM functions with flexible delivery and pricing options, all of which are also available in the private and public cloud (Amazon Web Services [AWS], Microsoft Azure, VMware, OpenStack and Redknee's own cloud).

  • Redknee's solutions scale to support the requirements of the world's largest mobile CSPs.

Cautions
  • Redknee's viability remains uncertain, as is its ability to evolve and deliver its products. The company embarked on a restructuring plan, including top management changes and significant staff reductions.

  • Reference customers surveyed for this research indicate that there is room for improvement in Redknee's ability to differentiate itself from the competition.

  • The new customer success program is in its early stages. Redknee still has a lot of work to do to deliver measurable business impact to all its customers.

Sterlite Technologies

Sterlite Technologies, develops and delivers optical communications products, network and system integration services and BSS/OSS software for CSPs globally. Its IRCM product portfolio is branded Elitecore B/OSS Platform, Elitecore Wi-Fi Service Management Platform (SMP) and Elitecore Core Session Management (CSM). Sterlite Technologies has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Sterlite Technologies has a focused roadmap and emphasizes investing in improving the product's scalability, making it ready for virtualization, expanding digital commerce features, applying DevOps and open APIs, and targeting IoT and smart cities.

  • The company has a strong presence in emerging Asia/Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa, and it has scored multiple wins and contact extensions since 2016.

  • The out-of-the-box SMP, targeted to a wide variety of enterprises, such as CSPs, MVNOs, multiple system operators (MSOs) and small and midsize businesses (SMBs), is a differentiator.

Cautions
  • Sterlite Technologies' brand recognition remains very low outside of Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Its marketing strategy appears to have lost momentum under its new ownership.

  • The product's scalability remains below that of its competitors in real-life implementations.

  • Sterlite Technologies has only taken limited advantage of growth opportunities in the emerging markets of Latin America, Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East.

Tecnotree

Tecnotree is a software provider for IRCM and value-added services. Tecnotree's IRCM product portfolio is branded Tecnotree Agility suite. Tecnotree has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Tecnotree is redesigning its product toward a container-based and microservice-based architecture that aims to provide a high level of pluggability, horizontal scalability and improved integration. The redesigned product already went live with a number of CSPs.

  • Tecnotree has solid experience of supporting group operators in emerging markets across its operations in multiple countries.

  • Tecnotree differentiates itself by delivering on time and proactively responding to its clients' requests.

Cautions
  • Tecnotree's viability remains uncertain. Its financial situation remains critical, as reported in its half-year financial report of 11 August 2017. The company plans to reduce operating expenses, consolidate its product portfolio and reduce its staff.

  • Tecnotree's ability to obtain new customers remains uncertain due to the company's tight liquidity and uncertainty of sufficient funding.

  • The company's attempts to diversify away from its two largest clients have been slow.

Xius

Xius is a subsidiary of Megasoft — a global provider of cloud services, cybersecurity, IoT solutions and mobile network services. Xius' IRCM product portfolio is branded Mobile Services Platform (MSP), INfinet and Amplio. Xius has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • Xius' product portfolio includes all the modules necessary to support small to midsize mobile network operators and MVNOs.

  • The company's established presence in Latin America has enabled it to gradually expand its customer base in this region.

  • Xius can provide CSPs with more individualized services and support than large suppliers.

Cautions
  • Xius has low name recognition in the IRCM industry.

  • Xius' ability to expand into new markets and accounts is constrained by its strategy to focus on its existing customers and the regions in which these customers operate.

  • The company's geographic expansion remains slow, and its reach remains limited mainly to Latin America (Telefónica operating companies) and some legacy implementations in the U.S.

ZTEsoft

ZTEsoft is a subsidiary of ZTE — a global NEP and software provider. ZTEsoft's IRCM product portfolio is branded ZSmart. ZTEsoft has made no IRCM-related acquisitions since January 2016.

Strengths
  • ZTEsoft provides a comprehensive set of IRCM functions with flexible delivery and pricing options, all of which are also available on-premises and in the private and public cloud (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Group and ZTEsoft's own cloud).

  • The company has a strong presence and installed client base in many geographic regions — in particular, in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America.

