S T R A T E G I C W H I T E P A P E R
Seizing the Digital Opportunity
The New Application Paradigm
Our current digital lifestyle is enabled by a growing ecosystem of software, devices, infra-
structure and content. Forward-thinking carriers are recognizing a unique opportunity to
grab a lucrative position in this ecosystem of innovation — beyond simply providing the
conduit for communications.
Carriers can be, in fact, the ultimate enablers and providers of innovation that further
transform and enhance the way we live, work and play. By leveraging communications,
context, control and content in entirely new ways, carriers can drive personalized and
exciting customer experiences that ultimately translate into new revenue streams —
and ensure a strategic position in the digital ecosystem of the future.
Enabling the next wave of digital innovation requires exposing the network and services
to third parties, in-house developers, and trusted partners in a way that encourages rapid
development of exciting new applications — which in turn stimulate network use and
increase revenue. At the same time, carriers must ensure protection of the network and
subscribers from rogue applications.
Today’s speed of innovation requires carriers to act now — to immediately put the wheels
of change in motion before it is too late. This paper makes the case that if carriers want
to seize this extraordinary opportunity, they must quickly establish a strategic place in the
digital ecosystem or risk being further commoditized as content and applications become
the key drivers in the digital value chain.
Table of contents
1 The imperative for service providers
1 Understanding the application opportunity
2 Creating the right application approach
3 The enabling technology
4 Measuring success
The imperative for service providers
Carriers have invested staggering sums in network infrastructure by investing in replacing copper
with fiber, adding new towers, upgrading switches and more. At the same time though, their primary
voice services have been commoditized. How can carriers monetize their tremendous investment in
the network infrastructure?
They must now find a way to differentiate their offering and remain relevant to subscribers and
enterprises. Establishing a strategic place in the emerging digital ecosystem can help create relevance
anew, drive additional revenue opportunities and monetize network investments. This requires a
visionary approach to application innovation — determining how to and who will develop these
new applications, how they will be marketed and distributed, and what a win-win business model
with third parties could look like.
The new players in the ecosystem — content and application providers — cannot easily go it alone.
They need access to communications, context and control, to differentiate their offerings with new
capabilities. That’s why success for both application/content providers and carriers depends upon
finding and exploiting a mutually beneficial business model.
“Location-based services are finally emerging as one of the most
promising new mobile services categories…”
Thomas husson, The ForresTer Blog For Consumer ProduCT sTraTegy ProFessionals, July 9, 2009
Understanding the application opportunity
While 1.5 billion downloads from the Apple App Store is clearly a success, it is a constrained success
because it is limited to the Apple iPhone and the networks that support it. Likewise, BlackBerry and
Nokia are attempting to replicate Apple’s success with their own application offerings. But these
applications also suffer from limited reach and capability due to the inherent problems of being
dependent upon devices and networks.
On the other hand, carriers have built-in advantages. They are device-agnostic, can leverage their
knowledge of the network to secure the privacy of their consumers, and can exploit the full depth
of potential inherent in the network.
The true opportunity lies in enabling a rich marketplace of multi-device, cross-carrier applications
that deliver a whole new level of user experience. Consider the Short Message Service (SMS) example:
the first text message was sent in 1992, but it was not until seven years later that texting really took
off. That was when SMS messages could finally be sent between different networks.1 SMS is now a
cultural phenomenon, but it took being network-agnostic to make it possible.
Such a business model would create far greater value for all the participants in the ecosystem — service
providers, device manufacturers, application/content providers and end users. And by utilizing a
business model that shares a network provider’s assets with third parties creating applications, it
paves the way for increased data services consumption, additional advertising revenue and revenue
“Hppy bthdy txt!” BBC, December 2, 2002
Seizing the Digital Opportunity | Strategic White Paper 1
a new aPPliCaTion examPle: Video soCial neTworking
Consider the following scenario: the combination of live video sharing and networking. Say “Jim” is at an
event and wants to share the event live with his friends on Facebook. Using an application that provides
multi-party video sharing, Jim can initiate a video share with Facebook. His friends are notified and can
connect to view the video in real time. Friends who were not online at the time can see the archived
video at their convenience.
With this scenario, the basic video sharing application can be free, with advertising added with
video overlay for monetization.
Creating the right application approach
Carriers must begin formulating an approach to applications that enables them to transform their
current network assets into revenue-producing application opportunities. This means defining an
application approach — branded in-house development, co-branded development with customers,
third-party development, or a combination of any of these strategies — and implementing an open
environment to support the approach.
When it comes to attracting third-party developers, carriers must be prepared to battle for attention
within the developer community. There are, however, hurdles inherent in the application development
market that must be surmounted in order for carriers to succeed:
• Fragmentation – The current market is fragmented based on device and carrier. What is needed
is a way to enable applications to run across multiple devices and networks.
• Lack of network knowledge – Application and content providers do not have the network knowledge
or access to network capabilities needed to foster innovation.
• Shortcomings in current development programs – Current API-based development programs suffer
from limited support, high costs of certification and onboarding, and no clear upfront business
Based on focus groups and surveys, analysts and industry experts have identified six key success factors
for a win-win application business model. These factors address the hurdles above and set the stage
for creating a vibrant application and content ecosystem.
1. Make it simple – It must be easy for developers to create applications that will run seamlessly on
the network and take advantage of current network and system investments to deliver compelling
capabilities. This includes creating automated business processes and the ability to simply develop,
test and distribute applications.
2. Foster innovation – Ensure the flexibility and openness required to foster true innovation. This
includes common APIs across carrier networks. It also means building a developer community
to educate and inspire developers.
