Customer relationship management and business intelligence

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CRM(Customer Relationship Management) and BI(Business Intelligence) are supportive applications to run any Telco operations. Generally these applications collaborate with each other to complete an operation. Accuracy, efficiency and flexible integration are the key features for these applications to run in a highly collaborative mode. Low cost, flexibility, and collaboration are the major requirement of today's Telco operations due to volatile nature of market need.

There is a huge availability of Business Intelligence and CRM, Systems in the market in both Open Source and Closed Source. Some leading names are as follows:

Customer Relationship Management

Citrus DB

Sugar CRM

Compiere

Splended CRM

Concurive

Maxcare

Singl.eView

Business Intelligence

Pentaho Open BI Suite

SpagoBI

Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite

Italtel BI

MicroStrategy

SAP Business Objects

Oracle

Microsoft BI

IBM Cognos

Initially most of these systems were tailor made to serve as small utilities and evolved over the years and transformed into the current shape after going through the major architectural and design changes. These are applications that have grown according to different needs of their clients over the years and as additional services were introduced and for different geographically located Telco's.

Mostly these are centralized systems and even if they are web based, they are installed and configured according to single operator needs and working as enterprise applications. They are resource hungry and a large pool of manpower is needed to run and maintain these applications.

Some of these systems are enterprise desktop applications and some are web based. In both cases these applications consume lot of network resources while accessing on the LAN or WAN. These are very high cost solutions. They incur a lot of maintainability cost and time. Huge and high cost infrastructure is required to run these applications. A lot of manpower is needed to operate such applications.

Most of these systems are tightly integrated with their own billing suit of solutions and are being sold along with billing systems on high additional one time and recurring cost. Telecom service providers have no other options then buying such high cost, resource hungry, tightly integrated, thick client Billing, Customer care and OSS solutions.

None of these systems are compliant to all four state of the art and need of today's Telco business; tools, technologies and framework i.e. Web 2.0 Framework, NGOSS Framework and Open Source technologies.

Systems Research's CRM and BI Solution will not only be Open Source, but will also be Web 2.0 enabled, NGOSS compliant, SaaS based, empowered by Cloud, designed according to SOA.

NGOSS starts with two letter i.e. NG meaning Next Generation. It will become crucial for Telco's to follow OSS / BSS systems with NGOSS compliance in the already fiercely competitive Telco market space.

It will not just be a CRM and BI but an Integrated Solution to a Telco's Billing, Customer Care, Data Analysis, Inventory, Fraud Management and Business Intelligence requirements and will also have the capability to interface with HLR, IN, VMS, IVR and Prepaid Voucher Management System and General Ledger etc.

Customer Care will be a conversion exercise and BI will be developed from scratch.

Our aim is to put on the Open Source Platform an integrated solution for the Telco's or Billing Service Companies that is cutting edge i.e. Web 2.0 enabled, certified to the best of the Telco standards i.e. NGOSS which will be almost mandatory for the Telco's to adopt. Just like certifications like ISO 9000 compliance or CMM levels have become important in the IT Corporate Sector. Our application will be designed according to SOA guidelines and since we will be SaaS compliant, all the modules of our applications will be available as services. Based on our experience with cloud hosting, we planned to use the power of cloud to run these applications.

Our Enterprise System was born in the GSM age as we call it during our presentations. Our plan is to make it NGOSS compliant and turn it into an Open Source Suite of Applications and also make it Web 2.0 enabled and SaaS based.

This way we will be opening up the doors for Telco's and Billing service providers to adopt this software for their billing, customer care and OSS needs.

Our literature review focus has been around the following areas:

A. CRM, BI Applications

B. NGOSS

C. Open Source

D. Web 2.0

A: CRM, BI Applications

1. Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) is a set of concepts to improve business decision making [1]. BI utilizes database and application technologies for gathering, storing and analyzing data [2]. It is an in-depth analysis carried out by fact-based support system (e.g. DSS). This increases speed at which information is available, reduce redundancy and streamline interactions [3]; a guided action for achieving desired goals [4]. Business Intelligence is all about providing information which is correct, precise, relevant and timely.

1.1. Telecom Industry:

Telecom industry has gained a lot of attention in the past few years. It is so because the mobile users have grown exponentially and so are the needs of the telecom organizations.

· Telco Business Intelligence as the term to describe a loosely organized set of applications, tools, concepts and approaches all of which are focused on the transformation of "raw input" in the form of data, text, graphics, multi-media or any other form, into usable information, that helps telecommunications executives to better understand and more efficiently manage their business. [107]

· Next-era business intelligence is about putting actionable insight in the hands of the many without the cost, complication and IT constraints that have long held BI back. The idea is to support better decision making at all levels of the organization, whether in the executive suite or among sales and service reps meeting directly with customers. [106]

· Business intelligence (BI) is all about delivering the right information in the right format to the right people at the right time so they can make effective and timely business decisions. [105]

· Worldwide, around about $3.5 trillion accounts exist, and it was estimated that there are 2.3 billion cellular phone service providers [7]. Global phones service subscribers is estimated to double by 2011 [7].

· Overall, the telecommunications industry is in a state of continuous technological and economic flux driven by intense competition and new technologies. [7]

· Internet and wireless, changed customer's use of cellular technology, and been able to force prices downwards [7].

· Government regulations are bringing big changes to business strategies as they continue to evolve quickly. [7]

· The technologies that current telecommunications industry supports are as follows; Local and long term telephone services, Wireless communications, Internet, Fiber-optics, Satellites, Cable-TV-systems, Voice, Cell, WLL, VoIP, ISP, Land Line, and IPTV [7]. ISP, land line, and IPTV together are known as triple play.

