As the leading provider of technology-driven communication services, West Interactive has developed and managed large-scale, mission-critical transactions for clients’ communications needs for more than 25 years. However, Pranav Patel, West Interactive vice president of systems development, explained in a presentation at WSO2Con US 2013, past solutions deployed by the company weren’t flexible enough to support today’s dynamic business needs.
For West Interactive, the solution was to create West Connect, a cloud solution powered by WSO2 Carbon middleware that enables organizations to provide an improved, personalized experience for their customers.
The Multichannel Challenge
The primary business of West Interactive is to provide contact center solutions, which include cloud-based interactive voice recognition (IVR) and speech automation, mobile applications for customer care, and a hosted contact center—all based on carrier grade, scalable and reliable platform. The company now handles some 4 billion minutes of customer engagement annually.
“Today’s challenge is that there are multiple channels available,” Patel observed. “It’s no longer just a phone call or an IVR that people use to get in touch with your enterprise or customer care. You have mobile apps, text messages, social media, email, the Web—and enterprises have to manage those and provide customer care solutions across all these channels.”
Patel then explained that, because today’s consumers demand anytime and anywhere access to data and services, across more channels of communication than ever before, it is not enough to simply provide the channels.
“These channels have to be wholly integrated,” Patel said. “The systems that provide these should be very intelligent—that’s the business challenge at hand.”
In seeking to address these business demands, West Interactive realized that the solution would rely, not on extending its existing legacy systems, but by taking advantage of a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on modern middleware technologies.
West Connect for Modern Communications Demands
The resulting solution was West Connect, a cloud-enabled middleware platform based on a SOA, which is equipped with a set of technologies and core services that are open and flexible. It sits between the top layer of the architecture where there are applications across different channels, and the West Manage API services below, which is where the company can expose services or APIs for customers to use.
Describing West Connect, Patel noted, “The vision here is to build several services on top, as it provides for multichannel communication, multi-tenancy and services like identity management, context awareness, analytics, notifications, rules engine, and more.”
West Connect is based on several products within the cloud-enabled, fully multi-tenant and 100% open source WSO2 Carbon enterprise middleware platform. These include WSO2 Application Server, WSO2 Data Services Server, WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), WSO2 API Manager, WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 Governance Registry, and WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM)
In describing the roles of the products, Patel explained that, “The API will need WSO2 API Manager and Identity Server for exposing the APIs out. West Connect is essentially WSO2 ESB, Governance, and BAM. A lot of the services reside on the Application Server, and when you talk to databases you use the WSO2 Data Services Server.”
The WSO2 Advantage
Patel recounted the factors behind West Interactive’s decision to work with WSO2; “We wanted something we could do a POC with, that would start out quickly and wanted a low cost of entry. The flexible, pluggable architecture made it even much better; we can choose and pick only the products we want. And a low infrastructure footprint—we can run several of these products on a VM.”
WSO2 API Manager was also a major selling point for Patel. “API Manager really gives our business the ability to go outside, not just internally, cataloging the APIs and providing the APIs with documentation as part of the API store.”
Looking ahead, West Interactive is evaluating how other WSO2 products can contribute to expanded capabilities within West Connect.
According to Patel, “We still continue to evaluate all the WSO2 products out there and we can easily see some fitting right here, business rules, complex event processing, and also how to use things like App Factory. The work continues.”
For more information about how West Interactive uses WSO2 products to power West Connect, view Patel’s WSO2Con 2013 presentation.