Connectivity: Application UI | API | WF
Billing systems need to access and process upstream data. Application connections are methods of using the core functionality of a billing system to input upstream data, interact with data models, and manage data processing in support of billing operations. These methods may be manual, partially automated or fully automated. Application connections often abstract the process and work with the metadata that power the billing system. This layer is the gateway into the billing system and a focal point of all external integrations and of the internal configurations.
The Application User Interface (UI) makes up the graphical component of the billing system and provides a simple user-friendly way to interact with the billing system. Typical use cases include: entry of accounts, entry and management of customer information, payment method configuration, product catalog management, and management of discounts, orders, and subscriptions. The application UI typically provides the means to configure and manage the billing system environment and control user and role permissions.
An API or Application Programming Interface is the key to inputting or retrieving data in a billing system from an external system. APIs typically correspond to tables inside the billing system’s database. APIs are made available by a billing system vendor as a way to facilitate integration and safe and secure access to data or metadata pertaining to billing.
An API is the only way to dynamically access billing data outside the billing system, these APIs can be used to integrate billing process or information into an existing system or website. Customer self-service, e-Commerce, and partner channels all require APIs to integrate and connect with the billing system. APIs require network connectivity with the billing system and must be authenticated and authorized before access to the billing system will be permitted.
APIs are designed in a way that any application that can process a simple web request will be able to utilize them. The standard HTTP requests framework provides for a universal way of interacting with the billing system using standard methods of web communications (GET, POST, others). APIs are sometimes referred to as web services for their part in allowing connections between systems over the web.
Workflow, particularly workflow automation, is a set of tools and methodologies that facilitate the efficient communication, and processing of data between people or systems. Its function with regard to a billing system is to provide the means to interface between the billing system and other systems or processes that are not supported by the billing system out of the box. Workflow can be internal or external to a billing system and provides dynamic, expanded, or reactionary functionally not offered by the core-billing engine. Such functionality includes approvals, custom logging, accessing third party data, event/web hook based actions, custom wrapped API endpoints, and custom served user interfaces among others.
Workflow tools typically provide a method of graphically representing all steps in a workflow to include data elements, data transformations, integrations, tasks, and notifications.
ETL – Extract, Transform, and Load – refers to a method of getting information from a source system into a target system, and is a critical component of system implementation and replacement projects. ETL is a vendor-agnostic term for the generic process of gathering data, objects, resources, or information from a source system, modifying it to a format understood by the target system, and then moving or loading it into the target system.
Data extraction is facilitated by available reports, export tools, and APIs in the source system. The format of the source data is typically not consistent with the target’s requirements and therefore requires treatment before it can be used as input.
Billing system migrations often require extensive ETL work that is typically accomplished by ETL tools, database manipulation tools, workflow, custom programming, and APIs.
A Closer Look at the People, Process & Technology of Application Connectivity
Only two teams are directly responsible for the Application UI | API | WF, but all enterprise organizations enjoy the benefits.
The IT folks are the flag-bearers for application connections, while the Operations organization relies on it from an order management perspective.
ATG maintains a set of more than 75 key business processes to support management of Customers and Revenue for Service Providers. Seven of these processes originate, or are impacted by, the Application UI | API | WF functions. Below are the key processes that are touched in this domain, categorized by the organizational unit that owns the process(es):
Order Management - the business processes related to customer orders for products or services.
Data Stewardship Across Monetization Ecosystem - process of assigning ownership and sources of truth for data within the organization.
Security Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem - process for maintaining and controlling access and permission to ecosystem components.
Maintenance and Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem - process around assuring that all touch points and connections in the ecosystem are optimized and working to their full potential.
Vendor Management of Monetization Ecosystem - management of ecosystem component vendors including proactive communication of changes and general relationship nurturing.
Monitoring & Testing of Vendor Functional Releases - as ecosystem components release updates and patches, each is checked and tested to confirm all systems are working together as required by the business' requirements.
Cross Training of Monetization Ecosystem Components - process for training organizational resources.
Daily, Periodic, or Ad Hoc Reporting (Extraction, Load, Report, Dashboard) - movement of data between domains to create single source of truth for reporting and dash boarding.
The technology used for this domain is broken into two categories - BPM Engine and iPaaS.
Business Process Management (BPM) Engines, or sometimes BPM Suites, are like Workforce applications on steroids. The emphasis is on coordinating tasks, both manual and automated, across all company resources in the same manner. This means companies don't need to create separate workflows, use task-specific coding language.
