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Enterprises begin mandating open APIs as part of RFPs

Back-office implementations see increased demand for native support for TM Forum’s Open APIs, boosting interoperability and helping service providers improve agility and reduce IT integration and maintenance costs

Even though both communications service providers (CSPs) and software product suppliers are making progress in using open application programming interfaces (APIs), suppliers’ native open API support is lagging behind demand from CSPs.

As a result of the lack of support, some leading CSPs are taking a DIY approach to implementing open APIs.

This is according to research from TM Forum, as association of more than 850-member communication and digital service companies’ customers.

The association sees the goal of TM Forum’s open APIs as enabling zero-touch interoperability and zero-touch partnering, helping service providers to improve agility and reduce IT integration and maintenance costs.

Due to requests from service providers for a tool to compare suppliers’ use of TM Forum’s open APIs, it launched two Open API adoption assessment report surveys – one for suppliers and one for CSPs.

The results of the survey show that the average maturity level of open APIs is 26% higher for CSPs than for suppliers. This gap, noted TM Forum, was indicative of CSPs undertaking significant DIY activity.

“The majority of our open API implementations have been wrapping our product suppliers’ legacy APIs. This is partly driven from the fact that we are building a digital experience layer across all our markets while we are modernising the back-end supplier systems of record at a slower rate,” said Lester Thomas, chief IT systems architect of Vodafone Group, commenting on trends revealed in the two surveys.

“We have started to see native TM Forum open API implementations from some of our suppliers, and all of the new BSS [business support system] implementations we have done over the past two years have included native support for TM Forum’s open APIs.”

Thomas also noted the growing demand for zero-touch partnering Open APIs outside the telecom sector. He added that Vodafone was seeing some enterprise customers mandating the use of open APIs as part of their request for proposals (RFPs), and that the company was starting to see inter-operator cases based on open APIs as well.

The survey also revealed that the average intent of suppliers to support open APIs was 20% higher than their average maturity scores

“In analysing the results, it’s clear that most suppliers show good intent, but relatively low maturity,” said George Glass, vice-president of architecture and APIs at TM Forum.

“CSP intent is higher than supplier maturity, which means that demand outstrips supply and leads CSPs to take matters into their own hands when transforming legacy IT. Suppliers need to step up their adoption to remain relevant, especially as operators move into the enterprise market.”

TM Forum also announced that 13 leading telcos and suppliers are supporting a new Open API & Open Digital Architecture Manifesto, focused on enabling a plug-and-play IT and business architecture.

These 13 companies – Accenture, Axiata, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, CSG, Etiya, Globe Telecom, MyRepublic, Openet, Orange, SigScale and Vodafone – agreed to endorse and drive the industry towards a radical uplift in IT agility and software architecture, and stand behind zero-touch interoperability and partnering.

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