Raul Azevedo is Head of Product Development at WeDo Technologies. In this interview, Raul shares his insights into the market drivers behind RAID Telecom, and how his team has worked to redesign the way Telcos think about and manage their business.
What was your role in creating RAID Telecom?
I joined WeDo Technologies eleven years ago, beginning in Product Delivery. Now my role is VP for Product Development, which is responsible for Engineering, Technical Architecture and Quality Assurance. I oversee the entire product development lifecycle, which includes requirements identification, analysis, design and engineering, as well as test and delivery. I also oversee our activities with the TM Forum as head of their Fraud Management Group.
What are latest product features of RAID Telecom? What will customers find most useful?
As always, our focus when developing products is to remain true to our Business Assurance vision. One way we’ve accomplished this was through the creation of Fast Processes - which address the broader business assurance needs within a CSP; going well beyond traditional Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management. For example, with Fast Processes we have taken industry best practices for controls, alarms, case management flows, and supplier and partner incentives management and then packaged them and made them available right out of the box.
Although Fast Processes are prepackaged, RAID still maintains its flexibility with Flex Processes. With Flex Processes you can expand your audits and configure them to fit any need that you have, including certain modeling requirements that are out of scope within Fast Processes.
We also have a lot of new and exciting product features within this release. Firstly- our new Adaptive Case Management tool allows users to change or react to events like emails, tweets or external alarms. It is fully event-driven and very easy to configure, allowing the end-user to maintain the case management flow and monitor performance. Another feature is the new Data Discovery toolset. Investigation Workbench is one of these tools and was designed specifically for ad-hoc investigation. We have done significant market testing with this feature to maximize usability and productivity. Secondly, we have introduced Smart Data Blueprints, which allows end-users who are not familiar with SQL or other query languages to produce complex queries simply by creating them in a data flow. This provides a simple, interactive way of building complex queries that can easily be reused.
We also have fully redesigned our information layer with our Smart Data Stream tool. Our biggest focus for this release was the ability to react, analyze and detect in real-time, and with Smart Data Stream, the system is able to react to events and also receive and process streams of data in real-time.
Lastly, a trend we are seeing from our customers is the need to maximize the value of big data sources; namely those supported by Adaptive Solutions. We now support data stored in Hadoop and are even able to perform validations with mixed data sources. For example, if some data resides in Hadoop and the rest is in a transactional database like Oracle, users can still validate all the data regardless of where it is stored, and still identify problems without the need to extract all the data out to a separate database. This saves both time and money.
With this latest version of RAID Telecom, we have also completely redesigned the user interface. It is now sleeker, with a new color scheme, and it is more user-friendly, following industry best practices for usability.
When moving to a real-time architecture, we needed to optimize the processing time, but still keep the legacy features intact to ensure we could access backup data. Technically this was quite a challenge, but we’ve had great results. All configurations are in the same web-based user interface, so that any user can see how the flow is organized. The benefit of having a fully integrated web-based architecture is that it allows both design and analysis within the same interface.
Were there any hurdles that were difficult to overcome?
One of the most challenging issues when addressing real-time processing is that sometimes there are instances real-time processing isn’t required or isn’t supported. What we’ve been able to do is achieve a compromise, where we maximize speed and reach without losing the consistency of our processes, namely in the areas of transforming and processing data. The other issue is that when we tried to maximize the value of various big data sources, we quickly learned that we were dealing with different realities than those we encounter in a relational database. It was a bit of a challenge to prepare data properly so that we could maximize performance within Hadoop, and of course our goal is to make all of this technical stuff really easy for our end users.
We performed exhaustive user testing until we achieved a solution that met our requirements. The end result is a product that utilizes the same base language throughout and doesn’t require customization. We worked extensively on these issues to ensure we could deliver the best user experience possible; not just in how it looks, but in how it functions.
What are the benefits to our Customers? To the business managers/business users and to the organization as a whole?
Revenue Assurance used to be focused solely on the revenue stream, but with our new Fast Processes, we’ve been able to increase coverage across the entire organization, with real-time monitoring and continuous auditing of key processes across the company. Auditing tools that were previously only available to revenue assurance teams are now packaged and available to other groups- including partners and incentives management, sales, HR, etc.
Additionally, our solution is constantly adapting to changing business needs. Imagine that you have a case management tool to address a specific situation; in 2 months, the details of that situation will be outdated. We give users the ability to manage changes on their own, without complex coding. There will still be the ‘power users’ who want more granular access, but now a new level of control is given to every end-user to ensure that the tool keeps up with changing needs and remains relevant to the current business processes. We also ensure that the right alarms and controls are being monitored. We don’t believe in systems that rely on monthly control points, but in a system that is continuously looking at the business in a focused way, only creating alarms if there are critical issues that need to be addressed. We provide our customers with the comfort that their business is constantly being monitored, and that they will receive ample warning if anything goes wrong. We tackle the problem from end-to-end in an integrated environment that can be accessed over any device, including smartphone or tablet. It adapts to whatever device you are using, prioritizing the interface and making it easy to see at a glance. You can constantly keep in touch and see how things are going, no matter where you are.
What are the advantages and best practices taken from these new technologies?
Big Data and Hadoop: At WeDo Technologies, we are leveraging the power of big data within our product roadmap because that is the future. The CSP market has been a bit slow to embrace the concept of open source, but supporting Hadoop can expand a CSP’s ability to process huge amounts of data. It’s not just a data source; it’s a tool that, if leveraged correctly, provides incredible processing power, which is what we have leveraged with our Smart Data Stream.
Analytics: The issue of embedding analytics into the product is an area that we are currently investing in. Machine learning and data mining algorithms for fraud detection are what we are working on now; in other words, preparing the architecture for a real-time world. The needs of our customers are evolving and our solution is changing to fit those needs. When CSPs monitor critical processes, it’s important to quickly identify problems that are leading to losses.
Virtualization: With our architecture redesign we have been working to scale our system in a cloud environment and continue to do extensive testing in this area.
LTE/M2M: With regards to LTE and M2M, there is the need to address huge amounts of data in real-time. We have the ability to standardize data by putting it into a common data format that can easily feed our solutions and processes, identifying if the data is VoLTE or Wi-fi or 3G. Our product is able to read and process all kinds of data, and we are constantly improving, so when there is a new format we can quickly adapt.
Do you expect to reach new audiences/stakeholders within the organization?
Yes definitely. With our new ‘Fast Processes’ we are extending the benefits of our product to other stakeholders within the organization. More than serving different users, our product allows different teams to work more closely together, collaborating and sharing the same case management tools and features, allowing teams to work with a common platform in a more integrated way. Also, in terms of the user interface, we segment data visualization components for different audiences. C-level data visualization components are very different from those that are used by a data scientist or analyst. We have ways to address different needs by different users/roles within the company. For example, within ‘Fast Processes’ we provide a CXO Cockpit that has been designed to provide a summarized view of all the processes and it delivers the results in a very intuitive way. From there, he or she can drill down to gain further details.
Also read the article: "RAID: Creating a State of the Art User Experience"