There have been three really important posts I’ve read in the last two days, which are helping me to make sense out of the intersection of Web 2.0 and voice. They are:
If you haven’t read these, I encourage you to go read them before going further.
Richard’s biggest takeaway from VON seems to be IMS versus the web (I apologize, Richard, if I have mischaracterized). He correctly observes that the battle for the future of telecom is boiling down to walled gardens versus open — IMS / NGN versus the SIP model. He further observes that regulators are stepping away from the completely open model, and seem to be favoring incumbents at the moment.
Tim’s remarkable posting describes what a web 2.0 company is. Throughout the blogosphere most of the focus has been on his diagram of the Web 2.0 Meme. The real meat, however, is in the other four pages of writing that accompany that diagram! Tim summarizes Web 2.0 company core competencies as:
- Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
- Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
- Trusting users as co-developers
- Harnessing collective intelligence
- Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
- Software above the level of a single device
- Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models
And finally, Martin’s slides from CityNet describe his vision of how Voice 2.0 systems will evolve. In particular, the fourth slide (apologies for cutting the title off, Martin) shows a value chain describing where the economic activity is.
If Voice 2.0 is like Web 2.0, then the most important asset is the directory, and directory-like assets, where Martin’s diagram noticeably shows economic activity is at a minimum. Overlaying Tim O’Reilly on Martin Geddes would result in a world of loosely coupled directory, presence, and social networking assets (which I will argue will end up in the directory) as the driver for economic value. The mediator between that directory asset, and the applications which exploit it, will be a very important business.
- Many small, niche communications services. Rather than a centralized set of services available from the carrier, users will create their own services. Communications becomes a mash-up of the web and voice. Tools like PHP Voice, Twisted and Shtoom will become increasingly important. Access will be a business, but it won’t be the business which it has historically been.
- Platform services will become part of the stupid network. For instance, directories will become user provisioned, and accessible via lightweight protocols. Reputation systems might also be part of that network.
- The value of those platform services will be directly proportional to the number of users attached to them. As more, richer, and deeper sources of information are embedded in those services, the value of those assets will increase. The most valuable will be hard to recreate resources such as social networks, which describe behavioural characteristics of their users, rather than simple address / ID pairings.
- Users of the services will become co-developers. Through lightweight interfaces, new applications will be created. Through reputation systems, and the like, valuable intelligence will be gathered about businesses, individuals, phone spammers and so on.
- Long tail assets will be leveraged, although perhaps not created. Mash-ups of blogs, folksonomies, and reputation systems will emerge as a new, user driven and reputation based directory model.
In other words, Voice 2.0 might not be about voice at all. And wouldn’t that be a shock to the incumbents trying to push IMS on us all.
Food for thought. More to come over the weekend as I think more about it. Feel free to use the comment box to contribute. I think this could be an interesting dialog.