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How Dutch telco KPN is making new connections with APIs

July 3, 2019
Anuschka Diderich

Platform Lead at KPN Open Innovation Hub, KPN

Editor's note: Today’s post is by Anuschka Diderich, Platform Lead at KPN, a 130-year-old Dutch landline and mobile telecommunications services company. Read on to learn how KPN is connecting people using API-powered products and services.

“I’ll connect you.”

Those were the first words uttered over the line in 1881, when the first public telephone network in the Netherlands started operating. Though our name has changed since then, as a leading telco in The Netherlands, KPN has been making connections for over 130 years. One of our newest tools we’re using to do this is APIs.

I'm responsible for the development of new platform business models, which is part of KPN’s Open Innovation Hub. A lot of our new development and initiatives start here, like the KPN API Store; successful projects in the hub grow into bigger things. Via the API Store, our APIs are offered to our existing B2B customers and also to prospects, including SMEs and large corporate customers. We take a marketplace approach to commercializing our APIs, offering homegrown KPN solutions along with third-party products; this is why we call it a store rather than a marketplace. Our partners range from startups to big companies, and our ecosystem keeps growing. We use the Apigee API management platform to power the KPN API Store.

An API store for the telco industry
As a telco, communications APIs are obviously our core competency, and we offer quite a few contextual communications products. For example, we offer APIs for B2B call centers that enable them to add chat or SMS notifications to existing solutions, or move conversations from email to SMS and messaging apps. These are the building blocks that our customers use to create their own products and services.

A good example: a software development company in the healthcare space developed a video consultation app for doctors. The app enables some types of appointments to happen outside of the hospital, freeing up precious time and resources for doctors, hospitals, and patients. The video API was developed by an ecosystem partner, acquired through the KPN store, and managed with Apigee, helping ensure that the high level of security and data protection required in healthcare is built into the app. The launch was so successful that now the app is being rolled out to 12 hospitals in the Netherlands.

Another of our ecosystem partners, Contexta, is just out of the startup phase but already offering specialized speech-to-text functionality focused on the Dutch language. Clients integrate this service with APIs that improve quality control, training, regulation, and analytics in call centers. It is used to automatically identify which calls, based on keywords, need to be stored for a certain number of years to comply with Dutch regulatory requirements. 

Security and usability
KPN has a dedicated team working with the Apigee platform across development, platform management, and monitoring. We took a soft launch approach to introduce the minimum viable product of the API Store, and then extended the portal’s functionality and started to build up a portfolio. We’ve been very satisfied with the speed to market that the platform gives us. 

Security is also an important consideration for KPN—it’s part of our value proposition to customers. During our evaluation, we put Apigee through rigorous testing so we would know the platform could meet our high security standards. We concluded that it offers us the right level of security, which helps us keep our promise to our customers. 

The developer portal that we’ve built on top of the Apigee platform targets two of our API Store’s target markets. One is of course developers, who like the convenience and usability of the portal. It's easy to find APIs, test them in a sandbox environment, register, and start consuming them. But the second part of our strategy is focused on business owners, product owners, innovation managers, and product managers who want to extend their products’ functionality and who need APIs to do that. 

Setting the stage for innovation
With so many new APIs published every day, we appreciate that people only have to register once for the API Store and can then access multiple APIs. With the API Store, the documentation flow is standardized, there’s a single point of contact for support, and users only receive one invoice for all the APIs consumed.

APIs provide endless possibilities for new products and services. Our API Store has enabled us to broaden our target market and create new revenue streams. We’ve been able to expand services like SMS that we already had internally. And we’ve also been able to combine services from KPN with those from third parties to create new functionality. All these APIs are available in the store, and we see clients starting to bundle them to create new products that KPN can help them to integrate.

To learn more about API management with Apigee, visit our website.

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