menu-close
search-icon
banner

All posts by Sunay Zelawat

How Industry Trends are Impacting Telecom Partnerships

Trends that are creating a shift

With democratizing access to technology, more and more people are embracing it and telecom is one of the industries which is most affected by this shift. More and more people will have mobile by 2020 and the amazing thing is the revenue of this user acquisition will be driven by data consumption as compared to voice/SMS or other traditional services which were the base of telecom offering till recent time.

Operators are sensing the shift happening in the user choices and trying to figure out ways to stay in the competition. Mobile broadband connection to increase from 55% of the total in 2016 to 73% by 2020. The number of smartphone users will reach 5.7 billion by 2020 which means more and more people will be using data as a telco service and be a part of the digital ecosystem. Mobile data is expected to grow at a CAGR of 47% till 2020.

If we see the driving factors behind this shift, OTT, content and other digital service providers have played a major role. See the below graph on how the composition of services has changed over time.

It’s not only the addition of new partners to the digital ecosystem, but the traditional wholesale is also evolving. Here are the new trends which we can see happening in wholesale.

Implications on Telcos due to digitalization

Telcos no more work in silos as they are disrupted by the new age service providers hence looking for new partners to offer competitive and exciting services to its consumers. The below chart shows the changes happening in the telecom industry. This is forcing telcos to search for innovative and unique economic models.

 

New Possibilities for Telcos

These trends have opened a lot of possibilities to explore additional business avenues and try new economic models. The telco revenue mix is also changing with the partner mix as we can see in the graph and it is impacting the way telcos operate and manage partnerships in a traditional format. Hence the partner lifecycle management is also becoming imperative for telcos to embrace the digital revolution. For example, there will be 25 billion connected things by 2025 with enterprise verticals as the main drivers. Blockchain in telco has so far been limited to roaming but experimentation could take this further, especially if eSIM came to smartphones.

Smartphone connection will increase to 79% of the total mobile connection bringing in new customers. Over a fifth of the world’s markets will have launched 5G by 2020, spending a combined $244 billion on networks in the process which will bring new capabilities for telcos.

How Telcos can Embrace Digitalization Successfully

The need of the hour is a unified solution which can cater to all the requirement of the ecosystem. The system should be able to provide visibility for everyone in the ecosystem to establish trust among the partners. Right from efficiently managing the partner onboarding, to partner settlements and dispute management, the system should be able to make the whole journey seamless for both traditional and digital service partners. The below image shows some of the capabilities of the system.

This unified solution will allow telcos to transition through the changing paradigm and add agility and scalability to the business to embrace any new technology and consumer behavioral shift.

To learn how telcos can leverage partnerships to gain competitive advantage

Watch the Webinar now!

Choosing the Right Converged Partner Management Solution

What is a Converged Partner Management Solution?

Converged partner management is a unified solution which caters to the entire gamut of partner needs of a telecom operator. The platform addresses the needs of both traditional and digital partners by spreading across different domains and helps to handle the complex relationships between the suppliers and vendors of the telecom operator.

Why you need a Converged Partner Management Solution

Over the last decade, digitalization has transformed the communication service provider (CSP) landscape. It has created a need to achieve market differentiation in response to the evolving customer profiles and prevail over emerging challenges from disruptive services. Telco revenues from legacy voice and SMS are on the decline and there is high CAPEX associated with network innovation. Telcos can turn this around by evolving as Digital Service Providers (DSPs). But the biggest challenge in this transformation is to bring both traditional and new digital partners together to create an integrated industry specific solution. But the success rate of these partnerships and integrations is very low as it comes with multiple challenges. Inefficient partner onboarding process, tariff management for multiple plans, billing and invoice reconciliation while taking OPEX into consideration. Based on a research 70% of partnerships fail due to trust and clarity of business relationships. There is a need of sustainable partnerships which can create value for everyone in the ecosystem.

In this scenario, a converged partner management approach proves beneficial from both business and service perspectives. From the business perspective, a converged platform will help to visualize the partners’ business. It will consolidate partners into a single contractual binding and bundle the offerings, settlements, and payments across the entire domains. A converged partner management solution packs features that give CSPs freedom to experiment with NGN service offerings such as content management without having to worry about the scalability of its billing function. The solution enables telecom operators to have all their business partnerships in one single place and makes it easier to access information and make efficient business decisions. This is especially important as different partners insist different models in measuring the business impact and ROI.

