Web / Voice / Telco 2.0: Just understanding the lay of the land

The telecom and IT industries tend to suffer more than most from the hype cycle.  What surprises me is the hype tends to be around technologies rather than solutions.  I guess it’s easier to get excited about a something that ‘could do’ rather than ‘can do.’  At present the hype machine in gearing up on Web/Voice/Telco 2.0, mash-ups and the threats/opportunities this presents to operators.

I’m seeing lots of arguments about what constitutes a mash-up, or a Voice 2.0 versus Voice 1.5 application.  For those of you who used dial-up message boards on 9.6 kbaud modems in the late ’80s and early ’90s, will perhaps see Web 2.0 as community and sharing coming back into fashion.

But my objective in this entry is not to worry about definitions.  Web/Voice/Telco 2.0 is here, it sort-of makes sense as a category.  So let’s focus on understanding what it is in a little more detail, paraphrasing Sun Tzu, know the lay of the land before entering the battle.  On mapping out the Web 2.0 environment, the positioining I use is it’s about “helping us do stuff.”   There is a great site that lists most of the 2.0 companies.

The taxonomy I use has five categories: of course Community is at the centre, with Tools, Business, Content (both commercial and UGC(User Generated Content)) and Fun around that centre.  For an operator the opportunities reside on the overlaps between Community and Business, Community and Tools (in particular the communications, identity and geo-location sub-segments), and I’ve noticed some gaps in the taxonomy of relevance to operators in security and age-rating.  I’ll share more on this model and what it means to an operator’s in later entries.

Looking out at what operators are doing today, exploration is taking a number of forms.  Three in the UK has enabled access to a number of Web 2.0 applications from its X-Series devices.  A relatively closed system approach, but it does enable both 3 and its customers to experiment in using these applications.  And provides a clear business driver for the operator, simply encourage some customers to buy a data package to access their current Web 2.0 obsession.  BT has taken more of an “open architecture” approach, and with the BT 21C SDK, allowing developers to experiment in creating applications through its ANI (Application Network Interface).  As always with BT, a more techy-driven approach, but an industry leading sandbox nonetheless, which has the potential to define an ANI that most operators could adopt.