  • ZTEsoft's product innovation has been well-received by reference customers surveyed.

Cautions
  • ZTEsoft is exploring a potential merger to expand its market. This creates uncertainty among prospects because of lack of official communication from ZTE.

  • ZTEsoft's system integration program continues to be a work in progress, with little improvement from the perspective of reference customers.

  • Reference customers have called out project management issues and lack of staffing continuity in implementations outside of China.

Vendors Added and Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant may change over time. A vendor's appearance in a Magic Quadrant one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.

Added

  • BearingPoint — Previously Infonova

  • Mind CTI

  • Nokia

  • Peter-Service

Dropped

  • AsiaInfo — After discontinuation of European business, this vendor no longer meets the geographic inclusion criteria, according to which vendors must have active IRCM CSP customers for the core functionality in at least four geographic regions.

  • Infonova — Rebranded as BearingPoint

  • SunTec — This vendor does not meet the revenue inclusion criteria, according to which vendors must receive at least 75% of their IRCM revenue from CSPs.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Worldwide, more than 200 vendors provide various modules of IRCM for CSPs. Most of these vendors are small in terms of revenue, provide only point solutions or have a small geographic footprint.

During the past three years, a new set of vendors offering SaaS-based solutions has entered this market. These vendors originally addressed small and midsize enterprises. Some of them have now scaled their solutions and launched initiatives that target CSPs, but they still lack the traction of the vendors covered in this Magic Quadrant report. These vendors are not included in the 2017 iteration of the IRCM Magic Quadrant.

Criteria for inclusion and exclusion in this Magic Quadrant are as follows:

  • Independent software vendors (ISVs) — Only software publishers are included. NEPs that have their own IRCM product portfolios are included in this category as well. Vendors must receive at least 75% of their IRCM revenue from CSPs. For a definition of CSPs, see "Market Definitions and Methodology Guide: Communications Service Provider Operational Technology."

  • Functionality — The software suite has to provide the full range of core revenue and customer management functions, as shown above in the Functional Footprint section:

    • Real-time rating or charging, product catalog, and billing and account management must be provided in-house .

    • Vendors must provide at least five out of the remaining eight core functions in-house.

    • Adjunct functions can be provided either in-house or through partners.

  • Geographic reach — Vendors must have active IRCM CSP customers for the core functionality in at least four geographic regions, as defined in "Market Definitions and Methodology Guide: Communications Service Provider Operational Technology."

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

This axis evaluates vendors on the quality and efficiency of the processes, systems, methods or procedures that enable their performance to be competitive, efficient and effective, and to positively affect revenue, retention and reputation. Ability to Execute is primarily a combination of factors driven by product functionality, architecture and performance, and by the ability to meet customer expectations during product delivery and operation. Vendors are judged on their ability and success in executing their vision. Our evaluation of a vendor's Ability to Execute is based on the following criteria. Only the criteria most relevant to IRCM vendor selection in today's market are rated:

  • Product or service: This criterion involves the core goods and services that compete in or serve the IRCM market. This includes current product and service capabilities, quality, feature sets, and skills. This can be offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

  • Overall viability: Viability includes an assessment of the organization's overall financial health, as well as the financial and practical success of the business unit. It views the likelihood of the organization to continue to offer and invest in the product, as well as the product position in the current portfolio.

  • Market responsiveness/record: This criterion includes the vendor's ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness to changing market demands.

  • Marketing execution: This criterion involves the clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message in order to influence the market, promote the brand, increase awareness of products and establish a positive identification in the minds of customers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional, thought leadership, social media, referrals and sales activities.

Table 1 lists the relative weighting of the various criteria in terms of a vendor's Ability to Execute in this market.

