By Bernhard Kraft, Director of Technical Product Management,
Optiva • August 18, 2022
Bernhard has more than 15 years of experience in the telecom industry. Previously, he served as developer, solution architect, and chief architect of Redknee’s BSS portfolio. He guided the evolution of Optiva’s BSS product to cloud-native, open architecture, and public cloud deployment. Bernhard helps CSPs journey to BSS on public cloud, designs transformation plans, and identifies requirements for SaaS migration solutions. Bernhard and the Optiva Product Management team help CSPs leverage cloud-native products, AI, and ML to grow revenue and deliver the best customer experience.
Information and communications technology (ICT) is around $3.45 trillion industry today, and telecom operators have typically concentrated on the B2C sector, which is about $25 billion. The second category is the enterprise or business-to-business (B2B) market, where operators have historically provided connectivity solutions to businesses and enterprises.
With the introduction of 5G, telecom companies are now focusing on the B2B2X sector that promises more revenues and market share. The sector is about $276 billion in size. This allows telecom carriers to increase their total addressable market (TAM) by a factor of ten.
But still remains the major question: how will 5G enable telecom operators to “software-itize” their assets to monetize and offer value to the ecosystem? And how it can speed up the digital transformation of B2B2X use cases?
While connectivity is still important to both consumers and businesses, it no longer addresses the present problems. As connectivity has evolved into more of a commodity or an element of hygiene, the monetization prospects and revenues for telcos have steadily decreased.
Consumers will benefit from 5G and not just in terms of faster, better, and more dependable mobile broadband, i.e., transition from a quantity value to a quality value. On the enterprise side, it will also be about providing new chances for businesses of all sizes to make the most of their data, expanding the potential for innovation, development, and the formation of a new digital economy.
This new economy entails connecting companies to devices, devices to individuals, and individuals to gadgets in a manner that every entity in the value chain benefits. Telcos have the opportunity to make more effective use of their resources, whether assets, knowledge, or brand to tackle this problem. The following are a few possibilities:
1. The bread and butter of connectivity
From mobile to wireline, telcos are quite powerful for connectivity solutions. The importance of a connected world has been demonstrated by the COVID epidemic, and telecoms are the backbone of this connection. Virtual meetings and 2D calls have become the norm in our lives. Mixed reality, augmented reality, and holograms have been explored by businesses for some time, and 5G’s network slicing capabilities are once again a backbone for such use cases.
Telcos may supply connectivity to businesses so their end consumers can have user experiences that were never possible before 4G or fiber. It’s not about speed, but user experience characteristics like latency, throughput, etc.
Let’s consider what telcos may provide in addition to plain connectivity.
2. Looking at telco’s IT inventory, charging /billing as a service
Telcos have typically been strong at billing and pricing experience. They have complex billing processes that take into account regulations and a variety of network and subscriber variables, such as location and age on the network and device information. For its users, many organizations demand bespoke billing and settlement solutions.
For example, an electric vehicle (EV) charging station in the next decade could require users to pay for the units consumed to recharge their vehicle. The billing could include many parameters, including the charging station, number of times charging is done, units consumed, etc. Telcos with flexible and agile billing and charging systems to support such use cases can offer C/BaaS to partners for their billing use cases. One example is how telcos like Claro Peru are leveraging and reusing their assets to provide BSS as a service to MVNOs operating on their networks.
3. Experience, experience, experience
Knowledge gained over time in operating mission-critical systems and managing complex integrations, ranging from core networks to agile IT systems, is a non-tangible asset that operators in the B2B2X market must monetize. Telcos are most prepared to offer consultancy solutions in the B2B2X area since it needs extensive integration between the apps, network, and IT modules.
4. Betting on the winning horse? Or use case?
Unlike telecom, which had defined borders, the B2B2X arena is now open. Many different sorts of businesses provide value for their customers. While some telcos take the agnostic approach, others carefully pick their future growth path based on the areas and commercial value they can provide.
Healthcare, smart homes, sponsored gaming, and smart factory/surveillance are just a few of the verticals. The next logical step would be to partner to provide end-to-end solutions to address the full enterprise need. For example, Jio has recently partnered with Optiva to provide end-to-end 5G solutions for global markets.
5. Your name is everything, importance of the brand
Telcos have built brand awareness over time. It is another non-tangible asset they can leverage. Users would psychologically prefer to have a local, well-known brand as the relationship owner in critical industries, such as smart homes and smart healthcare. Telcos have built trust and developed mechanisms to accommodate these use cases.
Telcos are experimenting with B2B2X in this industry. Below are some verticals where, in the coming years, we will continue to see growth in partnerships and solutions.
Immersive experience – This is an industry of $800 million dollars. From augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), holograms, gaming, and simulation-based learning, the last mile user experience is critical for success in this sector. Telcos play a critical role both from a B/D2C perspective and in B2B2X.
Fleet management and transport– On a single platform, a telecom provider may serve the complete value chain of car telematics, from connectivity through integration, monitoring, and billing.
Health tech – Telecom companies may collaborate with smart medical device companies to meet the shift in healthcare and telemedicine value (e.g., Telus Health).
Energy & utility – Telecom firms may give smart energy companies solutions, ranging from analytics to billing for their end consumers.
Automated operations – Home/office and factory automation/surveillance are just a couple of instances where telcos may provide network (e.g., NWDAF, NEF, AMF) and IT (e.g., digital onboarding, digital BSS) capabilities in addition to connection.
For B2B2X business and how it is regarded in the market, 5G could be game-changing. The key to realizing the full potential of the B2B2X business is to establish a value chain and ecosystem in which telecom operators play a critical role. This is a more open future that will provide greater control to consumers and businesses, allowing them to fully harness the benefits of 5G technologies.
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