Enterprise 2.0: Creating new VAS opportunities for Mobile Operators
Building on recent discussions on this blog about network Mash-Ups, Graham Francis from Aepona gives us a preview of what he'll be talking about tomorrow at the Telco 2.0 Digital Product Innovation Summit:
How to create a richer set of Enterprise service offerings using Telecom Web Services to integrate Enterprise applications with network knowledge, mobility and service reach?
The adoption of Web 2.0 concepts and technologies in both the carrier and the enterprise market will be the next major step in the evolution of Telco 2.0 for those carriers seeking to offer VAS [Value Added Services] to Enterprises.
Is it possible that the carriers could take a market position as "Enterprise 2.0 enablers"? In Aepona, we think this is the next step on the roadmap for many carriers seeking to deepen their relationships with their Enterprise customers and to further monetise their network assets in the process.
What is the relationship between Telco 2.0, Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0 concepts?
Enterprise 2.0 is a term coined by Enterprise application vendors to "horizontalise" vertical applications and enable new desktop (or client) applications to be created that match to the end user use case requirements. In the same way that many carrier networks are implementing telecom web services technologies to abstract a set of vertical applications towards an SDP layer, Enterprise organisations are starting to implement "Web 2.0 Enterprise Servers" to do exactly the same thing for their own users.
What is the market opportunity?
The Enterprise market represents high value services for the carrier as many of these types of customers will pay a premium for availability, reliability and quality of service. Current mainstream offerings to the Enterprise market are based around capacity and hosted services, sometimes complemented by IT outsourcing projects. The challenge for the carriers (and particularly the mobile operators) up to now has been how to offer services that can deepen the relationship with the Enterprise through increasing the scope of their service offering.
Users within Enterprise organisations, just like consumers, are seeking more openness and tailoring of information and content to suite their individual needs to compliment their job functions. In response to this, a number of specialist Enterprise vendors are now introducing Enterprise 2.0 Servers to bring Web 2.0 to the Enterprise. These Servers take web service feeds from vertical applications and mash these up to present information that aligns with the Enterprise user's role.
For example, a customer service manager may wish to produce ad hoc reports to identify the number of visits each service engineer in his fleet makes. Perhaps additional information may also be required including repair times, travelling time, etc. Information to produce such a report may need to be sourced from several separate systems.
Taking this concept further and mashing this up with Telco 2.0 and Web 2.0 components creates more value to the Enterprise. Telco resources can be embedded with the Enterprise applications to identify the real time location and distribution of the service engineer's customers (using Google Maps and Location feeds) to view the geography of the area covered. Perhaps then, real time mms push could be used to introduce a more dynamic way of allocating service engineers to customer calls rather than to have pre-scheduled lists.
What's in it for the Carrier? Why should they bother? What happens if they don't do it?
The potential for improved customer retention is one of the main benefits. Increased revenues by offering higher value services by demonstrating to Enterprise customers that combining real time network knowledge and communications with Enterprise application logic can reduce costs, improve effectiveness and efficiency and increase sales.
If they miss this opportunity to create closer relationships with Enterprise customers, then these customers may either seek to choose an alternative carrier offering a higher value proposition or lower cost services or possibly choose to bypass the carriers network using the advances in IP networking and WiMAX, etc. This could result in a gradual erosion of the Carriers role in supporting Enterprise customers towards becoming a bit pipe carrier.
How does the business case work & how does the carrier make money?
The carrier provides one or more APIs (as Telecom Web Services) towards the Enterprise customer. These can be provided and sold as raw APIs with an access and usage charge (e.g. numbers of transactions per second). Each time an Enterprise hosted application places a request upon the Carriers network to (e.g.) set up a call, send an sms, determine a users location, a usage (request) charge can be made.
In addition to this, the APIs can be packaged as part of a "Systems Integration" service offering by the Carriers. The carriers would offer SI skills (perhaps themselves or in partnership with an SI vendor) to create "telecom web services call outs" from Enterprise application logic towards the APIs exposed by the Carrier. This may also need the Enterprise customer's applications to be "WS enabled" and ESB products from Vendors such as IONA could be use to integrate back end Enterprise applications with the carriers APIs.
What are the types of services that could be created?
• Broadcast of newsflashes using sms (mobile terminated) for such things as customer updates, sales updates, traffic information, etc.
• Real time allocation of tasks to mobile field service engineers relative to their physical location
• Real time management for distribution of perishable goods (e.g. groceries, confectionary, cement, etc.) in environments where traffic congestion is a problem
• Application initiated calls for debt recovery/bill payment
• Click to call features for Enterprise web sites
• Secure access to back office enterprise knowledge and information systems using carrier authentication systems
• Targeted distribution of information to enterprise workers
• Collection and broadcast of near-live media to emergency workers and news reporters
• Adding Q.o.S to create reliable messaging, guaranteed bandwidth, etc.
Through adopting a 2.0 service layer architecture, carriers can now exploit the advantages they have in broad coverage and reliable networks. These can be combined with systems that enable easy integration with Enterprise applications to extend the intelligence of the application with knowledge about the end users status and location. Enterprise applications can then become "user context aware".
This is what telecom web services can offer. Creating levels of closer integration between carrier networks and enterprise business logic means that the benefits the Enterprise gets from choosing a carrier that does this means it is less likely that Enterprises will switch carriers on the basis of price only.