Telco2: Janus or Dear Jesus?
I think Mr. Enck called it well when he pointed out how impressive and pertinent Mr. Vogels presentation was. The clarity of strategic vision, the simplicity of focus, was awesome. What I found intriguing was that each iteration of the platform thinking defined a new element of the fly-wheel, a new virtuous reinforcement mechanism. They brought the merchants (merchant platform), so that "the catalogue" was the biggest on the web, your "go to" destination; they built traffic (Traffic Platform) through a kind of open linking strategy, opening out book references, and giving incentives traffic of 4-7%revenue share. Most people would stop there, hey we have great customer traffic flow and the best stock available, cool. But no, they saw that they had to be the best price possible too, and this implied that they had to reduce the cost of infrastructure (answer: open out your Fulfillment platform so any merchant can send their product through the amazon warehousing network), and then the webstore platform, the enterprise service platform which is like a managed service for other web retailers (and a Labour platform, a Digital Media Platform, an Infrastructure Platform, and yes, a Telco Platform). As amazing as this journey, this evolution was, three things struck me with laser clarity:
- These guys have complete clarity on their strategic principles and will take big hits to protect them;
- They pay attention to "micro-incentives" and "micro-barriers" to desired behaviours;
- They innovate around things that remain important over the long run, not just "new things".
If I were in the Strategic section of a Telco, I'd be looking to workshop my Two Sided Telco play with these guys in the room. On a personal level I met some old friends, and I think met some new and interesting people that I hope to follow up with.
Hack The World: Health and Telecommunications
Again, the excellent RRW has a piece on how mobile communications is being used in Africa to encourage people to see the Doctor and speak about their health concerns relating to TB and Aids. "Please Call Me" text messages are issued from Doctors to the population to encourage them to engage early; "Text reminders" are used to remind people to take their medication or attend a clinic; the call backs are handled by a virtual call centre of "people like you" that will understand your condition, your life, your emotions; mobile blood testing units are brought to the people so that they don't have to suffer the stigma of having to stand in line. If Telecommunications companies are wondering how context, content, community and communications can be braided together in ways that actually improve the state of the world, well, this is one fine example.
Note To Self: Human Beings Are Not "Self Loading Cargo Units".