1.2. Business Intelligence in Telecom Value Chain:

· Deregulation and increasing competition is forcing companies to move from traditional product-centric operations to consumer-centric operations. [7]

· Telecommunications vendors have to analyze their customers' needs and tailor all their business processes in the value chain to effectively meet their customers' unique requirements and increasing demands. [7]

· Traditional telecommunications service providers need to create innovative new value-added services that are accessed online. [7]

· To effectively interact with customers and design suitable offerings, the vendor's CRM strategy has to fully utilize the potential of Business Intelligence solutions. [7]

· BI solutions that bring together data from existing systems that deliver, track, and optimize branding and direct response marketing campaigns can help telecommunications service providers reduce the risk and increase the predictability of campaign execution. [7]

· Decision-making in the telecom industry today demands high-quality intelligence. This is where business intelligence (BI) solutions play their critical role. [101]

· Business intelligence systems can significantly help in almost all aspects of the value chain. [7]

· Business intelligence can affect the value chain and provide guidance to telecom companies in areas; Human Resource Management, Corporate Management, Finance and Asset Management, Product Development, and Customer Relationship Management. [7]

1.3. Business Intelligence Requirements in Telecom Industry:

· Capabilities to visualize potential applications of BI to a Telecom Carrier- Churn Management, Fraud Management, Network Capacity planning, Subscriber Usage pattern Discovery and many more. [97]

· Technical expertise to extract information from complex data structures, like CDRs, Billing and Routing policies, for making informed business decisions. [97]

· Clear understanding of the operator's working environment and the nature and volume of data existing in the organization. [97]

· Custom Data integration connectors to access data from assorted data sources such as Billing Systems, CRM systems [97]

· Data warehousing designs tuned for performance - to handle complex, resource intensive analyses. [97]

· Addition of traceability to analytic results to facilitate Fraud Management and Regulatory compliance. [97]

· Algorithms for Quality Control, subscriber behavior pattern discovery and predictive analysis [97]

· Specialized visualization techniques for analysis of data from varied data sources. [97]

· Pre-prepared reports and dashboards to evaluate results, trends and patterns. [97]

1.4. Business Intelligence Architectural Perspective:

A BI platform offers a unified architecture to support a variety of BI modules, most of which were packaged and sold separately until recently. The unified architecture provides each module with a common set of services-ranging from data access to metadata to administration-that ensures greater integration among modules, easier maintenance, and faster extensibility. [100]

Some of the BI platform modules are: [100]

· Production Reporting

· End User Query and Reporting

· OLAP

· Dashboards

· Scorecards

· Advanced Visualization

· Microsoft Office Integration

· Predictive Analytics

· BI Search

Production Reporting

Reporting is the language of business. And production-or line-of-business-reporting is the most basic. All businesses need it to communicate within the organization and beyond. That's why production reporting is often the first business intelligence application deployed [125].

Production reporting software provides real time and historical production performance feedback to employees. The system collects production data and creates reporting relationships to the external data crucial for good decision making: Process Settings, Quality Info, Downtime and Maintenance activity, and more [126].

OLAP

OLAP is an acronym for On Line Analytical Processing. OLAP performs multidimensional analysis of business data and provides the capability for complex calculations,trend analysis, and sophisticateddata modeling. It is quickly becoming the fundamental foundation for Intelligent Solutions includingBusiness Performance Management, Planning, Budgeting, Forecasting, Financial Reporting, Analysis, Simulation Models, Knowledge Discovery, and Data Warehouse Reporting. OLAP enables end-users to perform ad hoc analysis of data in multipledimensions, thereby providing the insight and understanding they need for better decision making.

Nowadays, many spreadsheet users have heard about OLAP technology, but it is not clear to them what OLAP means. Unlike relational databases, OLAP tools do not store individual transaction records in two-dimensional, row-by-column format, like a worksheet, but instead usemultidimensional database structures-known as Cubes in OLAP terminology-to store arrays of consolidated information. The data and formulas are stored in an optimizedmultidimensional database, while views of the data are created on demand. Analysts can take any view, or Slice, of aCube to produce a worksheet-like view of points of interest.

Rather than simply working with three dimensions, companies have manydimensions to track--for example, a business that distributes goods from more than a single facility will have at least the followingDimensions to consider: Accounts, Locations, Periods, Salespeople and Products. TheseDimensions comprise a base for the company's planning, analysis and reporting activities. Together they represent the "whole" business picture, providing the foundation for all business planning, analysis and reporting activities [127].

Dashboards

In information technology, a dashboard is a user interface that, somewhat resembling an automobile's dashboard, organizes and presents information in a way that is easy to read. However, a computer dashboard is more likely to be interactive than an automobile dashboard (unless it is also computer-based). To some extent, most graphical user interfaces (GUIs) resemble a dashboard. However, some product developers consciously employ this metaphor (and sometimes the term) so that the user instantly recognizes the similarity.

Some products that aim to integrate information from multiple components into a unified display refer to themselves as dashboards. For example, a product might obtain information from the local operating system in a computer, from one or more applications that may be running, and from one or more remote sites on the Web and present it as though it all came from the same source. Hewlett Packard developed the first such product, which began as a tool for customizing Windows desktops. CalledDashboard, the HP product was subsequently acquired by Borland and then a company called Starfish. Microsoft'sDigital Dashboardtool incorporates Web-based elements (such as news, stock quotes, and so on) and corporate elements (such as e-mail, applications, and so on) into Outlook. Dashboards may be customized in a multitude of ways and named accordingly, generally, for example as a generalcorporateorenterprise dashboard, or more specifically, as aCIO orCEO dashboard [128].

