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Expose, Expose … and Expose Some More

January 25, 2022 - David Hovey

Defining, combining, commercialising and exposing the unparalleled technological feature-set of the 5G Network.

I would like to start by finding a subject on which we can agree. May I suggest that we accord ourselves a collective sage nod of the head that we can select, and celebrate, a global technology “Platform” that has truly transformed the world around us. Let’s stay with a single example to keep the conversation tight and on track.

How about .. the “Mobile Device OS Platform”. There is no question that the global duopoly of Apple and Google who have come to define this “Platform”, together with their associated marketplaces and the extraordinary leaps and bounds taken in the world of mobile devices, have created the very definition of a durable and highly fructuous win-win-win positive feedback loop.

As the devices become ever more capable, the apps get more compelling and provide richer experiences because they can leverage even more of what the devices can do. In the meantime, the marketplaces operate as global and multi-dimensional trading posts, whilst massive end-user adoption and app usage creates revenue acceleration which fuels the market, so …. the devices get more investment, and the loop spins again.

That all sounds good – but what’s gluing it all together? What hidden magic gel is ensuring that success factors are passed willingly and without friction around the actors and resultant ecosystem that exists in this virtuous circle? The answer, obviously, may be found in the story of the birds and the bees. It’s all about exposure.

Plants rely on bees in order to reproduce and so they have adapted, over time, stunning mechanisms to be more attractive to those busy bees. Flowers are the seductive and evolutive exposure mechanism that ensures a bright and productive future for the plants that do it right.

Exposure is what makes our previously described virtuous circle work. To cite a real example, Apple iOS exposes over 250,000 (!) Application Programming Interfaces (exposure APIs) to application developers, allowing them to access and integrate powerful on-board device features into their application, such as AI/ML computing, an array of physical sensors, facial/fingerprint security, haptics, etc…

Try to imagine some of your favourite mobile apps without their ability to leverage device features exposed through the device OS. Mapping apps that don’t know where you are, banking apps that don’t know who you are, or gaming apps that can’t figure out what you’re doing. It would be like watching black & white TV in a UHD 8K HDR TV world.

The marketplaces expose rich financial mechanisms that permit multi-party value chains, intrinsically linking apps, mobile OS platforms and devices. They enable redistribution of revenues and simplification of end user experience. Everything above is achieved thanks to exposure.

Like devices, our networks are getting investment – and 5G, with a 5G core network (5GC), finally presents the opportunity to truly add the network itself into our virtuous circle. It’s now time to expose the network.

Just as the microcosm of our device has made extraordinary leaps and bounds in technological advancement, the macrocosm of the network has just made this leap with the upgrade to 5GC, thanks to the addition of the 5G Network Exposure Function (NEF). Defining, combining, commercialising and exposing the unparalleled technological feature-set of the 5G Network will allow the network to become an integral part of the success for advanced applications and business ecosystems – and not just a sidelined observer.

IDC has written an excellent paper on this very topic, entitled “Network Exposure Function – Why It’s so Important to 5G Monetisation”. It may be downloaded here.

It’s like the birds and the bees – success breeds success, the better you expose what you have…

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