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Open Telco Ecosystem

Authors: Yrjo Raivio

Category: research article

Keywords: Ecosystem, Open API, Open Telco, Mobile networks, Virtual Broker

Abstract: Internet companies have utilized the benefits of open innovation and open APIs for a long time, but mobile operators are just entering the open domain with a concept referred here as Open Telco. This paper investigates how open APIs can be applied to mobile networks in order to transform them from a one-sided into a two-sided platform where new business models can be utilized. The Open Telco concept creates a new ecosystem that offers completely novel services for end users. The main characteristics of the service, mobile and Open Telco ecosystems are reviewed. The Open Telco ecosystem must meet a few prerequisites for being successful. First of all, the service must have at least national coverage to gain positive network effects. Secondly, developers want innovative pricing schema and on the other hand, regulation must be reviewed to allow novel payment services. Thirdly, the open APIs must accumulate a positive business case to the service providers, the operators. The discussion section summarizes the Open Telco ecosystem evaluation, expresses the limitations and proposes the next steps. Finally, conclusions are drawn.

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reviewer586-2 says:
Oct 28, 2011 02:38 PM

Grammar and style should be checked.
It is not easy to get a concrete view of the study case or the conclusions.
It is said that roaming support is needed to motivate developers. I do not understand this, since rather few people roam a great deal. Yet, it is beneficial if the APIs are supported by networks in several countries.
Is there a link or relation to the operators' Wholesale Application Community?

reviewer586-4 says:
Nov 29, 2011 12:26 PM

This paper is about Open Telco Ecosystem, which is conceptually interesting and novel idea combining possibilities of open interfaces, telecommunication infrastructure and network effects in two-sided markets. The author aims at presenting how the concept enables two-sided platforms based on a single case study.

Unfortunately, the paper fails to communicate the novel idea as it is lacking conceptual clarity and focus. Many concepts, even the most crucial ones, remain undefined. There's too many angles to the topic, resulting in superficial examination on each. Clear focus is called for.

Further, there is no case study reported in the present paper.

The paper is mostly applying conceptual-analytical approach. The reviewer therefore suggests restructuring the paper, focusing on defining the concepts and the interesting ecosystem setting better, and cutting off the unconvincing business case.

Detailed comments and suggestions include:
* Introduction starts with Open Web APIs. Define Open APIs and why are they beneficial. Start e.g. with "Open APIs refer to.."
* Remove third paragraph from introduction. Consider presented the problems for adoption in the discussion and motivate here on the possibilities of Open Telco Ecosystem.
* Revise the objective towards concept definition. Case study isn't applied, but elaborate how the new model was created.
* In section two, start with defining ecosystems. "By ecosystems, we refer to.."
* Consider presenting dual-sided markets first, then adding in service ecosystem actors and then presenting the peculiarities of telecommunication industry (e.g. mobile ecosystems). Use the term literature instead of theory.
* Section three could be renamed as "Open Telco Ecosystem", since you're not presenting empirical study, but a concept definition.
* In section three, start by defining Open Telco Ecosystem. Then introduce the virtual broker concept as the platform in the ecosystem. And finally introduce the other actors in the ecosystem, their role and responsibilities in the ecosystem.
* Once the ecosystem roles have been defined, focus on their incentives to operate in the ecosystem. This can be presented as benefits and revenue streams, which are now presented in rather cursory way in sections 3.3 and 3.4.
* Business case in section 3.5 is unconvincing. Details and assumptions are missing. Consider removing it.
* In the discussion, reconsider the pros and cons of the new model and whether it can be successful.

Pasi Tyrväinen
Pasi Tyrväinen says:
Dec 02, 2011 01:29 PM

Editor Decision

Your manuscript has been reviewed and reviewers have suggested revising it prior to publication.

There is still a possibility to revise this in due time to get it accepted for publication in the first peer-reviewed issue of the Communications of Cloud Software journal. To achieve this you need to read carefully the comments of the reviewers and update your manuscript accordingly in two weeks (by December 13th). Please, check also the information for authors section providing useful guidelines for revising the paper.

In case you are not able to revise the manuscript by that date, you a later revision will be reviewed for the second issue.

