The trends swirling around this new era of cloud-designed and software-defined connectivity may be forming into combinations that only now are becoming clear. Three of the most dynamic and promising of those trends, which are inviting increasing investment in innovation that are completely changing the "digital supply chain," are low code/no code Communications Platforms as a Service (CPaaS), fast-growing B2B API Marketplaces, including Telco API Marketplaces, and mobile broadband delivered over the 5G networks that are being lit up across the United States and around the world.
As is often the case when it comes to constantly changing ecosystems, whether open-source communities, channel distribution networks, breakaway Managed Service Providers who are bringing pure-cloud solutions to organizations of all sizes and more, regardless of how obvious it is that keeping data flowing and conversations going is a team sport – we tend to look at things in silos. We've been hard-wired to do this for some good reasons – including focus and the wisdom to be really good at one thing to succeed in a noisy world.
Breaking through the challenges of having to commercialize these and other innovative technologies may be the key that unlocks the big leaps that lead to big revenues.
One of my favorite examples of breaking down barriers between traditional areas in tech and telecom is the Linux Foundation (News - Alert)'s LF Edge, an umbrella group seeking to establish an interoperable framework at the edge of carrier networks. Spearheading this has been Arpit Joshipura. Joshipura saw how IoT would not generate its full potential without cooperation from players who largely exist in different spheres. With a knack for connecting the key components, Joshipura leveraged LF Edge to connect some of the largest tech and telco companies in the world with the start-ups that developed devices and applications to make things practical enough to work together to create value for all.
This was a pivotal moment in my observations of these related but not always connected segments of advanced technology. The Linux Foundation, in cooperation with GSMA (Project CAMARA), is influencing another confluence of technology, in this case, with the rise of B2B marketplaces, especially API marketplaces.
Cloud-based services have been synonymous with SaaS (News - Alert), but there is another way to consume cloud services in a more targeted fashion, and that is through cloud-based APIs. The hyperscalers – AWS, Azure, and Google (News - Alert) – offer APIs that a business can tap to enhance their applications. Likewise, traditional technology companies like IBM, Oracle, Dell, and Cisco also offer APIs. Both categories have their e-commerce domains and showcases, and third-party APIs are available but often with a hefty markup.
But, the API marketplace play that has really caught my attention is the kind being deployed telcos.
API marketplaces will turn out to be some of the most essential platforms of this decade because APIs literally bring things together in a way that supports increasingly sophisticated services. In the "Crossfit" world of tech and telco, they are and will continue to disrupt how applications are developed.
I caught up with one of the leaders in the telco API marketplace sphere, Chris Koeneman, CRO at Kandy (News - Alert), one of the original developers of CPaaS solutions for service providers, and asked him why he is so bullish on APIs and marketplaces.
"When it comes to delivering API services, the telcos have a natural advantage, "said Koeneman. "Accessing an API presupposes a reliable, high-quality network. The carriers have that."
Kandy has been a foundation for AT&T (News - Alert)'s API Marketplace since the beginning, years ago, before other tier one service providers caught on.
"The API marketplace offers a service progression for the carriers. Carriers will start with conventional messaging APIs that will leverage their owner economics. These messaging APIs will evolve and include enhancements from third parties,” explained Koeneman. “Telcos will be combining a pure cloud service with a software development platform designed specifically for real-time voice, video, collaboration, and messaging applications with a rich array of telco APIs that can expose data in real-time to enrich a wide variety of applications."
"Along with advanced messaging services, Telco API marketplaces will move into another fascinating area, and that is the use of 5G services. Mobile network operators need to generate more revenue from their 5G investments beyond consumer usage. The potential exists for businesses to tap the unique capabilities of 5G networks on an as-needed basis through the interaction of applications and 5G APIs,” he added. “Network slicing, for example, could be delivered in a more targeted manner through APIs and applications as needed rather than an always-on subscription. Other 5G capabilities, such as geospatial solutions, will provide the fuel for innovation. The idea is that the telco will let the world of developers come up with the capabilities which will be made available on the API marketplace."
Koeneman sees a trio of factors that are key to driving this evolution.
"First is the network, which includes the latest generation mobile network,” he said. “Next is the API marketplace based on CPaaS that can offer ready-made API services. And third are the developers who will develop the APIs as well as the applications that will consume them."
"Telcos see this and are investing in API Marketplaces. This is driving consumption of their infrastructure and assured service levels to business customers, government organizations, universities, medical institutions and more, by providing their software, web and mobile developers bundled with connectivity," he said.
Koeneman refers to this as a trifecta that will be truly transformational when the orchestration takes off.
"We've already seen incredible innovations in business collaboration, customer service, and field service brought to life with real-time data through APIs – and we've seen it because we have been, since the beginning, focused on helping large service providers around the world digitally transform their businesses with CPaaS and APIs made available so their customers can digitally transform their business. This is the new, more efficient, more exciting real-time communications supply chain."
Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.
Edited by Erik Linask