Table 1.   Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Product or Service

High

Overall Viability

Medium

Sales Execution/Pricing

Not Rated

Market Responsiveness/Record

High

Marketing Execution

Medium

Customer Experience

Not Rated

Operations

Not Rated

Source: Gartner (October 2017)

Completeness of Vision

This axis evaluates vendors on their ability to convincingly communicate their current and future market direction, innovation, customer needs and competitive forces, and on how well those statements map to Gartner research positions. Vendors are rated on their understanding of how they can address market forces to meet and anticipate customer demands. Completeness of Vision is primarily a combination of domain expertise, an appropriate go-to-market strategy, and a focus on innovation in product functionality and enabling technology. Geographic footprint and the ability to cater to industries outside the CSP vertical also play a role. Only the criteria most relevant to IRCM vendor selection in today's market are rated:

  • Sales strategy: This criterion involves a sound strategy for selling products using the appropriate networks, including direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication. It also includes partners that extend the scope and depth of market reach, expertise, technologies, services and their customer base.

  • Offering (product) strategy: This criterion involves a vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes market differentiation, functionality, methodology and features as they map to current and future requirements.

  • Innovation: This criterion involves direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, and defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

  • Vertical/Industry strategy: This criterion involves the vendor's strategy to direct resources (sales, product and development), skills and products to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including verticals.

  • Geographic strategy: This criterion involves the vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries, as appropriate for each geography and market.

Table 2 lists the relative weighting of the various criteria in terms of a vendor's Completeness of Vision in this market.

Table 2.   Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Market Understanding

Not Rated

Marketing Strategy

Not Rated

Sales Strategy

High

Offering (Product) Strategy

High

Business Model

Not Rated

Vertical/Industry Strategy

Low

Innovation

High

Geographic Strategy

Medium

Source: Gartner (October 2017)

Quadrant Descriptions

Leaders

Leaders are vendors that would normally be included on shortlists for IRCM solutions for large and midsize CSPs worldwide:

  • They perform profitably, grow their revenue and have a presence in all major markets.

  • Their functionality is above average, and their technology and scalability are leading-edge.

  • They also engage in innovative projects and activities, carefully listening to their customer base and executing projects to their customers' satisfaction.

  • They are engaged in understanding the underlying and emerging patterns/trends in revenue and customer management activities, and they direct their R&D resources and investments accordingly.

Challengers

Challengers perform well in their selected markets or industries:

  • They have high capability and performance (in terms of sales and growth).

  • They may not be targeting all segments or geographies of the IRCM market.

  • They may have a more limited vision of their functionality or technology.

Users with a conservative approach to business will find lower-risk options in this sector. Challengers can invest in innovative projects driven by their R&D activities. A proactive approach to R&D and innovation in IRCM can move Challengers into the Leaders quadrant.

Visionaries

Visionaries have unique functional or technical IRCM-related capabilities, but they have constrained capabilities geographically or financially. They are characterized by:

  • Their ability to anticipate market transformation, such as increased analytical functionality or integration

  • Their optimization of revenue and customer management business processes

Users that have a tolerance for risk and are seeking a differentiating product should consider Visionaries. An increased focus on their IRCM technology and solution delivery can move Visionaries into the Challengers or Leaders quadrant. Visionaries can also develop partnerships that complement their strengths.

Niche Players

Niche Players are still worthy of consideration. Given the fragmentation of the market, buyers should consider that any listing in this Magic Quadrant is a good indication of a vendor's credibility.

Vendors are situated in the Niche Players quadrant because of:

  • A limited geographical presence

  • A narrow or limited focus on marketing strategy, innovation and delivery models, or limited partnerships

  • A lack of financial strength (that is, they have not achieved financial viability compared with the Leaders)

  • A failure to match the Leaders in advancing their technologies or functionality

All of these factors prevent Niche Players from being universally suitable to all customers.

Context

Changes From the 2016 Magic Quadrant

We adjusted the inclusion criteria, weighting and evaluation criteria to account for changes in the market. Highlights are as follows:

  • Weightings:

    • Completeness of Vision: Marketing Strategy

      • We reduced this weighting from Medium to Not Rated because Marketing Strategy has become closely linked to Offering (Product) Strategy and will be scored in that category.

    • Completeness of Vision: Vertical/Industry Strategy

      • We increased this weighting from Not Rated to Low because CSPs are increasingly using IRCM products to support their vertical target markets.

  • Inclusion Criteria:

    • We moved customer/service product life cycle management from adjunct capabilities to core functionality.

    • We added a revenue threshold, according to which "vendors must receive at least 75% of their IRCM revenues from CSPs." The reason for adding this qualifier is to maintain the CSP focus of this Magic Quadrant.