Looking forward for the updated version by 13.12.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Dec 11, 2011 09:22 PM

Comments for the second version:

* Proof reading provided
* WAC explained, and links to relevant pages added. All references checked.
* 3rd chapter from Introduction removed, as well as business case chapter
* References to single case study removed from this paper, instead references to JTAER added to relevant places. The focus of this paper is a literature study, eq. compilation of pages [29,20,31,32]
* Use case section added, background for analysis
* Meaning of "open API" should be well known for all readers and they are explained in the beginning of Introduction - no changes done
* Order of Section 3 changed
* Name of Section 4 changed
* Generic Broker subsection added, virtual broker spesific text removed
* Pros and cons adjusted in Discussion
* Length shortened to 10 pages

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Dec 16, 2011 01:15 PM

Figure 3 updated to include also virtual broker. Format of chapter 3 beginning corrected.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Dec 21, 2011 01:21 PM

Beginning of chapter 2.2 corrected. Page limit is violated but it can be corrected if paper is accepted.

associateEditor586 says:
Dec 21, 2011 10:23 PM

The paper has improved a lot with subsequent versions. Reading and assessing the paper regarding its focus, theoretical frameworks and analysis framework applied, and logic of presentation, I still find the paper rather complicated and difficult to grasp. I would suggest the chief editor to consider whether to publish this as it is, or to require simplification/streamlining of the text. This could be done e.g., by asking a person with a non-technical background to streamline the text by thinking also non-technical audiences. I think this to be important as the paper focuses on business issues rather than technical issues.

Tommi Mikkonen
Tommi Mikkonen says:
Dec 22, 2011 10:28 AM

Editor Decision

Your manuscript has been reviewed and reviewers have suggested further revising it prior to publication.
Please, read carefully the comments of the reviewers and update your manuscript accordingly in two weeks. Similarly, please, check also the information for authors section providing useful guidelines for revising the paper.

Looking forward for the updated version by 21.1.2012.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Dec 31, 2011 11:28 AM

Comments on version 0.5:
- Section 1 rewritten, new figs added to illustrate the big picture
- Section 2 simplified
- Section 4.1 added, section 4.3 and 4.4 rewritten
- a few references deleted

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Jan 03, 2012 10:45 AM

Comments on version 0.6:
- Abstract and conclusions reviewed.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Jan 08, 2012 02:21 PM

Comments on version 0.7:
- unused references removed
- a few figs redrawn

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Jan 10, 2012 11:19 AM

Comments on version 0.8:
-Editorial changes

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Jan 10, 2012 01:21 PM

Additional comment on version 0.8:
- the latest 0.8 is the valid version
- figure 5 edited

reviewer586-4 says:
Feb 11, 2012 11:12 AM

Like the associate editor, I feel the paper has improved (reviewing version 0.8), but still lacks clarity. One of the main reasons for this is that there are too many concepts and viewpoints.

The reviewer suggest cutting off viewpoints that are not relevant (i.e. only related) and focusing on clear definition of the concept which are the most critical concepts to the overall picture. Keep focus on clearly answering to the research question: how open telco enables two-sided platforms.

The introduction seem okay now; The author defines open APIs and discusses developers' and operators' needs. The author could clarify how he sees or assumes multi-sided platform as an answer to these needs, before introducing the research question.

The section on use cases is useless in its current form and location. The current section presents a set of abbreviations with no meaning to the reader. Use cases are dropped into the table 1 and left without introduction and elaboration on why they're important. But.. Description of the use cases seem to relate to actual use of open telco system (or?). Therefore, presenting use cases in the section 4, after introducing the architecture, could have value.

The section three should be focusing on definition of two-sided platforms. Now the author introduces several concepts that are related, but could be removed to clear more space for providing a good definition of dual-sided platform. The reviewer encourages defining clearly What is a dual-sided platform, Why is it important and to Whom is it important.

Similarly, the related concepts of scalability, differentiation, openness, regulation, multihoming and pricing should be elaborated and their importance here needs to be argued.

Also, the illustration of the concepts in figure 4 should be described in detail.

Then, in the metatext for section 4, you could then introduce that you'll a) present a definition of open telco system by describing its architecture and use cases, and b) discuss the similarity, scalability etc. concepts in the context of Open Telco. This would bind the abstractions presented in the literature to elaboration of the Open Telco concept.

In the discussion, several new directions are considered. While these are all interesting, do pay attention on discussing how open telco enables two-sided platforms (that is, you research question). In the conclusion, summarize your finding against the research question.

