Adopting platform-based business and operational models


Group-wide conformance to TM Forum Open APIs by creating an API Guild and API-conformance engine to promote automation and standardization.

  • Productivity and cost reduction due to API re-use and better quality due to automation.
  • Saved the group multiple millions in terms of integration costs.
  • Cut API deviation by 90% thereby saving multiple millions on reworking.
  • 50% increase in API adoption group-wide enabling faster times to market and better, more consistent customer experience.
  • 76% savings compared to point-to-point integration.

Vodafone is one of the largest mobile and fixed network operators in Europe and Africa, and the world's biggest IoT connectivity provider, with a presence in 21 countries. As part of its five-year Tech2025 strategy, the group is implementing a digital-first customer engagement plan. To that end, it is deploying a single, autonomous cloud architecture and massive automation. The intention is that 90% of customers interactions will be digital, with the necessary automation underpinned by a zero-cost integration target and plan.

As Gartner predicted, integration work would account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform through 2020, zero-cost is a hugely ambitious and critical goal. “Moreover, the complex challenges posed by digital business transformation require a radical change in the integration technology platform and in the way organizations deal with integration,” said Massimo Pezzini, Research Vice President and Gartner fellow.

Vodafone recognized that leveraging industry-standard APIs and data modeling are fundamental to the success of Tech2025’s radical goals as it moves to adopt the platform business model – developing a connected ecosystem to deliver new products and services.

The CSP’s aim is for every technical component – across all products, IT and Network – to be presented as simplified, Lego-like building blocks for internal and external consumption. Teams can assemble blocks as required to create capabilities with almost zero integration tax using standardized APIs.

“I see in the digital platform world, the APIs as bricks. I can put two or three bricks, one on top of the other, and this forms a building block, a new capability” explains Florin Tene, Enterprise Architect – Digital at Vodafone Group IT Strategy and Architecture.

This approach allows teams to experiment and be more adventurous because the financial risk and technical impact are limited. It also means Vodafone can roll out a good idea to all markets fast.

For this approach to deliver its full potential, the APIs must be consistent, available, and reused at every opportunity. If a deviant API is implemented, it hinders integration and impacts discovery, and consequently, a project’s timelines and budget. As the other user interfaces and channels are built on top of the APIs, a whole development lifecycle might have to go back to the design phase to find a problem.

To this end, Vodafone introduced the API-First rule right across its organization, whereby every API exposed in a local market or on global platforms must fully conform with the operator’s common API standards and definitions.

Vodafone adopted TM Forum’s Open APIs suite as the basis for all its APIs, hence maintaining conformance with Forum’s APIs as they evolve is essential too. The CSP took a two-pronged approach to ensuring conformity, setting up an API Guild and developing an automated API-conformance engine that is constantly measured by various KPIs.

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