SCTE·ISBE Digital Transformation Initiative
Delivering new products, services and experiences for a leader in industry standards.
Integration and replacement of multiple disparate, outdated systems using the Strangler pattern.
Full custom integration of all business functions, and consolidation of enterprise data with AWS and microservices.
SCTE·ISBE is the leader in standards development for the cable industry. The organization provides standards and certifications across the entire span of related areas of expertise. But it also serves as a outlet for networking, learning, and sharing industry expertise. In addition to documentation and educational tools, SCTE hosts Cabletech EXPO, a premier annual event for both members and non-members.
As a non-profit entity whose board includes companies like Comcast and Charter Communications, the client is under constant pressure to deliver maximum value from the products and services it offers. Several prior attempts to automate core business functions and move them to the cloud had failed. The client had a strong in-house IT team but no authoritative plan for the future, and was rapidly losing ground to competitors due to the accrual of technical debt.
Reimagining the business online.
This broader initiative was intended to yield a dramatic change in the efficiency and perceived value of the client's business processes. Its scope included a complete overhaul of user interfaces for the client's key products, and collaborating with the client's internal teams to create new user experiences for all of its member touchpoints.
These various applications and website consoles had to be capable of sharing infrastructure, source code, and API endpoints to the fullest extent possible, but traditional approaches to data storage, computation, and integration simply weren't up to the task. Due to both the complexity of the data manipulation required, and the aging nature of its satellite systems, SCTE needed a game changer. Because previous efforts had failed, the client was well behind schedule, and was understandably skeptical of new partners.
Redsqware worked with SCTE to gather requirements and conduct roadmapping exercises intended to yield a broad-reaching development roadmap. The roadmap document was intended to create a shared source of truth by articulating the needs of stakeholders across the enterprise, while putting the client on a sustainable long-term path with the replacement of its most out of date technology.
Baked in simplicity and scalability.
The client elected to begin with a project that was somewhat narrow in scope, but which required advanced calculation and algorithm development capabilities. These skills would be critical to the successful realization of its new online presence, so they made a logical place to start.
Redsqware first worked with the client to create a completely new product – a web application that leveraged member activity, certification, and learning to provide them with a personal performance dashboard. We helped the SCTE team to establish the raw formulas used to determine personal progress and performance against the average individual in their particular skill set. The dashboard also identifies areas which may need improvement, shows users how they used their career development time, and offers LMS coursework available for purchase intended to help the user.
Delivering membership value with new apps.
After assembling development and QA teams to meet the customer's unique needs, we collaborated with the client's internal personnel to establish KPIs, create corresponding algorithms, and visualizations for the end user. To meet these very specific requirements, Redsqware recommended the use of GraphQL, and AWS microservices architecture. The data used to render the dashboard came from several different third-party systems, and was subsequently cleaned and provisioned on a new Amazon EC2 instance using handlers developed specifically for this purpose. Caching and pinpoint picking from the data store meant that the application load was minimal, and that the dashboard rendered instantly in realtime in any browser.
In addition to the individual member dashboard, the new application also supports team, manager, executive, and company-wide views. This allows SCTE's largest corporate customers to see the value of the education provided to employees, identify individuals who are excelling in their career development, and areas where their teams may not compare favorably with an average of other similar teams across the industry. The system also provides interpretive insights regarding specific technical specialties and usage behaviors based on the observation of trends, along with available resources, certifications, and coursework to optimize the company's workforce potential.
Throughout the entire process, Redsqware helped the customer keep the project on track with specification, documentation, DevOps solutions, guidance, planning, and resources for governance and security. Ultimately, the client wanted to create other tools and apps that made use of their new data store, and added real value for their members. These included a transcript app that allows individuals to share their accomplishments, certifications, and test performance with prospective employers or other industry professionals.
Another project currently under development is a personalized on-the-job resource app for technicians. Gathering usage data for employers was just the tip of the iceberg, as, the technician storefront will include white label and buyer rating capabilities, allowing individual members to sell their own downloadable content; sharing knowledge they've gained from their time in the field.
A complete website ecosystem.
The most complicated and resource intensive project was the client's new website. Interface limitations, third party dependencies, unstable API resources, and corrupted data were just a few of the symptoms of technical debt that constantly required attention. The Society's legacy web presence encompassed an LMS, web store, private study programs for corporate partners, video on demand, downloadable documentation, a resource library, a community of member chapters, personalized calendars, calculation tools, and numerous other features cobbled together from aging or incomplete third party systems. SCTE.org was in dire need of a reinvention to increase user engagement, dramatically reduce cost of ownership, and centralize business-critical online functions.
By automating the migration of existing content and redirecting users from old pages to new according to perceived intent, approximately 2,400 pages of valuable content was made available within the new system. Survey capability was used to learn whether or not members were satisfied with the new website experience, and to guide the continuous improvement process by the client's internal teams. To give SCTE the capabilities and efficiency necessary for longterm growth, Redsqware specified a microservices architecture that allows each feature to be excised and/or edited to readily match emerging business requirements. Creating custom API endpoints for data translation allowed our developers to gradually phase out old software in favor of a new consolidated system backed by a React-based visual CMS and the power and flexibility of AWS.
The serverless nature of the implementation means that hosting and bandwidth costs were reduced dramatically. Custom e-commerce features include bespoke sales tax calculation that can be controlled with the admin dashboard, and a "zero-dollar" purchase feature that allows free media and materials to be saved in a member's account record. When a user is signed in, the account record aggregates news, events, and content related to self-selected areas of interest (AoEs), employer preferences, completed learning, and upcoming certification requirements, as well as content flagged as "hot" based on current traffic. Traffic, usage trends, and multivariate testing are supported by a powerful visual analytics module built specifically for the client by Redsqware.
Due to the vast depth of the client's resources, offerings, and materials, the most critical component of the site was the custom search. For these purposes, Amazon's Elasticsearch was tailored for SCTE to apply machine learning and yield a constantly "smarter" search that accounted for the type of user, their chosen AoEs, the area of the site currently being visited, and past behaviors. The benefit was a vast improvement to organic purchase rates, and a fast, easy-to-use content filtering system for the results that brings more users to the site more often.
Getting better all the time.
Due to the intelligent design of the new cloud ecosystem, features and functions can be enhanced, edited in a granular manner, or removed easily by simply manipulating back end microservices. The smart stack design leverages React and React Native to make new products and services not only easy to develop and deploy, but also provides detailed analytics data to inform future development priorities.
The customer was able to realize substantial savings and identify new revenue streams, while eliminating downtime and service outages or delays. Because the internal development team is now able to focus on creating and optimizing – instead of incessant patching and fixing – the path to new services and solutions looks bright. Best of all, customers aren't just happy. They're buying more and visiting more often. Redsqware is currently at work on 3- and 6-year plans to ensure that the upward momentum continues.
AWS Elastic Beanstalk