Vesa Lindberg, head of product management, operator services at SAP Digital Interconnect, discusses the benefits of APIs and data in helping mobile operators to optimise their services
It’s a time of enormous change for mobile network operators (MNOs) as they make the move to IP and traditional voice, digital messaging services and technologies evolve, with new technologies like 5G, VoLTE and RCS. This change brings with it many opportunities, but also challenges for operators as they transition from legacy networks – chief among them complexity, investment and addressing subscriber needs.
To tackle these challenges, optimisation of services and infrastructure is vital. As with any kind of optimisation, this requires meaningful and actionable insights from data. Data is something operators generally have a surplus of – but accessing it easily is often a different matter entirely. Most operators use multiple service providers for services like data roaming, SMS and RCS . The data from these providers, which is necessary for this kind of optimisation, can be hard to access.
Accessing it almost always means going through the service provider’s in-house platform. Operators can view the data, but to produce required insights, it has to be exported and manually uploaded into their own business intelligence application for a centralised view. But this doesn’t have to be the case – we can use APIs to aggregate and centralise subscriber and network data to ensure it’s easy for operators to access and benefit from it.
By using APIs, operators can choose how they access performance and usage data, what type of data they need and when they need it. They can also be easily integrated with an operator’s existing tools and processes, meaning they can produce meaningful and impactful outcomes using the methods that already work for them.
Ultimately, as a service provider, we don't want to tell operators what they need or offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Operators need the freedom to decide for themselves how they use the information and APIs provide much more flexibility in how they integrate, present and use data.
This means there are a lot of network operator use cases for APIs and the data they expose. It could be about looking at historical billing data to analyse trends and forecast future revenue and costs, or at subscriber-specific data for anything from average spend to fraud analysis. APIs could help speed up the troubleshooting process, meaning there’s no need to log into the service provider tool to find logs or open a new ticket.
For example, when transitioning to 5G, operators will strive to optimise the existing legacy network services to minimise operational cost while providing faultless service to subscribers. APIs will help make data intelligently and easily available to operators to achieve this and build towards the future.
Read more about how APIs empower developers and the Experience Economy in “Communications APIs: Mapping the Developer Lifecycle” and “The Critical Role of CPaaS in Reaching Customers on their Channels of Choice” and at the SAP Community.