Automating network coverage feasibility checks to drive business growth and customer satisfaction
Link Africa builds and operates fibre optic networks using an innovative patented infrastructure deployment method on various modes of infrastructure, and by connecting people and businesses, helps stimulate economic development in Africa.
Part of LinkAfrica’s business approach is the deployment of mapping applications in client-facing and internal operations, assisting their ability to sell access to their network infrastructure to businesses as well as home clients, both of which are done directly through internet service provider (ISP) partners.
Driving business and powering innovation with maps
Mapping solutions are table stakes applications in business, as a recent Boston Consulting Group report commissioned by Google found.
“Although all types of companies enjoy some gains from location intelligence applications, leaders [in deploying mapping solutions] far outshine the others. Leaders reported improvements that were 1.3 to 2.0 times as great as those achieved by followers in three key metric categories: customer experience, sales performance, and operational efficiency.”
The report further found that companies achieve the highest performance when their mapping applications align with their core business strategy and build on reliable underlying location intelligence capabilities.
Innovating with a mapping solutions partner
To create a frictionless onboarding experience for its clients and those of its ISP business partners, Link Africa required a quick and easy way to assess connectivity feasibility, and to quote potential clients based on their desired network speeds and preferred contract periods.
For this, the company turned to local Premier Google Maps Partner, 28East, which specialises in creating enterprise solutions for ISPs.
28East developed white-labelled, Google Maps Platform powered applications for Link Africa’s internal and external use. Batch or individual data inputs are run against a set of spatial and business rules to determine whether a connection to Link Africa’s fibre network is feasible. If feasible, available subscription plans and contract periods are also determined, to offer clients options to choose from.
The application programme interface (API) can also batch process up to 5000 records, per job, outputting the results as a downloadable file, which can further be used in other business systems. Individual addresses can be searched in the Link Africa themed web map service (WMS), which are run against the same business rules as the API, with the results displayed and the map updated in real-time.
The entire solution is managed and maintained by 28East. To ensure the data is accurate and always up-to-date, 28East works closely with Link Africa’s network planners to ingest the company’s network planning and network coverage data into the application backend. The collaboration also benefits for 28East’s years of experience working with other telcos and network providers, and their optimised workflows that enable fast data ingestion.
Building on a reliable, scalable foundation
Google’s Cloud Platform forms the foundation of the applications and ensures an always-on, scalable solution that saves users computing infrastructure investments without compromising growth opportunities. The platform also provides an ecosystem of integrated components that can be expanded in future.
The core of the 28East solution is powered by Google Maps’ Geocoding and Places APIs, which make the data geospatial. The business rule lookups are performed in Google Cloud SQL, while Google App Engine enforces the rules and performs resource scaling. To ensure secure connections for only authenticated users, Google Cloud Endpoint manages the API and authenticates API requests.
Delivering customer ease-of-use and new business opportunities
The resulting solution is easy to use by Link Africa, its partners, and home users. The API gives third parties access to Link Africa’s app functionality and the ability to incorporate it into their workflows and systems. It also simplifies Link Africa’s business data management operations by providing the company with a central point to update its network coverage map and pricing plans for all its clients and partners.
New batch processing saves thousands of man-hours and drastically reduces lead times in ways that were never before possible, and allows for new business opportunities such as quoting large clients, like franchises wanting to connect all their outlets.
On top of this, the solution reduces rejected orders and vastly improves customer satisfaction by speeding up operations and removing false or unrealistic customer expectations.
As a network provider that empowers its customers by connecting them to the digital world, Link Africa understands the importance of digital innovation for driving business growth and realising new opportunities with the power of mapping solutions in the cloud.