At the Mobility Tech Conference in Austin 3-5 Oct, Verizon, AT&T, Ericsson and a real live developer recently wrangled from the wild will take part in a frank and open discussion on the future of Service Innovation at 11 AM on Wednesday Oct 3rd.
- Bill Goodman, Director – Technology, Verizon
- Ivelin Ivanov, Founder Mobicents
- Glenn Laxdal, Vice President of Technology & Advanced Solutions Ericsson North America
- Alan Quayle
- Mark Wuthnow, AT&T
Delivering service innovation includes a huge ecosystem: enterprise, web, IT, media, telecom operators and suppliers. Taking the discussion up a level from apps stores, APIs, and OTT; to a broader based and more thoughtful discussion on new business opportunities in bringing a diverse set of thinkers together. The carriers can catch the developers interest by support a range of ways to create new businesses. APIs are simply a piece of technology, the discussion would not limit itself to just what can get pumped through APIs, as its impossible to limit a service or business to a piece of access technology.
Some of the points we’ll be discussing are:
- Telefonica Digital and SingTel’s recent re-organization, as well as Etisalat’s recent announcement, have created customer-focused innovation groups separated from network and IT operations. And we’ve seen them do something out of the usual with the launch of telecom OTT services such as TU Me. Though not the first operator to do this, e.g. AT&T with CallVantage nearly a decade ago and more recently Telecom Italia with CuboVision. Is this a model for the future?
- Given enterprises are now asking their telcos to provide services through APIs, for example conferencing and collaboration, how can we deliver on that request in months not years and how best can we cost-effectively fulfill the diverse enterprise needs? What role will WebRTC play in fulfilling this demand? Does IMS play a role here? Will IMS remain a behind the scenes cross network enabler? Given WebRTC is about the bread and butter of the telco business, real-time communications, why do you think telcos played such a low profile role?
- Can a telco’s traditional suppliers and telcos work better together in fostering innovation, rather than simply keeping the IT lights on and making fatter and fatter pipes? Telco (and their supplier) developer communities remain start-up sales contact points at best, with poor market access. How can an innovation ecosystem be created like Android? Clearly copying Apple and Google did not work, but is there another path? What is possible, should Telcos focus their ecosystem across existing partners (aggregators, SIs, VARs, suppliers) rather than seeking out trendy Bay Area start-ups?
- What lessons have we learned from earlier iterations of telco APIs? Most major telecoms have recognized the opportunity years ago and some pushed out public APIs over the years.
- Should APIs target bigger enterprises or small businesses? SMB remain a tough market for many telcos, is SMB a target area for an ecosystem based approach? Where are new applications likely to come from? Are big enterprises better fit to innovate or to consume innovation created by startups?
- What is the potential for PaaS offering as opposed to web APIs? Amazon offers virtually no enterprise-grade SLA for its cloud services. IBM and other players are capturing the market for strict SLA cloud services to enterprises with high uptime and data privacy requirements. Most enterprises do not want APIs, they want services that provide business solutions to their business problems. Telecoms have long running relationships with enterprises in sensitive verticals such as healthcare, finance and government. Are APIs a distraction? In the limit it’s all about business solutions to business problems, and technology is simply automating the delivery?
Telcos need to create a service platform independent from traditional apps, where the key role and ownerships belongs to OS and device manufacturers.
Clearly the way is exposing network assets as REST API, the only way that developers love.
I see more interesting moves as the Developer Garden (DT), RedBox (VF), Bluevia (Telefonica) and others rather creating new “individual” communication silos.
Also, to expose network assets today there are technologies that make easy to expose network assets without lock-in with the tradditional infrastructure vendors. Mobicents/Telestax is a great platform to build “exposure layers” on top, we use it.
Telcos must realize that if they are competing with 20 people size great OTTs (for example Whatsapp), they must leave away their reluctance and concerts to work with small companies at their side. Obviously a small tech start-up is a lean development company and knows first-hand how developers like to work.
To boost the ecosystem and explore win-win business models telcos will need advice of “some in the middle”. API is the future of the telco, but must be delivered in the way that the ecosystem will adopt: flavour and pricing, it is needed to remember why Parlay and high entry cost for service developers did not work.