Scorecards

Business Intelligence [BI] Scorecard is a tool to aid the evolution along the BI Maturity Lifecycle and increase the strategic business value of the BI Program. A BI Performance Scorecard is used to track an organizations business intelligence and data warehouse deployments map against BI best practice.

Scorecards have long been used by organizations as a means of implementing strategy down through the enterprise and assessing progress against holistic, enterprise-wide performance indicators [KPI's].

A Business Intelligence Scorecard works in exactly the same way. Once BI Opportunities have been defined andBI Roadmap developed, the scorecard provides tracking against both the roadmap and the BI Maturity Lifecycle.

A BI Performance Scorecard acts as a reality check on whether your BI projects are on track, and if not, how to get them back on track. It acts as a visual connector between theBI Strategy and theBI Program

Predictive Analysis

Predictive analytics is the branch of data miningconcerned with the prediction of future probabilities and trends. The central element of predictive analytics is thepredictor, a variable that can be measured for an individual or other entity to predict future behavior. For example, an insurance company is likely to take into account potential driving safety predictors such asage,gender, anddriving recordwhen issuing car insurance policies.

Multiple predictors are combined into a predictive model, which, when subjected to analysis, can be used to forecast future probabilities with an acceptable level of reliability. In predictive modeling, data is collected, a statistical model is formulated, predictions are made and the model is validated (or revised) as additional data becomes available. Predictive analytics are applied to many research areas, including meteorology, security, genetics, economics, and marketing.

1.5. Business Intelligence as Desktop and Web based Solutions:

1.5.1. Open Source:

Some of the major Business Intelligence Open Source tools and platforms those are available in market are discussed below. These are a few BI (Business Intelligence) solutions considered competition for Systems Research BI (Business Intelligence) platform. List of the tools is as follows;

· Pentaho Open BI Suite

Pentaho provides a wide range of solutions related to handling data. The products that Pentaho BI suite provides are as follows; Query and Reporting, Interactive Analysis, Dashboards, ETL/Data Integration, Data Mining, and BI Platform. [103]

· SpagoBI

SpagoBI provides Business Intelligence solutions which are of enterprise level. It supports day-to-day business operations by providing in-depth view of data. SpagoBI consists of five BI modules, which are, SpagoBI Server, SpagoBI Studio, SpagoBI Meta, SpagoBI SDK, and SpagoBI Application. [104]

· Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite

Jaspersoft is world renowned BI software. Its reporting capabilities have been used by much other software including PentahoBI. Jaspersoft's integrated reporting and analysis helps customer organizations to manage and make faster, better decisions [22]. The BI (Business Intelligence) modules of Jaspersoft are; JasperServer, JasperAnalysis, JasperETL, and JasperReports.

· Italtel BI

Data Acquisition, Data Aggregation, Prediction, and Collaboration is solutions of Business Intelligence provided by Italtel. They are providing NGOSS focused BI (Business Intelligence) solution, but are not open source. [102]

1.5.2. Closed Source:

Following is the list of tools which are proprietary and their use is restricted to a certain number of companies who buy their solutions. The solutions provided by these companies are not available in market as a public license or free of cost.

· MicroStrategy

· SAP Business Objects

· Oracle

· Microsoft BI

· IBM Cognos

1.6. Conclusion:

Above discussion shows that Business Intelligence can be categorized into following types.

1.6.1. Business Intelligence Types:

Business intelligence types can be divided into two major perspectives, which are as follows;

    1. Technical Characteristics
    2. Industry Specification Application of BI (Business Intelligence)

In market Business Intelligence is available in following forms;

1.7. Business Intelligence Tools:

The BI (Business Intelligence) tools and modules are available in two ways either they are open source or propriety i.e. closed source. There are three major types of Business Intelligence tools and modules that come into use of enterprises, these are as follows:

· Desktop

· Web

· Mobile

1.8. Business Intelligence Needs in Telecom Industry:

The needs in Telecommunications industry have indeed increased the necessity for Business Intelligence all the more. Systems Research envisions to provide solutions with cutting edge and with latest technology, to be able to provide the telecom organizations with bigger, better and an extra-ordinary experience with the solutions. Systems Research foresees that a combined solution which involves SaaS, SOA and Web 2.0 gives leverage to telecom organizations to use solutions which are web based, and with no hassle to download or buy as a desktop shelf application or even its security and maintainability. NGOSS gives innovative, and industry best practices merged to exploit use of information with complete external to internal settings of the Telecom Company, aligned to pave the right path. Open source lets the organization embark on the journey to success by utilizing free of cost BI (Business Intelligence) solutions.

1.9. SYSTEMS RESEARCH ASSERTION:

The current market and Systems Research's proposed solution differentiates in many ways. The solution that Systems Research is proposing creates a difference at many levels, these are web 2.0 compliance, semantic web compliant, NGOSS (New Generation Operations Systems and Software) compliance, Open Source standards based, based on Software as a Service and On Service Oriented Architecture. Table [2] identifies that how proposed solution will be better.

Comparison in Table [2] clearly identifies that not a single closed or open source BI (Business Intelligence) solution is close to what Systems Research proposes to provide in its solution. Mostly BI (Business Intelligence) solutions are vendor specific and the clients are bound by the services they provide. Some open source tools have not completely opened up to the clients the way Systems Research proposed BI (Business Intelligence) would be. Our focus would be to provide our clients free of cost services and exploiting Software as a Service would reduce the cost incurred by resources such as hardware, software buying etc.

