Wednesday Dec 05, 2007

Broadening my Horizons

I have just arrived at Praia Del Rey, which is actually a golf course to the north of Lisbon on the atlantic coast. I am at a conference of Sun's EMEA Telco sales team.

I have just listened to a tedious lecture about how all Telcos are looking for new high value services to increase ARPU. I wonder if any of them actually want to run an efficient network, and charge for it. I think so.

Meanwhile, its a tremendous beach, you can see the other pictures at my flickr site.

Praia Del Rey

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Friday Jun 02, 2006

The E-PBX

We rushed past Steve Uhler's e-PBX demo, where he demo'd the conection via web services of a PBX, utilising the opensource PBX solution to the internet and offered a flavour of the new services this enables.

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Thursday Feb 16, 2006

Seperating the telco hype from the reality

After lunch, Lars Godsell, one of Forrester's principal analysts shared his views about the telco industry. He promised to "separate the hype from reality".

He started with a dim view on the economic success of the european telcos, by looking at their share price performance, revenue decline and return on capital employed. He then turned to the issue of innovation, and looked at a number of inhibitors. His list included the usual suspects, from CEO commitment, through the organisational model to leveraging cluetrain & Rifkin by having sensible profitable partnering stratgies and balancing internal and external innovation investments. Companies now play multiple roles in a supply chain and yesterday's supplier is tomorrows customer, although with today's speed of business these roles do not change on daily basis, but much more frequently. (The previous speaker, Xavier Kirchner's four collaboration models also took notice of the fact that a telco can play multiple roles in the technology-to-service supply chain.)

Lars argued that Forrester see telcos as being in three businesses, Retail, Innovation and Network, and that the telco's should organise around these three factors, since they require different core competencies and face different challanges and constraints.

He looked at the role of regulation on the speed of change and profitability of the industry, being mainly critical of the European regulators and specifically the UK regulator (OFCOM), arguing that they inhibit innovation, either economically, by destroying margin, or by diversion. i.e. demanding they do stuff that is an alleged public good such as the European Data Retention directive.

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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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