Thursday Feb 16, 2006

Don't just listen, understand!

It's half term, so Sun have arranged a business trip to Barcelona. I'm attending a Telco Sales team training event. The customer keynote was given by Xavier Krichner, Director de Prospectiva of Telefonica.

His talk offered a definition of innovation, examined some historical and, in hindsight, stupid forecasts to show how difficult finding the runners is. The key to getting it right is understanding your customers, and its not enough to just give them what they say they want. Innovators need to understand the problems and needs and deliver to unstated and future needs. Just listening and minimal compliance are not enough to build sustainable services.

He talked about four collaboration models for bringing technology innovation to the market and then went through some examples of new services in the market, based on VoIP, IPTV and an urban transport solution.

There are two points of interest (to me) about the IPTV examples. They both addressed the ability of the technology to deliver new forms of content. The first example is the use of IPTV to enhance healthcare delivery for the chronically ill. They have developed biometric capture devices and streaming and interactive content for the ill and their carers. The second example looks to leverage the channel hopping syndrome. Content can be designed for the restless to encourage hopping to additional content, which can be factual or commercial. This sort of application is easy to conceive and possibly doomed to failure, since one of the major causes of my channel hopping is the ad. breaks, I am not going to hop to an advert. However, one very interesting example is the ability to choose camera angles which has applications in both the world of fiction and sport. It has been well implemented in the computer game "Little Big Adventure 2". Xavier also demonstrated how the technology enables authors to design content with multiple paths. A "who dunnit" can either be a detective story or horror story depending upon the viewers choices. Writing non-linear fiction is reasonably rare; books are not well consumed in the wrong order, however RPG games writers have been writing non-linear stories for years. IPTV may be one way of delivering this content to consumers.

The key take-away for me is that IPTV enables new forms of content, only if service providers leverage this will it really take off. People who think that IPTV is about delivering streaming content such as movies & films are missing the point. I think that Xavier's view is that new uses or new answers to old problems drive adoption, its not just IPTV.

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