Tropo, an API that makes it simple to build phone, SMS and Instant messaging applications was picked as the winner of the Innovation Accelerator at the recent LTE Asia conference. In this interview with Fuxin Jiao-Kiuru, APAC General Manager for Tropo, we find out what the award means to them and why API development is so important in the telecoms space.
You won the Innovation Accelerator at LTE Asia. Why do you think your product attracted the attention of the judges?
Tropo bridges the gaps between telco and web development spaces, making fast innovation in communication possible. I believe the reason we won is that we are not only talking about great technology, but also real customers, real applications in the market, and real innovation and we bring in great value. In the region, both China Telecom and Globe Philippines are already using Tropo with their eco-system partners. So we are not just talking about it, we are innovating with our customers and partners as we speak.
What are the main challenges you expect to face over the next 12-18 months?
We are getting a lot of requests from various regions, and while we are small and agile organisation and can react fairly fast, that’s not enough. We need to have everyone along the chain moving quickly, from partners to telcos to developers to CP/SPs. We are working with all parties to make that happen.
What’s your view on the relationship between operators and third-party app developers and how could things be further improved?
Both operator and developers are willing to work together, but due to the process, size, culture and infrastructure differences, in reality, there is a gap. To start with, both sides need to see the gap, and think of the best way of working together. Some of the carriers we work with are in fact setting up organisations to not just serve developers and provide hackathons but to actually monetise the applications and turn the innovation there into mass success by becoming the distribution to their customer base. That distribution is what developers and innovators want access to so it is a fair exchange of value. We want to see more of these kinds of initiatives and Tropo is happy to enable and assist along the process.
How important are APIs becoming in terms of web development and in the telecoms space?
APIs have become a must. No one can continuously innovate in silos, or create based on internal resources only. APIs have become a mandatory method of bringing out each party’s true value and true innovation. I believe most telcos agree that APIs are important but have difficulty in finding an effective starting point or knowing how to take the basic API set to the next level. That’s why it is important for carriers to work with providers who can provide high quality, easy-to-use yet feature-rich APIs in order to enable developers to effectively embed telco capabilities into their applications. The API provider need to not just be a technologist, but to know the web development space/telco domain inside out and to understand how to realise commercial value on top of that. The APIs also need to reflect the unique propositions that telcos can provide. That’s where Tropo wants to be—a relevant API for both the telco and the web development space and not just for any API.
How important is winning this award to you and what impact do you think it could have?
We are thrilled to be recognised for our work and trust this will help Tropo to further accelerate its growth in Asia and beyond.