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Time to move the conversation on. Ditch the term bit-pipe

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

New Website, New Blog Home

I’ve just added a new post on my new site. Visit it here


The term ‘bit-pipe’ has been carelessly brandished around the market, perhaps with the noble intention of simply of being disruptive enough to warrant attention.

The new home of where is this all going? www.ovasto.com/our-blog


Where has this all gone?

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

New Website, New Blog HomeI am proud to announce that my blog has a shiny, brand new home.

Join me over here ovasto.com/our-blog/

In time I will set up a proper redirect, but for now I wanted to let you all know

Categories: blog moved Tags:

Tomorrow’s work

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Earlier this week, strolling through the gardens of Versailles Palace after attending my partner’s graduation, I found myself chatting with a Czech friend who is currently living in Paris about the obscenity of housing prices in Paris, and indeed in many other cities across Europe.

I suggested that the rate of increase of housing prices has vastly out paced the rate in which our workplace and behaviours have changed, and that since this drives the demand for inner city residence, we would see this change, but perhaps not until our children were in the workplace.

In less industrial cities, like Paris, San Francisco, New York, London, the demand for housing is driven in a major way by the accessibility it affords to good jobs. However, I have observed two trends that I feel will be influential in the future decline of inner city housing prices.

Firstly, more and more people are working from home, meaning the requirement to live close to the place of work becomes less strong. Secondly, partially driven by the first point, the workplace is becoming much more fluid, with the idea of a ‘job for life’ seeming more and more absurd with every younger generation that appears.

We’re part-time lawyers-cum- amateur photographers who write on the side.

An article I found today reinforces this, talking of the shift from fulltime to freelance employment as being the most fundamental shift in industry since the Industrial Revolution, and I can’t help but agree.

I can’t imagine what the workplace will be when my daughter is my age, but then again, I can’t imagine what the workplace was like when my parents where my age.


3rd party apps and telcos

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

In my latest article for Global Telecoms Business I look at the uptake of OTT applications, the role of MVNOs in the future of telecoms innovation, and what mobile operators can do in this new environment.

Read the article here.

Disrupting disruptors, or just disrupted?

September 3, 2011 Leave a comment

In an article today from TelecomsEurope, Deustche Telekom are apparently talking about how they can disrupt disruptors.

“Customers use numerous apps and services from different providers. The many different platforms generate the need to archive … content in multiple locations. We offer cross platform services…to help our customers become more independent of the big platforms,” Niek Jan van Damme, Deutsche Telekom board director.

However, they seem to be talking about just providing a place to store stuff that can be accessed by any device over their network, and forgetting that the reasons disruptors like Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare have had such an impact is because of the user experience.

I haven’t stopped using either of these just because I can’t get access from multiple places, actually, the point is, I can already.

However, the comment is a little open to interpretation and  maybe what van Damme is telling us is that they have a platform that Facebook et al will use to store all their user content, which the users can then reuse for other applications too…?

Have DT figured out what users really want, or delivered a platform that they can offer to the wider OTT ecosystem, or perhaps just missed the point entirely? You thoughts ….?

Will customers tollerate bad experiences?

August 17, 2011 2 comments

Recently I’ve spoken to a lot of people about the future of telecoms and how developments in Cloud, over-the-top and MVNOs could be driving us to a very different world of telecoms than we know today.

The Google/Moto deal has stimulated a number of discussions too (you can find my inputs scattered across LinkedIn, try the MVNO Alliance, MVNO Europe and MVNO Cloud Services groups for starters).

However, one thing remains the same and that is no matter what happens with all of this, the Mobile Operators of today will (most likely) still be around tomorrow, so what will they be doing?

I see their future in two parts.

One will be to provide networks and network enablers to all of these other players and to build an ecosystem with them that is more supportive, collaborative and symbiotic than it is today. Through this they will reach a mass market made of hundreds of niche markets, like China Telecom’s approach to reach the ‘Chinese living outside of China’ niche market talked about here.

On the other side of the fence, telcos will still offer mass market services under their brand, through their channels and their retail outlets, and this is where my story really starts ….

Over a period of many (many) conversations about this, three things stand out as being crucial to the successful mass market service provider – brand, billing and customer care.

Customer care. (repeated for emphasis)

Recently, I phoned an unnamed big red mobile operator’s customer care to enquire about a failing in the service they had marketed, and successfully sold to me. A failing that had resulted in an unexpected £50 fee being levied against me. The first lady I spoke to, Jane, was not particularly helpful and when she started to slow down her  s p e e c h  s o  I  c o u l d  u n d e r s t a n d, I decided a call to her manager might be more productive. It wasn’t, and despite being in possession of a number text messages from them repeating the service promise that I was given, she insisted that they never ever said that, and despite the text message I had saying I had incurred the £50 she told me that there was no record on my account, so “didn’t know what I was so bothered about”. I terminated the call and waited for it to appear on my bill. It did, and my next call was similar to the first two.

So here I am, an unhappy customer and I’ve only been with this carrier for 1 month. In those four weeks, I have had three very dissatisfying customer experiences. Whatever happened to the notion of ensuring each interaction with a customer should be positive?

Process management must improve

The failings here are, I expect, around their business processes and system integration. If they had been able to understand and respond to my query efficiently in the first instance, I would be 3 times more happy with their service (or at least not 3 times more unhappy) and they would have saved at least 2 further customer care calls (which at my last data point cost approx £60/call).

Despite more than 20 years of delivering mass market services, most mobile operators I know of are still failing in the most basic of business sustainability requirements, keeping customers happy.

Obviously a lot has changed in the last 20 years, but things are going to change more and much more quickly. The coming years will be tough for operators as they try to adapt to new, higher demand environments whilst at the same time battling to become more lean, more effective with reducing margins.

I hear from friends inside these operators that things are changing, but I’m not holding my breath for too long.

The real question is whether, as the telecoms market opens up and offers more flexibility, more choice for customers, will they tollerate bad experiences? Will the operators have the business intelligence to know where and how they are failing and be able to react in time?

Why try to move the mountain? MTS and Facebook

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Video interview from Telco 2.0 with MTS Russia using Facebook for customer experience managementThere’s an interesting article today on Telco 2.0’s blog about MTS Russia and how they are trying to reach their customers through Facebook, that highlights a change in brand and advertising that I have noticed over the last few months.

Back in 1999 I remember receiving a ‘brand guidelines’ document from Vodafone that went to great lengths to specify the exact spacing, placement, colours and ratios of colours that should be used when using the Vodafone brand. It detailed how with too little red and too much white it looked like Clarins make-up, whereas with too much red it was like some other brand. It also specified how and when the Vodafone brand could be used alongside other brands, which could be summarised as ‘virtually never’.

I am absolutely sure ‘the big red’ was, and is, not alone when it comes to this level of control over what is essentially one of the greatest assets of a company, after all you don’t spend 100’s millions a year on sponsorship just for the hell of it – back in those days they were spending £300M on the Formula 1 sponsorship, I have no idea how much that is now.

Which is why I find it interesting to see the emergence of co-branding on bill boards and TV ads for brands wanting you to friend or like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Obviously there is a difference here between brand awareness and customer interaction, but how do they overlap and which has greater value?

Does the announcement from MTS indicate a trend and acknowledge that large organisations, even those with huge brand awareness and loyalty are beginning to loose touch with their customers? Are we seeing a change in the brand-playbook, and will co-branding to increase customer interaction, rather than brand awareness become more prevalent? And, in this case, who’s brand has the greater value?