Thursday, October 11, 2007
Telco2.0 Innovating From The Edge
This thought may strike some people as a bit strange, but innovation is happening at the edge of networks, at the edge of social networks, and in the edges of the enterprise, and in short, at the edge of your business. Sick of waiting 12 months for an approval process, business process owners such as Customer Service Directors, and Logistics Managers, are making smaller below the radar adoptions of products and services. Customers are adopting new and innovative ways of interacting with you, through blog posts, wiki contributions, ratings, or even forming pressure groups on facebook. Companies like GetSatisfaction are doing a great job of inverting the customer service issue and making "problems" and "issues" public, and encouraging customers to help each other out, often called "crowdsourcing" customer service. These trends are a big deal. The same thing is happening from the Telco perspective. The big innovations aren't solely happening in the core of the network, in the network switches, and fibre optics. They are happening when customers decide to use a capability in a new way, that suits them and their particular sets of needs. A lot of people are calling this 2.0 Thinking. Here's an example I came across today, and already two people I know are using it. Damien Mulley pointed out that you can use Google Mail to filter spam from your eircom (or any other) account. eircom have a nice product in providing you with a hosted security service, but with google buying out postini how long before I can get a similar hack or mash up for this functionality? Now imagine that I am connected to a network of other people that can share tips such as these, and that I can share them, and adopt them easily. Yes, free voicemail. Yes, Free conference calling. Free wireless roaming. Free International calling. The only thing stopping this now are information asymmetries ( a fancy way of saying you just didn't hear about it because there are barriers to you hearing it). Well most of these functionalities are available on facebook, today, and as social networks open out to each other, pretty soon everyone else. Once your friends start using it, so will you. When you give customers access to your product, allow them change what they wish, recombine, customise, re-purpose, you open out a world of opportunity. One company might use VoiceSage for an appointment remindering service another might use a variation of this routine for soccer practice or event management. So far, so traditional. You sent messages, and take messages from the people that you know. However, more and more of our presence and friendships take place, or are mediated, by our internet participation. In a company, it might be ok to have a click to call button straight to my work number from the company website, but do I want that capability from my Facebook profile? The difference here is context, and context is everything. Do I want to hear from someone that knows someone that I know when I am in city I am travelling to? meetup, pairup. FOWA (Future of Web Apps) London was some fun, and from a 2.0 technical perspective, interesting. What was missing (besides the GetSatisfaction guys) was a clear sense of how 2.0 thinking was going to effect the enterprise space (or E2 as it's been monikered). Now comes the time for the Telco to think about its role in this whole emerging ecosystem. More interesting for us is that VoiceSage will now be presenting in the Innovators Zone of Telco 2.0 Brainstorm in London, Oct 16th to 18th. Not only is this a global forum on the future of the internet and telecommunications, but some of the true thought leaders in the space will also be there. Strong Irish contingent at the show, unsurprisingly, as Ireland has a cluster of telecommunications software and services companies. Acision, Aepona, Openet, as well as Google, Yahoo. One of the core themes in the show is Voice and Messaging, and what is next in that arena, because that is what is driving value today, and what will continue to drive value in the future, a future that is looking far from bright for traditional telcos. Wondering what is driving internet stocks up and telecoms stocks down? One word: Google. Its thus even more of an honour to be guest panelist speakers for this thread. Later in the day Thomas Howe, he of US Voice Mashup fame will be giving a presentation and we look forward to what Thomas has to say. For those of you interested in that kind of thing, you can see a presentation Thomas gave here. VoiceSage is invited to this kind of conference because we are not an ordinary company. The next six months will see a lot of interesting developments coming out of this company. How do you know you are doing something right? Key "2.0 questions" to ask yourself if you produce a product or service : - Am I doing everything I can to build applications that learn from your users? - Does my application get better with more users, or just more busy and more crowded? - If "Data is the Intel Inside" of Web 2.0, what data do I own? - What user-facing services can I build against it? - Does my platform give me and my users control, or take it away from us? Source:ReadWriteWeb. So, I'll put the offer out there again: "If you are a leading edge 2.0 Company, give me a call. I want to work with you". Simple message. Lets see what happens.