We look forward to present state-of-the-art BI (Business Intelligence) solution. In the rapid evolutionary period, we mean to create a difference in telecom industry by providing an open source, web 2.0 compliant, semantic web based, NGOSS compliant, SOA complaint, SaaS and Cloud Computing based BI (Business Intelligence), which will definitely leverage the full capacity of the telecommunications industry from micro to macro level. The BI (Business Intelligence) solution will cater needs of telecommunications industry end-to-end. Our BI (Business Intelligence) solutions combined with other proposed systems will have huge and extended benefit to the organization utilizing these solutions. Uniqueness of our proposed solution lies with the strong assertion of our features which in a combined form have not yet been presented in any closed or open source BI (Business Intelligence) solutions to-date. And we also look forward to further investigate into the semantics/ web 3.0 and its features for BI (Business Intelligence).

2. CRM:

Telecom operators are now increasingly looking to optimize the functionality of their CRM systems. This need arises from the escalating competition in the telecom industry and the value their services provide to the customers. The competition signifies additional options for the telecom users, which drives the telecom operators to adapt a customer centric approach. The use of this approach requires the operator to provide agile services which necessitate a recent belief: "software as a service". [1].

Most leading open source CRM's provide integration with back end enterprise applications and enable management of various processes in the value chain. Some Open source CRM's such as SugarCRM and Concursive allow customers to integrate with enterprise CRM's and to channel partners. Other CRM systems provide a wide package of integrated components such as MaxBill & MaxCare, Compiere and CitrusDB. MaxBill and MaxCare provide two modules of billing and customer care which enable the customer to bill their clients and manage the transactions between the customer and the client. A detailed description of the leading open source CRMs is given in table 1.

These CRM's provide limited functionality to meet with the needs of the users in terms of providing customized solutions which facilitate their decision making.

We propose to develop a NGOSS, web 2.0 enabled, open source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system which provides optimum experience for the customer. This system will enable customers to interact with the enterprise application, integrate with the necessary business processes and streamline communication between the customers and the latest offers and services of an enterprise. [115].

2.1. CRM Categories:

There areseveraldifferent approaches to CRM, with different software packages focusing on different aspects. In general, customer service, campaign management and sales force management form the core of the system.[116] This section provides a brief overview of the different kinds of Customer Relationship Management Systems.

2.1.1. Operational CRM

Operational CRM provides support to front office business processes, e.g. tosales, marketingand service staff. Interactions with customers are generally stored in customers' contact histories, and staff can retrieve customer information as necessary.

The contact history provides staff members with immediate access to important information on the customer (products owned, prior support calls etc.), eliminating the need to individually obtain this information directly from the customer. Reaching to the customer at right time at right place is preferable.

Operational CRM processes customer data for a variety of purposes some of which are managing campaigns, sales management system and enterprise marketing automation. [117]

2.1.2. Sales (SFA)

Sales force automation systems are typically part of an organizations CRM system. It automatically records all the stages in a sales process. SFA includes a contact management system which tracks the contact made with a particular customer, the purpose and any follow up that may be required after the interaction. This ensures that sales efforts are not duplicated, reducing the risk of irritating customers. It also includes a sales lead tracking system, which lists potential customers through paid phone lists, or customers of related products. Other elements of a SFA system can include sales forecasting, order management and product knowledge. More developed SFA systems have featured where customers can actually model the product to meet their required needs through online product building systems. This is becoming increasingly popular in industries where customization features are important. An integral part of any SFA system is company wide integration among different departments. If SFA systems aren't adopted and properly integrated to all departments, there might be a lack of communication which could result in different departments contacting the same customer for the same purpose. In order to mitigate this risk, SFA must be fully integrated in all departments that deal with customer service management. A SFA system automates sales force related activities such as activity management, tracking responses, generation reports, opportunity management and assessment.

2.1.3. Analytical CRM

An analytical Customer relationship management system analyzes customer data tofacilitate the decision making process. Activities such as designing and executing targeted marketing campaigns, customer acquisition, cross and up selling, analyzing customer behavior are just a few that encompass the functionality of this system. Data mining techniques are widely used to achieve these functions.

2.1.4. Sales Intelligence CRM

Sales Intelligence CRM is similar to Analytical CRM, but is intended as a more direct sales tool. Features include alerts regarding cross/up/switch selling opportunities, customer drift, sales performance, customer trends, margins and alignment.

The termSales intelligence(SI) refers to technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of Sales information. The purpose of Sales intelligence is to support better business decision making by sales people.

SI describes a set of concepts and methods to improve Sales Performance and decision making by using fact-based Transaction information. SI is usually integrated or includes (CRM) Customer Relationship Management. Sales Intelligence systems are data-driven.

Sales Intelligence is similar to Business Intelligence (BI) but is specifically designed for the use of Sales People and Sales Managers. Sales intelligence solutions are predominantly designed for companies in the manufacturing, distribution and wholesale sectors. These are highly competitive markets, where volumes are high, margins are low.

2.1.5. Campaign Management

Campaign management combines elements of Operational and Analytical CRM. Its functions encompass forming target groups from the client base, sending campaign-related material to selected recipients using various channels, tracking storing and analyzing campaign statistics, including tracking responses and analyzing trends.

