As promised, here is another of excerpt from my upcoming book, The New Polymath due in June. The book is built around 8 “Polymaths” like GE (excerpt from that chapter here) and showcases 11 building blocks for the Polymath to leverage. Each corresponds to an alphabet in the book’s RENAISSANCE framework . The two N’s stand for Networks – the first one for telecoms, the other for the “human network” – communities, crowds, collaboration etc.
This week I moderated a panel at Cognizant Community and summarized some of the elements in the chapter on telecoms:
Innovation in the “new normal” in telecommunications
- Limitless telco opportunities – global markets and nomads, sensory networks, cloud computing, social networks
- Golden age of applications - Cisco telepresence, Westwood One digital audio, various mobile apps stores, Go Go wi-fly, Seanet, many more
- Global revolution - S. Korea, Estonia, Macedonia, Tibet, Rwanda, next gen telecoms
- Device richness – Apple, Android, Plantronics, Netbooks, Tablets, Navigation systems
- Infrastructure innovation – NSN, Huawei, greener technology, managed services
- Social CRM opportunities – ComcastCares, managed services
- Content/media churn – citizen journalism, weakening of previous “channel masters”
Challenges in the “new normal” in telecommunications
- Reputation International – telcos - 4th lowest of 25 industries across 32 countries
- Fall out from iPhone 3G service issues
- France Telecom spate of suicides
- Community discontent – Lafayette, LA; more aggressive FCC, Google Broadband
- Quasi-government image – stodgy customer service, high taxes, surveillance wariness
- Economics – telco/cable versus thermostat
- Global Competition – MPLS, roaming options, EU caps, cutting teeth on ARPU of $ 5 (a quarter)
- Perception of innovation “around” not “from” telco/cable cos
Here are a couple of extracts from the chapter
“Karl Marx must be turning in his grave: Telecommunications, not competing political ideologies, are changing the world.
§ Fifteen years after genocide left a million dead and tore the country apart, the country of Rwanda has invested in buses with laptops and satellite dishes. These buses travel around to provide the countryside—despite the lack of paved roads or electricity—a taste of the web.
§ The Qinghai-Tibet railway is the highest in the world and goes through some of the harshest terrains. It already has 80% mobile coverage and keeps expanding. The Chinese may be wary of Tibetan strife, but it has not stopped the development of a Tibetan-language user interface. (Few of the locals speak or write the official Mandarin language.)
§ The whole country of Macedonia—one of the poorest in Europe—is a Wi-Fi hotspot with equipment funded by the Chinese and U.S. Agency for International Development. Its landlocked children can now easily revisit, over the web, the path of its famous son, Alexander the Great as he took his armies all the way to India. “
“Now let’s look at the Lafayette Utilities System. After five years of bruising court battles with AT&T and Cox (the local cable company) which went all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the community can now take advantage of broadband download speeds approaching 50 megabytes per second (mbps) for $58 a month.8
The maximum AT&T offered the community was 6 mbps; Cox did somewhat better with 15 mbps. (though this year it finally started to increase speeds - it started offering the Cisco DOCSIS 3.0-based "Ultimate Internet" service with up to 50 mbps). Of course, both wanted customers to sign up for bundles including local/long-distance calling, and TV services. And they wanted long-term contacts and installation fees. The Lafayette community clearly decided—and fought—to get choices beyond the local telcos. “
“Martin Geddes was strategy director at BT Innovate & Design division and now runs an independent consultancy business. He has major makeover ideas for the telcos. Geddes is somewhat unusual for a telco executive in that he is thinks in terms of applications, not just network infrastructure.
“The era of minute-based telephony is going away; however, there is a huge opportunity to replace it with something different. Global communications platforms need to make communication between enterprises and their customers more efficient and more effective. This flips the business model on its head. Make money from enterprises who want to interact and transact with telecoms users, not directly from the users themselves. Think of it as the “Googleization” of telecoms, where users pay in privacy and attention, not cash.””