Inmarsat is the world leader in global, mobile satellite communication services, delivering high-speed data and voice services to governments, businesses and humanitarian organisations around the world. In early 2017, it faced a technology and a business challenge: to introduce a new, revolutionary platform in just three years.
It is currently undertaking the largest investment programme in its history, delivering a new generation of satellites and associated high-performance products and services for its Global Xpress (GX) platform - the world’s first and only global available broadband network built for mobility.
After multiple acquisitions over many years, Inmarsat had a fragmented mix of IT platforms that meant it was not operating at its most efficient.
And so the Service Delivery Transformation Programme (SDT) was created.
Today, Inmarsat has an integrated, modular platform for ordering and for managing products and services. It is fast, requires significantly less manual intervention, is cheaper to run and has improved customer experience. It now has a future-proof technology foundation, fewer barriers to business growth and can respond to market forces and consumer trends as quickly as digital natives.
It’s a transformation that has generated multi-million-pound savings in operating expenses and radically improved both employee and customer experiences.
The cloud-first platform gives Inmarsat reliable and streamlined processes and means they can rapidly develop or evolve products. New offers that used to take weeks can now be configured in minutes; delivering a ten-fold increase in first-time order processing. Order volumes, processing capability and customer self-service have increased and customer experience is significantly improved.
Inmarsat’s latest generation of satellites promise new and innovative products for its GX portfolio; the world’s leading global, mobile broadband platform. While order volumes started high and were increasing, the sales and order management capability was hampering the businesses ability to realise its full potential.
Customers’ first-time success rate for self-service orders was below expectations. Like many telecommunications organisations, manual work was often needed. Multiple creative products were also being developed by different teams around the world and as a result, there was limited standardisation in how products were created and assembled. This meant that the development and launch of new products, offers and price plans were often more costly to create than they needed to be, took a long time and delivered different experiences. But being able to develop such products remained key to innovation and market success. Inmarsat needed to find a better way to launch products consistently and quickly.
Inmarsat’s legacy IT was its main barrier to tackling these challenges and achieving the GX growth ambition for an expensive generation of satellite services. To further the challenge, some of its IT applications were reaching “end-of-life” and so it made little sense to invest in building the next generation of products and services on an outdated IT stack.
Inmarsat decided to migrate to a new cloud-based modular solution, retire the legacy and make all this happen in 2020. A very challenging timescale given the original IT system took some 6 years to implement.
Inmarsat had four main objectives for its transformation: i) deliver the experience and IT services to support business growth; ii) move to a more flexible cloud-based IT stack that enables full shutdown of legacy IT; iii) increase flexibility and reduce time to market for new products and iv) take control of the core IT platform that is at the heart of Inmarsat’s ability to compete and grow. It was clear that to accomplish these objectives, the transformation needed to be about more than just technology - Inmarsat needed to create a programme that showcased a new high-speed way of delivering company-wide change and establish completely new ways-of-working to achieve the business goals.
To achieve this, Inmarsat selected PwC as it’s overall Transformation Partner charged with providing services across the lifecycle from industry & technology strategy, transformation management, programme delivery, business change, customer experience and end-to-end solution design & delivery.
With the Inmarsat Board having approved the overall “case for change”, the team applied PwC’s BXT (Business, Experience, Technology) approach to create a business and technology solution for delivery; critically this included the blueprint for building a Digital Factory capable not only of delivering the transformation, but of running the new solution beyond the timescales of the programme. On this basis, SDT needed to be built on agile and DevOps foundations to achieve results at speed and avoid the pitfalls of waterfall-processes that can introduce months or even years of analysis before starting.
Scale agile on an enterprise-wide basis was new to Inmarsat. To start, we worked with Inmarsat to predefine the new agile operating model including the end-state view of strategic roles that should be in-house versus other roles that could be outsourced, noting Inmarsat’s desire to take back control and move away from a black box outsource model.
To help establish the value of this new approach, we delivered more than 20 show-and-tell sessions to enable stakeholders to understand issues and experience ‘the art of the possible’. As requirements evolved, these sessions helped continually gain stakeholder input and validation. This built confidence in the global network of change champions. As designs and prototypes were developed: everyone could see the solution and how it would work. At this stage, we acted as product owner for the overall design, controlling delivery and testing partner work schedules. One of the most exciting show-and-tells was with Inmarsat's CEO who saw first hand how the solution enabled new products to be “assembled” like lego-bricks in minutes versus the traditional approach that could take weeks.
Having set up the new end-to-end DevOps factory, including extensive automation, we transitioned the ongoing operation of the factory to Inmarsat’s offshore development and test partners, while retaining, on behalf of Inmarsat, a hands-on role controlling the delivery and providing technical design ownership of the solution. Crucially, many of the roles that we continued to provide were not moved to the offshore partner as is the case in many traditional programmes, but were retained for a period by PwC to help Inmarsat build “in-house” capability.