2.1.6. Collaborative CRM

Collaborative CRM covers aspects of a company's dealings with customers that are handled by various departments within a company, such as sales, technical supportand marketing. Staff members from different departments can share information collected when interacting with customers. For example, feedback received by customer support agents can provide other staff members with information on the services and features requested by customers. Collaborative CRM's ultimate goal is to use information collected by all departments to improve the quality of services provided by the company. [118]

2.1.7. Consumer Relationship CRM

Consumer Relationship System (CRS) covers aspects of a company's dealing with customers handled by the Consumer Affairs and Customer Relations contact centers within a company.Representatives handle in-bound contact from anonymous consumers and customers. Early warnings can be issued regarding product issues (e.g. item recalls) and current consumer sentiment can be tracked.

2.1.8. e-CRM

As the internet has become increasingly important in business life, many companies consider it as an opportunity to reduce customer-service costs, tighten customer relationships and most important, further personalize marketing messages and enablemass customization [120] Together with the creation ofSales Force Automation (SFA), where electronic methods were used to gather data and analyze customer information, the trend of the upcomingInternet can be seen as the foundation of what we know as eCRM today. We can define eCRM as activities to manage customer relationships by using theInternet, web browsers or other electronic touch points. The challenge hereby is to offercommunication and information on the right topic, in the right amount, and at the right time that fits the customer's specific needs.[121] annels through which companies can communicate with its customers, are growing by the day, and as a result, getting their time and attention has turned into a major challenge. [122] One of the reasons eCRM is popular nowadays is that digital channels can create unique and positive experiences.

CRM programs should be directed towards customer value that competitors cannot match. [123] However, in a world where almost every company is connected to theInternet, eCRM has become a requirement for survival, not just acompetitive advantage. [124]

2.2. Different levels of eCRM

In defining the scope of eCRM, three different levels can be distinguished:

2.2.1. Foundational services:

This includes the minimum necessary services such as web site effectiveness and responsiveness as well as order fulfillment.

2.2.2. Customer-centered services:

These services include order tracking, product configuration and customization as well as security/trust.

2.2.3. Value-added services:

These are extra services such as online auctions and online training and education.[14]

Self-services are becoming increasingly important inCRMactivities. The rise of theinternet and eCRM has boosted the options for self-service activities. A critical success factor is the integration of such activities into traditional channels.

CRM activities are mainly of two different types. Reactive service is where the customer has a problem and contacts the company. Proactive service is where the manager has decided not to wait for the customer to contact the firm, but to be aggressive a contact the customer himself in order to establish a dialogue and solve problems.[16]

2.3 CRMS for Telcos

As the telecommunication market grows, products and services also become more complex resulting in more choice for the Telco consumer. Telecom operators need to acknowledge the needs of their customers and improve their retention strategies[130].

It is believed that the Telco CRM and billing companies find it difficult to integrate different solutions. It is because of this reason, that large CRM and Billing players are making alliances, and some Billing vendors such as Amdocs and Converges are acquiring CRM companies. These two markets are converging despite their apparent irreconcilable differences[131].

Leading OSS/BSS providers have identified the capability gap between a CRMS designed for all the industries in general and one required by a Telecom operator. This gap is caused by the need of a convergent BSS approach which includes both sales and marketing functionalities. The suggested solution is aligning BSS, customer management, sales and marketing as a centralized system[132].

Upgrading legacy systems is also a problem area defined by Telcos. Issues pertaining to this are differences in technology and architecture of state-of-the-art systems versus legacy systems. Such problems require additional cost and time for established Telecom Operators while introducing new services and integrating them with legacy systems[133].

Telcos have not implemented true self service for their customers on the web. This essentially means providing all the information a customer care center offers on the web. E-CRM systems need to be web 2.0 compliant to make collaboration for their customers easier. However, legacy systems make interoperability and scalability difficult with respect to time and cost[133]. This means a significant reduction in a Telcos response to the changes in the market and lower customer retention.

Telcos also confuse the introduction of a Customer Relationship Management System as a replacement of the previous system. What in reality is a change in the way a Telco does business is misunderstood to be only an automation process. CRM Systems necessitate a change in business processes and a fundamental shift to become business-focused and satisfy varying customer requirements[133].

Along with reengineering business processes, telecom operators are also expected to keep their operating costs low and maintain a customer centric approach while launching services and package plans[134].

Studies from telecom market research and Dittberner Associates predicts growth in the CRM and related customer activities to reach a growth of $1.3 Billion in 2010. This increase is due to complexity of pricing, promoting and personalization of next generation telecom services[135].

To meet these challenges, the demand for hosted/SaaS CRM Systems compared to packaged CRM is increasing. This will help Telcos maintain and increase their customer turnover and avoid large investments[136].

A set of standards and best practices for transforming the business needs and operations has also been introduced. This framework, known as the New Generation Operations Support Systems, streamlines software development by enabling reuse of standardized (NGOSS compliant) systems[137].

Research firms also forecast the growth of CRM challenges as product complexity continues to grow. This is because of consumer familiarity with commoditized services such as the television which will be substituted by the IPTV and the telephone with VOIP. Changes in the learning curve of consumers will require consumer education and support resources to facilitate consumers as product portfolios of Telcos increase in both the amount of products/services and their complexity. [138]

Telcos not only need to invest in technology and automate processes, but mostly have to change the business processes they are following. To ensure all systems are synchronized, Telcos pay large sums of money to ensure the smooth interaction between the systems of different departments. For this, they mostly resort to installing large OSS/BSS Suites which handle business processes of the entire organization. These enterprise state-of-the-art systems are costly and not suitable for small to medium sized Telcos.

