The Universal Telecom API in Asia Panel Discussion

TADSummit Asia 2020 Panel Discussion: Why Asia could be the best region for a Universal Telecom API

Asia is unique in programmable telecoms (CXTech). We’ve not yet seen dominant region-wide CPaaS providers (like Twilio in North America) nor dominant telcos (like Vodafone in Europe) nor broad adoption of UCaaS/CCaaS by enterprises.

Developer adoption of communication / telecom APIs has varied greatly across the region. Some CPaaS are region-focused aggregators with a few large customers, some have achieved significant country-wide success across small to large enterprises as well as developers (e.g. IdeaMart in Sri Lanka), others have invested significant resources for few results.

Asia is the most challenging market in the world with respect to telecoms and programmable communications (CXTech). It’s not a single regulatory framework, it is built on many personal relationships, some countries seem to change annually on who’s the right contact.

Sebastian Schumann, Technology & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom; and Marten Schoenherr, CEO/Founder at Automat Berlin GmbH both gave excellent presentation that set out the background to this panel discussion.

We’re then going to have a deep dive panel discussion on with the mind-trust of programmable communications in Asia:

  • Sebastian Schumann, Technology & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom
  • Marten Schoenherr, CEO/Founder at Automat Berlin GmbH
  • Mark White, Tech M&A, Investor, Founder, Board Member, Startup.
  • Craig Richards, Vice President, Products and Engineering at Apigate (or we could use the title TADHack KL to avoid any issues)
  • Dinesh Saparamadu, Founder of Applova Inc., hSenid Group of Companies & PeoplesHR | Entrepreneur | HR & Mobile Industry Thought Leader

In the panel we ask questions of Sebastian and Marten on their presentations. Analyzing telcos’ experiences in CPaaS to understand what worked and what did not.

This is a long panel discussion, there is much to cover, and it’s insightful. In this weblog I’ll attempt to compress the discussion down into a few paragraphs. The consumers of Telecom APIs are seeking more flexible solutions with less lock-in, they’re becoming more sophisticated in their needs. The 200-300% mark-ups on a telcos’ wholesale rates are now an issue. However, CPaaS technology is no longer a barrier. The presentation by Dave Horton highlighted that.

There’s definitely market pull (from the telecom API consumers). On market push its a much more complex situation. Telcos being successful in the CPaaS space are few, and we discussed the special circumstance for that success. Perhaps the aggregators could be better positioned?

Regardless, a broader market push by telcos’ customers will likely be needed for them to commit; for example customers longer considering telecoms as something bought from telcos. A point I highlighted in my Welcome to TADSummit Asia. Given the current crisis many people and businesses are learning telecoms is now provided by lots of companies other than their telco.

In the diverse markets of Asia, some have dominant non-telco communication platforms like LINE in Japan and WeChat in China. They are influencing customers’ expectations. Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis we could see a revolution in CPaaS that disrupts telcos, aggregators, and the current leading CPaaS providers. We’re not clear on who will lead this revolution, but we’re seeing the conditions emerge, particularly in Asia. The first battle of CPaaS is coming to a close, with VC funded winners and telcos relatively unaffected. The second battle will be far more disruptive.