How Service Providers Can Leverage APIs to Differentiate in B2B
There are several approaches service providers can take to use API service exposure to differentiate and grow revenue in business markets.
For telecom operators, the hunt for new sources of revenue and new ways to differentiate and gain a competitive advantage is always on. As communication service providers (CSPs) continue seeking alternative revenue streams, they are trying to serve the business segment better, including enterprise and SME/SMB customers. The advent of SDN/NFV has provided operators with the underlying technology to address enterprises’ dynamic needs cost-effectively. In addition to investing in virtualization initiatives, forward-thinking CSPs are also banking on API service exposure as a means to foster innovation and catalyze cross-industry collaboration. There are several approaches service providers can take to use API service exposure as a means to differentiate and grow revenue in business markets.
What Value Does Service Exposure Offer?
Leading global operators are increasingly focused on the enterprise market because of the still untapped revenue potential that dedicated B2B services represent. Service exposure, combined with newer virtualization initiatives, provides service providers with opportunities to open up new markets and generate additional revenue from the customers and assets they already have in place. By providing secure access to data and information about customers and their preferences and enabling developers to create new services that cater to industry verticals, network operators can use the developer community’s creativity to launch unique services, with the network acting as a platform for service creation and service delivery.
Which APIs Make Sense?
To enable this collaborative and powerful approach to serving enterprise markets, it is critical for service providers to offer a compelling and differentiated set of APIs that enable new complex services, can weave together in innovative ways and which leverage multiple CSP assets. Examples of APIs that many service providers are well positioned to provide include:
- Core communications services APIs: These include services like rich messaging (SMS, MMS, RCS); rich voice (OTT/WebRTC, RCS HD voice); rich video (streaming media, WebRTC) and complex services based on one or more of video conferencing; IPTV; PBX/IVR; call center; and unified communications.
- IT services APIs: These comprise business and operations support system (BSS and OSS) functions, such as carrier billing, charging and in-app payment, authentication, subscriber profiles and combinations of these and other functions such as an advertising API that combines messaging, location, and customer profiles.
- Identity Management APIs: These allow subscribers to share their private resources with a third party without having to provide their own security credentials. These resources could be photos, videos, contact lists, location, billing and spending habits, profiles and more. This API helps provide access and security to users’ accounts and safely enables an app to access and use subscriber resources.
- Device APIs: These provide connectivity and platform access as mobile and other types of device functions are developed as HTML5 applications.
- Infrastructure control APIs: Developers can use these APIs to control the way the infrastructure responds to their application. For example, these APIs can expose bandwidth on demand, cloud provisioning and application optimization capabilities.
- Business service or enterprise APIs: These can comprise IoT-based home monitoring or M2M, which enrich the ecosystems being built up around such services.
Why Expose APIs?
By exposing APIs to strategic partners, operators will be able to deliver more innovative business models with outside partners, such as ICT service providers, application providers, resellers and enterprise customers themselves. APIs can also enable a service provider to change its channel strategy from a push model, where the operator creates all the services and packages for its channel partners, to a pull model where the operator’s channel partners create the solutions and embed the service provider’s network, billing and customer service capabilities with little or no custom requirements for the operator’s developer teams to fulfill. Service exposure via API has fueled the digital revolution in consumer markets. Now, service providers have a great opportunity to leverage this proven concept and engineer it at an industrial scale to win in B2B markets.