opinion


Mobility-as-platform services: are operators the missing piece?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Martin Morgan, VP of Marketing at Openet, explores the potential of mobility-as-platform services.

Toyota and AWS recently announced they were partnering to expand Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform. As the announcement put it, the platform is an “ecosystem to help Toyota engineers develop, deploy, and manage the next generation of data-driven mobility services for driver and passenger safety, security, comfort, and convenience in Toyota’s cloud-connected vehicles”.

This is all about collecting, managing and leveraging data to help with the design and development of Toyota’s vehicles and to offer additional services such as car-share and full-service lease, or proactive vehicle maintenance notifications. At the heart of this announcement lies one crucial aspect: connectivity. And yet, missing from the announcement is the name of a telecoms service provider.

Not only do telecoms service providers provide the connectivity on which the connected car business is built, but beyond that they can be integral from a data management, policy control, real-time charging, and customer experience management perspective. These are areas they have worked in for decades, and at scale; so why are they getting overlooked?

The backbone

While there’s no doubt that AWS and Toyota may enjoy some success going it alone, there are several reasons why telecoms service providers can play an integral role in the building of these mobility services platforms.

The telecoms service providers essentially form the backbone of the platform—without connectivity, there is no platform. But beyond that, telecoms service providers play an integral role in ensuring that the right level of connectivity is being provided for the right services. This goes beyond ‘best effort’ connectivity, and even beyond the discussion around having dedicated network slices for different 5G services. This is about having the right network policy control to manage network quality and QoS across both 5G and 4G networks; being able to maximise how network resources are used and set performance characteristics for data-intensive vs non-data-intensive services.

Telecoms service providers also have a significant role to play in terms of data collection – an area where they have always excelled. They have collected real-time data for years; they know how to collect and manage this data and how to feed it into third-party systems, at large scale. Some telecoms service providers collect, manage and process, 30 billion data events per day—a scale that could be integral to car companies, especially as we move towards an autonomous car world.

Finally, there’s the customer experience and engagement aspect. Today, all telecoms service providers around the world have mobile applications to engage directly with their subscribers. Car companies like Toyota therefore have an opportunity to partner with telecoms service providers to get real estate on telco applications. This partnership could see telecoms service providers and car companies work together to offer upsell and cross-sell services such as behaviour-based car insurance.

Indeed, charging for these additional services is another area in which telecoms service providers can prove to be extremely important—their charging systems use different variables and so can be used to calculate service charges according to these changing variables—in the case of behaviour-based car insurance, this will be based on speed, location, etc.

The future of mobility platforms

For many telecoms service providers, the onus is on monetizing their investment in 5G—a feat that is easier said than done. 5G is opening the door to a wealth of new opportunities—both for the telecoms industry and others—but these opportunities will only come to fruition if telecoms service providers get a piece of the pie.

While connectivity will be the backbone of these mobility platforms, that’s simply not enough. Telecoms service providers must demonstrate to car companies, and others, why they are critical to the building of these platforms. The reality is that many telecoms service providers today have the experience, the heritage, and the knowledge required to make these platforms a success.

They have the ability to ensure subscriber experience and QoS, collect and process huge data sets, in real-time, while also providing the monetization tools that will be critical to making these platforms an ROI success. But showcasing these assets will require telecoms service providers to put their best foot forward to ensure they take a central role in the 5G value chain and beyond.

 

Martin Morgan is the VP Marketing at Openet. With 30 years’ experience in mobile communications software, Martin has worked in mobile since the early days of the industry. He’s ran the marketing teams for several BSS companies and served on trade association and company boards. In that time, he’s spoken at over 50 telecoms conferences worldwide and had a similar number of articles published in the telecoms trade press and served on trade association and company boards. At Openet Martin is responsible for marketing thought leadership and market interaction.

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