Picking up from where Juergen left, in his blog on SAP Utilities  customer engagement strategy, this blog takes a closer look at the central component of the strategy called SAP Multichannel Foundation for Utilities.

Motivation

Globally, Utilities are striving to shift customer interactions to low cost and high impact digital channels like web and mobile.Most of the Utilities have already and continue to invest in the softwaresolutions like SAP CRM and IS-U to streamline and run their customer centric processes- which are typically used by their employees.The next step is to get their end customers (consumers) access relevant data and processes from the backend business systems and perform the necessary actions on their own, without requiring any human intervention. For example, a consumer gets to know of the upcoming meter read via email, sms or a message that flashes when he/she logs in and then enter the meter reading using a mobile or a web app. The traditional and expensive way would have been to send it via post or calling the call center.

The challenge, of course, is how can the Utilities make it happen- without disrupting their well running business systems, make it happen on any channel that the consumer would like to use and making sure the standards of enterprise security, performance and scalability are adhered to. This is exactly what SAP Multichannel Foundation for Utilities or MFU for short, promises to address.

In a nutshell

MFU is essentially two things. First, an out of the box, ready to use multichannel solution with the relevant self-services scenarios pre-configured and pre-integrated with SAP CRM and ISU, bundled with a SAPUI5 template web app . Second a high productivity platform with strong toolset support to allow rapid development of consumer apps that can run on any channel and any device.

For the platform part, MFU builds on SAP Netweaver Gateway and the ticket to multichannel is OData. For the yet uninitiated,OData is a non-propriety standardized protocol for providing access to data over internet. OData services can be consumed by any channel that can process XML/JSON received over an HTTP(S) connection- which is pretty much all of the current internet/mobile technologies. Some of the OData consumers:  browsers, excel, adobe flash builder, client libraries – SAP UI5, Javascript, php, JAVA, iphone(Objective C), Windows Phone,Android etc.

In simple terms, once the  backend process is exposed as an OData service, it can be consumed in almost any kind of front end app. MFU/NW Gateway provides the toolset that lets easy creation of OData services from  SAP/non-SAP backends and subsequently creation of variety of user  apps out of that. And you do not need any  knowledge of SAP to create these apps, just the typical web/mobile app development skills. In addition to providing the design time, MFU/NW Gateway also provides the runtime/deployment platform for the consumer apps ( acting like a standard app server ).

Details

MFU_Overview1.jpg

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As shown in the Figure , MFU consists of the following components:

  • Utilities OData content and the template SAPUI5web app: Utilities OData entity model derived from Utilities data model from CRM and ISU, along with the default implementation of the OData services to deliver the self-services scenarios. An enhancement framework in addition to what already comes with standard NW Gateway to allow easy enhancement of the Utilities content.  Please note that future releases of MFU  will further add to the content  available for release 1.0 as shown in figure below:

MFU_Process_overview.jpg

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  • User Management: Central management of online users allowing federation of user identity across different channels. For example: the same user credentials could be used to authenticate users , for example, from a mobile app and a web app. MFU adds to the standard user management functionality provided by NW Gateway
  • 360 View: It is essential that in a multichannel customer interaction scenario – irrespective of the channel used by the customer to interact with the Utility, the Utility should have a 360 degree view of the all the user interactions and also the customer should have the single view of the Utility.  This is made possible by implementing a configurable OData service that allows the different online user interactions including the channel information to be logged in the relevant business context as CRM interaction records.  When an agent confirms an account, he/she at once is able to see the past interactions that have happened on mobile or web-for example.  Also it is possible to show the customer his/her past interactions with the Utility giving him the single view of the company
  • Channel Analytics: MFU becomes the hub through which all the communication between consumer apps and the backend system is orchestrated. In the process, it collects detailed information on the customer usage of the services.   An OData service allows querying the system for this information which can be subsequently analyzed, for example, with a BW/BI tool to come up with business insights like: Web usage Vs. Mobile Usage, top 5 most used services online, target group of most dedicated mobile app users. These insights can be used by Utilities tofine tune their multichannel customer engagement strategy
  • Communication Preference management:   The component captures customer communication preferences (e.g. I want my bill sent by e-mail, outage message by sms ) along with rules ( e.g.  I want the email only on week days) and an engine that evaluates the preferences and the rules in the context of business event (e.g. a billing run, a campaign execution) and then trigger the necessary communication on appropriate channel. Please note that with V1.0, the first piece dealing with capturing of the customer  preferences is delivered, the other pieces will be delivered in the subsequent releases
  • Framework components/Tools: e.g. Service builder, UI, consumption tools, security policies etc.- they come standard as part of the NW Gateway

Technically, MFU consists of 3 Add-ons, one of each to be deployed on CRM, ISU and NW Gateway. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog that will go in details on the technical pre-requisites and the various deployment options- stuff you need to know to set up and run  MFU in your system landscape.

Have a look at other blogs on the same topic.

I am looking forward to your comments.

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5 Comments

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  1. RAVI SHANKAR

    Very nice blog giving the details and the role of MFU can play is really good. How NW cna be used in MFU please explain.Looking forward for more blogs in this topic.

    (0) 
    1. Narpreet Singh

      Hi Ravi,

      have you got solution for the above raised question that how NW can be used in MFU, bcoz i have also got stuck hea . Services has been created for IS-U and CRM at gw , now how to bring those services to MCF.

      Regards

      (0) 
  2. Satish Srirambhatla

    Wasim,

    I am trying to modify the standard UMCUI5 package through my eclipse, however I am getting an exception

    File WebContent/public/i18n_public.properties could not be submitted Overwriting or deletion of SAP text elements not allowed

    I have added S_Developer role in the backend, Am I missing anything here? Do you have any links which talks about customization of MCF. Please let me know.

    Saish

    (0) 
  3. Hesham El Ganainy

    Dear Mohamed

    What are the technical pre-requisites  for SAP MCF?

    Do I need to buy SAP Bill-To-Cash Management for Energy Utilities or other Bill to cash components in order to be able to utilize MCF?

    (0) 

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