We were on a requirement gathering session with the client when he voiced his dislike for the bland interface that our product offered. We were integrating our COTS product for data services. As we conducted our requirements gathering sessions we were able to get a clearer picture of the services offered and their requirements. Our clients were engaged in providing data services and as most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) do, they offered CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) for rent or to buy. They had well spread out channel partners and resellers who stocked the CPE and needed to manage the same. We also realized that training the huge number of channel partners with our BSS might be tough.
So, we decided to create a wrapper that interfaced with our COTS product. We created web services that helped interface with the wrapper, which was a very intuitive web interface created in PHP. We chose PHP for the ease of development and because the client had resources well versed in the same. We realized that just opening the web services provided us the option of creating a very intuitive, aesthetically pleasing and faster interface. The interface provided the end users the option of being able to choose the CPE, package etc. that they want to and the resellers to which they were linked were able to keep track of their inventory better. The simpler work order management system eased out all tasks for our customers. We are yet to go live with the product and it will definitely be enlightening to know how the reviews then.
I just happened to read this report by Sterling Commerce's John Konczal, who through the surveys and research they had done was telling us how the BSS needs to evolve to ensure that selling and ordering complexity be minimized leading to an increase in revenues. Sterling Commerce recently conducted a survey and its key findings were:
"61% of companies expect higher revenues than last year. 73% of companies say they are considering a change in the way they market and sell their products and services. In terms of priorities, respondents indicated that "better collaboration with customers" (58%) and "improving e-commerce capabilities" (42%) are the highest priorities. When questioned about e-commerce and online self-service, results revealed that 70% of businesses are falling behind in providing complex order service bundles. While 68% make it possible to search, browse and view their catalogue, only 54% allow customers to perform end-to-end ordering; 52% to view order status; and a staggering 9% do not allow customers to interact with them over the Web at all."
This rang a bell and I thought what we had worked on and done with our system is sure to provide more value to our clients. Looking at our success our management is looking at having more open web services and has instructed pre sales to provide an option to clients for an extremely intuitive web interface in JSP or PHP. How intuitive a web interface one is able to provide for every end user is still a challenge, but if the options we need to provide to out clients are limited it does ease the matters for us.