We propose to develop a NGOSS, web 2.0 enabled, open source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system which provides optimum experience for the customer. This system will enable customers to interact with the enterprise application, integrate with the necessary business processes and streamline communication between the customers and the latest offers and services of an enterprise.

B. NGOSS:

Whilst the TeleManagement Forums's New Generation Operations Systems and Software (NGOSS) program and the OSS through Java Initiative (OSS/J) program have different foci, both have the ultimate goal of promoting the delivery of reusable OSS solutions to service providers.

The NGOSS program has focused on business aspects of OSS solutions whereas the OSS/Jprogram has focused on implementation aspects. Closer collaboration between the TMF and OSS/J is seen as valuable for both organizations and for the industry as a whole.

NGOSS Architectural Principles

1.1 Modeling

1.1.1 Shared Information Model

An NGOSS system must be characterized by the usage of a common information model for enabling integration and interoperability. The information model should be more than just a standard representation of data-it must also define semantics and behavior of, and interaction between, managed entities. This set of information, all provided in a standard representation using standard data-types, is used to describe domain information (e.g., orders, network service and configuration definitions) in an NGOSS system.

1.1.1.1 Security Policy Model

An NGOSS system should be designed according to an overarching security model. An implementation of an NGOSS system will require the setup and operation of one or more security mechanisms and policies in order to operate the NGOSS system in a secure manner. To this end, the security provisions have been structured around the ISO 17799 Information Security Management standards; it provides a framework to manage and operate an NGOSS system to meet the security objectives of an operating company.

1.1.1.2 Policy Management Model

The NGOSS system architecture is defined as a policy-enabled management architecture. The term policy-enabled is defined as a system that operates using policies to make present and future decisions. In other words, if a system is policy-enabled, then the operation and management of that system is dependent on the execution of policies. Stated more generally, policies provide rules that govern behavior within a system. Policy rules are defined to meet business, system, or other objectives; consequently, policies may link one or more of the business, system (operational), and implementation views of the NGOSS system to each other.

1.1.1.3 Business Process Model

An NGOSS system must be characterized by the separation of the hard-coded behavior of components from the software that automates business processes across the components-i.e. an NGOSS system should be composed of defined services that can be orchestrated using scripting/process management technologies. An NGOSS system is further characterized by externalized descriptions of behavior expressed in a technology-neutral manner. Examples of this are:

· The external description of a service is separated from one or more specific implementations through a representation called a contract. Contracts enable different aspects of the business, system, implementation and deployment views of an application to be integrated through the use of information models1

· A business process is represented by an executable meta-language description, which describes the flow of execution between contract instances and System behavior is controlled through the use of different types of management paradigms.

A business-process model may invoke lower-level business-process models. This means that a business-process step that a service provider desires to automate (e.g., verifying that the network can support the provisioning of a desired service) may be made up of one or more lower-level interactions with different system runtime entities that provide the necessary services; lower-level business-process models used in this way must be able to provide one or more contract instances to which the higher-level business process model can bind. That means that multi-level process management can be supported.

Process management is the realization of modern business management techniques in business process automation solutions. This includes techniques for defining, measuring, analyzing, testing, and deploying business processes as well as executing them. All of these activities form a part of business process automation, and so must contribute to the goal of improving business results for telecommunications service providers.

1.1.2 OSS Business Applications

An OSS business application provides services that realize the business-related functionality specified using NGOSS such as billing, rating and discounting, network data management, and others. OSS business applications deployed as an NGOSS solution are characterized as follows:

1.1.2.1 NGOSS Integrated Applications:

NGOSS integrated applications are software components designed from the start for deployment in an NGOSS environment. Such applications are constructed with the following attributes:

· Functionality accessible through NGOSS contractual interfaces;

· Externally visible data conforms to a standard data model that can be mapped onto the NGOSS Shared Information and Data Model (SID); and

· Business process and policy management functionality that is separated from the implementation of the application and specified using a set of business process procedures (see Business Process Model above). In this manner, business process and policy management techniques are applied to the separate business process and policy definitions which in turn orchestrate the flow between components of solutions and applications.

1.1.2.2 Integrated Legacy Applications

Integrated legacy applications are software components that were developed outside the scope of an NGOSS architecture and that have subsequently been made available as NGOSS components either by:

· Fully encapsulating them with an NGOSS conformant wrapper (i.e., a software wrapper that provides access to the functionality of the legacy application through NGOSS contractual interfaces and maps data made visible by those contracts onto the common information model used by the NGOSS deployment into which the legacy applications is integrated); or

· Selectively encapsulating specific functionality of the legacy application by developing adjunct software which provides a contractual interface and data mapping for that specific functional interface.

1.1.3 Framework Services

Framework services provide the distributed computing functionality needed to implement the architecture for correct operation. Interfaces to these services are provided through appropriate contract specifications.

1.1.4 OSS Framework Services:

OSS framework services provide standard OSS/BSS capabilities whose functionality is common to many OSS/BSS services and which can be orchestrated by those OSS/BSS services. OSS Framework Services are an optional (but most likely will be included in some manner in all but the most trivial OSS/BSS deployment) part of the NGOSS architecture. Examples of OSS framework services include: Logging Services and Tracing Services.

1.1.5 Basic Framework Services:

Basic Framework Services provide the basic service-distribution capabilities needed to support the patterns of interaction between components implementing business services. The Basic Framework Services may also be used by the other services. For example, the process definition for billing would actually be found by fetching it from the repository. The Basic Framework Services are not optional. Each NGOSS deployment must include at least one instance of each of the Distribution and Transparency Services that comprise the Basic Framework Services (e.g. naming, registration, or service location).

