August 19, 2010

OFCOM Communications Review: The Customer of the Future is Here

OFCOM’s annual Communications Market Review is out (pdf, charts and spreadsheets here), and it is of course packed with chewy data. Taking a first look into the 379 page behemoth, we’ve noticed a couple of interesting points about the industry and the customers of the future, the people who took centre stage in our Serving the Digital Generation strategy report.

Before we get to that, though, here’s a very important chart indeed.


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May 28, 2009

Retail Services 2.0 - Output from Telco 2.0 exec brainstorm, May 09

Below is a summary analysis of the Retail Services 2.0 session at the May 2009 Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm. It builds on some of the issues about selling to the ‘digital generation’ that we described before the event here.

The session involved short stimulus presentations from leading figures in the industry, group brainstorming using our ‘Mindshare’ interactive technology, a panel discussion, and a vote on the best industry strategy for moving forward. Below is the vote, followed by some of our post-event analysis on key lessons and industry next steps:

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March 25, 2009

QQ: Quite Quality

Below is one of the case studies that our forthcoming Serving the Digital Generation report is founded on. QQ (a huge social network in China) is a key example of successfully understanding the participation needs of the digital generation, and one we should all be learning from.

QQ has claimed to be the world’s third-largest IM network (after MSN and Yahoo), based on a figure of 355 million ”active users” as at November, 2008. A further claim of 570 million ”users” exists from earlier that year.

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March 10, 2009

Defining the Digital Generation: Young Today, Grey Tomorrow

A new Telco 2.0 Strategy Report

We have been beavering away on another report, Serving the Digital Generation: Innovation for a new breed of customer. We believe that service providers need to engage with customers in a new way to reflect the changes in customer behaviour that have been enabled by the internet. Encouraging customers to actively participate with each other and with other service providers, via a Telco platform, builds value in the platform itself. In other words, the two-sided telecoms business model opportunity grows. In the article below, we describe our thesis and why it is increasingly relevant to all customers.

We will also be exploring this extensively at our next brainstorm in Nice where we will present our research in this area. We also have Richard Titus, Controller of Future Media at the BCC, and others presenting their views of how to serve customers going forward.

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February 12, 2009

Coming Soon: Serving the Digital Generation

There’s a new Telco 2.0 strategy report rolling down the tracks.

It’s a natural inclination to imagine that the difference between young people and their elders is simply that they’re young. But at times of rapid technological or social change, quite often, nothing could be more wrong. Instead, patterns of behaviour and culture that you might assume are the caprices of youth will last a lifetime and will become the conservative norm that the youth of the future will rebel against.

Serving the Digital Generation: Innovation for a new breed of customers is Telco 2.0’s attempt to characterise future customers and explore what operators should be doing to better serve them. Statistically speaking, the customer of the future is already with us, in the form of South Korean, Chinese and Japanese youngsters, and is a user of at least one of many social networks, games, and virtual world applications that have sprung up in the last few years. In the report, we analyse a whole range of such services in order to understand the business models and product features that have succeeded. We’ll also be running a major session on this topic at the Telco 2.0 world event in May -

We identified a number of major factors and new opportunities that constrain and liberate the customer of the future. On one hand, parental paranoia, rapid urbanisation, and proliferating surveillance systems have led to a public space that is ever more restrictive for the young; on the other hand, the digital world has created huge opportunities to escape this and to pursue what we describe as the ‘Participation Imperative’. We have developed a framework to help service providers clarify these user needs and how to serve them.

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March 25, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 25th March 2008

In Today’s Issue: 37% of Ultra-Mobile PCs to get WiMAX; Virtual PBXs could eat your business customers; low-cost telepresence like low-cost spaceflight, i.e. not very; MSFT buys callcentreco; Don Price on managed services; topology aware P2P; variable speed limits for the Net; price war rages; i-mode fails in Europe; huge telcos win huge telco auction; epic Aussie brawl over WiMAX; Sprint’s new core network - platform perfection or IMS infection?; Vodafone & MTN; French FTTH; Deutsche Telekom disaster; sickening “human skin” phones.