Some minor comments related to the diagrams:
* Introduce tables and figures in the text before they appear in the paper.
* Figure 1 doesn't bring any added value to the introduction. It could be removed. Consider also removing figure 3.
* Figure 5 suggests that end-users are using IaaS layer (?!). Should you place the end-users on top of the diagram to indicate that they'll be using SaaS/services?

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Feb 13, 2012 03:39 PM

Thanks for the valuable comments. As said, this is more like a summary paper and there is not enough space to describe all details as requested. Those are explained in the references. However, I will make some restructuring and lets see by end of this month how does it look like or is it better to write something new.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Mar 12, 2012 05:37 PM

Fully rewritten version 1.0 uploaded. Most of Sections except 1 are fully rewritten. The scope has been changed from a two-sided platform to ecosystem in theory and analysis sections. Also references updated to reflect the latest changes. The paper still lacks proof reading.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Mar 13, 2012 03:54 PM

Research limitations and next steps added to Discussion.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Mar 30, 2012 12:47 PM

Comments on version 1.2:
- Ecosystem health analysis added to Related research section
- The Four Corner model explanation added to Results section

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Apr 04, 2012 11:55 AM

Comments on version 1.3:
- A few small editorial mistakes in References corrected

reviewer586-1 says:
Jun 24, 2013 01:31 PM

The paper discusses the implications of increased popularity of open APIs on mobile network operators’ business, and introduces the Open Telco ecosystem as a new way of organizing business. The paper builds on conceptual discussions on value networks and business ecosystems, while the analysis relies only on secondary sources. The paper introduces a timely topic of practical importance, but there are several shortcomings that motivate the reviewer to recommend a major revision of the paper.

First of all, the paper fails to communicate its focus logically. It is unclear, whether the scope is to concentrate strictly on Open Telco ecosystem and its ‘birth’, or to describe a transformation from a value network towards an ecosystem. The paper should clearly and consistently express the aspect it wants to take on the topic. This could also help to drop out some of the concepts that are not necessary for explaining the core phenomenon. Now the paper is rather confusing because it introduced a variety of key and related concepts and abbreviations that would all require a definition if mentioned in the paper. Many of the technical concepts make the paper unnecessarily complicated, particularly for non-technical readers.

Secondly, the paper calls for more rigorous conceptual foundation. Depending on the real focus of the paper, the value network discussion should either be elaborated more and integrated also to other parts of the paper, or left out. If the aim is to examine a shift from value network to an ecosystemic form of organizing businesses, then also a more critical discussion on the differences and similarities of the two approaches is required. The author should provide a clear justification of why these approaches are selected and applicable to the specific context.
The concept of value chain could be left out and the concept of value network better explained by integrating more previous literature. For example, some of the following studies may prove to be helpful:
* Parolini, C. (1999). The value net: a tool for competitive strategy. Chichester, Wiley.
* Kothandaraman, P. & Wilson, D. T. (2001). The Future of Competition: Value-Creating Networks. Industrial Marketing Management, 30 (4), 379–389.
* Möller, K. & Rajala, A. (2007). Rise of strategic nets — New modes of value creation. Industrial Marketing Management 36(7): 895-908.
* Helander, N. & Kukko, M. (2009). A Value-Creating Network Analysis from Software Business. International Journal of Management and Marketing Research, 2 (1), 73-88.
* Nalebuff, B. & Brandenburger, A. (1997). Co-opetition: Competitive and cooperative business strategies for the digital economy. Strategy & Leadership, 25 (6), 28-23.
* Normann, R. & Ramírez, R. (1993). From value chain to value constellation: Designing interactive strategy. Harvard Business Review, 71 (4), 65–77.
* Bovel, D. & Martha, J. (1993) From supply chain to value net. Journal of Business Strategy, 21 (4), 24–28.

Chapter 2 suffers from a lack of clear structure and seems rather fragmented. For one, this is because the paragraphs rely on few references that are mostly introduced separately from each other. For example, adding and unifying definitions from the following references could elaborate the concept of business ecosystem more:
* Moore, J. F. (1998). The rise of a new corporate form. The Washington Quarterly, Winter 1998, 167–181.
* Iansiti, M. (2005). Managing the ecosystem. Optimize Magazine, 4 (2), 55–58.
Another reason for the fragmentation is the separation of the ecosystem discussion to chapters 2.2 and 2.4. Incorporating all parts of the ecosystem conceptualization in one chapter would be advisable.

