Consumers don’t value basic connectivity as highly as the services that bring them content, social media connections and information. The connectivity provided by the likes of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, though essential to providing video from Netflix and music from Apple, for example, is usually only brought into frame when things go wrong and services are interrupted.
While it's an unenviable position for service providers, it's one they can counteract if they turn their networks into platforms that provide valuable services to an ecosystem of partners that all work toward the same goal: providing superior digital services to customers. But this isn’t about keeping enemies close; it's about finding new business opportunities in relationships with consumers and brands that use digital services.
Service providers have one of the most important assets that digital brands want—the network that provides direct access to consumers and business customers. Even though acquiring customers is expensive, service providers have existing billing relationships with customers that web-scale companies can benefit from, introducing opportunities to great partnerships.
Service providers have the ability to simplify the collaboration process with partners by offering automated tools, self-service capabilities, open APIs, flexible onboarding and product catalogs. They can run a full analysis of prospective partners to assess reliability and performance, minimizing risk of disappointing customers and ensuring the support of only the best, most valuable partners.
It is also becoming increasingly important to acknowledge the impact that network functions virtualization (NFV) will have on the relationships between service providers and their partners. As service providers embrace new technology and change how they operate as companies, the variety and volume of partnerships with third parties will proliferate in tow, especially as modernized back-office systems enable more progressive corporate cultures.
Ultimately, as long as service providers have the right partner management systems in place, they will be able to remake their networks into innovative platforms that nurture valuable and productive relationships with web-scale companies that may have once been considered competitors.
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