37% of ultra-mobile devices to fit WiMAX. So says Intel — but then again, how big will the market for ultra-mobile PCs really be? Time will tell…

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October 8, 2007

Ring! Ring! Monday News Analysis, 8th October

As a preview to the Telco 2.0 event next week in London, here are some relevant news items from the last week to help stimulate the furious debate among the participating cognoscenti:

Ever wanted to physically wave a game controller round your head? Now you can, thanks to Nokia researcher Paul Coulson.

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Going Over The Top: MXit

Mixit is the root of all evil whether controlled or not…Hermanus - (creator of mixit) I hope you sleep at night cause I’ve prayed many times that the fleas of a thousand camels with infest you!! (Link)

Surprisingly, this remark about South African hit mobile messaging app MXit didn’t come from a telco marketing director. Neither did it come from a telco data network engineer struggling to cope with demand. In fact, its author was more worried about the content of messages than their quantity; but being common carriers, of course, telco people should be quite the reverse.

And MXit should be giving you nightmares. Since its launch in 2005, the service has been recruiting users at a rate of 10,000 a day. It’s one of the first examples of a really successful over-the-top strategy in mobile; the heart of the service is an instant messaging client that uses the mobile packet data channel and the Internet. But as you will see, it’s far from being “just” mobile IM.

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October 3, 2007

Real Youth Input at Digital Youth Summit!

A few people have asked us ‘Why don’t you have some young people at the forthcoming Digital Youth Summit?’. They point out that it is challenging to explore youth propositions when nobody from the target customer segment is present. Without being ageist about this, the principle reasons why we don’t invite the ‘yoof’ along are:

  • They won’t turn up - Telco brainstorms are probably not ‘hip’ for most young people
  • Even if they do turn up, they are unlikely to be willing or able to articulate their views in front of 80+ suited and booted telco ‘wrinklies’ - sorry everyone attending but if you ain’t under 25, then that’s their view of you.

So how do we intend to get input from the people we are targeting?

Simple: we’re getting along lots of people who work directly with this market on a day-to-day basis and understand their needs, attitudes and behaviours.

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September 6, 2007

Rave Wireless at the Digital Youth Summit

This year’s Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm is rushing up at us with telco-shattering force again, and that means it’s also soon going to be time for a ‘Summit’ session focused on the ‘Digital Youth’ market. Pushing on the debate from the last session in March, we’ve invited some interesting people to tackle in more detail the paradox of a market segment that’s neophilic and increasingly rich (in mature markets at least), but is also dramatically turned off by obvious efforts to appeal to it. For example, there’s Raju Rishi, COO and co-founder of US-based company Rave Wireless.

Rave gets around the paradox by primarily doing business with universities and schools, not with the youths themselves; essentially it’s a MVNE (Mobile Virtual Network Enabler) that creates micro-MVNOs for these institutions, buying bulk capacity from whichever carrier suits. The carrier gets a targeted marketing effort to shift bits, and the institution doesn’t just make a turn on the deal, but also gets to chuck out its desk phones without needing to buy a ton of SIP or UMA devices and a huge LAN upgrade. You can do that when you are your own telco.

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August 27, 2007

Ring! Ring! Monday News Analysis: 27th August

These weekly news roundups are a new Telco 2.0 service; they focus attention on news items that might not be Telco 2.0-related at first sight, or big enough to warrant a whole post to themselves, but do contain important developments. They are grouped under the same categories as the rest of the Telco 2.0 blog.

Digital Politics and Regulation

Rene Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, wants to keep some monopolist privileges; and who can blame him?

Telco 2.0 Comment: It’s curious how some of the regulations introduced to create competition in the telco market are actually profoundly anti-competitive. Network-sharing, for example, was discouraged in order to create competing physical networks. Now, of course, it’s becoming ever clearer that competition is horizontal; and requiring duplication is really a way of protecting big telcos by increasing the barriers to entry.

Viviane Reding is reportedly plotting a new, broader European regulator on the model of Ofcom.

Telco 2.0 Comment: As the competition spreads horizontally, so does the regulator.

700MHz auction set for the 18th of January.

Telco 2.0 Comment: It’s gradually coming closer; soon we’ll see the colour of Google’s money. Speaking of money, the FCC seems very keen to insist on big reserve prices, a total of $10bn. As usual, the notion of free spectrum is a long way away.