3. Ensure economic viability – The model needs to be economically viable for all involved. By making
it easy for developers to support multiple devices and even to run the application across carriers,
you can increase application revenue as well as ARPU.
4. Enable effective distribution – End users must be able to find, purchase and download applications
easily. This means effective marketing, merchandising and targeting of applications, with an
effective discovery process.
5. Protect the network – While providers need to open their networks, at the same time the providers
must ensure network performance by maintaining control and mitigating risk of applications
undermining quality of service.
2 Seizing the Digital Opportunity | Strategic White Paper
6. Secure privacy – Opening the network requires greater security and vigilance against rogue
applications and threats to subscriber privacy.
In addition to the right business model, carriers need enabling technology that allows for rapid
service creation and supports the above success factors. This technology would deliver the flexibility
to develop applications either in-house, with a trusted partner, and/or by leveraging the third-party
Gartner Dataquest recommends that telecommunications carriers
start implementing a basic set of APIs for mobile and fixed services
by 2010 so as not to miss the limited window of opportunity to
establish market position.
“daTaquesT insighT: why CommuniCaTions serViCe ProViders need To use aPis To exPose Their neTworks,”
Jean-Claude delCroix, garTner, augusT 13, 2009
The enabling technology
To implement an application approach, carriers should look for application enablement technology
that speeds time to market, reduces internal efforts, and provides the foundation for rapid success.
This technology should ideally enable carriers to securely expose their network assets to third parties,
provide application developers with an environment that supports rapid development and testing,
and deliver applications to end users via a rich, easy-to-use marketplace.
Application enablement is a core competency for Alcatel-Lucent. With its deep communications
industry experience, the company has the vision and technology to enable carriers to enjoy a
premier place in the new connected life ecosystem. The Application Enablement solutions from
Alcatel-Lucent are expressly designed to help carriers seize the application opportunity by:
• Focusing on a richer set of “enablers” on the 4Cs – Delivering and managing an enriched customer
experience requires addressing communications, content, control and context — the 4Cs of the
customer experience. With an open and multivendor solution that provides secure access to network
assets, carriers can make it compelling for third parties to innovate on the provider’s platform.
• Fostering an application developer community – Carriers can provide an environment and capabilities
that foster developer participation by making it easier and more attractive for developers creating
applications. With Alcatel-Lucent, cross-carrier aggregation increases business viability and enables
rapid development of mashup applications.
• Building a thriving application marketplace – End users need to be able to easily find, purchase and
download applications. Alcatel-Lucent offers a robust toolkit that lets carriers accelerate their
time-to-market with out-of-the-box functionality for content management for catalog informa-
tion, storefront capabilities, merchandising and marketing, advertising, payments and more.
• Optimizing quality of experience – Carriers need to have the visibility and management capabilities
required to protect the network and applications to ensure quality of experience. Carriers can
foster innovation while throttling and securing their network’s exposure to applications.
Carriers are now positioned to attract developers eager to innovate on the network provider’s platform,
that can bridge the gap to content and application providers to create a win-win business model
around the next wave of applications.
Seizing the Digital Opportunity | Strategic White Paper 3
How can carriers measure success? In order to achieve longer-term compelling bottom-line benefits,
early success is dependent upon creating a high level of developer interest and participation to foster
innovation. Next, a successful partnership model ensures economic viability for the parties involved.
Finally, a thriving application marketplace is a sign of success and drives revenue from applications
and the data services that they utilize.
With a successful application approach, there are three key areas where carriers can reap the economic
rewards: advertising revenues, application revenue (from either in-house developed or shared with
third parties), and increased service revenue from usage-driving applications.
Gartner Dataquest expects that exposing network assets will boost a provider’s average revenue per
user (ARPU) by a conservative five to twenty percentage points within two years of implementation,
including a positive churn effect. In fact, carriers with limited application offerings may lose customers.2
loCaTion-Based insuranCe Claims
Application enablement helps enterprises differentiate their brand by delivering exceptional customer
service. For example, an insurance carrier can implement an application that accesses service provider SMS,
payment, location and profile capabilities to provide better, faster service to customers who have had an
automobile accident. At the same time, the insurance carrier reduces operational costs by shortening claims
Here is how it could work: a customer sends an SMS to the insurance provider from the accident site.
The SMS is delivered to the insurance company using a service provider messaging API. With identity and
location APIs, the insurance company determines the name and location of the customer, if he or she has
opted in to enable sharing of these network details. The insurance provider can begin processing the claim
immediately, send a tow truck to the accident site and authorize payment for a rental car for the customer.
With an application strategy and enabling technology that fosters innovation, carriers can claim
a strategic place in the digital value chain, attract more subscribers through a more exciting and
secure end-user service experience, and support two-sided business models that increase revenue from
subscribers and generate new revenues from content providers, advertisers and other third parties.
Application developers gain hassle-free access to network capabilities to deliver innovative and exciting
applications — and cross-carrier and multi-device capabilities make these applications far more
economically viable than today’s applications.
Alcatel-Lucent is utilizing its deep industry knowledge to help service providers regain a strategic
position within the connected life value chain. The Alcatel-Lucent vision on Application Enablement
delivers what carriers need to foster and support application development that will help them increase
wallet share and stickiness.
With Alcatel-Lucent, carriers can create a win-win business model around the next wave of applications
and, by doing so, recoup the investment in the network and increase ARPU.
“Dataquest Insight: Why Communication Service Providers Need to Use APIs to Expose Their Networks,” Jean-Claude Delcroix,
Gartner Dataquest, August 13, 2009
4 Seizing the Digital Opportunity | Strategic White Paper