How to Choose the Right Converged Partner Management Solution

Selecting a partner management solution to manage your partnerships efficiently is not an easy decision. The solution should complement the operations of the service provider and offers features and functionalities that remove operational errors and smoothen the partner management process.

Below are the key features you should look for in a Converged Partner Management Solution

Partner Self Onboarding: The partner onboarding platform can support self-boarding, manual onboarding and in some cases, a mix of both. The self-boarding platform will play a significant role in the digital era, giving the DSP the ability to perform most of the onboarding activities by automating the process like partner scoring on configurable KPIs and other partner details.

Partner Scoring- Pre-Onboarding & Post Onboarding: Partner scoring can assist an operator to take pre and post onboarding decisions based on business KPIs, and this can be combined with standard agreed contracts to make the complete process automated.

Defining the Partner Business: Defining the businesses of both traditional and digital partners is a complex process especially in the context of service offerings, revenue sharing and service agility. The business for traditional partners such as interconnect revolved around exchange of voice, SMS and usage of other services so the contract includes bilateral deals for settling the traffic and event rates. On the other hand, contract with digital partners like OTT players, content providers, VAS companies, MSOs, integrators, app developers, IoT and M2M service providers involves complex revenue sharing model as the settlement may be based on usage of resources, impressions/ clicks on the website, readings from metered equipment, among others. A converged partner management solution will help telcos to implement revenue sharing models that can be fixed, shared or a hybrid depending on the nature of the partner business.

End-to-End Billing and Settlement: Helps the business to define rules and apply them to the events acquired to generate the final revenue figure to both the DSP and the partner. The system achieves this through accurate rating and charging, real-time updates, and on-time bill and statement generation.

ETL (extract, transform, load) to Track and Process Events: The ETL tool is required to process different types of events from various sources and transform them to respective entities by extracting the relevant information. Considering the dynamic and open nature of the DSP ecosystem, the ETL tool should be flexible enough to handle the frequent onboarding of new partners and build mediation capability supporting ingestion and normalization of data from multiple partners in different formats.

Partner Communication and Self-Care: A converged platform should enable a consolidated communication portal to manage all the operational aspects of the business including contractual updates, bills, settlements, credit debit notes, trouble ticketing, and dispute management. The portal should also be integrated to the backend systems to orchestrate each operational aspect towards the respective system for action and resolution. Finally, it should feature open APIs that enable quick integration with third-party systems.

Visibility of Partner Business: Real-time visibility ensures transparency across the businesses. Through real-time analytics of reports, alerts and notifications, the converged platform can enhance the visibility and reporting across different channels.

all-in-one-PS

Are You Ready?

New age partnerships require transparency and trust between the partners to create a robust ecosystem. A Converged Telecom Partner Management solution will help telcos to manage these new age partnerships efficiently and enable them to drive new business models. This will also reduce the time to market for new offers and packages and allow telcos and partners to acquire new customers and add new revenue streams.

Are you ready for a converged partner management solution to succeed in the new age digital ecosystem?

Download the Webinar recording!

Strategies for Telcos to drive the digital economy Part 2

The internet waits for no one! It is changing the way businesses run and in today’s era, digital economy is not a distant dream but a reality.

As promised in my last blog, I will elaborate on the key strategies that I disclosed in my previous blog which will help CSPs in their digital transformation journey to become Digital Service providers and thus drive the economy.

Core Rediscovery – As said earlier, being digital does not always mean discovering new revenue streams of the digital world. It also means doing the basics brilliantly. Ensuring innovation can be brought with in the traditional services. It also means identification of a new way(s) of doing business to pull in more revenue, a classical example in interconnect business is Origin based billing & routing. Other ways of innovation are Direct CSP billing – MVNOs to cater to niche markets to indirectly gain customer base and revenues. SaaS models like billing-as-a-service to support smaller partners. DVBT2 – Digital Video Broadcasting, SMS based Cab booking, Toll free based calling Apps, Secure SMS/Missed Call – Mobile Banking etc. Rating and discounting models to define rating plans that can also assist in bringing in more revenue generation opportunities for existing and new traditional partners. These can be revenue share models or the new age models like pay as you go.

