Businesses Can’t Do It Alone – Success Depends Upon a Healthy Partner Ecosystem

Partnering is one of the key initiatives of communication service providers (CSP) to gain a competitive edge in the market through collaboration with multiple partners, develop and test innovative ways to utilize 5G infrastructure and build a future-ready sustainable business ecosystem. The goal is to deliver delightful experiences and business values at scale from anywhere and anytime.

The 5G framework offers CSPs an opportunity to reimagine their core services, build competitive pricing models and explore sustainable partnerships. It empowers them to fuel innovation and revolutionize connectivity, like what public cloud provider frameworks have done to computing.

So far, only a few CSPs have started their 5G journey and have invested billions of dollars in acquiring 5G wireless spectrum. The goal is to offer innovative essential services to end consumers and enterprises. We are yet to experience a real 5G ecosystem play but 5G implementation is growing quickly due to the constant evolution of 5G networks and the growing use of smartphones to deliver connected experiences. CSPs need agility and flexibility to run their businesses, a vehicle to go beyond core business and explore multiple partnerships across verticals like Education, Healthcare, e-Gaming, e-Sports, Media & Entertainment, Energy, and many more.

Why it is important to work with multiple partners?

So, let me explain to you with a simple example – We all have played a game of cards and do understand that one card by itself isn’t worth much but when we play poker it is the combination of cards in our hands that is going to give us a royal flush. Similarly, an ecosystem works where we need the right partners that can work together and complement each other to create a competitive advantage in the market. That is how companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon are leading in their operating markets. Partnerships can benefit every stage of a customer lifecycle and real-time intel on customers can empower you to approach the right set of partners, collaborate with them, co-create the content, and drive breathtaking results.

Partner selection is never easy, so how to approach and select revenue-generating partners for a self-sustainable ecosystem

Remember the Royal Flush in Poker, the key is that combination of partners should give you an edge and competitive advantage in the marketplace. Asking the right questions is very important because apart from content you want partners with the same enthusiasm and commitment as you do, and adds credibility to your business. Here are some key considerations that you can use for the best partner selection in your ecosystem,

  1. What kind of partners do you need and why? How do they add value? What are the markets that are being served? What are the complementarities required to accelerate the productivity of an ecosystem? For example, if you are trying to build a self-driving car then, you need a car, sensors, computing devices, navigation systems, and most importantly high-speed connectivity for a better experience. According to me, all these components are the partners in an ecosystem.
  2. Do these partners have the capabilities that you need? For example, do they have the expertise and right skillsets? What are their assets? What are the tools and technologies?
  3. How will these partners interact with each other? For example, will you have many of the same kinds of partners? Duplication, if you will, in your ecosystem? Or will it be exclusive? That's an important question to think about in advance.
  4. How will you attract these partners? You think you have some ideal partners that you want but will they come to your party? So, for that you really need to ignite the growth, connect leading partners, and sequence which partner will join and how you attract the future ones to join. For example, in the smartphone sector, Apple and Google had laid the foundation and then invited hardware and software partners to leverage core capabilities and created value on top of it.
  5. Who gets paid what? Every partner in the ecosystem is expecting a return for their investment otherwise they won't play along. So, it is important for you to strategies and outline clear terms of exchange between the partners.

Now, let us understand Partner first ecosystems and how it is accelerating the need for 5G

5G is going to fundamentally change how mobile networks are built and the key to 5G invention was to evolve from a monolithic model into an open secure network system that fuels co-opetition, innovation, and new levels of automation to increase productivity across industry verticals like Connectivity, Healthcare, Education, Sports & Gaming, Automotive, Media & Entertainment, Energy, Agriculture and many more.

With 5G capabilities of ultra-low latency, hyper reliability, and massive machine communications, we are going to see a huge change in the way we can operate and control machines in real-time. 5G is going to unlock many revenue opportunities for telcos that were not possible before. Telcos have realized that they need platform and partner ecosystem strategy in place for them to become Digital ecosystem enablers, manage horizontal/vertical partnerships, offer multi-partner solutions and rethink the value chain with an ability to monetize business use cases driven through innovation.

Healthcare – We can leverage a 5G low latency network to build a digital healthcare ecosystem where robotic surgeons can carry out remote surgeries from anywhere in the world, Patient health vitals can be uploaded/exchanged in real-time, Teleradiology can be implemented where, AI & machine learning can be used to identify irregularities in patient records thereby, improving the overall accuracy of the reports. This will unlock new business opportunities for hospitals.

E-Commerce – We can build truly immersive experiences for buyers to have delightful interactions, ingestion of augmented reality will fuel personalization in the customer journey, 5G enabled VR headsets will empower customers to test drive a car digitally. Further, 5G enabled IOT solutions will fuel automation across supply chain management and empower micro, small, medium, and large enterprises to integrate with the larger ecosystem and do commerce together.

Education – We can bring students, teachers, mentors, and tutors closer to build a seamless experience. Students can watch and download instructional and educational video content in seconds. 5G bandwidth intensive capability to deliver immersive experiences will empower schools and students to adopt Virtual reality based powerful learning tools. Similar to healthcare and the manufacturing sector – 5G will set the stage to embrace robotic technologies to reduce the workload of school employees and undertake some of their daily tasks related to counseling, course enrolments, and advisory.

Connectivity, Media & Entertainment - Sharing 5G infrastructure, launching of new Smartphones/IoT devices, exposing 5G network capabilities to test and deploy multi partner innovative solutions. 5G has raised consumer and enterprises’ expectations in terms of how they want to consume and experience services like unlimited high-speed data to get truly immersive experiences through AR/VR, Watching Videos – 360 degrees viewing of live sports events, Ultra HD live streaming, download and upload movies in seconds.

Now, you know how a well thought Partner first ecosystem can help us to achieve the right balance between traditional and digital to create innovative solutions, delivering the richest customer experience. So, we need to think about all the partners we need, and get enough value out of the ecosystem for us to continue and collaborate.

Please connect with me on LinkedIn and let's keep this conversation going. I'd love to hear about the challenges you faced and the successes you've had in this new world of ecosystem strategy.


Gaurav Sharma

General Manager – Product Office

Techno-Business Professional offering 15+ years’ experience of transformational leadership in driving Digital Transformation and defining Partner first ecosystem & Platfrom Strategy, of large, complex Global Programs in Telecom, E-Commerce & Fintech domain.