Digital Product Innovation

Microsoft Windows Live apps on your Nokia N-series phone.

Telco 2.0 Comment: It may “only” be Live Messenger, Hotmail, Contacts and Spaces, but please note that these are all communications applications. And the carriers? They’ve been disintermediated.

New MVNO offers cheap roaming rates…with an interesting twist.

Telco 2.0 Comment: Now this is interesting; we wonder what the “network” they claim to own is. Clearly they haven’t got spectrum rights in 110 countries, nor have they bought enough base stations to cover the world. Perhaps this is one of the first rogue core networks?

Damned cool idea from Hewlett-Packard: the printer that is everywhere.

Telco 2.0 Comment: Here’s a cracking idea; rather than print documents and take them with you, why not print-to-file on one of HP’s servers, which gives you an SMS shortcode in return? When you need the document, you send them the code as an SMS, and they either send you a PDF file, or route it to a publicly-available printer of your choice. There’s a Google Maps mashup to help you find them. HP is bringing in chains of copy shops as commercial partners, Google as map provider, and acting as a platform itself; so where are the telcos?

Digital Worker

Unified Communications vs End Users

Telco 2.0 Comment: Is the vision of unified enterprise communications, so dear to companies like Cisco, opposed to end-users’ freedom to organise their own communications and communities? Skype, and the Asterisk folk, seem to think so.

Digital Youth

Security expert: beware security threat. According to F-Secure there are now some 400 items of mobile malware in the wild.

Telco 2.0 Comment: It’s not malware, it’s unauthorised innovation!

Online gaming shoots past social networks

Telco 2.0 Comment: We’re talking low-investment casual games here; but even if the margins are tiny, the growth rates here show that there is real potential in this sector. Clearly, it addresses some human motivation.

Broadband Connectivity

Indonesia ; mobile network number 10 launches

Telco 2.0 Comment: No-one should need telling that the emerging markets can’t get enough telco, but this is extreme. 10 mobile operators? It’s also interesting that the new entrant, Smart, is a greenfield CDMA operator. Far from common..

Hutchison 3UK loses slightly less money.

Telco 2.0 Comment: Perhaps their new role, competing with T-Mobile as the geek’s mobile operator and throwing out partnerships with MSN, Yahoo!, Slingbox, and Skype, is beginning to help? You’d do well to remain sceptical, though. It’s not as if 3 hasn’t spent enough money being cool.

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May 24, 2007

Digital Youth: Exploring New Business Models

We have started to think through the format for the Digital Youth Summit at the next Telco 2.0 Industry Brainstorm in October. As we pointed out in a previous post, we want to move the debate on in this event and challenge participants to work on creating potential new solutions that drag them into the ‘Telco 2.0’ world. We’ll apply a new Telco 2.0 ‘Business Model Framework’ which we’ve been using with a lot of success with consulting clients recently (we’ll preview it in this blog later).

At the last Digital Youth event in March, we looked at many of the issues and opportunities for operators in serving this market segment.

This time around, based on input from our community, we want to focus more tightly in the following way:

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April 26, 2007

Telco 2.0 Event: Digital Youth Summary

Web 2.0, Social Networking, User-generated Content, Digital Piracy, Peer-to-Peer distribution etc. are all buzzwords in the Telco, Media and Technology space at present. The March 2007 Telco 2.0 brainstorm covered many of these topics at the Digital Youth session. Below is our analysis of the day. See here for our in-going hypthesis and here for a relevant Youth-related post on the Broadband Incentive Problem and how to make money from these Web 2.0 junkies.

Modern Youth - They’re Different …Not

I deliberately asked Norman Lewis, Director of Technology Research at Orange, to kick off proceedings because I had prior knowledge of his speaking prowess from the Telco 2.0 event in October last year where he got the audience rockin’ in the aisles. Norman is a terrific speaker as he combines the gravitas of the experienced executive with the passion of the young. Once again he proved a hit with many Delegates describing him as the best speaker at the event. Since we were talking about youth, I half expected a gaggle of groupies to appear in the front row screaming his name and begging to have their event documents autographed.

