This blog is by Lars Lagerstrom from the Networks business of Nokia.
Am I the only one who’s noticed lately that operators seem to be missing from today’s flurry of headlines about partnerships and ecosystems? I certainly find it odd and would like to fuel the discussion on how operators should be front and center as they can really make these new ecosystems flourish. The disruptions ahead make this an ideal time to re-visit some old ideas that are taking on new life and will spice up the telecom ecosystem.
Analytics revitalizes data monetization
Remember the two-sided business models that truly place the operator at the heart of the ecosystem? Platforms that enabled operators to broker customer data were created, but somehow the business and ecosystem never really took off. The platform initiatves also died away quietly. Google hit the jackpot, but none of the operator attempts to implement such a business model scored big. Why? Sometimes the proposed data wasn’t available in a meaningful format. Sometimes the ecosystem didn’t exist. And often legislation or regulation made it impossible to utilize the data as intended.
Recent innovations in big data and analytics are now changing the game. With the help of advanced analytics, relevant information can be extracted from the masses of data. Equally important, the results can be presented in a way that doesn’t expose individual customer information yet is still highly relevant to a wide audience. This makes it possible to act and communicate ethically, which is crucial since trust is a mobile operator’s key asset, as recently highlighted by my colleague Miia in her blog.
Likewise, the pre-requisites for sharing insights within an ecosystem exist without the risk of running into regulatory, legal or ethical issues. We now see operators actively exploring the opportunities enabled by big data and analytics. For example, a global operator customer recently shared its big data monetization strategy in this “Smart Steps” video, which includes very encouraging results from the transport, public sector, infrastructure and passenger services markets.
Use orchestration to spice up your ecosystems
Orchestration is another promising value creation lever for the telecom ecosystem. Luckily it comes almost as a by-product of the huge development efforts in virtualization and Telco Cloud. End-to-end service and network orchestration is finally drawing the attention it deserves. The initial focus, quite understandably, is on how operators can do the orchestration themselves.
But imagine the enormous benefits ecosystem-wide orchestration could bring about! What if an enterprise could orchestrate the tailored services its operator provides? Capacity, response time and Quality of Service (QoS) could be assigned based on actual needs rather than massive up-front agreements. New services could be provisioned when needed instead of having to be planned many months ahead.
What if a content provider could do the same prior to a major release or event? Imagine a power company that could orchestrate the network resources it uses. On one hand, even 2G networks can satisfy the requirements for the monthly reading of ordinary power meters. On the other hand, trials conducted by Telefónica Germany and utility company E.ON concluded that the QoS features of LTE fully meet the communication requirements of power network automation. The ability to orchestrate their own services would thus bring huge benefits to enterprises and eventually to the whole ecosystem.
The telecom ecosystem offers an endless list of opportunities and the potential impact is huge. If you have followed my previous blogs, you can probably guess where I am heading. The figure here shows a high-level view of a possible ecosystem architecture. Nokia Reference Architecture for Operators provides open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to the needed functionality, such as analytics-driven data repositories, orchestration of dedicated services, selected charging information and so on. The operator’s ecosystem access platform exposes that functionality to partners and customers in the ecosystem in a controlled and secure manner.
While this may sound like a distant vision, why not design your new architecture for the Telco Cloud and Internet of Things so that it caters to the needs of the ecosystem right from the start? Nokia Reference Architecture for Operators will help you design the blueprint.
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