Discover New – There is absolutely no denial that digital world is surely opening new revenue streams for CSPs. The mantra to grab a share of this pie is to act fast. CSPs need to establish a fail fast strategy so that they can identify core area of strength early in the digitalization journey. Fail fast strategy shall enable them in continuing only with those new streams that make sense to the eco system in which they do their business. No doubt, IoT & M2M are the most fascinating areas in digital world. Other areas where CSPs can generate revenue are APIs, Analytics as a service, supporting new age MVNOs like Uber and Micheline (Tier-as-a-service), smart homes solutions provided by Qivicon founded by Deutsche Telekom. Digitalization is fueled by the capabilities of operators, and hence the outreach of the operators is now domain agonistic.

Collaboration Platform –With digitalization, difference between a partner and the end subscriber relationship is becoming blur. Partners also need attention and care like your end subscribers. CSPs will fascinatingly find innovative partners in garage companies, startups, small organization etc. Hence it is terribly essential that CSPs have a collaboration platform that addresses partner empowerment issues.

There are two ways in which operators can bring in novelty. One is by revolutionizing their own, which we see in the case of the telecom giants acquiring platform that enables the disruptive capabilities inhouse.  The Another way is to look for vendors who can provide them a converged platform to leverage the entire gamut of the partner ecosystem. The end goal is to stay ahead of the competition by providing traditional and digital services to end customers.

Customer Experience – Telecom market used to be oligopoly in nature, wherein the major players of telecom industries use to commodify the subscribers to mint money out of them.  Whereas now, in a perfectly competitive transition, we need to shift the paradigm to make customer and CSP relationship more human centric. This will help a CSP in designing the offerings to ensure consumer retention and to win new customers. The new age subscriber is demanding in nature and prefers an operator who is agile, innovative and cost effective.

Below is the survey shared by Capgemini, which shows low net promotor scores of mobile operators.

 

mobile-operators

 

This survey also talks about that 58% of customers are willing to switch to Digital only service provider and high value customers are more willing to change. Unless operators reform their customer satisfaction approach, the NPS will stay low and operators will keep losing revenue and customer base to digital players.

Operational Efficiency – Digitalization will lead to increase in number of partner relationships. Soon a CSP, during its transformation journey, will experience partner explosion. Digital services will result in plethora of data getting generated. To keep things under check, a CSP must bring in efficiency by making its operations also digital. Operations can be digitalized by automation, reducing redundancy of systems and data, seeking help from domain and system experts (consultation and managed services), empowering partners with self-care capabilities. CSPs design their partner handling capabilities both in terms of processes and solutions considering mostly trusted partners, hence the partnerships are also limited and the systems are also multi step and user dependent. In case of digitalization, CSPs need to associate with multiple entities who can bring in renovation, hence will see surge in partnerships. To handle partner explosion, processes of on-boarding and partner care should be particularly efficient. Partners are the new age customers, they are aware that they bring innovation and new revenue stream for a CSP, hence they should be treated with lot of care. Having an efficient eco-system for partner will surely bring in satisfaction and shall maintain a healthy partnership.

Expense Optimization – Expenses are inversely proportional to profit. An aspiring digital operator must form a strategy around cost reduction. Based on a research house, software industry is gradually moving towards convergent approach from siloed ecosystem. This helps in reducing overhead of investing in multiple systems. Leveraging solutions that are based on open source technologies is another way of optimizing hefty recurring costs. If a telco can bring in operational efficiency, expense optimization will happen automatically.

This transformation will be a challenging journey for both CSP and its partners, but this will surely help an operator to rediscover itself and shall bring in more agility to accept and act on whatever comes down the path. Though there are many other factors and strategies that can be adopted along with the mentioned ones, these 6 strategies are our take on the transformation journey. However, it is very important for an operator to clearly identify the purpose of its modification, but it is completely okay to move step by step instead of adopting all 6 strategies at once. To start with the transformation, CSPs should reexamine the existing offerings, existing expense optimization plan, make the current operations efficient and ensure customer satisfaction in the existing services offered. Once there is a clarity in becoming digital in current line of business, identification of new streams will automatically fall in place.