1.1.6 Distribution and Transparency Services:

The TNA Distribution and Transparency Services are NGOSS Technology Neutral Architecture framework-level services that are fundamental to the construction, deployment and use of solutions in an NGOSS environment. An instance of each service must be included in each NGOSS deployment. Services include:

· Naming: to shield prospective users from the complexities (and inherent incomprehensibility) of network addresses;

· Repositories (or registry services): store and provide information about available distributed services;

· Registration Services: provide for the administration of services including the addition, modification, and removal of services from the repository, and the ability to browse services previously added to the repository;

· Service Location Services: facilitate matchmaking between potential producers and consumers. These services accept requests for a particular service from potential consumers and match that request against registered producers for that service stored in the repository.

1.2 NGOSS Contract Schemata

The most recent document describing NGOSS contract schemata is [11]. The schema for the Systems Contract is divided into five main parts:

· General Contract Part: this part identifies the contract and goals in an unambiguous way, and hosts a placeholder for a textual description of the contract;

· Functional Part: this part defines the capabilities provided by the contract, constraints placed upon the use of those capabilities, and the context in which it can be used.

· Management Part: this part defines the management capabilities needed to operate capabilities, assess resource cost, assess service cost, assign QoS, describe geographic constraints, describe resource constraints, describe operational constraints and describe legal constraints of a contract.

· Non Functional Part: this part defines aspects needed for proper operation of the capabilities specified by the contract (e.g., security and management operations), as well as other considerations (e.g., cost).

· System-specific Model Part: this part contains various types of UML models to support the specification and description of the functional and non-functional parts. This part supports the lifecycle management of the service, and any resources required to configure and maintain that service, in an OSS architecture.

The features of the Genie CRM are derived from NGOSS and will support the business processes defined in the enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM) framework. This established framework will enhance the functionality of the system by enabling the end user and the developer community to interoperate the CRM System with other systems. The extension to the system will be done through the extensive process definitions in the NGOSS framework.

The diagram above shows the four main quadrants of the NGOSS lifecycle. The diagram is highlighted with four further perspectives. The CRMS will be mapped onto these four quadrants by defining the business processes, determining the communication of these four quadrants with each other, defining and implementing them using technology neutral architecture and finally, deploying the system in a cloud for organizations to access them.

The interface of the CRMS, both backend and front-end, is sought to be interoperable with other systems. To provide this functionality at the backend, contracts/ interfaces will be used which are defined in the different modules of the NGOSS framework. These contracts provide a standard for the telecom industry to make different systems work without the bias of a combination of technologies used at the backend.

C. Open Source

Research into free and open source software development projects has so far largely focused on how the major tasks of software development are organized and motivated. But a complete project requires the execution of "mundane but necessary" tasks as well. We explore how the mundane but necessary task of field support is organized in the case of Apache web server software, and why some project participants are motivated to provide this service gratis to others. We find that the Apache field support system functions effectively. We also find that, when we partition the help system into its component tasks, 98% of the effort expended by information providers in fact returns direct learning benefits to those providers. This finding considerably reduces the puzzle of why information providers are willing to perform this task "for free." Implications are discussed. [21]

By looking at open source software, software usage and development turned out to be inseparable. Therefore the development process starts with the first related idea and ends with the removal of the software from the last hosting computer system. Another effect is the direct or indirect inclusion of all users in the development, though; some of them might only frequently update their software components.

In order to handle these new circumstances, the major task of special development environments for open source software is the provision of a suitable information and communication infrastructure. This infrastructure must consider all special features of the entire process of open source software development, particularly, the mentioned integration of users in the development process.

1. Basic Structure

Several basic structures have been identified that could help to create a complete open source model in the future. The following gives a short summary [22]

* Social background

* Organization of Open Source Projects

* Technical Support for Projects

2. Social background

The open source community is not governed by any central authority which represents its members or is entitled to decide and enforce any kind of rules. Therefore the open source community cannot be examined as an organization, but only as a social phenomenon including many different interacting organizations and individuals.

Without a central management the community depends significantly on social relations of the global Internet society. The resulting dependencies have a strong impact on activities inside the community and its interaction with the rest of the world. For this reason I tried to identify the major social structures by investigating various aspects of the community like economy, law, philosophy of science, politics, history and software engineering.

The examination has helped to gain a basic understanding of the open source phenomenon. In particular, the role of intellectual property and the special application of corresponding law by open source projects is the most important result. As the definition of the term 'open source software' is based on the attached licenses, they turned out to be the only reasonable indication to distinguish open source projects from other ones.

These open source licenses should be seen as the legal representation of more complex models. The subject of these models is software and all related issues like development or usage. Additionally, it is important to understand that each license is derived from different underlying principles that might belong to various categories like economy, philosophy or politics.

Therefore the open source phenomenon should not be considered as one united movement of any kind, but as a collection of many different thinking individuals and parties that have the same interest in a small field. When covering all participating parties, the only general agreement appears to be the acceptance of open source software as a useful thing. Actually, some parties seem to only tolerate open source software for the moment because it does more good than harm to their personal interests.

Open source projects (OSPs) as the organization form of software developers turned out to be the basic element of the social network of the community. Although many economical activities are based on project's results, OSPs themselves do not seem to follow economical principles for various reasons, e.g. the lack of business management. Considering OSPs as academic research appears to be a more suitable model.