BPM Suites, the leading form of BPM-enabling technologies, coordinate work across all resources in the same manner; there isn't a specialized language for human performed work vs machine performed work. There is one workflow technology, embedded in the suite, that coordinates the interactions between all resources – human, machine and information – doing all forms of work including routine tasks, decisions, collaborative activities, research, case work, etc. Thus, a BPMS includes a more advanced form of workflow. Furthermore, workflow is just 1 of 10 technologies found in a BPM Suite. Some of the other critical technologies in a BPMS are BAM (Business Activity Monitoring), rule engines, UI generation, and a graphical authoring environment.
iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) is, simply put, a platform for building and deploying integrations within the cloud and between the cloud and enterprise - this, according to iPaaS vendor MuleSoft.
Providing further definition and specificity to the iPaaS category, here are a number of key functions to look for. These include tools and technologies that support the execution of integration flows, the development and life cycle management of integrations, the management and monitoring of application flows, governance, and essential cloud features such as multitenancy, elasticity and self-provisioning.
BPM Engine Key Vendors
Oracle Fusion uses the latest technology advances while incorporating the best practices gathered from Oracle's thousands of customers.
Oracle Fusion’s features include:
- Complete, standards-based foundation
- Role-based experience, tested by the world’s leading organizations
- Built-in social and collaboration capabilities designed for the enterprise
- Embedded business intelligence, provided at the point of decision
- Choice of deployment options
- Modular, flexible uptake options
Oracle tends to target companies of all sizes who are seeking integrated, industry-specific solutions engineered to address complex business processes across a wide range of industries.
- Land O'Lakes
- Innowave Technology
- Keurig Green Mountain
HQ: Armonk, NY
Company Type: Public
Delivery Method: On-Premise
IBM Business Process Manager replaced WebSphere Lombardi Edition in 2011. IBM Business Process Manager (BPM) is a comprehensive BPM platform providing complete visibility and management of business processes. It provides basic system integration support, tooling and run time for process design, execution, monitoring, and optimization.
Additionally, IBM Business Process Manager Standard is ideal for multi-project improvement programs that focus on workflow and productivity, scaling easily from initial project to enterprise-wide programs.
IBM BPM provides:
- Instant collaboration and real-time visibility through analytics to reinvent business processes
- Seamless integration of business processes with Systems of Engagement and Systems of Record to drive continuous insights into business operations
- Insightful context from mobile engagements to drive better customer interactions within business processes
IBM Business Process Manager tends to target companies in need of information technology and services that vary in business, including enterprise level companies.
- Virgin America
Decisions provides an extensible, graphically configured platform, enabling companies to reduce their time to market for their applications.
Decisions enters into specific partnerships to deliver applications in a number of market segments.
They provide a platform to add value to products:
- Enterprise – offers an intelligent business process management platform enabling the business user to create, test, and deploy business applications
- Developer – reduce time to implementation, and reduce workload though separation of duties in a safe environment
Decisions tends to target diverse vertical industries including medical, insurance, finance, travel, communications, and technology. Companies range from small technology startups to Fortune 100 companies.
Information not available
Pegasystems develops strategic applications for sales, marketing, service, and operations. Pegasystems’ applications streamline critical business operations, connect enterprises to their customers seamlessly in real-time across channels, and adapt to meet rapidly changing requirements. Pegasystems’ applications, available on-premises or in the cloud, are built on its unified Pega 7 platform that uses visual tools to easily extend and change applications to meet clients’ strategic business needs.
PRODUCT & SERVICES
Pegasystems offers several services:
- Business Process Management (BPM)
- Case Management
In addition to its platform, Pega 7 offers marketing, customer service, sales and onboarding, and operations software, as well as consulting and support services.
Pegasystems tends to target larger enterprises looking to automate their business, management, marketing and/or service operations.
- American Express
OpenText MetaStorm, or OpenText MBPM, offers market-leading software for enterprise and business architecture (EA), business process analysis (BPA), and business process management (BPM). Bringing together these disciplines and technologies allows organizations to improve business results by better aligning strategy with execution and provides the visibility, planning, management, agility, and insight needed to make the right business improvements, instill stronger governance, and accelerate time to value.
Together with OpenText, the combined software portfolio uniquely provides customers with the most comprehensive view of the organization available to date – from the strategy and goals that drive the business, to the day-to-day systems, processes and people that run it, and the content needed to make the best business decisions.
OpenText MetaStorm tends to target high tech, data storage, and cloud-based companies that range from small and mid-sized businesses to global enterprises.
- Amerisource Bergen
- London Underground
- US Air Force
OpenText Cordys is a global cloud platform software provider that helps businesses move to the cloud quickly and with minimal risk. The OpenText Cordys platform combines Platform as a Service, Enterprise Application Development, a complete Business Process Management Suite (BPMS) and the next generation of high productivity middleware.
OpenText Cordys helps:
- Improve business operations
- Deliver better customer service
- Release additional value from existing IT
- Leverage cloud business opportunities
- Create new high value products and services in the cloud
- Reduce costs while driving innovation
OpenText Cordys tends to target service providers and Global 2000 enterprises.