As it was, Norman explained that the young today are different from grown-ups but only in the way that they have always been different. They like different clothes, different music, different films - just like we used to in our ‘pre-wrinkly’ days. What is striking now is the way they use technology to distinguish themselves from adults and ‘escape’ parents prying eyes. Norman calls this the rise of the ‘bedroom culture’ - a reference to the use of PC’s and the internet as a social networking tool rather than any reference to the sexual proclivities of the young. Technology is used as a tool to assert identity and communicate with like-minded peers in the same way we used to the street corner. His key lesson is that the young will continue to use Web 2.0 technologies to develop their social networks. The Telco community, therefore, has a choice - embrace this and develop new business models and propositions to serve this segment as it matures or risk being swept aside…

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March 19, 2007

Digital Youth - Who are They and What do they Want from Telcos?

Da Youngbouls ar babtastic for de Celly companies. We av always bin chillin and cyber has let us drown in a frown and swim in a smile. We is it and der is no way we is gonna pay chips to the cellies ‘cos, rememba, CREAM (Cash Rules Everything Around Me). But, hey, der is moola out der for der cellies and cyber companies as long as day give me a stupid loada fings like WoW (War of Worldcraft) for nish.

Rough Translation:

The (15-25 year-old) Youth market has recently entered Telco consciousness as a customer segment worthy of greater attention. Youth has always been ‘different’ in their attitudes and behaviour but the internet and the mobile phone have enabled them to socialise and express themselves in new ways. Many of these behaviours have represented a threat to traditional business models (no surprise there - it was the young who used to pirate music by recording on blank tapes many years ago…) but others, such as social networking, have resulted in new models developing.

In this post we explore some of the issues we will be debating in the Digital Youth stream at the Telco 2.0 Brainstorm on 27-29 March. We’re looking to:

  • Clarify the needs and usage trends of the Youth segment (how they socialise and communicate, how they use technology);
  • Articulate the key challenges in responding to this (threats to traditional business models, emerging business models, key factors for success);
  • Learn from case studies (what can we learn from Web 2.0 success, the importance of building a community, how to make money?);
  • Refine the strategic options that Operators have in addressing this segment.
    As with all the workstreams at the event, we have a number of terrific stimulus presentations lined up to help us (1) Clarify our hypotheses, (2) Debate the issues and (3) Develop company-specific and, where appropriate, industry-wide solutions and action plans. More on some on some of the presenters below.

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December 20, 2006

Media Partners for Telco 2.0 Initiative

Amongst a number of media partners and supporting trade bodies, we’re delighted to be working with the excellent free news service Fierce Markets - publishers of FierceVOIP, FierceWireless, FierceIPTV, FierceDeveloper, FierceWifi and FierceMobileContent .

They are high quality, easy to read email newsletters delivered twice weekly, and … they’re FREE! We like them a lot - they seem to have real passion for their topics (often lacking in ‘old media’ these days). For more details go here.

The one newsletter we particularly enjoying at present is FierceMobileContent, as it is covers the fast emerging ‘mobile marketing’ sector, of key interest for our ‘Digital Youth’ programme.

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November 22, 2006

Digital Students - How to extract value from this market?

Yesterday I met with Peter Miles, CEO of Sub tv media - a remarkable ‘media’ company with much that telcos, brand advertisers and others in the value chain can learn from.

Their market is the 2.2m higher education student market in the UK - ABC1 18-24 year olds with a spending power of £20 billion (GBP) per annumn (of which £1bn is on mobile phones). Sub tv have secured exclusive 10 year service contracts with 95 institutions across the country, representing 85% of this market. They provide a golden combination of:

1.) Broadcast services straight into student bars and rest-places: Nests of plasma screens with forward-stored tailored content, VOD, and regular TV delivered over ADSL and managed via a PC console. Free for the university, funded 100% via advertising, configurable by student entertainments officers.
2.) A mobile phone service, ‘the only one just for students’, with some unique tariffs vs regular operators, sold via on-campus sales teams.
3.) An ad-funded online portallinking the two together, with a strong emphasis, of course, on stimulating user-generated content.

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Telco 2.0 Strategy Report Out Now: Telco Strategy in the Cloud

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