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The recent DTW-24 Ignite global summit certainly lived up to its name. Almost 4,000 delegates joined the TM Forum’s annual event in Copenhagen and the energy was extraordinary, as we discussed trends, challenges, opportunities and the ground-breaking ideas which are, “igniting” the telecom industry.

Having met industry leaders and experts from all over the world, I know that there’s great excitement about the future across the sector, as telcos work hard to keep innovating, build agility and continue to demonstrate resilience.

Here are my key takeaways from the summit:
Monetisation: the opportunities

After several years of high investment and low growth, telcos are now more upbeat about discovering new revenue streams. They are the backbone of the global digital economy, with every single piece of digital information passing through their networks, and they are starting to leverage this. Major opportunities include providing security-as-a-service and Edge solutions.  Online marketplaces are another emerging revenue source – telcos can offer services and products through their own portals or open marketplaces. Marc Allera, CEO of EE, shared how EE’s platform is creating new sales channels for products including TVs, electronics, gaming and security. Buyers don’t have to be EE customers; they just need an EE ID.

However, perhaps the biggest talking point around monetisation is the power of network application programmable interfaces (APIs) to realise the full potential of the underlying network capabilities, driving significant value for telcos.

Network APIs: buy vs build

Telco’s network capabilities include the configuration of services, device status, device location, etc., and third-party developers and enterprises can tap into these to create new products and services. These might offer improved gaming and video conferencing experiences, fraud detection and more.

Emerging network API monetisation models include direct pay per access or indirect value-driven monetisation. It’s estimated that telcos could generate an extra $300 billion in connectivity and edge-related computing revenue by 2030

Telcos are leveraging CAMARA and TM Forum Open Gateway standards to provide universal access to operator networks. The big question facing telcos is how do they expose their APIs to the developers – should they build that API exposure layer or buy?

There are primarily two network API deployment models emerging in the market, one being operator-led or a vendor-led model. There are factors to consider to select the right model, depending on the scale of the telco, their route to market and the differentiated network capabilities they need to expose. 

Commercial platforms offer ready-made features such as policy controls and can enhance speed to market. However, many industry leaders told me that they’re exploring custom built solutions. The complexity of internal systems means that off-the-shelf products need significant fine tuning and telcos are realising that building a solution offers greater control.

Creating the building blocks for AI

AI and generative AI (gen AI) were hot topics at DTW24-Ignite, but telcos recognise that the technology hasn’t taken off as quickly as it should have. The most optimistic view is that they will be pushing AI business cases through within two to three years. 

The fundamental issue is data readiness, with so many still relying on legacy systems. Collectively, they are focusing on three key mission statements to empower them to become AI-native:

  • Simplification: Streamlining and updating the technology stack

  • Autonomy: Moving towards autonomous networks

  • Transformation: Achieving digital transformation through AI.

I joined a thought-provoking panel session focused on digital transformation towards agile systems based on cutting-edge technologies. The key is to find the right platform-based approach to rationalise data and open up B2B opportunities.

“Outstanding Catalyst” win for Cognizant

There was much to celebrate at DTW-24 Ignite, including an award for Cognizant! We won the “Outstanding Catalyst – Beyond Telcos” category for a forward-looking autonomous networks project. 

Through the “Hyperloops” catalyst, we’re developing an AI-powered virtual recovery centre to transform the emergency response to global disasters, with highly efficient, self-managing networks utilising advanced automation and machine learning to operate with minimal human intervention.

This ambitious project could revolutionise how networks are managed and operated. We’re collaborating with several partners, including MTN, NTT Group and Telecom Italia.

As the telecoms industry looks to the future, the importance of strategic innovation is clear. By monetising network APIs and upgrading technology for simplification, autonomy and transformation, telcos can unlock new revenue streams and drive growth. DTW24-Ignite showed that the industry is ready to embrace these opportunities and build a resilient, innovative future.

If you would like to learn more, please connect with me on LinkedIn or contact us

 

 


Shashi Bhagavathula

Telco Consulting Lead, Global Growth Markets, Cognizant

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