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eComm Europe kickoff

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.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Peter Childs October 28, 2009, 1:24 am

    More on the theme that it's business process innovation not technology innovation where growth will occur.

    Not surprising because there is a LOT of unexploited potential currently in proven technologies. And newer technologies generally push against the same dimensions of use, when they have not been broadly integrated into business or general culture.

    Business process innovation is the next step in culture catching up with technology – and in my mind the evolution of the impact of the removal information asymmetries and artificial processes constraints as a basis of profit and control.

    That this process is happening because individual insight into artificiality quickly becomes commonly available insight is not surprising.

    Longer term this has implications for those most process conservative organizations – governments – because each business that adopts business models that flatten info exchange and remove artificial process (including regulation) roadblocks simply accelerates within the general culture the expectation that this should be possible everywhere.

    A new world is truly emerging.

  • Larry Greenfield October 29, 2009, 3:10 am

    Interesting juxtaposition. What seems to be missing from this discussion is the fact that ever-increasing demand for megabits is forcing carriers to expand network capacity, which comes at a high cost. And ultimately those costs will be covered by someone. Right now the only "someone" in sight is the end user, perhaps offset somewhat by the government. (The two-sided model is still, by and large, below the radar.)

    As the cash cow per-minute voice model gives way to VOIP, where will the carriers go for funds to cover the costs of this endless build-out? In the U.S. the net neutrality drumbeat seems to be forcing carriers (ever-fearful of falling into the abyss of the "dumb pipe" role) toward tiered broadband pricing, which runs counter to Frankston's ideal.

    The two-sided model, with all of its appeal, seems an elusive goal in the near term, at least in the U.S. The government can't mandate it, and the carriers don't yet embrace it. And so it appears that we will soon be trading one flawed model for another, awaiting the day that the carriers wake up to the additional revenue opportunities staring them in the face.

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