I’m in the privileged position, probably as a result of founding The Blue Book OSS/BSS Vendor Directory, to speak with many vendors each week. It also means I’m lucky enough to watch in on product demos on a regular basis too.
Last year DFG Consulting (www.dfgcon.si/en) reached out to tell me about their Interactively Assisted Converter (IAC) solution. Their demo showed that it was a really neat tool for taking unstructured, inaccurate data and fixing it ready for ingestion into OSS and/or GIS solutions.
It has a particular strength for connecting CAD or GIS drawings that appear connected to our human eyes, but have no (or limited) associations in the data. Without the data associations (eg Splice Case A connects to Fibre Cable B), then any data imported into an OSS / GIS remains detached, just islands of separated info. And the whole benefit of our OSS is the ability to cross-link and traverse data chains to unlock actionable insights.
But it wasn’t the fact that IAC is a neat tool that surprised me. Nor that it’s able to automate, or semi-automate, the cross-linking of data points in an intuitive way (although that is impressive).
Having done a few data migrations over the years, we’d always done custom ingestion / cleanse / cross-link scripts because the data was always different from customer to customer. We might have re-used a proportion of our scripts / code, but ultimately, they were all still just scripts and all customised. I was impressed that DFG Consulting had turned that migration process into a tool with:
- An intuitive user interface
- A workflow-driven approach for handling the data
- In-built “assists / wizards” to help the tool achieve full data conversion for users
- In-built error detection and correction techniques
- Flexible import and export mechanisms
- Preparing an output of fully structured data that is ready to be migrated into a target OSS system
I thought that was really innovative – that they’d put all that time into productising what I’d always known to just be a manually scripted task to be done as needed per project. The best I’d previously been aware of were assistance tools like FME (Feature Manipulation Engine), but IAC is the more sophisticated approach. That’s why I included the IAC solution in our recent “The Most Exciting Innovations in OSS/BSS” report.
But that’s still not what surprised me.
After seeing IAC in action, I reached out to quite a few connections in the industry who do a lot more data migration than I tend to do these days. I thought the tool was really interesting, but I also thought that most data being imported into OSS / GIS would already be structured today. I thought most operators would have already cross-linked their key data sets like design docs for use via OSS or GIS tools. In fact, I thought that most network operators would’ve done this a decade ago.
However, it was the feedback from industry sources that shocked me. It turns out that unstructured, unreliable data is still the norm on a large proportion of their new data migration projects. Especially outside plant (OSP) projects. I was thinking that IAC would’ve been absolutely brilliant for the migration projects of the 2000s, but that there wouldn’t be much call for it these days. Turns out I was totally wrong in my assumptions.
If you’d like to see how IAC solves some of the most important data ingestion use-cases, check out the videos below: