Digital Transformation & Maturity

Product catalogs for new gen business dynamics

Some Flashbacks

Sometime back in early 2015, Grameenphone House, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Tareq ul Islam, the Head of Wireless and Broadband Product team, is frustrated at this moment with his counterpart from IT. All Tareq is asking for a handful of data packages, which he needs badly to counter competitors’ move and also increase internet user footprint in this developing country; the country with an ambition to go digital. The ambition of his organization is also to empower society. Everything seems so harmonized, except the unacceptable time to market demanded, which is mostly due to developing the products in the IT order management system. This huge order management system can support more than 60 million subscribers’ orders efficiently; it can handle very complex business logics needed to support the vibrant segments of Grameenphone. However, even the smallest change in existing product needs significant time, as it needs to follow the development lifecycle. ‘We can’t win the war with this battleship, its time has gone,’ murmurs Tareq.

November, 2015 Grameenphone House, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Overheard in the ‘Service and portfolio prioritization forum’ meeting.

‘’…we really need a centralized service and product catalogue, without it how we can manage our portfolio smartly? There should be a single repository of products and services, which will be the baseline for relevant IT system design and configuration, like order management, channels, reporting systems, complaint handling and customer support; this will also be supporting revenue and fraud management. And for sure, with that we shall start our portfolio prioritization with the expected precision and pace…..’’

‘‘….For sure the centralized repository of product needs to be supported with the capability to manage the lifecycle of the products. Product ideation to launch and to retirement needs to be properly monitored and approved. It should be the integral part of the system, holding all the product metadata…’’

June, 2016, Grameenphone House, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Rashed Abdallah looks very unhappy at this moment. He is leading the consumer prepaid market, which contributes more than two thirds of the overall company’s revenue, in this prepaid dominated and price sensitive market. One of his aces in his hand to win the revenue war is Flexiplan, a service that helps subscribers create their own bundles as per their own needs. Rashed needs to majorly revamp Flexiplan due to the prevailing market dynamics and he is sure he will need more similar revamps in the future. But what he is hearing? To bring this change, they need to reconfigure thousands of products configured to support the Flexiplan service, requiring at least a month. “Empowering societies starts with empowering people, and we are not even enabling ourselves properly”- his words sliced through the silence.

Oct, 2016 Grameenphone House, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Santhe Islam is not hiding his dissatisfaction. The enterprise market segment has its own dynamics and competition is fierce, where every client needs customized treatment. The process for on-boarding and supporting the clients were broken many times in the past; that’s the reality. The Head of Enterprise wants uniformity and discipline and also would like to bring much-needed, long-awaited control. On the flip side, we need the system to be fast and flexible enough to serve the dynamic requirements demanded by clients while maintaining all control in the process. “We need a damn smart system to meet all these expectations,” he clarified.

Mid Jan, 2017, Grameenphone House, Dhaka, Bangladesh

A few discussion points from the minutes of a techno-commercial forum…

  • We need to make our product campaign delivery process efficient and simplified, both from business and technical process perspectives.
  • In a fast-changing world, we need to make our systems agile to integrate external stakeholders, like OTTs in the shortest possible time, and expose telco capabilities, without sacrificing security.
  • We should be able to support the high-volume orders and queries from new and new digital channels and OTT players, and serve them within the expected time per channels. At the same time we have to reduce the cost of ownership to sustain in this competitive market.
  • We should bring more and more capabilities to the surface and make it easy for the frontrunners.
  • We should be smart enough to design our system to in an orderly manner to make it configurable and ready for future demands, and in line with our reference architectures.

So what is the answer?

What is needed in a situation like this is a product catalog that acts as the brain of the CRM System. One which which covers CRM, order management, number inventory management, and products management systems, reporting, document management system and real-time monitoring. The road ahead looks a little like this:

  1. Time to market will be further improved; from days to hours.
  2. Product features can be enhanced in a similar configurable manner.
  3. Empowering channels with dynamic offers, in a balanced and controlled manner.
  4. More personalized offers for customers based on their profiles.
  5. Enabling as well empowering partners with personalized services and products.
  6. And finally, supporting the business dynamics without losing the flexibility and configurability, while also not deviating from the core architecture.


    About The Author

    Principle Engineer, Service Design and Process

    Currently serving as ‘Principal Engineer, Demand Management and Service Design’ in Grameenphone, the largest (with 65 million sub-base) Mobile Communication service provider of Bangladesh- with its vision to ‘Empower the Societies’. Current job responsibility entails, Business Analysis, Service Design and Solution Architecting from demand management function of the organization. After serving 2+ years in a University as Lecturer, Zaid has been involved in (IT service) Planning functions for more than 11 years exclusively with Grameenphone. He has grasped opportunities to work in different functions of BSS domain, Charging & Billing, VAS, Middleware, Provisioning, Campaigning System etc and had experience in some major revamp of Middleware and Charging System. Zaid has also been privileged to work with some other unique projects, many in data domain (PCEF, PCRF and Data Optimization implementation) and with some business process optimization initiatives.

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