MegaFon and Nexign's Cooperation Anniversary Interview

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MegaFon and Nexign’s History of Partnership

Speaker for MegaFon: Andrey Zhikin, Chief Information Officer at Yota (Commercial Manager of the Unified Billing project at MegaFon until 2019)

Speaker for Nexign: Mr. Alexey Bekmin, Director of MegaFon Group Account at Nexign

Nexign (formerly known as Peter-Service) and MegaFon have a history of almost 30 years of partnership. That’s a long time. Can you look back on the history of MegaFon and Nexign’s relationship, notable projects, collective achievements, and how this changed over time? Which Nexign solutions helped MegaFon take the lead?

Andrey Zhikin: Pretty much from the very beginning, most of MegaFon's business was built on Nexign solutions. Most business tasks, marketing ideas, products, or service processes were somehow created or supported by the Nexign team, and the service provider's business grew with the company's products.

I came to MegaFon in 2011, when the company consisted of eight separate legal entities and headquartered in Moscow. At that point, the process of "federalization" of the entire organization and its business processes had begun. One of my first major projects was the creation of an SFA (Sales Force Automation System) platform for B2B sales management. We needed to develop a single system with a high level of transparency and controllability for all the branch offices. We needed to integrate closely with all the branch office features, while taking into account the specifics of the telecommunications industry and the best market practices for the SFA class systems. We chose Nexign to build this platform. As a result, we worked together to develop one of the first federal-level systems for the entire company, and it helped us standardize our B2B processes. The service provider’s leading position in the market was strengthened in subsequent years mostly thanks to this decision. 

Alexey Bekmin: At the beginning of our collaboration, MegaFon's structure was completely different and included branch offices with their business divisions and individual IT teams. The main challenge was that there were no uniform federal-level solutions for the company as a whole until around the 2010s. Processes had to be adapted for each project to accommodate the needs of different branch offices, their traffic, and the simultaneous number of users. In addition, at that time, video-calling services were not as widely available as they are today. So, after a new release or making improvements, we had to bring together a team of analysts and developers to visit each office physically and conduct a presentation.

Many remember the days of the first mobile phones, new services, including new fees, roaming, and the emergence of mobile data. Which of the new cellular communications solutions were developed through joint efforts and contributed significantly to the development of both companies?

Alexey Bekmin: One of the first expert solutions was the BRT (Billing Real-Time) product, which was responsible for the real-time billing of subscribers. There were no equivalents to this solution in Russia. With BRT, we were able to monitor subscriber balance online. The system was able to handle the highest of traffic without compromising the quality of query processing.

Unified Billing is the largest project, combining seven billing systems. During the five years of the project implementation, much has changed – people, technology, the entire world. Tell us how it happened, what were the highlights? How did the two companies’ employees work on this project? How did you feel when the last task was completed?

Andrey Zhikin: The Unified Billing project began in 2015 and was one of the most important technological development stages for MegaFon. The business wanted to create a billing platform that would allow all processes to be managed from a single point. In other words, we had to develop a single interface for all branch offices, which would allow the transition to a single standard of service, thereby increasing the efficiency of processes. This was a real challenge because we needed to build a new solution on new technologies by integrating all the processes, products and approaches from previous systems into it. Many elements of the team had to be built from scratch, since there were no cases in international practice for implementing a single BSS solution covering a country as large as ours. 

MegaFon and Nexign worked together to develop one of the highest performing systems on the market and ensure a smooth transition for tens of millions of subscribers. It was one team, with a common goal, that sought one result, and the boundary of "vendor/non-vendor" became a thing of the past. This was a radical change, the consequences of which can be felt even now.

MegaFon and Nexign Today

Speaker for MegaFon: Igor Glebov, Business Development Director, Operational Unit

Speakers for Nexign: Andrey Knyazev, Director of MegaFon Business Systems at Nexign; Dmitry Antipov, Chief Customer Officer at Nexign

The pandemic has been a challenge for all of us. How did lockdown and remote work affect collaborative processes, and what were the most significant changes?

Andrey Knyazev: Nexign and MegaFon are large companies with offices in several Russian cities, and we often worked remotely even before the pandemic. During lockdown, we particularly missed "live" meetings, brainstorming sessions that really stimulated the Nexign and MegaFon team and their work on joint projects. 

Igor Glebov: Nexign and MegaFon’s collaboration really had to be adjusted due to the impossibility of face-to-face meetings. Before the pandemic, our teams often saw each other not just in the workplace, but also in informal settings, allowing us to solve many issues faster. At the same time, working remotely has given us more flexibility and the ability to work at our own pace.

Today, providers are positioning themselves not only as telecommunications companies, but also as digital service providers. Can you tell me which Nexign solutions help MegaFon expand and monetize its portfolio of services? 

Igor Glebov: MegaFon uses the Nexign Microservices Framework, a platform for rapid development of new digital services based on the microservice architecture. It allows us to integrate any partner quickly, bring different products to market, and ensure that they operate effectively.

Dmitry Antipov: Currently, the Nexign Microservices Framework is really one of our core tools because it allows us to quickly test products and services on the microservice layer. For example, the platform allows us to develop new products with complex integrations and continuously improve them by adding new services.

This year has brought new challenges. In which areas has Nexign and MegaFon’s collaboration changed? What’s new in connection with the current realities? 

Igor Glebov: Undoubtedly, this year has been full of developments requiring immediate response. For example, many foreign vendors have left the Russian market, information security requirements increased, and we needed to develop new approaches and rebuild the collaboration processes of our teams. Together, Nexign and MegaFon have succeeded in stabilizing operations, improving roll out of new products, and maintaining the TTM (time to market). One of the most significant cases illustrating our well-coordinated teamwork occurred in July, when our eSim supplier withdrew from the market. We needed to replace their solutions quickly, and MegaFon and Nexign were able to do the job in four weeks, when it would normally require six months. The transition was smooth for us and our customers. 

Andrey Knyazev: The main challenge this year has been import substitution. However, Nexign and MegaFon began working on this issue several years ago. Nexign offers many solutions based on domestic components, and they are already integrated into MegaFon’s system. As a result, MegaFon has a number of advantages and has a more stable position in the market.

Future plans and prospects for collaboration

Speaker for MegaFon: Igor Glebov, Business Development Director, Operational Unit

Speakers for Nexign: Andrey Knyazev, Director of MegaFon Business Systems at Nexign; Dmitry Antipov, Chief Customer Officer at Nexign

What can you say today about the evolution of communications technology and the industry as a whole? How do you see these changes in terms of providers evolving?

Dmitry Antipov: I think import substitution will remain the main trend. This year was characterized by the massive withdrawal of Western vendors from the Russian market, and companies do not have the resources to replace foreign software all at once. Therefore, the next couple of years will be marked by the development of Russian technologies.

30 years for an IT company is a significant period, allowing you to look at everything that has been realized, redefine yourself and outline the next steps. What are Nexign's trends for development, and how will this help to grow the partnership with MegaFon? What would you like for Nexign and MegaFon to do in terms of working together in the future?

Igor Glebov: I would like for Nexign and MegaFon to continue to enjoy mutual collaboration, build new solutions and products that will benefit both companies and their customers, and achieve financial success. 

Andrey Knyazev: Nexign and MegaFon have been together for 30 years, and these 30 years have been absolutely awesome and successful. Much is changing in the world now, but I hope the success we have achieved in this time only multiplies. We have all the foundations for this, including Nexign's intellectual power and MegaFon's creative ideas, and together we can achieve even greater results.