December 20, 2018

How Digital Service Providers Need to Plan for Partners

Using the cloud for partner management programs can make DSPs the full-scale service providers they must become to succeed in the digital economy.

Today’s largest service providers support only a few hundred business partners. Compare that to an Apple or Android store where a user can find millions of apps and suddenly the roadmap for the digital service provider (DSP) becomes clearer and more complicated at the same time. DSPs need to put themselves in a position to rapidly broker access to a wide variety of partners that will constantly evolve based on demand, economics, geography or other customer demographics.

DSPs can become the trusted source for any type of service a
customer is looking for.

Cloud-to-cloud-to-customer partner integration is required to enable DSP customers to access thousands of partners of all sizes. Despite the need for these expansive partner programs, a 2017 survey of more than 100 operators by ICT Intuition, LLC revealed that only 30 percent had a partner strategy and only 21 percent had implemented dedicated partner onboarding and offboarding.

While further research indicates that those figures are expected to reach 80 percent by 2020, there is evidence that DSPs still need to work to enable seamless partner management, transactions and settlements. To scale operations and engage with thousands of partners means integrating those partners into existing catalogs, order management, CRM, billing, fulfillment and assurance systems. Not only is the scale of the network affected, but data centers and BSS/OSS solutions must also adjust to enable seamless access to partners.

Extend the Cloud to Customers

DSPs can become the trusted source for any type of service a customer is looking for by linking customers to cloud partners and becoming a centralized and trusted source for any type of service a customer might want. To actualize this, digital service providers must move to the cloud and set up partner platforms that enable rapid evaluation, certification, onboarding, offboarding and settlements.

Making this work effectively will require a partner strategy that scales all of the functional capabilities required to support thousands of partner integrations.

  • Evaluation – Use automated intelligence and analysis to determine which partner opportunities are valid and which are potentially attractive to customers. Product duration, pricing, availability and security of the partner are evaluated up front.
  • Certification – Certify selected partners with the network and resource infrastructure to ensure each can be integrated with physical and cloud infrastructure. Use an open, cloud-based partner platform to enable rapid integration and ensure interoperability.
  • On- and Offboarding – Go beyond adding a partner product to the catalog. Integrate the partner platform with product management, billing and care solutions to bundle products with existing services, dynamically modify pricing and configuration parameters, correlate transactions with customer billing and partner settlements, and enable activation, support and security.
  • Settlements – Ensure billing and revenue management solutions can be dynamically adjusted when pricing changes, promotions end or customers move on. Revenue assurance and fraud solutions must be tuned to match the dynamics of partner platforms.

Digesting the scale required to implement a fully integrated partner strategy is difficult, but DSPs that can marry partner products to digital services and rapidly deliver those offerings to customers will find increased market penetration and monetization.

DSPs have to manage scale and the ability to support thousands rather than a few hundred partners may be worth the cost. Acting as the broker to cloud products and services from providers of all types and sizes enables DSPs to take advantage of existing relationships with customers and further reinforce their brand as full-scale service providers.

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