When product discovery gets easier for users, large marketplace puts up its plate for multiple vendors and service suppliers, while costs lower for all players, the IT industry gets thumbs-up. It has seen to it that millions of businesses across a wide spectrum of industries use trade portals and collaboration platforms to grow, streamline processes, reach clients and create partnerships. Yet, who gets to take care of the IT industry?
Inefficiencies In IT Collaboration And Sales Processes
Two years ago Agiliway partnered with ROI4CIO project initiators, sharing their concern about the inefficient collaboration and sales processes in the IT sector.
As new technologies constantly emerge and hi-tech business needs grow, the role of CIO in the company goes far beyond traditional IT management. Today, creating business value through technology means going over an expanding IT market in search of the most value-added products. Such decision-process shaping work is usually long, tedious and resource-intensive. It stands to reason why the list of skills an executive scrambles to fill varies from data management skills, expertise in compliance and security to corporate financial skills and legal expertise. At best, the IT solution is based on conflicting views coming from various IT market players: resellers, integrators, distributors, suppliers. Still, more often than not, the sights shift to the most “popular” IT product.
Take the matters to the other side and the pitfalls slowing down the selling process are equally as common. First, IT vendors and suppliers engage in a whole array of activities such as vendor-customer relationships management, researching prospects, working on presentations to name a few. After successful completion, they spend most of their time preparing quotations, giving estimates, calculating fixed and variable costs only to face the need of further multiple recalculations later as the customers often second-guess their decisions and change requirements.
ROI4CIO: Exploring Benefits For IT Vendors, Suppliers And Users
Upon release of TYPO3 collaboration platform for CIO, Agiliway completes ROI4CIO project and marks start of a new phase in the IT collaboration and sales processes where all the aforementioned stumbling blocks are no longer regarded as a necessary evil.
Unlike any other B2B portal or marketplace, ROI4CIO platform goes far beyond automation of B2B sales. In the simplest terms, ROI4CIO is a powerful platform for choosing between multiple solution alternatives the most appropriate one based on business tasks. It places a premium on an optimized cooperation between IT vendors, suppliers and business entities by automating price and ROI calculation for a selected IT solution.
Suppose the client plans to streamline business operations by setting the course for lead time reduction. Instead of searching through tons of resources, browsing multiple web pages or consulting with specialists to map a path through the maze of existing solutions, the user of ROI4CIO service:
- simply enters relevant parameters (company size, industry, business task, etc.) and the software algorithm ROI4CIO returns several solutions ranked by the percentage of matches with specified requirements;
- with a single click receives an estimate of implementation costs based on specific individual requirements;
- compares existing IT solutions and sees examples of their deployment by other users;
- instantly calculates ROI of solutions;
- learns about the results of the implementation of other users;
- requests commercial offers for IT solutions.
Accordingly, ROI4CIO delivers tangible benefits to IT vendors and suppliers turning former pain points into drivers of business opportunities and revenue streams. The process of closing the deal will no longer be costly, tedious or put up impassable barriers to an agreement as ROI4CIO collaboration platform presents a host of tools to help IT vendors and suppliers:
- reduce the cost and timing of sales by calculating the financial flows of implementation based on varying specifications;
- determine financial benefits by calculation ROI of IT solutions;
- expand the customer base by drawing leads and requests for a commercial offer;
- make their IT competencies, solutions and implementations visible to prospects;
- identify the IT market needs and expand their portfolio of IT solutions;
- form partnership with IT vendors and suppliers.
That being the case, deals are now closed 50% faster, while time spent calculating specifications for customers is reduced to 90%.
ROI4CIO Platform Development: Agiliway Turns Challenges Into Solution
Automation of pricing and instant configuration of specifications are obviously value adds ROI4CIO brought to business entities seeking and offering an IT solution. Yet it didn’t happen in a wink nor did it come easy. Armed with a solid project strategy, Agiliway team had to utilize its prior experience in implementing Artificial Intelligence technologies, develop new competencies, change perspective a few times before it turned the following challenges into a unique solution.
