Axiata would like to secure between 10% and 20% of its revenues from building ecosystems in the next 5-10 years , according to Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO, Telecommunications Axiata, speaking during the opening session of TM Forum’s DTW Asia.
However, it is not an easy goal to achieve and he called on telcos worldwide to collaborate on carving out a pivotal position for themselves in the technology value chain.
Communications service providers (CSPs), he noted, now operate within a massive, distributed ecosystem, which potentially extends to tens of thousands of stakeholders, including hyperscalers, device manufacturers, content providers, application developers and fintech companies. This poses obvious challenges to telcos. Nonetheless Wijayasuriya believes regulatory concerns about privacy and data protection could work in network operators' favor, allowing then to position themselves as "trust holder and local experts ... which telcos inherently are."
Wijayasuriya painted a future in which telcos could generate income from network, commercial and cloud API orchestration, zero touch partnering at scale, developing facilities for developers and providing app localization -- all while working together to make local ecosystems available to global audiences.
We need “to recognize that telcos are not islands and we need to grasp that huge opportunity of federation … which is globally applicable and globally seamless," said Wijayasuriya.
“We would establish edge storage computing, and we would also engage with partners of varying sizes, we would build a bridge from global hyperscalers all the way to developers, using skills in partnership, zero touch engagement and orchestration,” he explained. “Now if we add to this interconnection and global federation, imagine the power ...[if] a partner in one part of the world could address audiences in another."
He recognized, however, that building such a future promises to be arduous and that “simply opening our networks and exposing a few telco API” will not suffice.
Instead, network operators will need to work hard on building out orchestration capabilities and an ecosystem. “We need to put investment into zero touch partnering and making it real … whether it is for hyperscalers or small developers.”
He argued that telcos also need to extend how they view their assets to encompass customer relations, deep consumer knowledge, financial integrity, the capability to engage and outreach, as well as trust and brand. "And, of course, our affinity to regulatory processes, our commitment to compliance.”
He also suggests that CSPs develop new KPIs, such as how quickly and deeply they have developed their reach into a given ecosystem, or the percentage of developers with which they work.
Axiata has already gone some way to building the future -- it works with 100,000 developers, 90,000 applications and has app federation for multiple applications, according to Wijayasuriya.
"But we are no way near the dream … of a global ecosystem." As an industry “we have that unique opportunity through collaboration, ... aggregation, ... ecosystem development [and] federation to bring more and more people onto a common platform.”