What is it about APIs that make them a hot topic across the industry today? A key factor of the digitalization of industries today is centered around customer experiences, the automation of BSS & OSS operations, as well as back-office operations.
You cannot browse any telecom industry website or attend any telecom conference without running into the topic of APIs. Why is this? I see two main drivers, digitalization, and the search for new revenue streams.
Industries generally, and telecom specifically, are going through a process of digitalization. A key aspect of this is that all customer journeys with the service provider should be digital with no human steps. This drives automation of the back office and, to enable this, multiple APIs are needed. These APIs execute various telco BSS & OSS operations actions. To fully digitalize, there must be APIs for the whole service lifecycle, including all aspects of creating, modifying, and ceasing.
The second, and more interesting in my view, is the search for new revenue streams. The service provider can expose multiple APIs that cover many different telcos (commercial & network) capabilities (such as location and identity). IT applications can then be made network aware by calling these APIs and paying the service provider for using them. This exposure of network capabilities through the APIs effectively makes the network a platform for others to use and consume. We have seen huge growth in the wider industry of software platforms and the associated emergence of significant new revenue streams – the public cloud is a good example of this.
Historically nearly all applications were over-the-top (ignoring the network), and no monies were passed to the service provider. With many modern applications/solutions we see them starting to demand more from the network, with use cases including AR, VR, and AI; as well as enterprise applications such as Industrial IoT and smart factories. Network APIs will enable these modern applications to interact with the network. A network API platform can enable such things as differentiated network control, location, and access to other network services not previously possible.
These easily used APIs should create a vibrant community of IT developers across many industries building network-aware applications/solutions. Each API call to the service provider becomes an opportunity for monetization. These could result in significant new recurring revenue streams for the service provider.
What's it all about - Network APIs & Open Gateway?
In 2023, the GSMA launched Open Gateway, a framework for common network APIs to provide universal access to operator networks for application developers. How will this transform telcos?