Telco environments are complex, and no two have the same requirements. So, it’s no surprise that the topic of software customization comes up a lot in our industry.
Particularly in the enterprise telco space, commerce software must be able to adapt to different customer journeys and integrate with Operations Support Systems, like billing stacks, CRMs, loyalty programs, and more.
The need to adapt commerce software to market requirements is a given, but how that’s accomplished has long-lasting impacts on your project costs, adaptability, and performance.
One approach is to hard code new functionality into generic software solutions that haven’t been designed for telco transactions. Will it work? Sure. Is it sustainable or cost-effective? Not so much.
It’s no secret that the best approach is a purpose-built telco platform. When you’re looking for customization, here are four reasons you should choose a configurable telco platform instead of customizing a generic software solution.
Telco-specific platforms are just like they sound – they are purpose-built for the types of transactions that take place in the industry. From an architecture perspective, they have the features, abstractions, and pre-integrations that telcos need already built in. Telco platforms are tailored to manage the required sales journeys, collect essential information during the transaction, and report on the metrics you need to know the most.
A telco-specific platform gives you the essential tools you need to perform telecom transactions, like point of sale, inventory management, digital contracts, e-commerce, flexible sales journeys, integration support and APIs, and more. Because it’s built modularly, you can select the solutions you need, and have the flexibility to add more components later.
Platforms can also be pre-integrated to supporting systems, like your CRM, billing stack, ERP, etc. With part of that work already done, it’s easy to finish integrating with those systems during deployment, rather than starting from scratch.
With the breadth of solutions and integrations, a platform is really the only way to connect all your sales channels and enable omnichannel transactions, which is imperative in today’s world.
Telco platforms are designed to be highly configurable. As I mentioned above, with a platform, you’re already starting from a place where the core product has those essential telco features already baked in. And a well-designed platform makes it easy to configure those capabilities without hard coding.
Take a customer record, for example. Some markets will require different fields and dropdown options on these forms than others. With a configurable platform, now it’s just a matter of selecting options in a table to control which fields appear, rather than creating that functionality from scratch.
While many things can be configured, there is still a small amount of custom coding that’s required for any deployment. With a platform, we customize what we call the “last mile”. This is where we write a small bit of customer-specific code to meet their unique requirements and finalize the connections of any integrations. But the scope of work is abstracted from the core product, compared to a hard coded solution where all aspects of the software must be customized.
So, really what you get with a platform is an integration framework that makes this configuration and customization work quicker to implement.
When it comes to software, nothing is more important than remaining on the upgrade path. As software is updated over time, how easy is it to apply those upgrades? If you have customized a point product, that becomes more difficult. Now, you’re at the mercy of your vendor to get important changes for your business. You’re also beholden to their road map because you’ll have to go to them for any changes or new features and have a customized release created again.
With a platform, those customizations are done in the last mile, so the core product is not touched. Now, any new releases can be applied without affecting that custom work.
Anytime you invest in software or change solutions, there is a cost to that, and it’s not insignificant. But you have to look beyond the initial figure to consider the total cost of ownership.
On the surface, a telco platform might be more expensive than investing in a generic standalone product. But that generic software has to be customized to get that telco-specific functionality, which adds expense and time to your deployment.
And now when you need to update that software in the future, or add new capabilities, everything has to be re-customized, as I mentioned above. So, what initially seemed like a bargain will now cost you more over the lifetime of that product. The platform approach, where that functionality is baked in from the start and can easily adapt to changes, will always save you more.
In terms of time to market, the same applies. When you have to stop and customize a solution from scratch, there’s a time cost to that. With a platform, your features are already there, your pre-integrations are already done – it’s very quick to deploy that and configure it for your market. Same with when there are upgrades - no disruption, no fighting with vendors to update their codebase for you. It just makes life so much easier!
For a more in-depth assessment of how platforms compare to generic and hybrid solutions, check out our whitepaper, The Best And The Rest: How 3 Types of Commerce Solutions Compare. In it, we compare a generic POS, POS/CRM Hybrid, and Telco Platform’s capabilities across several key business requirements.
Customization is important, but execution is even more so. If you don’t currently have a telco platform, or are considering a solution change, don’t overlook these 4 benefits when you make your decision.