TM Forum Survey Reveals Telcos’ Use of Open API Exceeds Vendor Supply

In November 2019, TM Forum revealed the results of a survey exploring software product vendor and communications service providers’ (CSPs) adoption of TM Forum Open API. The survey ultimately found that although both CSPs and vendors are successfully adopting Open APIs, vendors’ support of Open API fell behind CSPs’ standards. Subsequently, more CSPs with the available resources are doing what they can to utilize Open APIs without relying on vendors.

The main purpose of Open APIs is to allow for both partnering and interoperability using zero-touch solutions that help lower costs of implementation and maintenance while increasing agility. TM Forum hopes to accomplish this with more than 50 REST-based Open APIs that aim to optimize interoperability, portability, and connectivity.

What Is TM Forum?

TM Forum is one of the largest associations spread across 180 countries with over 850-member companies’ customers, pushing toward improvement in business communication and collaboration between both digital service providers and suppliers. TM Forum works with customers to help implement effective solutions that allow them to more easily reach their goals and innovate in the telecom industry. To help better understand their customers and their struggles, and ultimately help discover new solutions, TM Forum conducts surveys.

What the Results of the Recent Survey Reveal

In response to multiple requests from various service providers to provide a comparison of Open API use among vendors, TM Forum conducted two surveys of vendors and CSPs.

The results of the survey found that CSPs had Open APIs with a 26 percent higher average maturity level than those of vendors, which subsequently shows that CSPs were engaging in more DIY duties to implement those Open APIs.

One of the factors behind this trend is the increasing need for zero-touch partnering for enterprises, as they work to include them as part of their requests for proposal (RFPs). There is also a growing number of inter-operator use cases around Open APIs.

Intent vs. Maturity

The survey revealed that the average intent to support Open APIs among vendors is around 20 percent higher than vendors’ maturity levels, as TM Forum’s Vice President of Architecture and APIs, George Glass, stated. This imbalance between intent and maturity has led CSPs to convert legacy IT from vendors into solutions that work for them through DIY solutions. If vendors want to remain relevant in today’s environment, they will need to increase their maturity scores to match their intent, particularly with the move toward enterprises.

As long as CSPs can remain self-reliant, they will continue to work on DIY Open APIs with equally high intent and maturity.

Increase in Innovation

On the same day they revealed the results of the Open API adoption survey, TM Forum disclosed that 13 of the leading telecom providers and vendors were in support of a recent Open API & Open Digital Architecture Manifesto, which placed emphasis on a more plug-and-play approach to the architecture of IT and business. The enterprises in question such as Axiata, Accenture, CSG, and Openet, agreed to help move the industry forward through zero-touch partnering and interoperability along with considerable improvements in both software and IT architecture.

To further reinforce the Open API Manifesto, 53 of the top technology ecosystem participants and CSPs have officially signed it, which shows how influential TM Forum’s Open API suite is in the industry. As a result of these endorsements, we’re likely to see a significant increase in innovation among telcos and vendors, among others.

For more information about telecom solutions and to transform the operator/vendor relationship, contact us and we’ll help you secure your position as a leader in the global digital transformation.

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