We are discussing these strategies in detail at our booth (Booth # 5F10, Hall 5) in MWC 2018. Meet us in the booth to know more about how we can help in your transformation journey to drive the digital economy.

Strategies for Telcos to drive the digital economy Part 1

In an ever-changing state of communication, innovation has become quintessential force that is driving the digital economy. Looking at the current trends, every organization wants to go digital. Being digital holds different meaning for different organizations based on the nature of their business.

But when it comes to the telecom world, going digital is more of a catchup rather than a race to be a pioneer. A lot of non-telco players are already digitalized from day one, and that too by using CSP’s platform and customer base. Rise of OTT players and other disruptors have done a significant damage to the traditional voice and text business as well. The consulting leaders such as Ovum and McKinsey predict the success of OTT players in capturing a significant share of telco services.

 

OTT's share

 

As the number of years ascends, the revenue graph takes an inverse fall and this analysis makes it important for CSPs, who have the best of world resources in the form of capital, customer base, infrastructure and brand name, to start doing things differently by shifting their focal point from just a traditional to a mix of traditional and digital services. Now is the time for the CSPs to take the process of metamorphosis seriously.

(Based on GSMA figures,) The period starting from 2016 to 2020 will witness substantial ballooning of the data and connectivity indicating clearly that digitalization is going to play a pivotal role in service providers growth and thus will help in balancing the loss incurred due to reducing revenues from traditional services.

 

mobile-broadband-connection

 

The transition from communications service provider (CSP) to Digital Service Provider (DSP) cannot be a quarantined approach. It requires partnership with innovators/disruptors to bring in new services and experiences. Confederation of progressive vendors with digitalized vision is indispensable in providing solutions that can support this transition. CSP to DSP transformation approach cannot be concentrated around only new revenue streams. Industry experts have defined DSP as a service provider whose, not only services, but also operations are under the single umbrella of digitalization. One who provides services as well as operations, both digitalized.

We have a strong view that there are lot other areas which are still left untapped.

Looking at the current scenarios, there are 6 key strategies that are listed based on the idea of helping CSPs in increasing their revenues by bringing innovation and creativity in their existing services, acceptance of new technologies, sustaining demanding customer base and reducing operational & transformation expenses. Below is the list of our 6 key digitalization strategies that are recommended for a progressive CSP during its transformation.

In my next blog I will elaborate on these strategies in detail and discuss how it will help CSPs to transform themselves into DSPs and thus help them to drive the digital economy. Stay tuned!

 

transformation-strategies

 

IoT Settlements – Leverage the world of opportunity

The Scenario

Of late IoT has gained a lot of attention and every operator is at least thinking of leveraging this latest platform to offer innovative products, but the big question is how?

Many operators are relying on their vendors to come up with IoT use cases, the challenge here is that even the Vendors are still in process of deep diving as IoT is still a niche market.

One of the major factor that makes IoT an unknown area is the lack of visible use cases to be seen in our day to day life, though the developed counties have made significant progress, developing world is yet to embrace the “Smart” systems. With lot of emphasis on Smart cities, IoT business is here to stay.

When it comes to IoT Settlements, both Telcos and Vendors should start thinking out of the traditional wholesale approach. Telcos are looking for vendors who can support them with their traditional as well as new business areas with the centralized solution.

The Concept

Understanding “Internet of Things” concept is very simple, it is a network of “Things”. Things are physical objects that can be added to a network, have sensors and can be controlled using software. These things can be as common as day to day devices like a Fridge, a Car, a thermostat and so on. The purpose of connecting ‘things’ is to have a centralized access to their features and to control enormous data they are capable of producing.

One very obvious fact that can be identified from IoT is to have a medium for keeping things connected. This creates an immense opportunity for telecom operators to provide medium for supporting the connected items. According to Gartner by 2020, the Internet of Things will grow to 26 billion units installed which excludes connected PCs and smartphones. This will add $1.9 trillion to the global economy. Intel estimates 31 billion devices to be connected by 2020. According to Cisco by 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected, whereas Morgan Stanley feels that the number is much higher and it can go up to 75 billion.  The good news is, there is a substantial growth opportunity for everyone, right from smart device manufacturers to the smart service providers everyone can get their share of business from IoT.

