Atinco - Mobile Personalization and Entertainment - atinco alert platform

By: Atinco  11-11-2011

Key Points

The Atinco Alert Platform is a server that detects and sends alerts from a range of sources to end-users via multiple channels (SMS, MMS, e-mail, fax, etc.)

  • High range of sources supported (Host, Reuters, Databases, etc.)
  • Full personalization (templates support)
  • Multi-portal
  • Push-pull
  • Billing integration
  • Marketing one-to-one
  • High range of statistics

Atinco Alert Platform

The Atinco Alert Platform is a server that detects and sends alerts from a range of sources to end-users via multiple channels (SMS, MMS, e-mail, fax, etc.). It is a multi-source server that can be connected to a wide range of information providers, including relational data bases, bank transaction hosts and real time systems like Reuters. The key feature of the server is its powerful configuration engine, which allows system administrators to create meta-rules to trigger alerts. These can then be personalized by end-users in a straightforward process using an intuitive web manager without the need to enter a single line of code.

The Atinco Alert Platform is a multi-channel server, allowing alerts to be sent via SMS, MMS, fax, e-mail or any other platform. This is because its XML/XSL integration API adapts the alert to the specific channel required in a straightforward process that, once again, needs no programming.

Finally, the Atinco Alert Platform not only informs users when a pre-programmed event occurs (e.g. when a football team scores a goal or a firm oversteps its credit limit), but also allows them to interact with the system in real time via their mobile phones. For example, a credit institution using the Atinco Alert Platform could allow clients to consult their bank balance by simply sending an SMS to a telephone number (via a secure system to safeguard confidentiality).

Key features

  • Integration of sources generating alerts and sources generating content.
    • Host information
    • Reuters® information (Atria and Pooling)
    • Corporate data bases
    • Other sources
  • Multi-channel alert output
    • SMS / MMS
    • E-mail
    • Fax
    • Interface (public API) for the development of new channels
  • Full personalization of alerts by the administration system, allowing definition of:
    • Alert trigger source
    • Alert (regular / automatic)
    • Data source (content)
    • Format used in each channel (e-mail, SMS, etc.)

The platform has the capability to handle multiple portals simultaneously without the need to replicate either platforms or applications, while allowing personalization of alerts to suit the portal.

The platform is scaleable in terms of both its functional capabilities and capacity to send alerts and provides maximum flexibility for the addition of product functionalities and upgrades.

The Atinco Alert Platform allows users to manage the different alert types simply and efficiently at the level of both trigger configuration and parametization of output devices.

The all-round flexibility of the server makes it easy to include new functional modules in all layers:

  • Alert types
  • Trigger sources
  • Data sources for the creation of alert messages
  • Alert channels

Benefits

Flexibility

The platform draws on different data bases to generate alerts, as well as sources like client hosts and other information media (data access modules can be easily incorporated into the rule monitoring and dispatch module).

It is a multi-channel system based on a dispatch module and segmentation by output channel using gateways. The logic of the server is not confined to any specific channel or format.

Alerts can be fully parametized to establish everything from trigger data and rules to the formats in which they reach the end user in each output channel. The management tool allows straightforward configuration of alerts and rules.

Reliability and Performance

Adjustment of process configurations provides the performance necessary to send alerts in very large batches.

Because the rule monitoring and dispatch modules are independent of each other, the application is capable of handling voluminous workloads without any drop in overall performance.

The architecture is standards-based, ensuring robustness and reliability.

Scalability

The system is highly scalable in two ways:

New functionalities can easily be added, in most cases without any technical intervention. This scalability includes alerts, rules, data sources and output channels.

In operational terms, the application resolves the problem of performance in the face of fast growth in the number of rules / alerts monitored and sent.

Portability

The use of standards in the design and development of the application ensures the portability of the server. The technological base consists of Java (J2EE) for business logic and XML (XML + XSLT) for presentation, allowing incorporation not only in other application servers but in any Java supported hardware / software environment. This protects not only the initial but also future investments.

Availability

The robustness of the platform and the support mechanisms provided by Atinco as a value added service ensure high availability. Configuring the system so that various instances of the server are running in parallel and process redundancy (together with the in-built redundancy in the rest of the platform) provide maximum system availability.

Personalization

Alerts can be configured for both the data sent to the end user (alert data sources) and the data format (data presentation templates). A transparent process allows users to indicate the alerts and rules they need, as well as the address and channel through which they wish to receive alerts.

Architecture

The Atinco Alert Platform integrates with numerous different sources thanks to the integration layer, which abstracts the peculiarities intrinsic to each source in order to achieve flexibility.

