Architecture should tell a story

Crossing the digital transformation chasm

Call To Architecture — Jul 2016 by Nuno Periquito

Although at Celfocus we aren’t in the business of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other physical structures, architecture holds a very important role in what we do and what our customer’s value about us.

According to Wikipedia, architecture (Latin architectura, from the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων arkhitekton "architect", from ἀρχι- "chief" and τέκτων "builder") is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings and other physical structures.

When we think about telecommunications, the first images that come to mind are innovations, disruptions and, in many cases, complexity and confusion. For CELFOCUS, architecture means ORDERS overcoming CHAOS, it’s providing a structure that helps Customer Service Providers (CSPs) understand the journey they must undertake to solve the challenges brought by the digital age.

CELFOCUS Customer Centric IT architecture takes on a holistic stance into CSPs’ BSS stack, identifying the critical building blocks, how they communicate among them and the roadmap for a digital transformation.

The enablement of a Customer Centric BSS IT architecture, in order to fully support a digital experience spanning all customer segments and channels (assisted as well as non-assisted), requires a sound digital transformation initiative that includes:

  • Introduction of a sound and scalable omnichannel core framework that is able to support business processes and process continuity across assisted (call center, retail, dealers) and non-assisted channels (self-service, e-shop, mobile apps, IPTV on-screen app, SMS, USSD, IVR, etc)
  • Introduction of an omnichannel front-end solution that is able to support both assisted (call center, retail shops, partners) as well as digital channels.
  • Introduction of a centralized product catalogue solution that will master all product/service definitions, pricing rules as well as commercial compatibility and eligibility rules.
  • Introduction of an omnichannel business validations engine that is able to support all channels and front-ends.
  • Introduction of an omnichannel performance analytics tool to report on customer-facing teams and process performance (through insightful feedback and customer zoom-in views) as well as provide comprehensive control (for actionable purposes) over what is happening across all channels and downstream activities (including manual actions and automated integrations touching the remaining BSS systems). All this information should be made available in near-real-time, and intuitively embedded in the front-end applications that will support assisted channels (call-centers, shops and partners).

In order to kick-start the enablement of the remaining BSS applications to support the omnichannel requirements, CSPs must leverage well-known best-practice integration architecture design principles:

  1. Virtualization – a measure of separation between the business being operated and the “real” systems supporting it. Virtualization is the key architecture driver towards meeting the digital requirements.
  2. Minimal Coding – Measures the overall architecture’s capability to support new products, services and capabilities while minimizing or avoiding the development lifecycle
  3. Capability Design - Capabilities are the building blocks of business features
  4. Componentization – each system should “avoid” having functional overlaps with other systems on the architecture. Many of these overlaps exist because at a given point in time during the architecture’s evolution, these functions were required.
  5. Decoupling – every two systems in the BSS Architecture should be as independent as possible from each other.

Decoupling, together with Componentization, allows for easier system replacement projects since each system is more “unaware” of what the others are doing, hence reducing the scope of the systems replacement project.

Embracing the customer as the centre of the business has been a panacea for all problems, for too long. Celfocus’ approach shows objectively how it can be achieved from an IT architecture perspective. Moreover, it defines a roadmap to assist CSPs make the transition to a Digital Service Provider (DSP) by proposing a renovated approach to how customers’ needs are being met and how there are engaging with the organization. It represents an evolution from offering core, telecom services, to providing digital solutions.

Main advantages of Celfocus’ Customer Centric BSS architecture include:

  • Modularity: CSPs can start by addressing a specific pain area, being the billing or CRM system, for example, and prioritize the move to other areas, at a later stage,
  • Best of breed: Celfocus has experience in working and integrating the most common systems in the market,
  • Celfocus Product Portfolio: For specific areas where off-the-shelf solutions didn’t cover the full functional scope required, Celfocus’ experience led to the development of a product portfolio which is available to our customers,
  • Project accelerators: Reusable components used in transformation projects, which play a pivotal role on the project rollout and delivering quick wins, over time.

By combining deep telco business knowledge with the understanding of different technologies, and without ever losing sight of the customer experience, we built a reputation leveraged on a strong success track record, where others have struggled.

In a world continuously changing, time is of the essence and that’s why our approach is based on reusing components proved reliable, assets, proprietary frameworks and accelerators allowing us to deliver in a 9 month project cycle.

At Celfocus we don’t aspire to win the Pritzker award like our countrymen Siza Vieria and Eduardo Souto de Moura, our satisfaction comes from helping our customers by solving complex technical challenges and have a positive impact on their success.