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The BBC: New media masters of edge competence

There are so many ways in which the BBC is leading the pack in terms of recasting its own business model and delivery platforms. Here’s one example that every telco startegy planner needs to understand.

Umair Haque for a long time has (co-)written an extremely insightful blog on new media, Bubble Generation. He coined the term “edge competence” to describe organisations that are able to leverage value creation by their own customers/users.

The BBC News website now has a section of “most popular” stories at the side. You can easily imagine the collective efforts of users slowly displacing basic editorial efforts. Editors will still be required, but will evolve into new more value-adding roles. Assuming the editor knows which stories are “most important” is a top-down centralised approach to information whose days are numbered.

We already see this evolution elsewhere. Yahoo News (human editors) is challenged by Google News (computer algorithm based off links, among other things). In turn, both start to lose traffic to services like Digg, which is entirely about the collective “hive” intelligence of users both submitting and selecting important news. (What do you mean you haven’t heard of them?! Ah, that’s why we call it Telco 2.0 — new competencies, value chains and profit centres.)

One last example today from The Guardian:

Gamers don’t want any more grief

Players who abuse others in online games may soon be ostracised as virtual communities start to police their own environments.

A traditional telco product development approach would also have “prevent abuse” as a requirement. The solution would have been to eliminate abusable functionality, insert expensive human intervention under the ever-expanding customer service remit, or implement some heavy-handed identity scheme. All are valid, but none are likely to generate the same profit as letting the users create and exchange value themselves.

A telco with ambitions to remain in the service/application space needs to learn how to establish the hub or market place for them to come and meet, or to contribute and participate in other peoples’ hubs by extending your distribution, service, billing and support assets into their world.

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