Thursday, April 17, 2008

New telco insights are catching on

While the STL conference is ongoing, it is striking to see how their very original views are catching on, to say it nicely. I've written about their 'brainstorm' and accompanying report before and stumbled over no less than three institutions who seems to be taking a page or two from STL's Telco 2.0 (TM) views (yes, they trademarked the term): IBM, Accenture and Heavy Reading (a unit of UBM). Follow the links, and here are a few quotes.

The common theme: telcos face marginalisation and must act now to prevent it.

RegLugtu of IBM Philippines: A future in content

Reinventing “walled garden” involves: leveraging capabilities such as presence and location to enhance collaboration among subscriber social networks; providing trusted and third party authentication among participants in a social
network; and encouraging user and community content such as college sports and
community programming over IPTV.
Telecom providers can also provide a “white label” content distribution service to third-parties to distribute branded content to their subscriber base without having to invest in building their own infrastructure.
Telecom providers can also collaborate with new platform aggregators by enabling the integration of network capabilities such as location, presence, voice and conferencing in Web 2.0 and virtual world applications such as Second Life.
Finally, as professional content owners bypass traditional content distributors and deliver content directly to consumers, telecom providers can lower their entry costs by providing them with managed open content distribution platforms with end-to-end service quality and management and multi-channel capabilities.
In short, telcos must look to combine their investment in service delivery platforms and Information Management Systems (IMS) with new digital content services; invest in service quality management to enhance the end-to-end user experience across multiple networks and devices; and enable users to control their content experiences.

Andy Zimmerman of Accenture Global Communications
Operators have assets relating to the end user - like presence, identification, authorisation and credit information - that give them a richer customer relationship than other members of the value chain, says Zimmerman. "But they haven't been particularly proactive about bringing those to the table," he says.
Despite this, he argues that there is a rough 50/50 split in the carrier community today, with one half ready to accept a redefined role, and the other convinced that it needs to play end-to-end to avoid being marginalised. "It depends on the individual personalities, and where their company is at the moment," he says. "There are a fair number of executives out there who say that they're never going to be in the [end-to-end] business, and that they should focus on the enabling business."
Zimmerman's assessment of the structure of the industry may not be what everyone wants to hear. But he's not the first observer to suggest the carrier community might be heading up a blind alley. Whether any of his consulting customers heed his advice or not remains to be seen.

Graham Finnie of Heavy Reading: Reinventing the Telco

Telcos and their suppliers still believe that the future lies in telcos themselves provisioning a wide range of packaged services to end users. However, a significant minority of survey respondents believed that telcosshould focus on providing basic bandwidth along with enabling capabilities(such as QOS) for third-party service providers.
At the same time, telcos believe that they can add value to third-partyservices by offering them a wide range of enabling capabilities. The mostimportant of these capabilities, our survey found, are the ability to billsubscribers; the ability to authorize subscribers and manage theiridentities; the ability to offer security tools; and the ability to offerQOS guarantees on a per-application or per-subscriber basis.

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