Opening Up the Soft Service Provider: The Telco API (Summary)

Survival is the mother of innovation.  As customer behavior, rather than technology and competition, significantly impacts a service provider’s business, threatening the core revenues; the Telco API (Application Program Interface) is one method for operators to foster innovation on their networks.  The Telco API enables operators to expose capabilities from their networks such as location, presence, charging, authentication, etc.  Based upon twelve studies [Reference 1] performed with operators around the world, the Telco API has the potential to raise ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) by 36% across operator branded, co-branded and third party services.

Just exposing the Telco API is not good enough; operators must implement an application developer community (innovation community).  Making it easy for applications to get on the operator’s network, easy to be discovered by early adopter customers, and all within an easy to use community tool that enables continuous application development to get the ‘recipe right’ for the local market.  Based upon extensive market surveys on forty developer communities six corner-stones of community success are identified [Reference 2]:

  • Known the Audience: identify and build a strong relationship with the innovators;
  • Tools and Education: there’s never enough sample code;
  • Communications and Marketing: Sell your best geeks, others will follow;
  • Metrics linked to business performance;
  • Business Model baked into the API; and
  • Integration into the operators’ core processes – the innovation community is owned by the CEO.

After building the brand and the network, the application developer community (innovation community) is the next most important leg of an operator’s business.

Full text of the “Opening Up the Soft Service Provider: The Telco API” paper.

3 thoughts on “Opening Up the Soft Service Provider: The Telco API (Summary)

  1. Govinda Raj A.

    Agree fully Alan. The business case is very evident. With the concept a tried & proven model in web 2.0, handset space and other application development communities it is only a matter of time before we see few operators emerging out and taking the mantle of leading an eco-system. This is a capability the telcos lack, in my opinion, which they need to build. Have you come across operators taking lead in this concept? I know of Orange trying to build a community of application vendors, not yet wrt ANIs. Exciting times ahead for Application vendor community!

  2. Alan Quayle

    Hi Govind, many Western European some North American and a few APAC Operators are working on this topic. At the moment there have been mixed results, generally because of difficulties within Operators as they adapt to this new way of working in collaboration, rather than alone. Given operators’ plans, I think ’09/’10 is going to be a critical year in converting activities into real commercial successes. And hence the main focus of my work these days :)

  3. Bradley de Souza

    I’m totally sympathetic with the points you make. I recently wrote a piece on my site lamenting the lack of developer support in the mobile telco arena.
    Developers are totally left to their own devices. It’s not even a matter of telco APIs, handset vendors ignore those kind souls who would otherwise imbue their products with features and functionality beyond the manufacturer’s intentions.

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