Vodafone Germany is the largest national company in the Vodafone Group – one of the largest telecommunications groups in the world. In fact, every second German is a Vodafone customer, with 49.6 million mobile phone cards, almost 11 million broadband and 14 million television customers. Vodafone employees 16,000 people in Germany and generates revenues of almost 13 billion euros.
Vodafone faced several issues that were creating problems for the business and customers. Its OTELO and branded reseller IT system ran a vast number of different services, supporting an array of customer-facing channels – from campaigns and product offers to POS. However, it was impossible to separate the channels and, without an effective API layer in the infrastructure, Vodafone couldn’t establish an important online partner channel that was urgently required within its branded reseller and second brand segments.
This legacy services technology wasn’t just ineffective to use and difficult to maintain, it created high maintenance and operating costs, a slow time-to-market for new products and an inconsistent customer experience.
Vodafone isn’t alone in this difficult ecosystem. The TM Forum, the global industry organization for communications and digital service suppliers, recently stated:
Telecoms is at a crucial turning point. The last decade has dealt a series of punishing blows to an industry that had previously enjoyed enviable growth for more than 20 years. Services that once returned high margins are being reduced to commodities in the digital world, and our insatiable appetite for data demands continuous investment in infrastructure.
“We needed to develop a truly agile, transparent and scalable approach,” explained Armin Oppitz, Co-founder LionGate, who managed the migration project.
But with processes distributed everywhere imaginable within its system landscape, Vodafone needed to discover where its processes were and how they were performing, before it could migrate to a modern cloud-based infrastructure.
Building an intelligent proxy layer around its existing middleware and UI backend, Vodafone quickly analyzed communications and identified and captured events. Alongside, IT teams conducted expert interviews with people in specific topic areas to understand exactly how each process worked from a business perspective. Each process was documented using Camunda Modeler, creating a visual map of processes that was easily understood by both business and IT.
Through this discovery phase, Vodafone identified many tasks within workflows that were completely hidden and left few or no communications traces within the existing processes. Using a combination of expert knowledge and available communications traces, Vodafone was able to reverse-engineer processes in areas where tasks were unclear.
By bringing documentation to life through Camunda, Vodafone gained instantaneous insight and transparency into its processes and was able to optimize and recreate processes entirely in a new cloud-based framework, that runs on AWS with Camunda orchestrating across all channels and backend services. Not only was Vodafone able to demonstrate a minimum viable product within three months, the first go-live came after just five months.
As a major telco provider, Vodafone could not allow any disruption to ongoing business during its migration process. Instead, it used a monitoring model to carefully take over task-by-task, implementing each in business logic in Camunda, before slowly migrating the entire system process-by-process, gradually and transparently – ensuring continuity for customers.
From day one, this BPMN-based vertical migration created agility and scalability, enabling Vodafone to easily react when important updates to regulatory compliance had to be introduced during the migration. Vodafone simply added a new task as an ‘active step’ into the existing process for checking customer ID, so business could continue as usual.
In addition, throughout the migration, Vodafone established continuous improvements and continued to ship small product increments.
Introducing a cloud-based infrastructure brought scalability and agility to Vodafone’s operations, as well as enabling a DevOps approach. Now Vodafone can easily introduce new channels to its portfolio with a significantly reduced time-to-market, such as a dedicated Partner Channel.
The machine-to-machine response time of Vodafone’s systems has improved by 40% as a result of process optimization and introduction of intelligent caching mechanisms. Alongside, performance insights through continuous process monitoring and improvement enable constant fine-tuning, so processes are always running at optimum.
Today the complete customer lifecycle (sales, service, retention) has been automated and optimized, leading to significant time savings in customer service – freeing staff to concentrate on customers and value-added activities.
“In addition,” Michael Völler, Head of Project and Demand Management OTELO and Branded Reseller Business, Vodafone, explains, “one of the greatest benefits of this project has been the close cooperation between business and IT fostered by business-process-centered communications between the teams.”