At TM Forum’s Internet of Everything InFocus 2017, BearingPoint’s Angus Ward, Partner & CEO of Digital Ecosystem Management, led a round-table discussion of digital ecosystem enablement and management. In this excerpt from a BearingPoint white paper, Ward writes about dealing with complex ecosystems.
Simply orchestrating ecosystem partners as a manual add-on to existing systems and procedures just won’t be sustainable. Long term, the sheer growth in volume of the internet of things (IoT) market dictates the need for highly automated, easily configurable, low-cost support systems.
Supporting more complex business models
As the IoT market matures, both in terms of increasing interoperability between applications, and the growing number of partners in ecosystems, more and more orchestration and administration is needed. Consider, for example, a multi-party service with a revenue share model that depends on resource-usage metrics rather than data consumption. These could involve calls to a database and/or identity management linking one owner to many related devices.
Many connected device platforms cannot handle this sort of scenario, and the situation is not much different when it comes to application enablement platforms. Seemingly trivial requirements, such as applying country-specific taxes or disaggregating charges from a shared account to individual cost centers, are beyond the capability of many current day platforms.
Smart, flexible digital ecosystem management
There is an undoubted need for a digital ecosystem management (DEM) solution which is both smart and flexible enough to make coordinating and monetizing multi-party, multi-service platforms simple. In radically and strategically rethinking their ecosystem management, telcos do not need to discard investments in legacy systems. New DEM solutions can offer an overlay that make orchestrating, monetizing and administering complex and vibrant ecosystem platforms easy.
Building over time
Initially, value can be added to existing systems by automating business support functions in areas such as tax handling, cost-center accounting and payments management. Building on this, a DEM platform enables many new revenue-sharing commercial models and pricing schemes, beyond the traditional ones that are based on data consumption.
Cultivating the ecosystem
Over time, the IoT application delivery ecosystem will develop into a digital ecosystem, where companies in the ecosystem find new ways to collaborate and bundle their component service offerings. An analytics plug-in service provider might, for example, work in a particular vertical with a systems integrator go-to-market partner.
Through the management of a shared ecosystem marketplace catalog, the analytics service provider might market itself to other ecosystem companies to look for new channel partners and addressable markets. With processes to establish service contracts and administer payment flows, the catalog management process is a fundamental building block in DEM. The ecosystem catalog is not restricted to technology suppliers. It can also include energy service providers, rental equipment providers or office suppliers, for example. This opens up the possibility of a service provider offering its customers a broad range of services through a single point of contact.
Making the most of the platform
Initially, a telco may well use the platform to sell its own products and services to its own customers and markets. As the telco-enabled ecosystem expands, telcos can more easily create new service bundles, combining their products and services with those from other providers and innovators. In both instances, the telco acts as a tenant-user on its own DEM platform.
The real strategic value of a digital ecosystem, however, is to harness the service offerings from a diverse supplier base, using shared orchestration, monetization and administration tools to offer new service bundles, with all parties benefiting from the low-cost economics of a platform solution. Over time, telcos’ platform should grow to host many tenants – fostering a marketplace for innovative service bundles and channels to new market segments.