Explicit reasoning for the introduction and relevance of the three specific types of ecosystem (service, mashup and mobile ecosystem) is needed. The paper should also critically discuss the different approaches to business ecosystem and evaluate to what extent the different streams of discussion are complementary and in what ways they differ.

The analysis is centered on five issues (architecture, characteristics, health evaluation, key players and their roles, and challenges) but this approach is not clearly argued for. Justification and problematization are needed. In several parts the analysis does not rely on the conceptual discussion provided earlier, or at least this does not become apparent in the referencing. It is also unclear on what are the assumptions of the analysis based on, because several sub chapters do not include any references that would indicate the source of data on network operators.

The contribution of the paper should be explicitly expressed.

Minor comments:
* Instead of ecosystem ‘theory’ it would be better to say scholarly discussion or literature because it is disputable whether an ecosystem theory has been established.
* On several places references seem to be lacking. Check also where reference is given only to one sentence but should actually refer to a longer passage of text.
* It seems that Figure 1 is taken from an online source without modifications. This figure could actually be removed, and the point of the increasing use of open APIs could be made in text only. Also, the reference at the footnote does not lead directly to an address, in which the figure would be visible.
* References of footnotes should be included in the in the list of references, too.
* Journal’s instructions for figures should be checked (alignment, figure title style).
* Journal’s reference list style needs to be checked: Are references supposed to be listed and numbered in an alphabetical order or in order of appearance?
* The statement “Riedl et al propose a collaboration model with four actors connected to an innovation space.” (chapter 2.5, p. 5) should either be removed or elaborated more.
* The reviewer would problematize the following statement regarding the evaluation of ecosystem health by its productivity: “Productivity can be measured through the number of innovations.” What is meant by innovation here and how can the number of innovations be measured?
* Language check needed.
* Explicit suggestions for future research needed.
* The author claims that ”several theories from academic business literature support the assumption that businesses are becoming more networked”. It is the empirical evidence utilized in previous research that supports the assumption, not theories as such.

Yrjö Raivio
Yrjö Raivio says:
Jun 25, 2013 09:19 AM

Thank you very much for your useful comments and especially a list of references. They were much appreciated. However, this paper will not anymore developed further because the topic is partly out of date but the content will be reformulated in a new paper that is under construction. Thanks again for all commentators.

reviewer586-2 says:
Aug 26, 2013 12:53 AM

This paper investigates the Open Telco system as a novel ecosystem to create two-sided mobile platforms. The scope for this is in mobile ecosystems that are based on network APIs. The author aims at presenting how open APIs can be applied to mobile networks in order to transform them from a one-sided into a two-sided platform where new business models can be utilized.
However, in overall the idea of Open Telco Ecosystem is interesting but there are some shortcomings in the paper.
The main problem of the paper is lack of clarity and focus. In fact, there are many concepts and terms that would require a clear definition or references. The paper should clearly and comprehensively discuss the approaches it wants to take on the paper. In the section of analysis of the Open Telco ecosystem, five subsections as the prerequisites of the birth of a successful Open Telco ecosystem are discussed, for the reviewer is not clear how they are related and why these are selected and discussed. However, more clear explanation of these subsections may answer these problems. Authors discussed the success factors of an ecosystem; without clear discussion on how Open Telco Ecosystem addressed these factors? Also, how Open Telco ecosystem enables two-side platform for mobile operators?
Moreover, in the related research section, many papers are discussed which their relation to Open Telco is not clear for reviewer. It seems that the references which are referred and discussed are mostly separated from each other. The authors should critically discuss some papers to address different approached to the main concern of the paper such as open APIs, two-side platforms ecosystem, mashup ecosystem, weak points and strong points of different ecosystems.
Finally, there is no clear case study discussion in the paper. The reviewer recommends the authors to apply and investigate a most related use case scenario based on Open Telco ecosystem.

Pasi Tyrväinen
Pasi Tyrväinen says:
Oct 13, 2013 07:18 PM

Editor decision:
As the authors consider it better to reformulate a new paper based on the ideas and review comments, the review process has been closed. Thank you for the submission and thank you for the reviewers for their valuable input.

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