How a Platform Approach Enables Service Providers to Become De-Facto Digital Natives
The Case for Speed
With the pace at which innovative new features and experiences are being introduced by digital giants such as Google and Facebook, the standard for speed has never been higher. To meet customers’ expectations as well as to create a competitive edge, service providers are seeking to acquire greater capabilities for launching new services and releasing new functionality not every few months, but weekly, daily, and in some cases even hourly.
Here Comes the Monolith
However, service providers often find that being agile and having the ability to launch innovative services at the speed of digital is a great challenge. The inter-dependencies of multiple monolithic systems and the fragmented nature of operational and business processes make launching even seemingly ‘simple’ services a complex task.
For example, if your customers expect to be able to activate a new SIM card on their own, without having to come into the retail store – developing such self-service capabilities in a monolithic environment might require a full upgrade of both front and back-office systems, which can take several months and might come with not a few associated risks.
A New Revolutionary Approach: The Digital Enablement Platform
To improve time to market and achieve greater agility, service providers would greatly benefit from adopting a new approach. Namely, the optimal approach for these needs is a digital enablement platform that offers the set of capabilities required for the kind of speed that brings the competitive edge.
A digital enablement platform designed for success is:
Open to greatly simplify the process of delivering services across new platforms, applications, and media. Having open APIs also increases agility and the efficiency with which third party services can be delivered, eliminating the need for in-house development.
Cloud-native for more efficient use of resources with containers, making application development and operations more efficient through automation, and for leveraging on-demand computing power.
Micro-services based, enabling lightweight, self-contained, and loosely coupled services to be developed and tested quickly and fixed on the fly, rather than waiting for longer upgrade cycles. This enables service providers to launch as many or as little services at a time, at their own pace – accelerating time to market.
Driven by DevOps methodologies and principles that bring software development and operations functions together right from the start of the product lifecycle. DevOps enables continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD), for continuous software releases that can be deployed in live operations every few weeks.
The Importance of Enabling Bi-Modal
Another important factor is that the enablement platform should allow for a bi-modal, hybrid approach for when incumbent systems are adequate for some but not all functionalities required for greater agility.
Clearly, a full forklift of BSS systems is not always a practical approach to going digital. Therefore, a platform that can co-exist with legacy systems, yet – at the same time – enable agility in developing and delivering innovative services, at the pace of digital natives, is critical for success.
And with a Good Measure of Intelligence
Furthermore, a digital enablement platform that combines best-of-breed artificial intelligence (AI) engines, machine learning, and cognitive capabilities, enables each customer engagement and related processes to be infused with and driven by intelligence. The benefits of intelligence-driven processes include personalized and contextual customer engagements, decreased cost to serve with ‘smart’ self-service options, and much more.
Get Ready to Compete As A Digital-Native
“It is impossible to predict what will come next, but we know future changes will occur more rapidly than past ones.”(Analysys Mason).
When it comes to everything digital, we know that the rate of change is constantly accelerating. Yet, by adopting a digital enablement platform service providers can always be prepared for the unexpected, whatever change may come their way, and become leaders in the digital economy.
Learn more and download the Analysys Mason whitepaper.
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How to Decide Which Digital Transformation Approach Is Best for You
In a recent blog post we talked about the digital maturity model. Namely, we discussed how regardless of where you are in your digital transformation, it is critical to understand how mature your digital journey is along several parameters, and what needs to be done to accelerate the transformation to becoming a full provider of digital experiences.
Moreover, we talked about how a successful strategy and roadmap includes multiple considerations: the customer experience, technology and operations, and internal culture.
Assuming, we have taken the necessary steps to evaluate and quantify our digital maturity as it regards to being ready with systems, processes, and people – for delivering digital services like the webscale gang do (e.g. Amazon, Facebook, Netflix), the next question is – what kind of transformation is right for me?
There are many approaches that can be taken in moving from the current set of systems, processes, and practices to the new digital way of operating.
At the system level, there are four basic options for the digital transformation:
- Evolution of current systems, best when the they are performing reasonably;
- Adjuncts implemented for specific use cases (usually new digital channels), integrated into the existing infrastructure, which is a quick-fix strategy that may lead to increased complexity in the long run;
- Bi-modal, for when some aspects of the current architecture enable a digital operation, but new functionality is required to be added, or new services to be launched;
- Rip-and-replace, where new systems fully replace old ones, an approach that can often be costly and difficult.
The approach is not only driven by the status and demands of the underlying architecture. Rather, the impetus more often comes from customer expectations for innovative digital experiences along with multiple competitive pressures.
The Digital Experience Transformation
In this case a digital experience transformation represents a more measured approach, as it is focused specifically on care and commerce.
With this kind of transformation, service providers can connect brick-and-mortar stores, social media channels, the contact center, and website for a unified omni-channel experience. Doing this enables customer and sales reps to better identify what a customer needs when they enter a store or place a call to the contact center, and address those needs with personalized and contextual support and offers – which are among the hallmarks of a great digital experience.
For example, with this approach to the digital transformation, reps will be able to know if the customer browsed on the company’s website but did not add products to their cart; but – instead – did so through the company’s app. However, before they completed the purchase, they called the contact center to receive product information from the service rep. The service rep could then receive all this information along with guidance for enabling the customer to make a win-win purchase decision.
If, however, you’re seeking an even more targeted approach, you may want to consider digital augmentation. This is likely the simplest form of digital progress, entailing a transforming that focuses on one channel at a time.
Regardless of the path that is selected, the successful approach is one that is characterized by the agility to address new needs with modern technologies but without completely disrupting operations and infrastructures. A digital enablement platform is a new method that helps service providers achieve this goal.
The Enabling Technologies
The kind of digital enablement platform that reduces time to market in launching new and innovative digital functionalities and services is one that is open, cloud-native, microservices-based, driven by DevOps methodologies and principles, and is BSS system-agnostic.
This kind of platform is future-ready and enables business agility. Namely, a microservices architecture enables a fully modular deployment, for simplifying and expediting the digital experience transformation. Each microservice constitutes an implementation of a minimal, independently deployable functionality that is delivered as a service. Updates can be seamless and independent of other microservices. This modular approach also then enables the architecture to evolve at the pace of the digital-native consumer world.