Digital Service Providers need to build an ecosystem to support new partners, which means they also need the right enablers to help these partners offer services and reach more customers. Network enablers, such as MVNE solutions, are well-established, but there is a now a new opportunity to deliver highly specific business enablers to help partners capitalise on DSP services while also allowing them to innovate and extend them. What is a VBE and how does UC fit into this ecosystem?
Many MNOs are considering their future evolution to the broader role of “Digital Service Provider” or DSP. While the term has different meanings, essentially it is an umbrella that encompasses efforts by traditional communications service providers to use data more effectively through operational process evolution and with the goal of securing greater value from their customers as a result.
Of course, this takes time, but it’s already clear that CSPs are embarking on so-called transformation projects and jostling to capture more share of customer wallets. Some of these efforts are also directed towards the ability to enable new partnerships and to create platforms that allow others to reach customers using CSP assets.
This is nothing new – MVNOs have been around for many years now, but just as MVNO models are evolving, so too are the CSPs that host them extending their capabilities to meet these demands. Virtual Network Enablers, or VNEs, are the means by which they can achieve that – so, if MVNOs can bring innovation to subscribers that a CSP cannot deliver directly, CSPs can adapt their systems to cater for these new requirements and create the operational environments to support them.
However, a more recent phenomenon is the emergence of a new category, the Virtual Business Enabler, or VBE. As defined by analysts Stratecast, VBEs “allow ecosystem providers to sell goods and services to a global economy”. In other words, it’s a platform for CSPs to both support new business partners but also to allow them to interact and to sell to each other across the ecosystem and to those outside it.
CSPs (and future DSPs) have a key role in providing the infrastructure and assets to support such an environment, especially when the goods and services offered require connectivity. In addition to creating such an environment and recruiting ecosystem partners, CSPs need to think about the services that they can bring to the marketplace and which can either be acquired by others or used by them to sell to their customers.
That’s why enhanced communications capabilities, such as UC, are critical. CSPs have the opportunity to use communications platforms and services as VBEs, which can then be acquired or resold by partners in the ecosystem. Instead of trying to depend on their ability to reach their own customers for such services, CSPs can leverage the ecosystem to enable goods and services to be delivered to those that need them.
That’s quite a shift for CSPs that have long been accustomed to essentially owning the customer relationship. That model isn’t dead but it needs to be complemented by VBEs which extend the audience and which allows others to innovate effectively. One such example is unified communications. While CSPs continue to invest in UC capabilities, they should also see UC as a VBE that can be used by other providers to create new value.
To achieve this, CSPs need a flexible, multi-tenant solution that can be branded as required by partners and which also offers integration possibilities, allowing them to increase value through enhanced offers. In this way, the CSP can both maintain its direct and indirect business, while drawing on partners to extend its reach and to bring new innovations to market or to leverage their own customer bases more effectively. Gintel’s EBCS offers both the customisation capabilities and the extension possibilities to be a key VBE, allowing CSPs to launch and manage their own UC business while supporting new partners that can take it into new directions.
So, if you are considering your digital transformation plans and if you are thinking how to create a platform to support an ecosystem of partners, UC should definitely be on the agenda – and, when it is, come and talk to us.