Myths, Misunderdstandings and BS: A presentation from Sigma Systems Evolve 2010 Conference

At the Sigma Systems Evolve 2010 conference: deliver what’s next I gave a presentation, shown at the end of this article in the Accelerating Service Innovation session.  This user conference focuses upon next-gen OSS and service fulfillment, bringing together progressive operators, thought leaders, strategists, and partner.  The presentation splits into two sections: the first focuses on the myths, misconceptions and BS in the industry; and the second part then focuses upon what to do given that.

Briefly reviewing the slides:
LTE doesn’t equal an 4G
I’ve discussed this in previous articles, LTE is not 4G, IMT-Advance is 4G which will have far greater performance.  LTE and HSPA+ have similar bit/hertz performance, its just LTE allows more flexible use of spectrum.  Let’s face it even T-Mobile US has woken up to the misunderstanding on 4G, and is now calling its HSPA+ deployment 4G.  Most GSM operators outside the US, are only planning LTE in their dense urban areas, so it may end up an interim technology when IMT-Advance launches which will have the spectrum flexibility of LTE and potentially 4 to 5 times the performance.
Fast ISP doesn’t equal an ISP with sustainably higher revenue
As stated by Oliver Baujard (Group CTO Deutsche Telekom), see BBWF article, raising internet access rates does not create sustainably higher revenues, it gets commoditized within months.
Current pricing model doesn’t equal a sustainable model
As shown previously in the Imperative to Open the Network article, customers are paying between $300-600 more per year for their current cable/satellite TV service compared to OTT (Over The Top) options.  Now the OTT options are not as straight forward and do require a different consumption model from channel-centric to program-centric.  Though GoogleTV and AppleTV are educating the mass market on that topic.
Interactive Advertising doesn’t equal an Ad insertion technology
Operators continue to struggle with this one given the limitations of their business model (customer pays), customer relationship (privacy of data given customer pays), network capabilities (understanding who’s been targeted), STB capabilities (EBIF user agent issues, Java version issues, HTML5, etc.)
Cloud doesn’t equal Hosting
Here I show a simple visual graphic to highlight the scale Google has in cloud with >1M servers, compared to what operators can do.

Its easy to be negative, but the rationale behind my statements is more important.  So given most of what is being forced down operators throats is either myth, misunderstanding or BS; what are they supposed to do?

Looking at the current EPG (Electronic Program Guide), it looks like it was designed by a color-blind, socially-challenged, engineer.  Technology enables and customer expect so much more.  Where are the recommendations, user content, search, social component, phone and tablet access (an increasingly important device in the TV experience – if you’re selling TV services you should also be selling tablets), and the operator’s store for all the stuff they have available for the customers?  So point one is focus on the customer experience.

The industry obsesses on “How can we compete with the free of Google?” rather than focusing on “How can we use our customer focus / alignment to beat Google?”  For Google its users are ‘a means to an end’ not its customers, the advertisers are its customers; and their message will be delivered no matter how offensive the ‘targeting’ is to the recipient.  For operators their customers are their users, this alignment must be truly harnessed.  So to remain relevant as a service provider, provide services.  They are loads of them available from third parties that want to work with you.  I highlight four: GotoCamera, Dial2do, Fonolo and MiniWeb.  But there’s an important assumption behind working with third parties, an operator must understand what services it will focus upon, and what will be fulfilled through third parties.  My recommendation is operators focus on EPG and communication services, there’s only a few hundred of them, the rest are from third parties using the operator as a channel to market.

The utility ISP (Internet Service Provider) versus service provider debate is going to be decided by the customer, and operators need to move quickly to remain the customers’ preferred service provider.  Focus on the customer experience, and deliver services if you want to remain relevant as a service provider.