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Partnerships in Practice

What's holding up operators from leaping into the brave new world with OTTs?

Partnering with Over-The-Top (OTT) players and other digital service providers is a strategy that several are exploring, although the practicalities of doing business with the foe-turned-friend can be complex and unnecessarily protracted making the whole commercial arrangement less and less attractive.

Operators understand the benefits of the partnership model: the competitive relationship between OTT and operator can be overturned enabling the operator to be a ‘Capability and Digital Service Provider', rather than a dumb pipe. And generally, there seems to be a consensus that these sort of partnerships will bring more compelling, tailored products, better billing, improved customer service, more revenue, and many other benefits.

The difficulty for operators comes in actually executing commercials that make sense, as well as adapting their internal infrastructure in order to support third party services. This is a sort of ‘chicken and egg' scenario because, without infrastructure that can support partner integration at scale, the cost/benefit of case-by-case integration just doesn't stack up.

So the two obstacles often go hand-in-hand and can be assisted, to a large extent, by the operator installing a collaboration platform, which acts as an API hub and provides a self-serving interface to a multitude of partners, therefore supporting a fast and scalable partnership model. This results in smooth operations between operator and partner, and feeds creativity in terms of monetization as well as customer experience.

With a collaboration platform, partners and operators can work closely together to create a more valuable service - a ‘mash up' that is worth more than the sum of its parts and will increase revenue for both parties.

The alternative to a collaboration platform is integrating with partners on a case-by-case basis. This approach is expensive, time consuming and restricts market penetration. Implementing a partnership-based strategy in this way, not only makes it hard to thrash out the intended commercials , it also gives competing operators the opportunity to be first to market.

In this fast and fluid marketplace, operators need to act rapidly to ensure they gain a slice of it. Legacy IT architecture was not designed for the new digital economy. It does not cater to the demands of a partnership-based digital landscape. The speed of change threatens to be overwhelming, but the sooner operators can actively participate, the sooner they can make the transition to a smart pipe.

The VerisTM Open Operational Platform (O²P) is a B2B collaboration environment from AsiaInfo. This platform enables operators to boost revenues by converging their products with those of OTT and DSP (Digital Service Provider) partners, and enables OTTs to benefit from the operator's advanced back-office IT capabilities.

More Stories By Katie Matthews

B2B marketing professional working in the Cambridge technology sector, with specialist experience in telecommunications.