Feature

BTfinds it's good to personalise

BT.com has been redesigned for a more personalised experience. Roisin Woolnough talks to the architect

When David Murray worked on redesigning BT's Web site ("http://www.bt.com"), his task was to create a more personalised experience for customers. For this, he used Broadvision technology. "The technology underpins the site," he explains. "Visitors can be uniquely identified, content can be delivered based on profiles, and e-commerce transactions carried out."

After doing a lot of preparatory analysis, it took Murray and 19 others a month to do the technical design of the new site. Were he to start again, Murray says he would address integration and installation issues earlier. "In retrospect, we should have done more work on integration and installation planning earlier in the project. This would have reduced last-minute working. We had delays due to integration problems immediately prior to launch and these had an impact on the budget."

In his role as an architect, a top priority was getting the framework right. "A key challenge has been maintaining a well-defined software architecture - essential for a frequently changing site like BT.com.

"We have had to balance delivery of projects for reusable core platform features with projects that enhance customer experience and usability. At the same time, we have tried not to create an unmanageable code base or to affect integrity of the platform. All this has been managed within the context of a very busy delivery programme," says Murray.

The programming was done in server-side Javascript using the exposed Broadvision application programming interfaces. The server runs on Sun Solaris, Oracle database, Broadvision 4.1 (including commerce) and Netscape Enterprise Server. The system is distributed across quad-processor servers allowing for flexibility in system configuration.

Customer security is implemented at the application level on a graded basis. "This ranges from encryption of data in transit using hypertext transport protocols to distributing and entering activation codes for access to personal information," explains Murray. "Techniques such as physical network partitioning, locked down server builds, restricted routing and firewall rule sets protect the service and BT networks."

For the future, there are plans to expand the business-to-consumer, business-to-business and employee services and improve integration with the call centre. The work will be maintaining session and profile integrity across technologies and service providers.

Curriculum Vitae

Name: David Murray

Age: 32

Job title: technical architect

Qualifications: BEng electronic and information engineering

IT skills: systems/solution analysis and design, client/server design, Unix and PC, Oracle, C, C++, Java, scripting,HTML, XML

Hobbies: being at home, golf

Favourite pub: anywhere I can walk to

Favourite film: Better Off Dead

Favourite book: 1984 by George Orwell

Murray on Murray: battle-scarred, pragmatic, realistic

e is for excellence


This was first published in January 2001

 

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