  • Host. The server integration layer launches monitoring transactions in the host in order to test compliance with trigger rules.
  • Data bases. Triggers can be defined for any database table. The platform administration tool is used for parametization via a web interface.
  • Reuters ®. Reuters® is a possible information source. The Atinco Alert Platform accesses this information directly or using the integration layer as an existing middleware integration layer.
  • Other sources. Given the flexibility of the integration layer, new alert sources can be added to the platform at any time, requiring only a minor integration development.

Atinco Alert Platform Modules

Portal Manager

The portal manager module comprises various management modules.

  • Multi-portal

    Integration of the presentation model is designed to fit each portal. The application handles multiple portals from a single administration module without server replication, permitting independent personalization for each one.

    This allows flexible integration with the different portals to be incorporated into the platform using standards (basically XML), thereby facilitating connectivity.

    Different kinds of alerts (sports, financial, services, etc.) can be sent from each portal.

    Each of the portals can support different output channels (SMS, fax, e-mail, etc.) and sources (alerts triggered by data bases or other integrated sources), and even rank alerts  depending how critical the timing is.

  • Multi-channel

    The application permits personalization of outputs (SMS, fax, e-mail, etc.) by the system administrator, highlighting different aspects (and information) based on the channel. For example, an alert about football league results could be sent via SMS simply in the form of the teams’ names and results (because the volume of information is limited), while the same alert sent by e-mail (where there is more space for the information) could also include the minute in which each goal was scored and the name of the scorer.

    • SMS. All of the alerts can be sent to any mobile telephone number.
    • MMS. One of the innovations of the Atinco Alert Platform is its capacity to manage and send information to mobile phones in the form of multi-media MMS messages.
    • E-mail. The alerts engine can use e-mail as one of the output channels.

      The use of a proprietary mail server (MTA, Mail Transfer Agent) is recommended given the mass use of this medium for the distribution of alerts and the need to control the messages sent.

      The application can handle not only basic e-mail text but also HTML, and it has the capacity to send attachments and include specific subject and sender parameters.

    • Fax. The system has a fax path for the distribution of alerts.

      This requires the integration of a fax server with the server gateway to physically send messages. Obviously, the presentation of content is limited by the type and format of the messages, like other channels.

  • Multi-source solution

    The Atinco Alert Platform supports alerts generated by multiple sources (transactional sources, stock market news, media, etc.). Integration is straightforward and connectivity with different data sources is easy (e.g. host, external information sources such as Reuters, Data Bases included in different portals, etc.).

    In order to integrate new sources with the alerts system, it is necessary only to develop a connector for the information source. Having developed this connector, the configuration of alerts is handled autonomously by the administration system.

    For example, when a database connector is developed, all of the information from this source will be included without the need to write further Java code in the alerts monitor to model the dispatch rule.

  • “Push-Pull” Solution

    The default configuration of the Atinco Alert Platform provides for the creation of triggers, to which users subscribe by indicating specific rules or parameters. In this solution, the information is “pushed” to the user when the alert is activated.

    However, the application also includes a “pull-push” mechanism, allowing the user to seek information at a given moment.

    By way of example, let us consider sports alerts. Imagine a user subscribing to Real Madrid goals. In this case, each time a Real Madrid player or the rival team scores in a match, an alert is automatically sent to inform subscribers of the goal, the scorer, the minute and latest score. This would be a “push” mechanism (the system sends the subscriber specifically requested information on a regular basis).

    Now let us image that a user is in a place where he/she has no access to the match and wants to know how it is going. By simply sending an SMS over his mobile phone to a given number, the system responds with, for example, the latest score and list of goals with the abbreviated name of the scorer and the minute each was scored. This would be a “pull” mechanism (i.e. involving a specific one-time request for information).

    If the user’s handset is enabled for MMS presentations, a photo of the player scoring the goal could be sent rather than an SMS message, or in the case of financial alerts a graph could be included showing the triggering stock price.

  • Other functionalities

    The Portal Manager also handles:

    • Templates for the input of alerts
    • Groups of permitted alerts
    • Billing type for each group of alerts in each portal
    • Sponsorship management
    • Sponsored portals and alert groups
    • Sponsorship dates
    • Distribution of billings
    • Messages informing users about new types of alerts
    • Temporary deactivation of alert groups
Rules manager

From the standpoint of the alerts engine, a rule is a logical association of parameters created by the various administrators of the different portals. Thus, the first step in defining an alert is configuration, as follows:

  • Input parameters: These control only the conditions for the activation of the alert (e.g. time sent or threshold stock price).
  • Output parameters: These form part of the “message” resulting from the activation of the alert (e.g. stock market information related with the activation of the alert, such as trading volume, maximum and minimum stock price, etc.).
  • Input / Output parameters: These combine the above conditions.
  • Query parameters: Query fields are similar to output fields but come into play when an alert is sent in response to a query placed with one of the data sources defined in the system (e.g. on sending the football league table at the end of the day’s play, the server would consult the data base to find out the information and pass it on to the user).

