Cisco India Blog

Enabling the transformation to Digital Service Provider

- May 16, 2017 1:33 pm

The push for transformation stems from changing consumer expectations

The launch of the Indian Government’s Digital India initiative signaled an acknowledgement of the changing wants and desires of the new-age Indian consumer. Be it across the urban or rural landscape, the discerning Indian consumer today has become accustomed to accessing information, retail, financial and entertainment services across devices, at any time and at any location. Going forward, this desire to stay connected will only grow but successful fulfillment will depend heavily on the transformational growth journey of Indian telecommunications service providers (TSPs)

The insatiable demand for smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices is generating staggering amounts of mobile data. According to a recent  Cisco report there will be 990.2 Million (71% of India’s population) mobile users in India by 2020, up from 798.4 Million in 2015, a CAGR of 4.4%. Also as per the report, video will account for 72% of India’s mobile data traffic by 2020, compared to 40% at the end of 2015. At the same time, cloud applications will account for 90% of total mobile data traffic by 2020, compared to 76% at the end of 2015

By 2020, an additional 318 million devices will be added to this figure, making it approximately one device per capita in this country.  However, there exists an Indian Internet paradox- with 400 million Internet users, India has a huge number of individuals using the Internet and  a third of next billion Internet user are predicted be from the country. However, the Broadband penetration in the country ranks only 131st worldwide.

These numbers are evidence of a constantly evolving consumer desire to become a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, which is essentially what the Digital India initiative aspires to enable.  It is precisely this convergence of forces – like the government’s Digital India initiative and changing customer expectations – that is compelling existing telecom/video service providers to transform themselves into digital service providers (DSPs). The figure below depicts a 4 step approach to transition from being a TSP into a DSP.

The telecommunications industry has traditionally provided the backbone to digitization for other industries. However, telecommunication service providers who are slow to digitize their own operations and offerings by leveraging cloud, mobile and video are now at risk of competing solely on price, or becoming completely redundant. In order to move up the value curve, telecommunication service providers need to adopt a long-term view of this transformation and examine how they can accelerate and innovate a more sustainable growth path. TSPs need to aid in taking services from the classes to the masses and this can be achieved by evolving in DSPs.

Service Provider need to transform to “Customer centric” than being “ Network Centric” by optimizing the behavior of customer than of Network.

“ 1st  digital disruption happened with  smartphones” which  decoupled communication services from transport. As a result, Telco´s lost their “monopoly” role providing those services to consumers to platform businesses like Facebook, Google and Apple.

The current business model for connectivity at least in mobile will fundamentally change, it is not hard to conclude that in the 2020´s the traditional mobile pipe business model will transform into a platform based business model with marketplaces for automatic trading of connectivity. This will be the” 2nd wave of disruption”. Telco’s if they do not move now will be at best suppliers to those new marketplaces. They will deliver data transport for transactions where they have the best connectivity to offer with no end customer relationship

Transformation begins with an ‘Uberized’ network

The primary construct of a DSP revolves around delivering an integrated, automated and intelligent bouquet of services to customers while ensuring a frictionless onboarding and service consumption experience. The foundation for delivering digital services via a variety of business models is a connected ecosystem of customers and partners – all of whom rely on the digital service provider’s network.

A DSP applies the principles of Internet service delivery, meaning its delivery architecture is integrated, seamless, intelligent, automated, simple and in real time. A DSP provides digital services through a variety of business models built on a networked ecosystem of consumers and other service providers with a laser focus on driving almost all interactions online and across devices.  The simplest way of defining the parameters of a competent digital service provider network is the 5 Vowel Approach:

  • A for Awareness of customer requirements and the networks ability to adapt to changes in customer demands.
  • E for Elasticity of network to accommodate new unexplored verticals
  • I for IP-fication of networks to provide 4K video, cloud, mobile, M2M on demand
  • O for Optimization of network to cater to various mediums of wireline and wireless networks
  • U for Ubiquity to create ever-present networks

This requires DSPs to transform their mobile and wireline broadband networks by moving to IP for increased speed and load advantages. This ‘IPfication’ across the physical and infrastructure layers enables DSPs to meet customer service and user demands for 4K video, cloud, mobile, and M2M technologies, thereby enabling an on-demand and seamless experience anytime, anywhere. This ‘Uberization’ creates an elastic and converged network fabric across core, edge and optical network elements which also extends to the data center.

The key attributes of this integrated network fabric is that it is open, programmable, virtualized, automated and supported by real time analytics. As the network evolves to connect more cloud based service offerings and mobile users, the network infrastructure must be intelligently converged all the way to the applications layer and across the cloud to a growing number of data centers.

Virtualized and distributed data centres are a key component of an “Uberized” network that ensure business continuity by using cloud computing. Also, IP should be used as the nerve centre for service awareness. This helps TSPs get rid of a jumble of legacy systems, networks and user interfaces (UI) that are nearing end of life. TSP networks should be backed by software and services that result in dynamic service creation and network management.

Platforms are the epicenter of digital service provider strategies

Service Provider needs to Provide Digital Services through various business model built on Network Ecosystem of consumer and other service provider with focus on providing all services online and across devices.

Digital service platforms are innovation environments that facilitate the creation and deployment of differentiation services for DSPs beyond traditional core telecommunication offerings. This is the key layer which will help a regular telecommunications service provider transform a decentralized layered network to a unified and centralized architecture.

Platforms do not compete for example on inputs to the business like labor and resources (network, shops, call centers) but instead can aggregate external resources at scale.

Flexibility and agility are important aspects: these platforms must enable easy creation, reading and deletion of services on the go. This is a critical success factor for DSPs who can no longer retain customer loyalty and trust with extended timelines that contribute to a dissatisfactory experience. The platform needs to be highly programmable to create relevant and usable service stacks, and should enable service convergence through automated service delivery via cross orchestration tools. This require the presence of a highly automated and attractive set of virtualized network services.

Collaboration with partners can build a stronger experience ecosystem

While in the past TSPs have found themselves at odds with OTT providers, there are now distinct advantages to making services such as data analytics, payments, and billing accessible to third parties. The success of a DSP depends on its partner network, and the ability to provide a consolidated platform that can aggregate capabilities in one place, and allow developers to make use of their service reach.

This leads to “massifcation” service verticals while creating a new stream of monetization for the DSPs.  Sectors like entertainment, healthcare, retail and more can be explored by DSPs. They can leverage their existing technical expertise to create services for specific verticals.

Reframing the business vision to drive growth

Many Indian service providers, both large and small, have already identified the need to go down this path of transformation and are already trying to re-architect and enhance existing service offerings to meet customer demands. While not all SPs are at the same stage of the transformation journey, the litmus test of success for each will depend on the vision at the top of the chain. The management or leader of the service operator company must clearly and efficiently redefine and re-innovate the working experience for this organization-wide change to occur successfully. This enhanced vision and commitment to enhancing the overall customer experience and fostering deeper relationships with partners and customers will lead the way to change and higher profitability.

Critical question remains that will this change be in-house or spin-off which redefines the organization structure, culture, Talent & business outcomes.

Transition to DSP will be a “Top- Down” phenomenon, not to view themselves as a utility provider, shift from serving a channel towards becoming a platform.

Leave a comment


  1. The era of internet 2.0 is cultivating the world to a much more technology centric place. The “Internet of things” reaching every object and devices in the world. IOT devices has centralized the entire 7.4 billion people on earth on a same page.