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Telcos’ 2-Minute Drill - Industry Standards for accelerating change

Telco 2.0 is working closely with the TM Forum on a number of important cross-industry projects, not least our research into new business models for video distribution. We’re delighted that Jim Warner, their Deputy Chairman and VP of Digital Media, will be a panelist at the Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm on 4th November in London.

Jim’s been playing a leading role in brokering relationships between Hollywood and telcos. He’ll be sharing his experiences on dealing with the Motion Picture Association (among others) and stimulating the debate on how to increase effective collaboration. In the meantime, below is Jim’s preview of the TM Forum’s own event in Orlando, 16-20 Nov. (We recommend you go or send a colleague if you’re at all involved in “Creating, Delivering and Monetizing Digital Services”):

With time running out in an American Football game, the team that’s behind goes into their “2 minute drill.” In essence, they abandon their strategy or game plan and start doing whatever it takes to score. Risks are taken, the pace is frenetic but the alternative is defeat. It’s a gamble worth taking.

I think telecom is getting close to this situation.

You’d have to have been asleep for the past 3 years to not understand the situation most Telecom Operators face. The cash cow of basic voice and data services is running out of milk and soon may only produce stinky cheese. It’s a commodity business with margins worse than retail. Yet most operators continue with a business model not suited for this environment.

That’s not to say being in a commodity business is bad business. Oil companies sell commodity products and they make out just fine. But they’ve tuned their business model to the market they’re in. There’s no shame in providing a superior communications service as a utility. Just don’t try to do it with a value-added business model.

If you’re like most operators though, you want to add value. You want to dip your beak into the revenue stream of enhanced digital media style services. You want to be a player in the online advertising game. You want to be more than a dumb pipe. That’s fine. But what are you doing about it right now - today because the clock is winding down. It starts at the top.

How’s your attitude? Are you willing to take risks and do you reward the people who do? Or are you happy to wait and see how things shape up? Does your company need an attitude transplant?
What sort of culture do you foster? Do you (and your people) wake up every morning obsessed with creating new things your customers will love. You better believe the people at places like Google, Facebook and Hulu are. They eat innovation for breakfast and wash it down with a large mug of creativity.

And speaking of creativity, how abnormal is your thinking? Because in this case, abnormal is good. Are you willing to open things up? What about monetizing your back office by selling access to your billing, location and security capabilities? What about providing customer metrics? Not the usual network level stuff but things that truly measure the customer’s experience and delight with a brand. That’s what advertisers will pay dearly for. Make your technology perform unnatural acts and it will vault you ahead of many web-based offerings.

If you need to see some examples of the above, just visit TM Forum’s Content Encounter at our upcoming Management World in Orlando. Content Encounter is an incubator where content owners and distributors, communications providers and device makers come together to experiment with innovative ways to target, deliver and monetize digital media and advertising services.

I could go on but I hope you get the idea. It’s time to get on a war footing. Time to invest in technologies and standards that will enable you to accelerate your pace of change and re-invention. Time to go to your 2-minute drill.

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