The administrator has the option to assign a series of logical operations for each parameter. These could include: “the same”, “different”, “less”, “greater”, “less than or equal”, “greater than or equal”, within a given series of values, etc.

Once the administrator has configured the alert, the parameters are associated with the rule via logical operations.

The alert is then associated with the output channels through the definition and publication of personalized XSL formats for each portal.

All of these steps are guided using straightforward forms which the platform administrator completes in the Rules Manager module until the alert is defined. Configuration covers:

Management of different alert groups. Alerts are grouped by source, billing amount, etc., defining rules for registration, deregistration and modification of rules with definition of:

  • The source of the alert trigger
  • Type of alert (regular / automatic)
  • Alert data source (content)
  • Alert language
  • Calendar associated with the alert
  • Definition of permitted output channels
  • Format for each channel (e-mail, SMS, etc.)
  • Option to include cost depending on the output channel utilized
  • Promotional information for inclusion in the alert
Administration module

In addition to the parametization of rules explained above, the system also allows:

  • Billing control
  • Management of alerts and profile-restricted access by the Alerts Manager.
  • Management of different portals
  • Administration of multiple users
  • Administration and integration with different external sources
  • Management of different engine tools
  • Preparation of statistics
  • General engine administration: the tool allows activation / deactivation of the different modules making up the Alerts Engine
  • Different administration profiles loaded after identification.
  • Administration and management of external components: output channels, data sources, etc.
Style Manager

The style types presented in the user alert configuration pages are defined in this module.

Design of templates for the input of alerts tailored to fit the format of each portal.

Templates for the definition of the presentation types depending on the alert output type and the portal. These templates belong to all the portals and can be reused for different alerts, so the system permits recycling of alert configurations.

Billing module

The system allows the user to be charged directly, integrating with the existing ERP system. Otherwise, billing can be delegated via the channel used to send the alert (e.g. via the mobile telephone operator in the case of SMS, or an associated credit system).

One interesting possibility is the option for other partners to sponsor alerts, with the added alternative of shared sponsorship. This allows campaigns to be structured, for example, in the following way: sports alerts are sponsored 30% by Firm X and 40% by Firm Y, while 30% is charged to the end user.

The data model for the product includes both the actual cost of the alert and the sale price, both of which can be configured at the time of its creation. This allows control of the profit associated with each alert.

The Atinco Alert Platform billing module provides a transparent model for the management of alert sales, while the export model can be used to integrate with ERP systems.

Key functionalities allow:

  • Allocation of billings to each group of alerts or portal
  • Generation of XML allowing fusion with the ERP application for billing user alerts.  It also offers the option of exporting data in CSV format.
  • User reports on the number and cost of the alerts received in a given period.
Marketing module

Information is treated using XSLT templates depending on the output channel used to send the alert. The creation of new output channels is possible, and the template can be personalized for each of the client portals and for each user.

The Atinco Alert Platform allows the creation of schedules associated with a given alert to define the days on which it will be sent (tax deadlines, birthdays, reminders).

The personalization of marketing campaigns is immediate:

  • By portal (access route, user registration)
  • Segmentation by target public
  • By subscription (request for information, content)
  • Broadcast of a standard message or by portal in multiple formats (XSL templates)
  • Transmission of marketing campaigns via multiple output channels (fax, e-mail, SMS)
  • Configuration of alerts by date
  • Automatic transmission
  • New business routes, partners, shared campaigns
  • Control and distribution of costs managed through the billing module
  • Generation of statistics (feed-back)
  • Generation of a multi-source segmented data base
Statistics Manager

The statistics module generates a wide range of data with regard to:

Control of statistics on alerts defined, triggered and deleted, grouped by portal, Type of alert, date.

Billing statistics by portal, group of alerts, language, etc. 

Subscriber activity segmented by portal, type of alert and channel.

Reports on users of new alerts, most sought-after alerts, special offers, etc.

The multiple statistics described are obtained through the system consultation API (alerts configured, output channels selected, messages sent in a given time span, number of users subscribing and messages sent). All of the reports are broken down by output channel and alert.

Results are presented in XML or CSV format for export or for the application of personalized XSL templates.

The application provides a tool for complex queries involving various parameters (user, portal, output channel, starting and ending dates, etc.).


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