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Service Provider, OTT Vendor, Device Maker: People, Can't We All Just Get Along?

By Rebecca Prudhomme Comments
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Rebecca PrudhommeThey say that politics makes strange bedfellows.  Perhaps the same can be said for the communications arena, where different types of companies often both compete and cooperate. (No, I won’t use that overused phrase co-opetition … oops!). Consider please: OTT (over-the-top) providers and device makers who need operator networks and access to the customer; operators who want their customers to have a range of apps, device and content choices, but might feel that they are competing with others when it comes to wallet share and defining the customer experience.

So, what do operators, OTT and device makers really think of each other? Where’s the common ground, and where is there disagreement and conflict?

A recent global survey sponsored by Amdocs and conducted by leading analyst firm Coleman Parkes revealed attitudes toward partnering between these three key groups.  It offered some very interesting and even surprising findings!

Some might assume that service providers think that they are at war with over-the-top (OTT) players such as Google and Skype. They certainly weren’t happy when these players first appeared on the scene and took some major bites out of their revenues. But the reality is that the majority of service providers do not view these companies as a threat.

The survey found that 70 percent of service providers actually see OTT as an opportunity. Taking things a step further, 64 percent of service providers believe OTT vendors bring value to the industry in terms of innovation, and 42 percent say they can offer any service that an OTT player can deliver. 

These numbers seem to suggest that OTT players are viewed by service providers as the industry’s speedy service innovators, and that service providers see a potential opportunity in partnering with them, and improving on their services.

How will partnering with OTT players provide immediate revenue opportunities for service providers? Sixty-nine percent of OTT vendors believe that developing partnerships is either important, or very important, for ensuring the quality of service (QoS) they need to survive and compete. That sounds like a good entry point for service providers.

Of course, none of the above means that things are totally rosy between service providers and OTT players. Both of these groups, along with device manufacturers, are determined to own the all-important customer relationship (while acknowledging the importance of forming selective partnerships with each other to achieve that goal).

Service providers should approach OTT players from a position of strength, aware that they possess valuable assets that OTT players are lacking. In fact, service providers and OTT players largely agree on what these assets are. Our global survey revealed that OTT players agree with the service providers’ assessment that their brand strength, network quality and customer data are important assets. Partnerships that attempt to leverage the value of these assets will be on strong ground.

To tap the opportunities, operators need to take a strategic approach to partnering. That means identifying potential partners and their goals, developing an approach to OTT and device makers (one that takes stock of their viewpoint and benefits), solidifying a leadership position, and recognizing and leveraging their assets.

Because, as our research suggests, many industry players have more in common than they may realize. Or to put it another way: we’re all in this together.

Rebecca Prudhomme is vice president of Product & Solutions Marketing at Amdocs . She currently leads Amdocs’ entire global team of product marketing professionals focused on bringing to market Amdocs’ products, services and solutions.

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