At eComm this morning, Martin Geddes kicked off the event with a talk on what the world looks likes when the value of minutes disappears. He cogently makes the argument that business models based on charging for minutes leak cash for corporations that buy those services – the call centers, and so on. He then went on to show how voice could be used to augment business processes using two common technology vectors – social media and voice mail systems. He argues that telco’s need to understand their customer’s business processes in order to add value to the corporation.
Bob Frankston’s talk on Ambient Connectivity argued that the meters on the net need to come off, and that we should think of the net as a utility. Frankston’s position is that connectivity is a given, and that we should be allowing to anyone to connect to the network in order to unleash innovation.
Over dinner yesterday evening I chatted with Bob about some of his ideas. Charming and effusive, he is as always the radical seeking to destroy the current order. I was struck, however, by the similarities between what Martin and Bob had to say. Martin’s position is that the telco needs to reinvent itself because the old business model is broken. Bob’s point of view is that we should just blow up the telco in order to allow innovation to flourish.
The reality is that telco’s who don’t reinvent themselves will turn out as Martin suggests. As appealing as Bob’s radical view is, it’s simplyu not a requirement to legislate minute models out of existence. The Voice 2.0 trend is doing it already. Just look at Vonage’s subscriber numbers to prove it to yourself.