Programmable APIs in the back office

Programmable APIs in the back office: Innovating, automating and accelerating carrier business

07 May 2021 | Vic Bozzo

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Vic Bozzo

Blog Author | chief revenue officer, SONOC

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In an increasingly complex and competitive market, carriers need the freedom to innovate, integrate and expand their back-office capabilities.

They need new flexibility in how they develop and deploy solutions to enable greater agility and efficiency in their operations.The “all or nothing” approach to voice and messaging management platforms has to be replaced with an agile model for building a component-based architecture. 

Carriers have an opportunity to build flexibility and agility into their back-office systems with programmable APIs and really take control of the services they use. For too long, vendors have been deciding how carriers consume their services and how they fit into existing systems and processes. Carriers have been left to decide if they want to adopt an entire platform rather than just its modular capabilities.

Traditional wholesale voice and messaging management is a closed system that typically cannot be adapted to meet the needs of an individual organisation. That’s an out-of-date model. It no longer matches the open and software-centric needs of our users. With the development of programmable APIs in voice and messaging management, carriers no longer have to work by their vendor’s rules and can pick and choose how they use different capabilities.

From generic to specific

APIs have been used in software-focused businesses for more than two decades. In the carrier space, APIs have often been a customer requirement, but are not always implemented. There’s been a recognition that APIs are important to the future of carrier business, but are not always taken advantage of. That is changing.

Increasingly, carriers are looking to customise their solutions and integrate them into their existing systems. They want the freedom to choose what capabilities they use and evolve their back-office solutions over time. Carriers can gradually automate more of their processes and prioritise what capabilities no longer require human interaction.

It creates a more fluid and elastic environment that enables them to develop systems and processes that meet their specific needs. This changes the dynamics of the OSS/BSS market and will accelerate innovation in back-office systems, as carriers bundle and integrate a variety of APIs into cohesive solutions.

RESTful APIs can be accessed by users via a simple online library, which enables instant plug-ins to other applications. Carriers might spin-up capabilities associated with advanced routing, traffic management, bilateral management, billing, quality monitoring, fraud control, cloud-based SBC and switching with a variety of combinations or configurations.

The advantage is that they rapidly integrate new capabilities with very few barriers. This is particularly interesting as carriers consolidate their back-office systems from voice and messaging silos into a single approach. If they can use an API to manage billing for both voice and messaging, that quickly and efficiently removes the need for duplicate systems and processes. Carriers can rapidly realise new efficiency and simplify operations.

At the same time, voice carriers that are entering the business messaging market can seamlessly spin-up the capabilities required to manage and grow a new Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging service. It is about removing the complexity and resources required to capture new opportunities. Programmable APIs in the back office change the game for carriers and enable them to rapidly pivot, adapt and innovate in their back-office systems.   

A programmable future

Carriers that are successful in the future will develop rich API ecosystems that are continually evolving and being shaped to meet the needs of their organisations. They will integrate best-of-breed technologies and use them to deliver faster and more agile experiences for both customers and internal users. The outcome will be greater efficiency and automation internally and optimised experiences for customers.

Carriers will not be able to deliver service agility and click-to-connect services unless they have systems and processes in the back office that mirror the services they want to present out to customers.

Today, we’re in the infancy of programmable APIs in carrier back-office systems while network APIs begin to gain traction. Eventually, the carrier industry will be as API-centric as its OTT counterparts. It is just a matter of recognising the opportunity and finding partners that support API-First strategies.