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Platformization at Telcos

Telecom service providers operate in a highly competitive environment. There has been continuous erosion of profitability around their core services related to connectivity and content. Platformization is a means for the Telcos to capitalize on new revenue generation opportunities by leveraging their networks, infrastructure, IT systems and customer data.

TM Forum defines a platform strategy as comprising of two key elements:
• Creation of digital ecosystems such as marketplaces that connect consumers of goods/services with the providers.
• Providing platform based IT architecture that supports the digital ecosystems and enables the digital business model for the Telco and its customers.

Telcos can offer a variety of services on top of their platforms
• Infrastructure as a Service:  Most Telcos offer cloud based services that enable their clients to deploy their applications on the Telco's cloud. The clients have the ability to manage the both the application and the cloud environments.
 Platform as a Service: Telcos can provide standard services on top of their IT or Networks and expose the same for their partners/customers. Eg: Billing and assurance services that can be used by Small and Medium enterprises.
• Software as a Service: Telcos can have applications that that they can provide as a service to their customers or partners. Eg: Data analytics applications, Applications for B2B customers to manage the communications services for their employees.
• Network as a Service: Telcos can offer network functionality as a service. Eg: hosting networks for MVNO's, network security services etc.
• Digital ecosystems or marketplaces: The telco can act as an intermediary to connect providers and consumers of services. The telco, with its vast customer data and extensive infrastructure, is in a position to provide a seamless experience across all the partied involved in the ecosystem. Eg: Smart Home services, eHealth services etc.

In order to expose any of the above services to customers and partners outside the Telco's ecosystem, a standard set of API's need to be available. These services should be in industry standard formats, using common language and guidelines.

My current client, a leading Telco in the ANZ region, is working towards improving its revenue streams via platformization. They have taken a step in this direction by transforming a set of key services into a 'Common Service Model' (CSM) aligned to the industry standard SID framework. These services are based on Oracle's Fusion middleware. The services have been modularized to deliver specific capabilities and are shareable across other sister companies.

These services also serve as a basis for enabling the DXL (Data Exchange Layer) required to support the digital micro services. The CSM SOA services serve as a standardized back-end for the digital front end applications. The micro services framework will be used to deliver a truly digital experience for the Telco's customers.

Common Services and Open API's that allow exchange of data and information across the Telco-Customer-Partner ecosystem are an important enabler for a platform based business model. And platformization is imperative for Telcos to generate new revenue streams in order to survive in a highly competitive market.

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