Monday, December 23, 2013

Service exposure as a way of realizing a two-sided business model

By exposing different network assets – for instance SMS, billing capabilities and call setup – operators could enhance their position in the value chain and create new innovative offerings. In this post, the main focus is on how the exposure of various voice capabilities could contribute to realizing a two-sided business model.

We explored the possibilities of a two-sided business model for telcos in a recent blog post. Among other things we discussed growing opportunities in verticals, such as learning and healthcare.

Apart from existing examples in the telecom industry, such as toll-free calls and emergency service calls, another way of realizing a two-sided business model is for operators to move into the area of service exposure – sometimes also referred to as network exposure or API exposure.

Operators venturing into service exposure must consider a number of basic questions before getting started: What capabilities should they expose and to whom should they expose their assets?

The first question is perhaps the easiest to answer: Operators must carefully consider what to expose so that they don’t endanger their own core business. This would be the case if an OTT player, with the help of exposed assets, could build a high-quality telephony service at a lower price.

When it comes to the “to whom” question, the main target group for exposed voice capabilities is the enterprise segment (and developers working at the assignment of companies). Assets are exposed to be integrated into enterprise business processes to help companies become more efficient.

When these questions have been answered satisfactorily, what would a possible two-sided business model based on service exposure look like? An interesting case is where a voice application, CRM system and customer support could interact.

For instance, an app developer working for a big insurance company has developed an intelligent form, which retrieves information from the company’s database. Customers can fill in the form on the company’s website and send it back electronically. 

Questions might arise when customers fill it in and by clicking a button inside the form the customer can come into direct contact with an expert at the company who can answer any queries. The expert has access to the company’s CRM system and can directly see the background information on the customer.

The operator makes sure that the voice application works seamlessly together with the intelligent form and the CRM system. In this case, the operator makes money on the assets exposed to the developer (for example, through a license fee) and the voice solution it sells to the insurance company. The insurance company, in turn, can decide that the “in-form” calls will be free of charge for its customers.

An obvious advantage for the operator with this set-up is that it can make its (voice) services more relevant and integrate them into additional communication flows. In this way, a two-sided business model can help operators reach beyond the limits of their existing business and participate in larger profit pools than those available in a pure connectivity market.

By Bodil Josefsson for the Voice on Telecom     


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