As the transformation partner, we maintained an accelerated pace through continuous, iterative sprint cycles for design, build, test, deploy and migrate. We drove the plan and identified and managed risks with Inmarsat’s management team, tackling challenges across the various internal and external teams throughout delivery.
As we moved through the solution build process, we helped Inmarsat build the new capability it needed, at pace. That meant actively helping transition key IT skills back in-house along the way, so that Inmarsat could take back control of its estate and exploit the time-to-market advantage the solution provided.
The successful stand-up and delivery of the programme was a complex undertaking, involving multidisciplinary teams, multiple stakeholders and multiple organisations around the globe. Over 450 people in 10 countries worked in person or virtually and it was critical that everyone could work collaboratively and understand what was needed and when. The use of PwC’s Delivery Workbench helped enable this and ensured ‘one truth’ from developer to steering group.
Delivering this transformation successfully – with the final stages taking place during COVID-19 lockdowns – required balance to adapt to changing business needs, keep to timescales and stay focused on objectives. There were hurdles related to scope, data quality, development speed, customer readiness and testing coverage. Highly engaged and collaborative leadership teams from Inmarsat and PwC continually evaluated the risks, adjusted plans and approaches as needed.
“For this project, we needed to shake people out of the notion that it would be easy and that we’d be able to do it by just doing what we’d always done. We needed to think differently, act faster and be more powerful, but in a much more customer-centric way. It wasn’t just about technology: it was about business change and our customers. This transformation has helped to reinforce our promise to customers and execute them.”
Using an enterprise-wide agile approach, Inmarsat’s SDT programme iteratively designed, built and deployed a mission-critical, cloud-based solution in a little over two years. Despite the lockdown, all in-scope customers were successfully migrated to the new platform without incident, achieving the business goals of the programme, including the full shutdown of the legacy IT platform.
Inmarsat now benefits from a secure, modular, cloud-based solution built on market-leading components. It can deliver end-to-end processes that are fast, reliable and responsive to customer needs. The solution comprises 12 new software components that together create a best-in-class, flexible platform. These include a new customer experience portal, a B2B electronic trading “API” gateway, a Salesforce-based customer management platform, a new product catalogue and configuration capability, a new order management platform, systems for activating new services and a unified identity management solution. Importantly, all components run on the same set of DevOps processes and tools, which in turn leverage Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform and end to end IT analytics capabilities from Google. Components work together seamlessly, with APIs for integration and OpenShift and Apigee for orchestration. This architecture enables Inmarsat to change individual components and provides a high degree of redundancy, transparency and flexibility.
Scale Agile working was new to Inmarsat but vital for achieving complex goals on time. Show-and-tells and other events helped stakeholders understand and embrace agile working. Continuous communication and collaboration were critical.
Improving data quality was challenging and cloud migration might have brought real risk. It took a focused effort to clean, transform, validate and load legacy data. Today, data integrity is significantly improved, with greater validation and tight integration.
The new product catalogue required Inmarsat to change how it works but allows it to get things right. Teams can collaborate to define complex products, reducing the need for rework.
The SDT programme allowed Inmarsat to migrate to a new platform and replace end-of-life technology. It now has a flexible, scalable and adaptable solution to support future innovation. There were six major areas of benefit:
Speed to market: The product catalogue and associated product modelling enable Inmarsat to create new products, bundles and discounts in days rather than weeks. Resellers have more control and a personalised view of their customers’ products and services, giving them new ways to manage and sell offerings.
Time to revenue: Commercial offers can be configured in minutes rather than weeks. This accelerates Inmarsat’s ability to develop new revenue streams.
Customer experience: A new self-service portal lets customers find, order and activate products and services on their own with a single sign-on – without Inmarsat’s intervention. First-time success in placing orders has risen dramatically, and processes that once took hours can be done in minutes, with better visibility for customers, employees and partners. Industry-standard APIs enable further automation, speeding up order creation and activation.
Operational improvements: New levels of automation – particularly in order processing and provisioning – have improved efficiency, saving millions in annual operating costs. Data shows that the company now gets 96% of orders right the first time. This eliminates the need for manual intervention and reduces the risk of errors, enabling staff to focus on more value-added activities.
Future simplification: A secure, modular and scalable platform unifies and simplifies work across the lead-to-cash value chain. This will enable ongoing operational improvements and more efficient, standardised ways of working.
Strategic solution: Inmarsat’s legacy system required frequent support by a third-party vendor. With its new platform, the company has a future-proofed technology foundation it can control itself. Modular, cloud-based components can be easily changed as needs evolve. The new platform has a lower total cost of ownership, with continuous access to new features and functions. All this has removed previous barriers and enabled new opportunities to innovate, support new products and services, and meet customers’ evolving needs.