Telcos must steer API efforts

I thought it worth taking a moment to review some of the companies I’ve talked to over the past six months that are either running their business on telecom Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), or helping others run their businesses on Telecom APIs.
 
Common themes from the interviews are:
  • Focus on running the core business. Telecom APIs means a business can focus on its core operations not messing around with voice servers or unreliable third party services that are difficult to work with.
  • Lowest Total Cost of Ownership. Support matters, availability matters, downtime costs businesses severely. The telecom API service must be reliable and supported.
  • Reliability of voice. People just expect voice to work, and get angry when it does not. We use the term carrier-grade, but most people do not understand what that means, it’s an industry term. Simply, telecom APIs need to deliver a rock-solid service that businesses and their customers can count on.
  • Complexity at volume. Calls have many failure modes, businesses need an expert to help them know what’s normal and ensure the call/message gets through.
  • Trusted partner. Businesses are looking for more than an API, they’re looking for a partner to help them build their business, that helps them add SMS or video or speech-to-text to make their business better. Businesses need advice from someone that has their trust and is focused on their business success.
Telcos cannot just sit there, offer some APIs, run a few developer events with some self-focused evangelism, and hope that something happens. They need to build the business, and this requires marketing, sales, business development and support.
 
A developer community can be part of building a telco’s API business, but it’s optional. Rather telcos need to engage existing channels to market (e.g. enterprise sales people and partners), eat their own dog food by using telecom APIs in their solutions (internal trading systems need to be updated to accommodation sharing in success, rather than taxing internal consumers of the API), realize marketing is much more than a developer portal, engage decision makers - the list goes on.
 
Simply, copy Tropo’s secret sauce with adaptations to your specific situation.
 
Telecom APIs make business sense, and telcos must build the business both internally and externally. Sitting there and waiting for magic to happen is not a business strategy. Building the business requires more than a technology decision or the signing of a piece of paper; it requires marketing, sales, business development, and support.
 
In short, hard work!
 
Alan Quayle has 22 years experience in the telecommunication industry, focused on developing profitable new businesses in service providers, suppliers and start-ups. Visit http://alanquayle.com/2013/06/mid-year-review-on-telecom-apis/ for a more detailed version of this article.
 

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