I used to work for Tandem computers and, back in 1999, we built a Zero Latency hub to show the telecommunications world what could be achieved with a near real time hub linked to a customer insight system, a series of business rules, and a workflow system to react to the prompts from the rules engine. The use cases we developed involved all aspects of the proactive management of the customer life cycle. We were very impressed by what we had, and went to Telco 99 to show it off to the world. As one of the presenters it was dispiriting to see so many bemused faces when we unveiled what we saw as a game changer. Now 14 years on I find that Vitria are producing something very similar, and whilst they still find that most people are still not quite sure, there are increasing numbers who are least prepared to give it a trial.
I believe that such solutions are absolutely essential to a great many industry segments. Customers know that companies have stored large amounts of data about them, and they expect that in exchange for that invasion of their personal space that it will be used to really make a difference to them in a positive fashion. As we move into the digital world consumers want to have confidence that their digital trail is being used for their benefit and not just for the hosts.
One of the aspects that seems to be lost on many is why it is vital to move from after the fact to as near to real time processing as possible, so an illustration will help. If you only analyse transactions for possible fraud off line your ability to capture circumstances and do something positive about them is severely limited. You may indeed be able to ascertain that a transaction is potentially risky but you cannot do much positively about it, whereas if it is being validated in near real time you can interact and confirm what is going on and stop things before they occur, merely blocking things after the event still incurs cost and runs the risk of a negative reaction that is too late to have a positive impact on the confidence of the consumer.
So use cases that Vitria are working on at present include monitoring high value customers of mobile operators and when they have dropped calls proactively intervening to offer them compensation or some other reward to maintain their loyalty, identifying when they are in critical locations like ports of entry or exit, so that key service messages about service options away from their home location can be provided, and so forth.
This is all very exciting stuff and one that I believe will unlock a lot of customer loyalty and satisfaction if applied intelligently, and I wish Vitria every success with their initiative. Critically, Vitria have covered what I would see as the vital elements, those being really elastic scalability, and advanced analytics within the framework of a unified platform so that there is near real time visibility of really big data sets. This is really one to watch.