It’s been 15 years since the Internet broke ground, and since then the number of services and applications
that customers can access through their telecommunications connections has grown exponentially. The popularity of the Web and it’s increased flexibility has changed the way network providers are doing business
. In order to stay on top, providers must invest in and define new ways to team up with content partners, application providers and other third parties.
Part of that process involves embracing openness. While many network operators are willing to open up their networks and data to third parties, some resistance remains when it comes to keeping close control over relationships with end users.
This conservative approach won’t help network providers develop the strong relationships they want to create with third parties. Instead, operators that err on the side of caution may end up being sidelined by their more progressive counterparts.
But, there are solutions to the problem, laid out in the form of ten core principles in a recent Alcatel-Lucent white paper
. Following these key ideals will help network operators successfully build profitable relationships with third parties.
First, network providers should establish a set of benchmarks set on a timeline to improve performance. This effort could include the number of developers using the program, time to develop new services, and the ROI on the new services that are launched.
Secondly, the white paper recommends taking a “pragmatic” approach to work with third parties to show – through early-to-market solutions – just how the new relationship could work. Network operators should show what value can be achieved as a result of the partnership. Next, providers should have a variety of business and commercial solutions on hand to meet third parties’ varied needs.
What’s more, network providers need to understand which third parties will mostly likely want to work with them. This can be achieved through detailed market research. Network operators should also take advantage of software platforms that developers can adapt, such as the RESTful and Ajax software architectures Web developers typically use.
Here’s another tip. Network providers should “sell” with end users the opportunity to connect with third parties. This simply means resolving issues on behalf of third parties, such as the customer’s location, or type of access network. Also, network operators should break down the barriers between key stakeholders and look to support programs more at the board level.
Network providers should also develop a policy and quality of service tools that nurture relationships from the start. This will ensure a more productive relationship. In addition, those providers should break down subscriber data silos and develop some general rules to use the information. While the details are useful, it can be time consuming to consolidate and secure the data.
And finally, network providers are best advised to emphasize their ability to identify, authenticate, and bill individuals in a secure environment. Those capabilities, according to the white paper, are highly valued
by third parties.
Third-party partnerships are beneficial. A recent study found that much of the growth in unified communications is the result of strategic partnerships
.As such, IT departments will grow their use of outside partners for UC technology planning over the next two years, the research by T3i Group’s InfoTrack division, found.
Follow ITEXPO (News - Alert) on Twitter: twitter.com/itexpo
Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask