Accelerated and automated business partner onboarding to reduce time to market for new services
The Company reduced average partner onboarding time from 6 weeks to 2 days, and automated back end service functions in just 2 weeks, empowering both IT and Marketing to turn service concepts into service offerings in record time.
BT’s acquisition of EE brought forth the challenge of consolidating BT’s fixed line, broadband and pay TV services with EE’s mobile network services, each with its own IT complexity and back end infrastructures. The company’s digital transformation goals would require a transition to technology first strategy focused around automation, eliminating manual processes and removing bottlenecks that slow time to market, and using digital channels and automation tools to accelerate service development times, and improve the customer and partner experience.
BT’s integrated digital transformation strategy embraced an API development process previously used by EE. It included improving the partner onboarding process through a centralized API approach that enabled different lines of business to reuse APIs from a centralized library. A federated model of execution allows those lines of businesses to become valuable stakeholders in the evolution of business needs, ensuring that scale and quality needs are met inclusively, and providing greater opportunity for API reuse, substantially reducing IT costs.
BT’s multinational presence reaches over 180 countries and it remains the UK’s largest fixed-voice and broadband provider, and offers TV and mobile services. BT consists of four main business lines: Consumer, Enterprise, Global Services, and Openreach. The acquisition of EE added mobile networks assets and brought nearly 30 million mobile subscribers into the portfolio. The graphics below show current revenue split by business line for Fiscal year 2020, and BT’s current mobile market share in the UK for 2020.
BT’s digital transformation goals have centered on three core areas of evolution….connectivity, data management and selfservice. With EE now integrated into the core business, staying competitive has meant moving to a more agile business model that incorporates greater levels of automation, using a digital approach as the basis for all channels across web and mobile. Data management initiatives now embrace big data for storage, decisioning and business intelligence to help improve employee and customer experiences. Lastly, BT has expanded the use of self-service tools to improve partner and customer interactions by eliminating manual processes and simplifying business process flows.
With the acquisition of EE, all mobile assets and subscribers since have been integrated into both BT’s Consumer and Enterprise businesses, however the merger brought forth its own unique IT and business complexities. The newly integrated organization needed a long term plan for faster service monetization, using tools and processes that eliminated bottlenecks, repeated processes and could work uniformly across business lines. BT’s goal of reducing time to market for new services was driven by the common demands of individual line of business, all with unique business requirements, but a common goal - to help launch internally sourced and partner sourced services more quickly. This required an integrated service management strategy to help launch internally sourced and partner sourced services more quickly.
BT’s digital strategy for partners was based around the adoption of a new centralized API farm approach, giving marketing and IT teams across different BT brands the ability to determine ideal API candidates, share the benefits of “build once and reuse” across the organization, and achieve scale more quickly. New business needs are now reviewed jointly across different lines of business, with API developments opportunities and use cases reviewed for relevance and monetization potential. Once created, the API can be used by multiple lines of business.
To scale and monetize its partner ecosystem, BT adopted Torry Harris’ API Factory approach to accelerate the creation of relevant APIs.
Working with Torry Harris, BT created a standardized process for API architectural specifications, using a centralized design catalog, sandbox based testing, quality control, readiness and eventual deployment. This model helped create greater consistency of development, improved the predictability of time and costs, and allowed individual lines of business to leverage a centralized platform but still maintain control of their specific outcomes.
Through the use of a federated model approach, individual lines of business could still maintain control of critical API development processes and timelines, but could share the end results with other business units that could also profit from the output. This agile approach would allow each team to deliver outcomes that met the needs of the business unit, but also provide transparency of development, allowing all teams to share common API portfolio resources and accelerate product development across the entire organization
The API Factory approach gave BT the ability to better align API development with the needs of the entire business by eliminating redundant development activities that are often common where business groups or brands are siloed from each other. Similarly, best practices for development can be leverage across different divisions, ensuring that every API is of similar high quality and follows industry best practices.
With BT’s new centralized API development approach, the operator has seen dramatic improvements in service and partner management. BT now has over 700 APIs already developed and available in a centralized catalog across its multiple brands. The operator has doubled the size of its partner ecosystem since 2018, with more than 100 partners now integrated into its digital strategy, including 45 external partners who have onboarded using the self-service API developer portal
The API Factory also helped improve operational efficiency metrics from its automated digital first approach. Automation of the onboarding process allows BT’s partners to gain direct access to developer information via the self-service API developer portal. Average time to onboard a business partner dropped 90 percent, from 6 weeks to 2 days, accelerating time to market and revenue.
BT’s federated approach to API development has also resulted in 75 percent reusability of external APIs across different lines of business which cuts development time and costs.