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Inter-provider APIs are critical for wholesale business transformation. They promise a major advancement for communications service providers (CSPs)—enabling them to build and operate services across multiple partner networks in near real-time and replacing the immense amount of manual work powering the industry’s wheels today.
As with every transformational idea, service providers are at different stages of the inter-provider API adoption curve. For those who are either starting or re-evaluating your strategy, we’ve compiled a short list of points to consider.
1. Following a Standard
In principle, APIs are simple (unless you’re running a vintage shop with a jigsaw puzzle of legacy applications born in the 90s), but building something that will easily plug into the broader ecosystem and seamlessly inter-operate with other providers is a bit more difficult. That’s why we have industry standards, like those of MEF.
While conforming with a standard sounds like a no-brainer, it must be recognised that such an approach might require a larger effort beyond simple mapping. You might need to tune your existing applications, processes, and ways of working. It’s very similar to the topic of cloud migration—a simple “lift-and-shift” approach most likely does not bring the benefits promised by cloud-native apps.
2. The Approach: Buy, Build or Partner
Industry disruptors proved that APIs and automated zero-touch approach might become a huge competitive advantage in the market and a critical enabler for changing business models. Many service providers attempt to follow that path and face the question of what approach to take.
A simple (and quick) way to solve the problem might be to buy the API solution from a third party provider. On the other hand, if APIs become a strategic asset, perhaps it’s wiser to control it end-to-end. But building API competency in-house might be difficult and expensive. There is a third option as well—partnering with someone to accelerate the in-house build.
Any approach has pros and cons, but that trade-off needs to be cautiously weighed, taking into consideration that soon it might happen that APIs become essential to the business strategy, and it might be very difficult and expensive to escape any lock-in.
3. B/OSS Readiness
Having decided on the approach, we need to assess whether the APIs we’re rolling out have anything to connect to in the back end. Because, frequently, they don’t. APIs just expose business processes to the external world. If processes like address validation, product qualification, or quoting lack system support today, it won’t be possible to automate them and expose them using APIs. That’s why an API rollout project might have dependencies and might bring a handful of new requirements to the existing B/OSS environment. So, a holistic approach should be taken into consideration when evaluating the business case.
4. The Importance of People
Paradoxically, digital transformation is not about technology, it’s about people. And transformation initiatives fail when they forget this. Companies are built by people. Transformation projects are run by people, for people. They all need to be considered, prepared for change, re- or up-skilled. That point cannot be forgotten.
5. Automation is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Lastly, it’s worth reminding ourselves that transformation is a continuous journey, rather than a single trip (or a long-term program rather than a project). Some might want to get there fast, but there are no shortcuts. The path is made by small, consistent steps.
Enxoo / en-ex-oh / is a global boutique Salesforce Partner and systems integrator for the communications industry, specializing in the delivery of digital transformation projects. We’re on a mission to help Communications Service Providers embrace the technology and use it to reinforce their business. We truly believe that APIs should not be exclusive to the big guys. They should be available and easy to use for everyone. Enxoo is a sponsor of the MEF LSO Partner Conference Rome.
About the LSO Partner Conference
The MEF LSO Partner Conference brings together the ecosystem of leaders and implementers, from buyer and seller companies and solution providers, for an interactive opportunity to network, hear business and technical perspectives, and learn about the LSO API roadmap. The last LSO Partner Conference took place on 19 April 2023 during the MEF Q2 Members Meeting in Rome.Tags: automation APIs