Several back-office trends turning on recent news indicate continued consolidation, customer deployment of expanded functions and further standards exploration with the TM Forum. Acquisitions The deal of greatest note is Amdocs’ $45 million (net cash on hand) purchase of Jacobs Rimell. Announced April 8, this acquisition strengthens Amdocs’ broadband cable portfolio.

"Jacobs Rimmell’s components are an integral part of Comcast’s provisioning infrastructure supporting new Comcast product introductions," said Any Baer, CIO of Comcast in a statement at the time.

Two years ago, Amdocs had beefed up its cable presence by acquiring cable billing and customer relationship management (CRM) provider DST Innovis for $238 million. Among DST’s announced customers at the time were Comcast and Cablevision.

Another leading vendor in this space, CSG Systems, announced plans last Thursday to purchase a data presentment and direct mail services firm DataProse for $39 million cash. DataProse produces more than 5 million statements each month, compared to CSG’s 60 million, but in a statement CSG said that the deal diversifies its customers in the utilities, financial services and telecom markets, and adds healthcare and higher education.

Among announced cable customers for CGS’s portfolio of product life cycle management technologies are Time Warner, Charter, Bright House Networks and Mediacom. More functionality Given how tightly billing and operations support system (OSS) software are bound into an MSO’s business, relations with vendors – and their roadmaps – often are likewise close.

In a statement last month that announced Cox Communications’ multi-year contract renewal with Convergys, Cox SVP and CIO Scott Hatfield noted that the Convergys relationship in helping to Cox deliver "superior customer service" goes back to 1996.

Expanded functionality mentioned in that announcement includes order entry workflows, customer alerts and marketing campaigns. Hatfield stated that the new software would help provide Cox "with accurate and actionable information that will enhance the customer experience." TM Forum News today that the TM Forum has appointed Sigma Systems CTO Brian Capellani as an advisory director to its board of directors is another indicator that this trade association remains on the move.

Devoted to the creation, delivery, assurance and billing of telecom, media and information services, the TM Forum has had a largely telecom bent since its creation in 1988. The gradual blurring of lines between telecom and other providers shifted that focus, but it was the folding of the Internet protocol detail record (IPDR) organization into its operations, announced in May 2007 at the Forum’s annual spring gathering in Nice, France, that brought it squarely into cable’s orbit.

In January 2007, CableLabs had adopted the IPDR streaming protocol into the OpenCable (now tru2way) platform for the encoding and transmitting metrics to a collections system within an MSO.

As service and network convergence continues, the TM Forum’s star is likely to continue rising. Sigma’s Capellani said in a statement that the group "is instrumental in shaping the standards of the global communications industry."

A participant in such TM Forum initiatives as the OSS/J technical program, the Service Delivery Framework and the Cable Interest Group, Capellani joins 32 other advisory directors to the group.

Executives from Time Warner Cable played an important role in TM Forum’s "living lab" Catalyst Program demonstration at the Management World Americas event last November. Time Warner Cable VP Operations Jonathan Anderson and Cox VP Network Operations Dick Mueller are listed as speakers at next month’s gathering in Nice.

– Jonathan Tombes Read more cable news at http://www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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