1. Searching For Reliable Platform
Initially the sights were set on creating a catalog of IT solutions that allows for filtering products and services by specified requirements. To demonstrate flawless performance, the platform chosen for the purpose had to fit the bill for accessibility, scalability, responsiveness, and functionality. After much thought and careful consideration, Agiliway set the seal on TYPO3 CMS which proved effective in our earlier projects when similar criteria were a priority. Once again our team fully utilized TYPO3 capacity and released an alpha version of the service strong on following merits:
- secure data processing grants the corporate information remains confidential;
- fast data processing pipelines guarantee a response in real time;
- scalable architecture adapts to users from different regions;
- extension possibility allows for solution selection logic and parameters modification;
- ease of support after deployment.
2. Developing AI Algorithm For Smart Solution Selection
It didn’t take long to see that the chosen path has led us to our destination. The service was up and running in compliance with requirements. Rewarding and far-reaching as this path was, our client had no plans to stop right then. During the production stage, it already became clear that the service requires more advanced logic to fit the needs of users.
Since business tasks and methods of profitability calculation vary significantly among business entities, Agiliway team managed to develop a complex AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithm that searches through the IT solutions space to find the optimal one specific for each client’s requirements, company characteristics. In this scenario, the logic why one solution is preferred over another is programmed by ROI4CIO AI search algorithm.
3. Automating The Process Of ROI Calculation
As it happens IT managers, vendors and suppliers still keep it to old time-sapping ways and use Excel tables to calculate software costs or ROI. The decision was made to develop a feature for automatic price and ROI calculations, that is ROI calculator. It automatically calculates the profitability of investment into IT solution accounting for a host of parameters: operating costs, initial costs, time of forecasting, the risk of models and implementation, user’s requirements. IT vendors and suppliers will need to input only price lists, while ROI calculator will do the math.
4. Expanding TYPO3 Functionality
A great advantage of TYPO3 CMS is its unlimited possibility of extension. In addition to extending the base functionality of ROI4CIO solution selection and calculations and developing new TYPO3 modules respectively, Agiliway created additional plug-ins to add new service operations and improve the user experience. These include:
- form-template builder allows customizing a form based on individual preferences;
- object (supplier, vendor, product, etc.) change tracker follows the history of modifications made to an entity;
- contacts processing module supports contacts management;
- entity processing module manages products, solutions, implementations, etc.;
- internal request processing module.
Despite its advanced features, the platform was designed with a user friendly customizable interface, which makes it a pleasure to work with.
5. Generating PDF Form Data
The process of decision making usually starts with data collection and goes through a few more equally crucial stages. When an IT manager is involved in the process, one of the stages is presenting a decision or proposal to senior executives who’ll weigh options and call to action. To make it less of a hassle for an IT manager ROI4CIO automatically and very conveniently imports into a PDF file data about suitable IT solutions with costs, returns, trade-offs, numbers of implementations calculated.
6. Solving Performance Issues
What began as a catalog of IT solutions gradually turned into a platform with advanced configuration options and a service with an advanced logic. Business challenges the service solves and benefits it provides drew IT-vendors, suppliers, distributors, resellers. Given the size of the catalog, a variety of advanced features and modular design of the platform, performance problems started plaguing the service. We took an action and optimized TYPO3 platform in terms of speed and performance. The window load time now takes up to 2-3sec.
7. Managing Access Control
Developing a collaboration platform where users share resources, transmit information between servers, communicate, cooperate and leaving a security issue unattended is a matter of utter negligence. That’s the reason why this issue was resolved in the first place with a complex control policy for accessing resources and activities.
Dedicated work on ROI4CIO project, attention to every detail, close cooperation with potential customers and focus groups bore fruit. Our TYPO3 solution performs as expected. It has something rare to offer, namely an accurate analysis of IT solutions on numerous counts. ROI4CIO neural network algorithm selects the best IT solution based on entered criteria, while ROI-calculator determines the financial benefits of the IT solution before its deployment. Add to the list an optimized system performance, complex access control policy, feedback on deployment results, few plugins for improved user experience and the desired outcome came on short notice.