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Is a Platform Approach Right for Your Service Provider Business?

How service providers can differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace

Service providers have long sought ways to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. Launching innovative services faster, getting to market more quickly, reducing integration requirements, embedding core services like fixed-line and cellular connectivity, and lowering overall costs are just some of the challenges service providers seek to overcome.

These objectives only become harder to achieve when faced with many disparate third-party technologies that don’t work well together, require a significant upfront investment, and are complex and costly to manage. That’s what makes our platform uniquely beneficial. Did you know there are currently more than 100 active managed services in the market with leading domestic and global service providers?

One of our successful partners is Cincinnati-based CBTS. Their Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) offering is the fastest growing managed service in the company’s history. The NaaS offering includes hardware, licensing, configuration, implementation, and co-management rolled into one simple monthly expense that can be scaled up or down for greater flexibility and lower Operating Expenditures (OpEx). Since launching the service four years ago, CBTS has more than 600 customers with an average site installation of just 30 days. The offering has driven revenue growth and reduced their quote-to-cash interval for lower OpEx.

Faster Service Launch Reduces Time to Market

What really separates us from the competition is cloud management. Every device in our portfolio is powered by our unique dashboard, which provides an easy-to-operate interface that can run on anything with a browser and an Internet connection, be it a phone, tablet, iPad, or notebook computer. It provides a consistent management experience across the entire portfolio whether that’s an Access Point, switch, security appliance, camera, Mobile Device Management (MDM) application, or sensor.

Service providers can easily and seamlessly manage multiple customer environments, from one to many thousands of devices. This flexibility enables them to offer many different value-added services to their customers, increasing their stickiness and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). A customer could start off with managed Wi-Fi, then expand into managed Local Area Network (LAN), Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), or security to name a few. Additionally, because cloud management is at the heart of the platform, service providers avoid the upfront cost of purchasing numerous different management tools and the complexity of stitching them all together.

The zero-touch provisioning of all devices and central cloud management means service providers have full network visibility, which substantially minimizes the need for on-site technicians or close physical proximity to the deployed devices. This significantly improves operational efficiency and lowers OpEx.

Our customers have more than seven million devices actively deployed around the world, providing a treasure trove of powerful data and intelligence. The vast pool of data being generated by these devices provides insights for service providers to enhance their offerings and streamline operations. For example, the dashboard allows them to see how many clients are connected at any point in time and how the services are performing from the client through to application. This information is then be used to pinpoint where the problem is occurring. Service providers can also utilize this insight across their customers regardless of size, from the smallest customer with a couple of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to enterprises with thousands of devices.

Simplifying Integration Requirements

A major component setting our solution apart is that our platform is API driven. We receive more than 120 million daily API requests from machine-to-machine integration. The extensibility of the platform through our suite of APIs allows service providers and customers to integrate the dashboard at the application layer into other third-party products. This enables them to streamline operations by automating provisioning tasks, creating value-added services that are focused on vertical-specific use cases, and differentiating their offers in the market.

Much of these can be achieved “off the shelf” by partnering with one of the 130 technical partners who have already pre-integrated their software into our APIs to solve use cases across a variety of different industry verticals. For example, many service providers use ServiceNow, a large cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) management tool used for back-end systems. The ServiceNow Connector connects with our APIs and enables customers to generate organizations, networks, devices, and device statuses for increased visibility. This application also allows users to generate device alerts for automatic incident detection and the creation of tickets in the platform.

Another example of powerful features and solutions our tech partners can help unlock is data generated from our security cameras to intelligently spot whether people are wearing masks. This business analytics solution generates reports and issue alerts when people are not wearing masks, accompanied by a video snapshot to help identify them.

Operational Benefits

The turnkey nature of our platform and the extensibility provided via APIs can substantially improve the time to market and overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a service provider. Some operational advantages can easily be achieved through automating processes and tasks that previously might have taken days or weeks. These can now be done in only a few minutes, with no need for costly engineering oversight.

Service providers also spend a fortune building out core management platforms to support their services before a penny of revenue has been realized. Our platform enables them to be far more agile and take an iterative approach to their services via APIs into other systems. The full power of our platform is available on day one without any upfront expense since it comes as part of the software license tied to each device deployed.

And then there’s the “build or buy philosophy” that many service providers struggle with. If an organization has the vision and skillset it might choose the custom development route and use the APIs to build it in-house. If it doesn’t have a software development team, an organization might decide to buy off-the-shelf equipment and turn it on that same day. The large marketplace of pre-existing apps and rich API documentation provides flexibility for service providers to choose the best path to suit their unique requirements and ambitions. Either path leads to lower Capital Expenditures (CapEx) because of the cloud-based nature of the platform.

Embedding Fixed Line and Cellular

Managed service providers sell a variety of connectivity options including dedicated Internet access and Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) in conjunction with our devices. We conduct a lot of business with major cellular carriers and others who bundle our devices with their connectivity. Our devices also work off SIM cards.

With the MX security appliance, service providers can offer secure WAN connectivity, a cellular connection, and a management wrapper to a customer as a simple-to-consume package. The service provider can then deliver help desk, troubleshooting, and other services to assist the customer if something goes wrong. This is often the simplest first step for a service provider to enhance the value of their connectivity services and it introduces a multitude of value-added offerings they can provide to these customers in the future.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a more agile way to launch differentiated, unique services in the market and create new revenue streams by solving fundamental use cases for your customers, please visit our website or contact us to learn more. We also encourage you to take a closer look at a real-world deployment of Meraki managed services by reading the CBTS case study.