Data is Money. Not like money, or as good as money. It is money.

(reminder and disclaimer – I work for IBM, but these are personal comments)

Almost three years ago, in Febraury 2010 (yeah, I know – three years!) the Economist ran a supplement called “The Data Deluge“, about Big Data and how it was transforming businesses all over the world.  In the middle of the supplement was an article called ‘Clicking for Gold‘, in which there’s a quote from Tim O’Reilly, who says that companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook ‘…are uncomfortable bringing so much attention to this because it is at the heart of their competitive advantage. Data are the coin of the realm. They have a big lead over other companies that do not ‘get’ this.’  For the intervening time, I’ve been quoting this to telcos all over the world, and they nod their heads, and – for the most part – don’t do much about it.

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Facebook as the new “walled garden”

I have followed the world-wide-web as it relates to Telecom companies for it seems for ever (surely only 15 years? Ed). They were well positioned to use their relationships coupled with their ownership of the transport part of the internet value chain to become major factors in the internet space. It never happened. One of the criticisms, leveled at the Telcos was their insistence, early on, of operating a walled garden, where the Telcos controlled access and gave significant preference to specific applications (mostly their own or white-labeled from other providers).Walled Garden Consumers viewed this as restrictive and not helpful. It was obvious up front that the benefit of a walled garden was almost all Telco.

So where goes Facebook, in an opinion piece in this Sunday’s NY Times, Randall Stross makes a number of strong points – how Facebook has changed and how its original premise has been lost, in its frenzy to become the de facto web.

The Facebook model of organizing the world’s information involves a mix of personally sensitive information, impersonal information that is potentially widely useful, and information whose sensitivity and usefulness falls in between. It’s a tangle created by Facebook’s origins as the host of unambiguously nonpublic messaging among college students.

The company’s desire now to help out “the world” — an aim that wasn’t mentioned on its “About” page two years ago — has led it to inflict an unending succession of privacy policy changes on its members.

People often talk about the two leading social networking sites in a way that sounds like they’re a single entity: FacebookandTwitter. But the two are fundamentally different. Facebook began with a closed, friends-only model, and today has moved to a private-public hybrid, resetting members’ default privacy settings. By contrast, most Twitter users elect to use the service to address the general public.

As I look at this, I see Facebook building its very own walled garden. I am reminded of a quote by George Santayana

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Photo courtesy of Ell Brown

Behavio(u)ral Economics and Telecommunications

The telco is getting personal.  Finally.

Every time I walk through Tesco‘s, I get angry.  Maybe it’s because I’m a numbers guy, but I hate when they have a chocolate bar for a buck one week, and the following week it’s two for the price of one, at $1.10.  It’s clearly not free.  And Coca-cola, so productized you could probably buy ten cokes for different prices in one store.  Two bottles for the price of one.  a twin pack “economy rate”.  A slab of cans.  A six pack of small bottles.  And what freaks me out is where they put these things.  How many times to you go to the biscuit aisle and find stray packets of bourbon cremes from the promotions stack near the cured ham counter, dumped on top of the custard cremes when a wandering shopper realises that the offer ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when they analyse the other offers that were not beside the bourbon cremes (near the cured ham).  Humbug.

Of course, what this shows is that retailer have thought about this stuff.  They don’t stack shelves in order of price, because like on any good wine list in a restaurant, no one buys the most expensive stuff, and few people buy the cheapest stuff, but many buy the second cheapest option.  This is what academics call behavioural economics, an understanding that the psychology of buying is important in considering how to structure offers, and – generally speaking – how to price stuff.

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Beware the Android

Lots of press this week about the Nexus 1 (a.k.a. the Google phone) and whether it was as good as the iPhone. (see coverage roundup). It may be a moot point. An insightful article, falseiPhoneon the NT Times Gadgetwise blog, describes a counterfeit phone from China, that looks and behaves very much like an iPhone but is in reality an Android-based device.

Seems as if you can the best of both worlds (albeit illegally), an iPhone on a non-proprietary platform. Sort of begs the question, why would I buy an iPhone if I can get an Android phone that can act like one (or as a regular android phone)?

This really could put the cat amongst the pigeons as it divorces the iPhone (user interface) from the Apple iPhone operating system.

It is almost the December forecast season

With the Christmas paraphernalia taking over the retail stores, it must be time for 2010 predictions.

One of the first out of the gate is trendwatching.com with their 2010 top ten consumer trends.

2010 consumer trends

Taking each of the ten in turn and how they apply to Telcos.

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Why real-time is important

Im late!

I'm late!

Telecommunications has long been straddled with file based integrations, batch processes, massive data and turgid reports. The trawl through irrelevant material, the delays in getting information, and the compromises to integrity that silos impose on information are legendary. When files go missing, revenue gets lost – that’s the best we can hope for. In these days when partners are everywhere in the service value network, when Government and regulators get to decide how parts of business process work, and where the old one-to-one service-provider-to-consumer relationship is the stuff of nostalgia events at the Christmas party, the implications are far greater.

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2009 Mobile Trends

Came across a comprehensive presentation by Morgan Stanley on Economy & Internet Trends given at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco. To give credit where it is due, I came across the presentation through my participation in the TelcoSphere group on LinkedIn.

The presentation is in two parts, the state of the economy (improving but not out of the woods yet) and a section on Internet Trends.

  1. Mobile Internet Usage Is and Will Be Bigger than Most Think.
  2. Apple Mobile Share Should Surprise on Upside Near-Term.
  3. Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce.
  4. Mobile in Japan + Desktop Internet Provide Roadmaps for Mobile Growth + Monetization.
  5. 3G Adoption / Trends Vary By Geography.
  6. Carriers in USA / Western Europe Face Surging Network Demand But Uncertain Economics.
  7. Regulators Can Help Advance / Slow Mobile Internet Evolution.
  8. Mobile-Related Share Shifts Will Create / Destroy Material Shareholder Wealth.

There are several excellent graphs that support Morgan Stanley’s position such as this on devices participating in the mobile internet.MorganStanley devices

Couple of points that I picked up from the presentation.

  • The collapse of carrier portals (example used is the UK where the percentage of subscribers accessing a carrier portal went from 57% in 2007 to 22% in 2008). page 46
    It is critical that mobile carriers address this otherwise they will become dumb pipes.
  • Japan represents the future of mobile commerce. The world today (excluding Japan) looks very similar to Japan in 2000. Since then eCommerce, paid applications and advertising have grown from 14% to 33% of a much larger revenue pie. page 49
    I am not so sure about this as I think culture is a big factor in adoption not just technology.
  • Users have a significantly greater propensity to pay when using mobile access compared to desktop (broadband). pages 51-52
    True, but there a lot of free applications and more each day.
  • Due in great part to the iPhone AT&T has seen an almost 5,000% rise in data traffic in the three years up to 2nd Qtr 2009. Yet 42% of iPhone usage happens on Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi may turn out to be the answer for the carrier’s capacity issues. pages 57-58
    This was quite surprising to me, I expected some Wi-Fi usage but 42% is significant.