- Pacific Blue Cross
- Tata Steel
TIBCO is an infrastructure software company that develops software to monitor and analyze large amounts of data in real time. The company's product line includes applications for adopting service-oriented architecture (SOA) environments, where reusable services are assembled to tackle common tasks such as business process management and application integration.
PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Their other primary segments center on business optimization and process automation including products that provide:
- Business Intelligence
- Product Indexing
Tibco markets to companies from various industries in need of software solutions ranging in size from small to midsize businesses to global enterprises.
- Western Union
- Delta Airlines
- Marks & Spencer
iPaaS Key Vendors
Informatica is an independent provider of data integration software. They assist organizations around the world to realize their information potential and drive top business imperatives. Worldwide, over 5,000 enterprises depend on Informatica to leverage their information assets from devices to mobile to social to big data residing on-premise, in the Cloud, and across social networks.
PRODUCTS & SERVICES
- Big Data Management
- Cloud Integration
- Data Integration
- Data Quality
- Data Security
- Informatica Platform
- Integration Platform as a Service
- Master Data Management
Informatica tends to target customers on the Fortune 100 list within a broad mix of industries.
- Thrifty Car Rental
MuleSoft’s mission is to connect the world’s applications, data and devices. MuleSoft makes connecting anything easy with their Anypoint Platform™, the only complete integration platform for SaaS, SOA and APIs, both on-premises and in the cloud. Thousands of organizations use MuleSoft to innovate faster, transform their business, and gain competitive advantage.
MuleSoft tends to target companies in industries including financial services, government, healthcare, higher education, insurance, media & telecommunications, and retail, ranging from emerging brands to Global 500 enterprises.
Dell Boomi, a business unit of Dell, is the first and only integration solution built in the cloud, to fully exploit the value of the cloud. Organizations of all sizes—from small businesses to the largest global enterprises—trust Dell Boomi to quickly connect any combination of cloud and on-premises applications. Leading SaaS players and enterprise customers such as salesforce.com, NetSuite, Taleo, oneworld, AAA, and NASDAQ rely on Dell Boomi to accelerate time to market, increase sales, and eliminate the challenges associated with integration.
In 2007, Boomi fundamentally changed the integration industry once again with the announcement of its on-demand integration technology today known as "AtomSphere," the industry’s first and leading Integration Cloud™. Built using pure SaaS technology, Atomsphere connects any combination of SaaS, cloud and on-premises applications without the burden of installing and maintaining integration software or appliances.
Dell Boomi looks to SMBs and enterprises that are wanting to move their core infrastructure to the cloud.
- First Source
- DJO Global
- Daylight Transport
IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live is a multi-tenant, cloud-based platform for integrating cloud and on-premises applications and enterprise systems in a hybrid environment. It enables users to configure, run and manage integration in the cloud without any infrastructure footprint.
WebSphere Cast Iron Live is available in standard or enterprise editions.
- Enables integration of cloud, on-premises and mobile applications with robust security and scalability
- Offers a graphical, configuration-not-coding approach—rather than custom coding, on-demand tooling, or traditional middleware—to help integrate applications quickly and simply
- Reduces Software as a Service (SaaS) integration costs, helps simplify coordination and reduces the need for specialized skills
- Allows mobile application developers to present relevant information from back-end data sources
IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live tends to target high tech, data storage, and cloud-based companies that range from small and mid-sized businesses to global enterprises.
No information available
SnapLogic is an enterprise cloud and big data integration company which helps companies connect their data, apps, and APIs. The San Mateo-based company is currently funded by leading venture investors, including Andreessen Horowitz (venture capitalist firm out of Menlo Park, California).
SnapLogic is the only elastic integration platform as a service that delivers real-time, event-driven application integration and batch big data integration for analytics in a single cloud integration and data integration platform. The SnapLogic Elastic Integration Platform ensures that users get maximum adoption out of their SaaS Applications, cloud and legacy platforms, and big data investments. Pre-built intelligent connectors called “Snaps” enable cloud to cloud and cloud to on-premises integration with ERP applications like SAP, Oracle EBS, Hadoop, and relational databases and files.
Snaplogic supports SMB to global enterprises from a variety of industries.
WSO2 delivers the only complete open source middleware platform. With its revolutionary componentized design, WSO2 middleware adapts to the project for a lean, targeted solution to enterprise applications. Fully cloud-native, the WSO2 middleware platform is also the only open source platform-as-a-service for private and public clouds available today. With WSO2, seamless migration and integration between servers, private clouds, and public clouds is now a reality.
WSO2 tends to target high tech, data storage, and cloud-based companies that range from small and mid-sized businesses to global enterprises.
- West Interactive