3. Organization of Open Source Projects

OSPs are forced to adapt themselves to the special conditions of their activities like distributed membership, no direct income or no strong management. These circumstances usually result in certain organizational structures in most cases which have the following consequences:

· Many committed users participate in OSPs. Actually, most projects are started by users which have not found the right component for their own needs. For this reason, there is no risk that the result will not satisfy its users. Additionally, releasing software as open source gives anyone the opportunity to make components fit his requirements by participating in the project or starting a concurrent one.

· Precisely specifying the task of a software component prior to implementation turned out to be a difficult and expensive task for software development in general, but specifications are often required for a business contract to clarify the given job. As OSPs do not get paid for producing any results, they do not need such specifications either. Instead, they use early and frequent software releases to approach the component's actual task by continuous modification.

· Any kind of OSP management needs the unanimous approval of involved project members because they are volunteers. For this reason traditional management based on authority power does not work and existing management usually only suggests working tasks and selects finished results, but any participant is actually free to do what he wants while working. Unmanaged activities are coordinated by social interaction supported by software tools and Internet services. Finally, competition on all levels eliminates inefficient procedures.

· A relatively optimized coordination process of the individual developers, the projects and the open source community as a whole is one result. Since coordination is one of the major problems for the management of traditional software development this is an important aspect.

· Developers are usually motivated, self-responsible and creative because everything is their own choice.

· Since communication takes place via the Internet the entire developing process is relatively transparent, though, only skilled persons might understand the exchanged information.

4. Technical Support for Projects

Since technical support aids have been changing rapidly the major effort was their collection and observation. The investigation of development tools and Internet services has led to three major subjects: experienced problems, required support tasks and emerging support services.

Several support services have been started during the last year. Their success, measured by the number of users, indicates that they provided an improved infrastructure for the open source community. Although the service providers have not found the optimal way to support the so-called 'open source model' yet, the services are continuously improved by frequent modifications and extensions. Additionally, most of the software used by the providers is open source itself and related OSPs can again participate in the development to lobby for their personal interests.

5. Business benefits of Open Source

Using Open Source for the IT infrastructure, networking protocols, networking servers, DNS, DHCP, etc. should be the norm for all. Open Source operating system on the latest 64 bit commercial off the shelf hardware enables server consolidation and the replacement of proprietary servers and operating systems. The benefits are large savings that can be achieved.

The use of Open Source Software (OSS) is, for most organizations, the most effective way to reduce costs and improve system reliability and security. The cost savings are because:

· Open Source OS & Applications rarely fails - mean-time between failures is measured in months and often years;

· OSS is secure by design - it is being used by the USA Government for secure computing;

· OSS is virus resistant by design;

· OSS is designed to interwork - published interfaces and no hidden code;

· no forced change - OSS is written to ensure backwards compatibility;

· low cost or free license fees;

· OSS is free from vendor lock in and vendor churn;

· Open Source OS like Unix/Linux runs on the latest powerful, low cost, 64 bit commercial off the shelf processors;

These benefits result in a significantly reduced cost of IT. Using Linux on the desktop also gives a marked improvement in users' productivity. Users fear of computing goes because Linux works reliably and there are no threats from viruses.

We have concluded that the organizational benefits from the use of Open Source Billing Software are as follows:

· Reliability

· Stability

· They are delivered through a Web browser Audit ability

· Cost

· Flexibility and Freedom

· Support and Accountability

6. Open source Development Tools

· J2EE

· Apache / Tomcat

· My SQL / PostgreSQL / Max DB / Fire Bird / Ingres

D. Web 2.0:

To make the experience of the end user enhanced, features of the Web 2.0 will be utilized. These features, such as AJAX, RSS feeds and blogs, improve the performance of the system, enable customization and allow collaboration.

It will collect information about a specific customer and keep it in a repository as a single source of truth. This collaborative approach is kept to record all the transactions with a customer in the value chain to maintain any changes in information.

1. Web 2.0 applications

Web 2.0 applications usually involve the following.

· using approaches that support Web standards.

· They are responsive to a user, often in a similar way to desktop applications.

· They use rich application interfaces, often including pre-built components and widgets.

These characteristics are quite different from those in Web 1.0 applications. In fact, the only thing that the two really have in common is that both are delivered through a Web browser!

2. Advantages of Web 2.0 architecture

One of the big advantages of the Web 2.0 architecture is that developers can build applications that are responsive to the user and their actions. The user doesn't have to wait for a server response each time they take an action on the page. There is no more "stop-start" when working on the Web.

An advantage for developers is that the popularity of this approach has seen an increase in the number of tools available for creating Web 2.0 applications. There has also been an explosion in components and widgets that provide great functionality to the user.

Adobe recently released the Flex Builder framework to assist developers of SWF applications in much the same way the Visual Studio .NET assists .NET developers. The framework provides an excellent drag and drop environment for creating interfaces as well as shipping with some advanced components for use in Web 2.0 applications.

In addition, there are large numbers of JavaScript libraries and toolkits, including those that link with server-side languages and those that create user interface widgets.

3. Disadvantages of Web 2.0 architecture

The Web 2.0 architecture does bring associated problems. It requires developers to learn new skills and rethink the way they approach the development of Web applications. It can also require more programming than in traditional approaches.

Using Flash/Flex to build Web 2.0 applications means that users need to have the Flash Player installed to see content. Relying on the Ajax approach places a heavy burden on developers in writing JavaScript that copes with the vagaries of modern Web browsers.

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