Partnership ecosystems: Where innovation meets new revenue
July 22, 2020 - Martin Morgan
Martin Morgan, VP Marketing at Openet, explores why partnership ecosystems are pivotal for operators to monetise enterprise services.
Now more than ever, we’re seeing more collaboration in the telecoms industry. Instead of working against each other, the industry is coming together to boost the pace of innovation. This is seeing tangible successes, with many associations and ecosystems forming to help operators deliver new services quickly and more cost efficiently.
In order to maximize their return on investment of building 5G networks operators are looking beyond consumer services. 5G offers the opportunity for operators to enter the enterprise market. This involves more than selling fast connectivity. The opportunity is for operators to claim a central place in the 5G value chain by providing a wide range of services that can be delivered over 5G. In a 5G world, we’ll see platform-driven partner ecosystems form an important part of 5G monetisation, giving operators the ability to enter new enterprise markets without requiring vertical-specific expertise and knowledge. Network slicing will be key in unlocking this huge revenue opportunity as it’ll give operators the ability to sell enterprise services, according to SLA-grade requirements. But monetizing these new partnerships and making the 5G B2B2X dream a reality will require the right tools—so what do these look like?
The partnership ecosystem opportunity
5G networks are currently being deployed globally, promising ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), massive machine type communications (mMTC) and a huge increase in data speeds. The possibilities of a 5G-enabled world are expansive, from connected smart factories and warehouses, reliant on IoT sensors, to remote surgeries and autonomous cars. For operators, this is an exciting opportunity to enter new markets and verticals—ones that they have perhaps never been a part of before.
Doing so is easier said than done however, and while operators are experts in running the IT systems that provide control, monetisation and analysis of services on the network, they lack the vertical-specific expertise and knowledge to develop these new enterprise vertical use cases. To bridge this knowledge gap, operators must join forces with partners to bring these new products and services to market. Today however, the number of partnerships an operator can form is limited due to the time and effort it takes. What’s needed is a new approach to openness, collaboration and the creation of platform-driven ecosystems.
To achieve this, operators need to build cloud-based 5G partnership platforms where 5G service partners can sign up to work with service providers to deliver a specific service of their choice—imagine an app store but for 5G services. Creating this platform-driven partner ecosystem will in turn make it easier for service providers to expand their partner relationships in order to create a vast network of partners, and develop unique service offerings.
The success of 5G partnership platforms relies heavily on the 5G Network Exposure Function (NEF); this facilitates a robust and secure access to exposed network services and capabilities. Exposing these network capabilities through APIs allows enterprises to create their own network services on-demand and sees operators become central to this partnership ecosystem by acting as enablers. Couple these partnership ecosystems with network slicing, and operators will find themselves able to offer new services, based on individual SLA-grade requirements, for a variety of verticals. Doing so will mean operators will be able to monetise their network in a way that was never previously possible with previous generations of wireless technology, but they can only do that with the correct monetisation tools.
Monetising a partnership ecosystem
Recent research found that managing and monetising 5G services is a business challenge for nearly 80% of CSPs, with most global operators still relying on legacy infrastructure. These legacy systems simply won’t do in a platform-driven 5G ecosystem world; this is especially important when we think about the complexity that network slicing creates for monetisation. Operators wanting to deliver new services based on slices with different QoS options will require convergent charging systems, with different monetisation rules that can be changed and modified according to the slice or service it serves.
Doing so will see operators play a pivotal role in creating 5G and digital services marketplaces. These marketplaces will rely on these partnership ecosystems and will allow enterprises of all types to trial, use, and purchase services from one place, or portal. Customers could log onto this and order services as well as build enterprise bundles and have them delivered and activated ‘on demand’, according to their need. These marketplaces will eventually span a multitude of services, and serve to enhance all aspects of society—from healthcare, via the medium of telemedicine and remote surgery, all the way through to logistics via drone delivery and virtual shopping. They will be vast and so too will their varying monetisation requirements—operators therefore must have the necessary agility and flexibility required to make this 5G dream a reality.
Now is the time for operators to lead the charge in developing partnership ecosystems and creating future 5G marketplaces. These ecosystems mean operators and their enterprise partners can harness APIs and open ways of working to quickly develop and monetise the latest 5G services. 5G capabilities like network slicing create new opportunities for operators to guarantee QoS for individual services and monetise them appropriately and in real-time. But operators can only do that if they have the right support systems in place to quickly and cost-effectively monetise 5G services quickly and easily. As 5G edges closer, now is the time to make the right investments to ensure operators become key players in the B2B2X opportunity.
Article first published on RCR Wirelesss here.