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Shortening Time to Market—Why APIs are the Most Exciting Strategy for Telcos and Merchants in 2020

Shortening Time to Market—Why APIs are the Most Exciting Strategy for Telcos and Merchants in 2020
Abdullah Muhsin, Senior Content Marketing Officer at Apigate

In theory, a new telco package or an additional app feature can take a few weeks to make. But in practice, it can take months between the initial idea and launch.

The extra time often results from technical implementation and operational hurdles, as well as a lack of accurate insights on customers’ desires and behavior.

The truth is that time to market can often determine whether your product will be a success or whether your team will have to go back to the drawing board.

Innovation needs to be timely; otherwise, competitors will get their product to the market first and seize a big part of the profits.

In today’s blog post, we will reveal how telcos and merchants can shorten time to market and how API powered collaboration will benefit both.

Is it better to be first or to be better?

In their book, 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout, influential marketing authors, introduce the concept of the Law of Leadership: the idea that it’s better to be first than to be better.

The logic behind this concept is that it’s always easier to be the first in someone’s mind than it is to convince them you are better than others.

For instance, the first telco that offers its subscribers the convenience of paying utility bills or making online payments through their mobile subscription bill, especially in markets with mostly unbanked population, such as APAC region and Africa, will be hard to beat.

This idea of being first is becoming increasingly important for the market relevance of telecoms, because the way customers consume content changes fast.

As fads of new social media apps sweep markets, customers jump from one app to another in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, their needs for network data change as well.

One quarter, customers would like unlimited network data for IM apps, then overnight they’d like to be able to play PokemonGo for hours and would appreciate a telco that could offer extra network data for gaming, at an affordable price.

This requires that telcos be agile and nimble in order to deliver a timely wholesome digital experience to their customers. Otherwise, their offer can quickly become obsolete.

How telcos can shorten time to market

Telcos don’t need to look far from their existing assets to find a way to be more agile. The point, however, is in deploying a cost-effective method to deliver a satisfying solution. And what makes this possible are APIs.

Traditionally, when setting out to build a new product, telcos would first examine the market.

These days, market research is vastly enhanced. Telcos can easily re-assess the data and information they already possess, by infusing predictive analytics and big data into their own data. This allows them to analyze the ways in which customers interact with their services.

Once they acquire customer insights, telcos can start working on solutions.

And here is where a traditional and an API-powered development differ.

Traditionally, telcos would be building their own products and services. This development would span numerous decision-makers, stretching from the drawing board phase, to meetings with stakeholders, to preparing marketing and sales collateral, to product placement.

From a modern-day standpoint, this would not be a sound use of resources.

Building proprietary infrastructure is costly, both in terms of financial resources and time. And we have already seen how crucial timing has become for telecoms.

Instead, APIs allow telecoms to make use of existing resources and place new products and services within weeks.

Let’s say telecom management wants to build a video conference app to their corporate clients.

Through APIs, the telco could use the existing network and software infrastructure and offer a new product to their clients without spending time and money on building their own product.

Not only would they ship a solution faster, but they would also stay on the cost-effective side.

Of course, it’s essential that you do not sacrifice the quality of a product/service for the sake of fast delivery, but look for the sweet spot between the speed of delivery and a good enough product.

How NOT to build a minimum viable product:

minimum-viable-product-misconception

How to actually build a minimum viable product:

minimum-viable-product-explained

Source: Henrik Kniberg, Crisp’s Blog.

How merchants can shorten time to market

Content providers, such as over-the-top media, VOIP services, game creators, or app merchants have a hard time entering new and competitive markets.

In order to establish themselves, they would normally have to use significant resources for marketing and market research, reaching new customers and building customer trust, which could all be timely.

And the obstacles do not end there. It’s not just about entering a market but entering at the right time.

Otherwise, their product might meet the fate of WebTV, one of the pioneering television-based e-mail and Web browsing services that launched back in 1996. The main issue was that the ecosystem was not ready and neither was broadband, and there were only a handful of app developers, which all made the product belly flop.

As we’ve said—timing is crucial. So to be able to strike at the right time, when the market is just ripe, merchants need to be able to deliver their services to customers in a timely manner.

And because it can take a lot of time for a new product to reach end-users, telecoms would need a “speed button” that would cut the time needed to offer a product to consumers. That’s where APIs come to play.

One way for merchants to cut down the costs of addressing the target audience and reach new customers is to utilize the existing customer base of telecoms, through API-powered partnerships.

In turn, these reduced market costs would free up more resources to be used for product development.

Through the use of open telecom APIs, content providers could plug into an existing customer base, and so place their products in front of a new audience, exponentially increasing their visibility and shortening the time it takes to break into a new market.

Apigate: “speed button” for new services

Resource and expertise-wise, telecoms have the capacity to build attractive, innovative and content-rich products.

Moving from the traditional text, voice, and data packages, telcos should innovate by offering suites of more diversified services such as e-wallets or direct carrier billing options, and even explore opportunities to create their proprietary content for gaming, education, and entertainment.

The main challenge here is in unlocking this knowledge fast enough to stay relevant in the market and visible to customers. And here is where Apigate can help telcos the most.

Apigate’s solution, ApigateAXP is built as a one-stop-shop that allows combining data to increase the reach and offer a customized digital experience.

The key benefit for both telecoms and merchants is that through Apigate they are connected to new services and functionalities.

By plugging into the Apigate network of verified APIs, telecoms can offer services such as mobile identity and mobile payment swiftly, without having to invest time and resources in creating their own solutions.

This not only allows them to decrease time to market by a large margin but also gain access to nearly 3.1 billion customers across four continents. And all of this can be done in a matter of weeks, with Apigate taking care of the complexity of connecting all these services.

Innovate fast with Apigate’s internal gateway

With Apigate’s internal gateway, telecoms can tap into over 1,000 industry-standard APIs and cut down the innovation time.

The internal gateway within ApigateAXP works as a driver of digital transformation within an operator.

ApigateAXP also allows telcos and trusted vendors to publish all interfaces from their core IT and networks systems, as well as new digital service platforms, and have them all accessible to internal stakeholders.

In essence, this internal gateway serves as a single point of discovery, governance, and integration for internal developer communities and trusted third parties. This allows them to reduce innovation costs and offer customized services to its customer base.

For instance, telcos could use these resources to create self-service apps. These apps would not only reduce the pressure on telecoms’ support team but also help customers in real-time.

Sharing for mutual benefit 

Data has already cemented its position as one of the leading currencies of today’s business.

With data, telecoms can get valuable insights into customer habits, source new prospects, identify potential bottlenecks before they arise, and much more.

It is through data that telecoms and merchants can shorten their time to market.

But it is through data exchange that both sides can benefit even more.

By combining their proprietary information, telecoms and merchants would be able to increase their reach, understand their customers better, and refocus their efforts on key features that customers want.

Using the Apigate platform, telcos and vendors could pair up their existing infrastructures and data to create highly personalized, innovative services and ship them to market fast.

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