Key Findings

  • Product or Service and Innovation:

    • The IRCM solution and product portfolios across all vendors rated in this Magic Quadrant remain relatively similar. Product differentiation is coming from two sides: CRM-related functionality and OSS/network-facing functionality. Large vendors with sizable R&D budgets are addressing all aspects of IRCM and adjacent solutions. Smaller vendors specialize in point solutions, such as fintech, workforce management and others.

    • Project execution, rather than product features, have become the main IRCM differentiators.

  • Marketing Execution

    • All vendors tout the same technologies and use the same industry jargon, including "digital," virtualization, microservices, machine-to-machine (M2M), analytics and IoT.

    • Apart from four vendors — Amdocs, Ericsson, Huawei and Oracle — CSP brand recognition of IRCM vendors remains relatively low.

  • Market Responsiveness/Record

    • Only a few vendors successfully combine best-in-class products with implementation and project management excellence.

    • Having a set of legacy applications is increasingly becoming a drag to user satisfaction.

    • Some smaller vendors have distinguished themselves by their ability to manage CSPs' digital ecosystems.

  • Sales Strategy

    • Most vendors have only an account-focused sales strategy, rather than a differentiated industry or geographic strategy.

    • Most vendors prefer to implement and market their entire products suite (as well as services) on their own. This includes smaller vendors, although they often lack the resources to stay ahead of technology innovation and service expertise.

    • Increasingly, vendors are expanding their product partnerships to take advantage of product innovation developed by startup companies.

  • Vertical/Industry Strategy

    • Almost all vendors are trying to expand their client base beyond CSPs into vertical industries, such as utilities, finance and content/media.

    • Most vendors lack a clear vertical strategy and the necessary industry expertise to successfully expand beyond CSPs. There have been only a few, random wins during the past year.

    • All IRCM suites can support — technologywise — CSPs with their targeted verticals. However, IRCM vendors have made few attempts to promote the value of their suites for this purpose.

  • Overall Viability

    • The past year was a lull in the financial situation of the IRCM market:

      • Growth has stalled or turned negative.

      • There were few mergers and acquisitions, with the exceptions being Amdocs, Mahindra Comviva, Netcracker and Nokia.

      • A number of companies remain financially unstable and are in the process of restructuring.

Market Overview

The IRCM market differs from other software markets:

  • Software licenses account for about 20% of the market.

  • Services account for about 70%.

  • Outsourcing accounts for about 10%.

This peculiarity accounts for the survival of many small vendors.

CSPs selecting IRCM solutions emphasize product functionality and performance, overall cost, a clear product roadmap and future vision, and the ability to reduce time to market, drive business innovation and improve business agility.

Less important selection criteria include having a pre-existing relationship with the supplier, having a strong user community and helping improve supplier or partner relationships.

These preferences indicate an overemphasis on software features and a certain neglect of service expertise. This bias might account for many IRCM projects failing to meet their initial objectives in terms of time to market and TCO.

CSP sourcing managers should pay equal attention to a vendor's ability to take ownership of a project — from initial consulting to integration, maintenance and upgrades.

SaaS-based IRCM solutions will challenge on-premises-based solutions in the medium term. A new set of vendors that initially offered solutions to small and midsize enterprises has entered this market. In response, most of the vendors in this Magic Quadrant have launched their own SaaS offerings. Some of them have now scaled their solutions to meet the requirements of CSPs, but they lack the traction of the vendors covered in this Magic Quadrant.

Most of the vendors featured in this Magic Quadrant have launched SaaS IRCM solutions to prevent their current clients from switching to another vendor. We expect CSPs to accelerate their use of SaaS IRCM in response to the availability of more robust solutions.

Vendors Not in the Magic Quadrant

Although they don't meet the inclusion criteria for this Magic Quadrant, there are many viable alternative IRCM vendors. This list includes vendors that operate in more than one region and have a CSP-specific offering:

  • Alepo

  • AsiaInfo

  • CBOSS Holding

  • ItsOn

  • MDS

  • Qvantel

  • SAP

  • SunTec

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.

Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.

Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.

Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.

Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.