The telecommunications industry is changing rapidly. Old constructs like phone booths (and cords) are rarely seen at all. Meanwhile the telephone has become an essential
device for everyday living – bordering on addiction. According to Pew research (here):
- 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.
- 44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.
- 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without.”
With this telephone “attachment”, the opportunity to build on this platform is a huge advantage for the Telecom industry. APIs as a mechanism to rapidly innovate will be frequently used as the platform for innovation. Once again I’ll use the structure I introduced a few weeks ago (here). This is not intended to be comprehensive, just some possibilities to whet the appetite.
Mobile App Development – To state the obvious, Mobile is taking off with every company in all industries creating Mobile Apps. Telecom industry is no exception providing basic account level information in their Mobile Apps accessing back end systems through APIs:
- Basic APIs include plan options, mobile phone options, and accessories available.
- Custom APIs mapping to your specific account include: checking usage data, upgrade eligibility, checking your account balance, paying your bill, changing account features, and account maintenance (password, address, etc.).
- Mobile advantages include finding store locations nearby and scheduling appointments, finding family member locations both using the phone’s GPS
What APIs are available today in Telecom? Here are just a few samples of public APIs:
- Humbug Analytics API – Connect any application or PBX to their service for in-depth reporting and fraud alerting. Use the API to authenticate phone numbers during call setup, submit PBX events for analysis, submit call detail records for analysis, and more.
- StreamWIDE Call Screening API – Allows users to filter calls using acceptance and denial lists, time-based filters, behavior-based filters, delays on incoming or outgoing communications, and more.
- Intis Telecom SMS API – provides a global SMS solution that features scripting, up-to-date gateway for SMS, reports and statistics, and high volume support. The SMS API can be used for advertising purposes, international messaging, message scheduling, and customer engaging. Intis Telecom charges a per message fee.
- Telecoms Cloud – This Rest-like HTTP API is used to connect data in the cloud. Access features including Voice, SMS, Fax, Data Processing and more. Used with web, mobile or internet-connected device, Telecoms provides communications connectivity with embed functionality such as making and receiving phone calls, mobile messaging, data services and cellular connectivity for machine-to-machine communications.
Besides creating Mobile Apps for their own customer’s accounts, there are many other areas where APIs can provide value for Telecom. As every company across all industries deploy Mobile Apps the Telecom industry finds itself in the enviable position of owning this channel. I expect Telecom companies will seize this opportunity and have outlined several possible API scenarios in the following sections.
Platform APIs – Following the models of companies like Apple (see the Apple – IBM partnership) or Amazon, Telecoms can create a platform that other companies can build upon using platform APIs. APIs can access services provided directly by the Telecom or through partnership arrangements with other service providers. Here are some sample APIs that can be included:
- Content services – streaming media, news, stock information
- Online services – social media, video chat, messaging, search, shopping
- Technology services – hosting (i.e. cloud), caching, payments
- Connectivity services – support for intermittent connectivity
- Device integration – smart phone, wired telephone, tablet, computer, television
- Business services – analytics, billing, accounting, coupons
Other businesses can build on these services with their value additions and rely on the telecom to manage the infrastructure and selected business services.
Partnering – Several of the APIs listed in the Platform section could be supplied by partners (e.g. content providers). Providing easy on-boarding of partners to supply services and bring on new partners for new capabilities is another API opportunity.
Industry vertical partners can also use Telecom APIs to build B2B offerings. Business customers may also want to take advantage of certain capabilities from the Platform options listed – for example billing services or messaging services which could be offered a la carte.
Public APIs – Making available APIs to access plan offerings, accessories, phone selections, etc. would allow enterprising developers to create shopping Apps that sell / offer the Telecom products. For example, people looking for holiday or birthday gifts could be offered Telecom options along with gift options from other industries. This could also be used if a comparison App were to be created so that your offerings could be considered.
Devices and Data – Telecom is an industry based on devices. These devices can provide data as to usage and location. With this information analytics can suggest actions for customers or provide data analytics for other industries. For example, an unusually large number of devices in an area may indicate crowds which could be avoided if traveling or targeted if marketing.
Despite being based on devices, the Telecom industry is not tied to the telephone in its current form. As telephones move to wearables to ??? the value of APIs will allow the new interface to be supported with limited impact on the existing corporate systems.
Social Networks – The majority of interaction with social networks is via smart phone. Customer interaction on social networks should be one of the first areas explored to determine opportunities for APIs. After all, if this is what the phone is being used for, then this is where there is a business opportunity.
If you would like to continue this discussion you can call me, but then nobody uses their phone to talk anymore. So, use your phone to connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion. You can also read my earlier blogs