In a week, when Vonage USA spends $230m on Nexmo, a Communication Platform business that most of you will not have heard of, and when a traditional communication hardware provider like Genband spends a large proportion of its annual conference talking about its own “Kandy” Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) platform, many Service Providers will be wondering what is all the fuss about.
Well, it’s simple: Service Providers, Vendors, System Integrators and Developers are all trying to work out what their role is going to be in this new world of communications and they may as well have to fight for their very future and relevance.
Where the battle is going to be won and lost is by making communications relevant and in context of customers and consumers’ current and future working patterns, and help revolutionize business process or disrupt markets with new models of working. This is going to require many to have the capability and ability to move quickly and agilely whilst maintaining low costs in serving these requirements.
Gone are the days when it was about UC and Providers being proud that they have packed a whole load of irrelevant features into their UC client or equipment, often provided by slow moving vendors.
The future is about providing a platform that people can integrate and develop on, to jointly solve both specific and generic customer problems. This development may be done by the Platform provider or by enabling developers externally to access the platform and develop their own solutions on top.
Not surprisingly traditional ecosystems are also being reinvented with people realizing the majority of the value will be in providing the platform. Traditional Vendors are pitching themselves against their Service Provider customers, and System Integrators are realizing that they might own the key to accessing the development resources. Within this melee, new providers such as Twillio and Nexmo have filled this void, offering developers with a global platform on which they can develop.
At the recent Genband Conference we started to hear the Service Provider angle with CenturyLink describing how they are looking to build such a platform, which will bring them the benefit of quick and agile product development for their own customers. They will be able to go to a 2 or 3 developers with a brief of their requirements and potentially get custom differentiated apps developed cheaper and quicker than previous models.
It’s not all over for the Service providers as a couple of key questions are still to be answered in many cases:
- Who has the ability to: sell, assure, bill and deliver these applications?
- Who either has their own development resources or controls access to these resources?
- Who can provide a truly global or regional capability for customer?
- Who can translate customer business requirements into real life solutions?
- Who has the ability to potentially integrate to multiple platforms for a customer?
In up coming posts and research we are exploring these questions further, and we are already running strategy sessions with Service Providers to answer these questions.