Independent Review of Telecom APIs Workshop Summary

The SDP Global Summit proved again to be the must-attend event.  I’ve reviewed Summits from 2013, 2012, 2011 Day 1, 2011 Day 2, and 2011 Highlights on this weblog and you can see they have predicted the course of the industry.  This year we ran a post conference workshop on the 20th Sept entitled, “Independent Review of Telecom APIs” that provided a fun, frank and independent review of the status of the market including many detailed case studies to help attendees identify where to place their bets for 2014.  I was fortunate to have with me in the workshop:

  • Dan Burnett, chief Scientist at Tropo, one of the editors of the WebRTC spec, and author of ‘The WebRTC book’ I recently reviewed.
  • Jean Deruelle, GM and co-founder of Telestax. Mobicents SIP Servlets lead. Ex Member of JBoss, on the open source Mobicents Communications Platform.
  • Juan Mateu, CEO of Solaimes, who continues to build out the most important aspect of RCS after interop / roaming, that is the APIs as A2P is what will drive RCS not the wishful thinking on P2P OTT competition.
  • And the founders of, Luis and Philippe .  Check out the new Apidaze CEO, Richard Lalande, previously the co-founder of SFR – wow!  Philippe Sultan wrote the book on Asterisk (in French) and developed and maintained unified communications applications based on opensource software (Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, Kamailio, ejabberd, Red5).  Luis Borges Quina is a serial entrepreneur and the driving force behind Apidaze.

I reviewed the status of Telecom APIs, to help attendees understand the reality behind the vendor and analyst hype, a sample of the slides are shown below.  The presentation covered:

  • The Painful Facts! – “No developed market telco has successfully engaged mobile application developers with Telecom APIs.”  However, we do see success from the likes of Telefonica and Telecom Italia in using Telecom APIs internally and with their existing ecosystem.  I think we’re nearly there on industry understanding that “the money in not (at least initially) in the long tail.”
  • Why do telcos need APIs? – API simply reduce business friction by making it easy for software systems to work together using existing well understood web technology that any IT person can understand.  Then I reviewed what happens if telcos do nothing with Telecom APIs, and hence become the networks of last resort.
  • Where are Telecom API going? – A quick review of the landscape with the important difference between an API publisher’s community and API manager’s community.  I think we’re nearly there on the industry’s understanding of this important difference as well.
  • What needs to change? – Strategic vendors are limiting telcos ability to innovate in services, and telcos need to take control through focusing on customers and services by making communications the essential spice of every business ecosystem and deliver more services to customers – both of these are enabled by Telecom APIs.  There is an important cultural change required, as telcos have stifled innovation with a litany of excuses, as described in the slides.    The most important thing a telco must focus on is creating the process and culture to support hundred of service launches and service updates every year.
  • I wrapped up with the need to take an ecosystem-based approach as we’re exploring in Telecom Application Developer Manifesto and the Telecom Application Developer Summit (TADS).

Jean gave an introduction to TeleStax and RestComm (which implements the Twilio API to make it easy for developers).  Then focused on an excellent case study about HealthSense in using Telecom APIs to help baby boomers age safely, which included a demo.  The detailed case study and real-word demo provided the attendees with significant and detailed insight on both the technology and business opportunity.

Juan from Solaiemes focused on three case studies using their network-based RCS (Rich Communications Suite) API:

  • Bank using joyn API for self-service
  • Telco using joyn API for self-service
  • Leading IVR/contact vendor (Voxeo now part of Aspect) adding a new channel using the RCS telco API

Some telcos are focusing on the RCS device API that can lead to problems in how the joyn clients implement those APIs.  The benefit of a network API based approach is developers can embed RCS in any app or service and makes it easy to create B2C (Business to Consumer) services like chat bots and other types of CRM.

Dan from Tropo gave a great review on the importance of making voice simple, from SIP, through CallML, to simple APIs and web scripting (native code) that work both on the end-points of the call (Tropo and Phono), but also within the call (Ameche).  In-call is a unique aspect of a telco’s network and the source of much unique innovation.  Dan then reviewed several real-world case studies including Crunched and myaNUMBER, with lots of lots of service ideas made possible by Tropo, Phono and Ameche.

Luis and Philippe from Apidaze finished on what for me really opened my eyes to the point Dan made on making it easy for developers.  They’ve put together an impressive portal, that makes it exceptionally easy for enterprise developers to cut and paste together an impressive set of communication capabilities into their business processes.  Their case study was for the number 1 affiliate network in Europe across web and mobile, with 4.200 customers (advertisers), with 90 million transactions a year, and 5 billion € sales generated through its affiliate network.  Simply adding voice to advertising raised revenue by 15%, and using the APIDAZE SDK easily extends these capabilities with WebRTC.

By the end of the workshop the attendees saw the reality of Telecom APIs, , the clear and present opportunity from all the quantified case studies, understood the miss-steps taken over the past decade, and the need to take an ecosystem-based approach as we’re exploring in Telecom Application Developer Manifesto and the Telecom Application Developer Summit (TADS).