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Classified in: Science and technology
Subjects: Conference, Trade Show, Survey

Telcos' Open API use outpaces vendor supply, reveals TM Forum survey

Digital Transformation Asia, Kuala Lumpur ? TM Forum, the industry association driving digital transformation through collaboration, today announced the results of ongoing surveys of TM Forum Open API adoption by communications service providers (CSPs) and software product vendors. While the survey results confirm that both sides of the industry are making progress in using Open APIs, they also reveal vendors' native Open API support lags behind demand from CSPs. As a result, some leading CSPs are taking a DIY approach to implementing Open APIs.

The goal of TM Forum's Open APIs is to enable zero-touch interoperability and zero-touch partnering, helping service providers improve agility and reduce IT integration and maintenance costs. TM Forum's suite of over 50 REST-based Open APIs enables end-to-end seamless connectivity, interoperability and portability across complex ecosystem-based services.

To date, 53 of the world's leading CSPs and technology ecosystem participants have signed TM Forum's Open API Manifesto, publicly endorsing TM Forum's suite of Open APIs.

Open API adoption survey results

Six months ago, due to requests from service providers for a tool to compare vendors' use of Forum's Open APIs, the Forum launched two Open API Adoption Assessment Report surveys ? one for vendors and one for CSPs.

Today, the Forum is releasing a report based on the results of voluntary participation in the surveys in order to give the industry a snapshot of Open API adoption and progress toward zero-touch interoperability and partnering.

The results of this quarter's survey show that the average maturity level of Open APIs is 26 percent higher for CSPs than for vendors. This gap is indicative of CSPs undertaking significant DIY activity. (Download the surveys' anonymized results here.)

Lester Thomas, Chief IT Systems Architect, Vodafone Group, confirmed this trend. "The majority of our Open API implementations to date have been wrapping our product vendors' legacy APIs. This is partly driven from the fact that we are building a digital experience layer across all our markets while we are modernizing the back-end vendor systems-of-record at a slower rate," he said. "We have started to see native TM Forum Open API implementations from some of our vendors, and all of the new BSS implementations we have done over the last 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. "In the enterprise space, we are also seeing some enterprise customers mandating the use of Open APIs as part of their RFPs, and we are starting to see inter-operator use-cases based on Open APIs as well," he added. (Listen to Thomas discuss Vodafone's use of open standards and Open APIs in an on-demand webinar.)

Open API hurdles

Comparatively, the average intent of vendors to support Open APIs is 20 percent higher than their average maturity scores, noted George Glass, Vice President of Architecture and APIs, TM Forum. "In analyzing the results, it's clear that most vendors show good intent but relatively low maturity," he said. "CSP intent is higher than vendor maturity which means that demand outstrips supply and leads CSPs to take matters into their own hands when transforming legacy IT. Vendors need to step up their adoption to remain relevant, especially as operators move into the enterprise market."

Open API conformance and training

In addition to the Open API Adoption Assessment Report, Open API Manifesto, Open API & Open Digital Architecture Manifesto, the Forum supports Open API use through several other efforts. By completing Open API Conformance certification, companies can demonstrate that they have successfully implemented Open APIs so that partners, clients and suppliers can validate conformance. The Forum also supports companies undergoing digital transformation through training courses and advisory services focused on Open Digital Architecture and Open APIs.

To learn more about TM Forum's Open APIs, the Open API Manifesto or the Open API Adoption Assessment Report, email info@tmforum.org.

About TM Forum

TM Forum is an association of over 850-member companies' customers across 180 countries. We drive collaboration and collective problem-solving to maximize the business success of communication and digital service providers and their ecosystem of suppliers around the world. Today, our focus is on supporting members as they navigate their unique digital transformation journeys, providing practical and proven assets and tools to accelerate execution and platforms to facilitate collaborative problem solving and innovation. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Learn more at www.tmforum.org.

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