Building the B2B marketplace – creating a seamless vision for your customers
B2B marketplaces are fast becoming a key tool for MNOs and other operators. They create an opportunity to curate key services and to blend them for an integrated experience. They can eliminate silos and deliver value for B2B customers. We’ve been helping create these environments for more than 10 years – learn from our experience.
From walled garden to marketplace
Years ago, the term “walled garden” was often used to describe operator efforts to create a curated environment of content as part of internet access bundles. The term was generally perceived to be negative, particularly once customers started to roam more freely across the wider internet.
As a result, it rather fell from fashion, which was odd, really, given that the two prevailing app stores are, in essence, nothing more than very large walled gardens with strong barriers to entry.
Nevertheless, the concept has returned to prominence, albeit under a different name: marketplace. And, it’s hugely relevant for B2B offers from operators – and likely to become essential in the near future. That’s for two reasons. First, because there’s huge value in presenting business customers with a set of related applications that complement each other.
Second, customers don’t necessarily want to find such applications individually – with so much choice, they want to choose services that are complementary and that can help them. Operators have realised that they are more likely to strengthen offers if they provide a sort of mediation roles, helping customers to find useful things and to link them, so they can interact seamlessly.
Breaking down silos and creating a blended experience
After all, this is the approach taken by many providers of key enterprise applications, such as CRMs, project management tools and so on. Why shouldn’t communications services follow this model? And, since many operators are linking different communications capabilities and offering built-in integration, presenting such combined offers or optional upgrades gives customers a more integrated experience.
So, the B2B marketplace is a key resource for business customers that wish to obtain more from their communications service provider – and a tool for such providers to build deeper relationships, as well as a richer, more useful experience.
And, that’s just what we’re seeing. Many of our operator partners have developed such integrated propositions and are well on their way to maintaining a vibrant B2B application marketplace, with a growing focus on integration between different services. It’s a journey that started more than a decade ago, as we launched our TSG API gateway to support the interconnection of different service silos and to enable them to be exposed to application partners.
Taking your services into Teams and more
It continues to develop and we’re also finding that this vision is common to many of the operators we’re talking to today. But it takes time. It requires, not just the vision, but also the long-term commitment to knit together a proposition and to iteratively add capabilities and new applications to the suite. The trick is to enable the interworking capabilities that are required and to gradually introduce changes.
That’s why our solutions are integrated with different video and other collaboration tools and why our operator partners seek to deliver services that offer the most value in their respective markets – because local considerations are essential.
But, there’s another dimension. It’s not just that the operator might seek to offer a suite of complementary applications from their portals – they may also seek to make key service available through the portals of other applications. For example, several of our customers now offer applications that are available from the Microsoft Teams App Store – so that they can be discovered by users from that environment.
Now, we’ve gone even further. We’ve brought our switchboard capabilities into this environment, as well as the usual full mobile and network status, so that users can seamlessly access their key communications capabilities from the same environment as their Teams services. Or, they can access them from our existing portals – the point is that the integration recognises both the central importance of classical communications, as well as the growing role of other platforms – in a solution that combines the best of both worlds.
Leverage the MSISDN to stay relevant
So, if you are thinking about the future of B2B, you need to think beyond a single service silo and consider the overall portfolio, how it is integrated and how it can, in turn, be integrated with other platforms that offer value to your customers.
By keeping the MSISDN or fixed number as key identifiers, you can ensure not only relevance but that your offer remains at the heart of business communications. If you want to share our experience of creating blended B2B marketplaces and how to sustain them through continuous innovation, isn’t it time for a chat?