The Process

Let us consider an example of a smart home. There are multiple interconnected devices which are installed for security, entertainment, utility etc. These are all connected to a centralized hub, which in turn is connected to the IoT platform. IoT platform consumes the data generated by these smart devices for insights and to make sense of this huge data.

To establish this network of devices connected to hub and IoT Platform, internet is needed. This gap is filled by the Telcos. So bringing in smartness requires lot of partners to work together. Let us enrich above example to get more clear understanding of the multi partner involvement.

A  leading furniture retailer has introduced a new Smart Home Solution, where consumer can install smart devices such as TV, Fridge, Air conditioner, Washing Machine, Radio, lighting solution, thermostat and security solution. Finally these devices are connected to hub to have a centralized control of the devices.

A smart Hub ensures all smart devices speak the same language, this enables user to remotely control the devices even if the user is far away from the home. To bring in more intelligence the data gets transmitted from smart devices to the IoT Platform. The IoT platform analyzes the data, apply rules and makes devices more smart based on the usage patterns.

Finally the most important piece of this setup is facilitated by a Telecom operator to ensure internet connectivity for all the devices to communicate. Telecom operators can also bundle voice and SMS services along with data to take actions based on the defined rules. E.g. in case there is a security breach, device can initiate a call & SMS to the owner and insurance company to inform this breach.

So in this particular eco system, we have seen multiple partners working together to establish a Smart Home solution.  Similarly there are multi partner IoT use cases for Smart Car Fleet, Smart Healthcare, Smart Grids, etc. In all the IoT use cases irrespective of the catered domain, Telecom Operators and IoT platform vendors will always play a significant role, directly or indirectly they will contribute to billions of dollars in the IoT economy.

For a Telco, providing backbone is not the only important thing in IoT space. With the complex partnership models, Partner Management, Billing and Settlements are other crucial activities that will result in the Cost and Revenue identification.

The Solution – Partner Management, Billing & Settlement

With the cut throat competition and reducing margins in the traditional Wholesale business, operators are adding new dimensions to their business with immense revenue generation capabilities of Internet of Things.

A new age partner Settlement solution cannot limit its functionalities to just traditional business models. There is a requirement for settlement solutions to be more agile in accepting and delivering new business requirements with short time to market. If we talk about IoT for a Telco, now partners are not limited to Voice or Content providers, rather the list is getting much diversified with partners coming in from various domains like health care, agriculture, utility, etc.

For a smart home solution, a telecom operator can provide IoT backbone to a furniture retailer , where the Telco will ensure internet connectivity and will enable IoT platform in collaboration with a cloud computing platform. Here the furniture retailer becomes the Telecom operator’s customer and the cloud platform provider is Telco’s vendor.

Partner Management & Settlement solution deployed at Telco should take care of partner (Customer & Vendor) lifecycle management, easy on-boarding, business transparency along with IoT billing & settlements. Partner Settlement solution should also be capable of managing plethora of Meta data that will be provided by the IoT Platform for billing and Partner analysis. The volume of IoT data can be much more compared to traditional usage data.

The system should also be capable of providing innovative products and should do billing accordingly. Key point here is to have personalized plans created based on the business need. Some of the products that can be offered as a part of IoT platform are:

  1. Flat Rating – Flat rates for data, call and SMS for each units.
  2. Fixed Charges – Fixed product price for unlimited data, voice & SMS
  3. One time & Recurring Charges – Product to support one time and recurring charge capabilities
  4. Device Based – Charge based on number of devices connected
  5. Slab & Tired based – Data, Voice and SMS to be defined, rates varies based on the slabs & Tiers
  6. Pay-as-you-go – Charge only based on the usage, deduction from Prepaid Balance
  7. Cross Domain Products – IoT clubbed with content or other interactive services

IoT billing & settlement is not just limited to the Telco and their direct partners, it has to be extended to the associated MVNOs in from of Billing as a service. There can be a multi-level partner involvement as well, say based on the movie genre analysis information available in meta data generated by a Smart TV, a latest movie can be suggested for subscription through an entertainment company , and hence the entertainment company can become 2nd level Advert/Content partner.

IoT is still evolving, there can be many aspect that are yet to be explored. This is the right time for Telcos, platform and equipment vendors to start investing in IoT to stay ahead of the competition.

Infographic :

partner-settlement-solution

Get Started with Subex