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5G and enterprise partner ecosystems

April 22, 2020 - Joe Hogan

Openet CTO and Founder, Joe Hogan, discusses why in the enterprise 5G market, service providers can go beyond the ‘build it and they will come’ approach. Building a platform based 5G partner ecosystem can enable service providers to sell more services to more enterprise customers and generate more revenues.

One of the big questions about 5G is the lack of a specific business case. There is the ‘build it and they will come argument’ which worked well for many with 3G and 4G consumer services. With 5G service providers have an opportunity to go beyond this approach. This is especially true in the enterprise sector. The realisation that the killer app in 5G is the 5G service itself will be key to success in the enterprise market. Service providers are not expert in end user use cases – such as manufacturing, logistics, healthcare or education.  But they are expert in running and managing networks, as well as running the IT systems that can provide control, monetisation and analysis of services delivered over these networks. With 5G this places the service providers at the centre of a partner ecosystem to provide a range of enterprise 5G services.

But to do this is going to require change. Consider how long it takes for a service provider to create and sign up a new service partner. It takes a while and can be a long cumbersome process. This is partly why there’s not too many partnerships in 4G today. With 5G the opportunity to open new revenue streams by working with a wide range of partners will be significant – especially in the enterprise market where the range of use cases will be very diverse. It’s got to be easy for 5G service partners to sign up to work with service providers. Creating a platform-driven partner ecosystem will allow CSPs to quickly and cost effectively expand their partner relationships to create a vast network of partners.

Building a platform based partner ecosystem is just one topic that is covered in the new white paper from leading analyst firm Omdia and Openet called Monetisation in the 5G Era. The paper’s author, Chantel Cary, describes how partners would be onboarded:

“A dynamic partner strategy provides a platform on which enterprises – regardless of size – can be onboarded quickly as a service provider partner. During the onboarding phase, details such as contract length, SLAs, revenue sharing, and other items are made available on the platform for prospective partners to choose from; like a customer selecting their service bundle. The platform also provides a unified product catalog in which partners can make their services available, and from which they can use the service provider’s and other partner’s services already in the catalog, to develop unique service bundles. Finally, the platform also provides partners with value-added services such as white-label billing, marketing services, and data insights (e.g., insights on customers to be used to enhance marketing), all enabled via fee-based APIs”. 

This approach will enable service providers to quickly build their 5G partner ecosystem and could open up a new revenue stream via fee-based APIs. While service providers will probably have several partnerships that are more important than others (and get more attention) moving to a platform-based approach enables a wider range of partnerships which can support a wider range of enterprise customers (from SMBs to multinationals).

Having a broad range of partners, supplying a wide range of 5G enabled services opens many new revenue opportunities for service providers. They could supply security services, logistics tracking, healthcare, on-line learning, etc, etc. They could supply these direct, or even let their partners be the lead provider (e.g. offering security services) and the service providers provide the delivery mechanism (5G network) as well as back office systems (for self-care, billing, etc – which can be white labelled).

The potential is huge. Building out, supporting and monetising 5G enterprise partner ecosystems is just one example of the new services that 5G monetisation systems will need to support.  And I haven’t even mentioned network slicing – although that’s covered in the paper. We’ve come a long, long way from rating and charging for phone calls.

Download the Omdia and Openet White Paper: Monetisation in the 5G Era

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