It will only get worse…
In a recent article on Gigaom, the author is saying that it’s the end of the line for telco. Several arguments are brought to the table to explain that the industry as we know it today has seen its best days. Similar to postal services and railways.
What if the article is true?
What if the complex telecom standards no longer live up to the dotcom flexibility? What if communication is so much more than calls and SMS? How can an industry that seems so alive on the Mobile World Congress be like a dinosaur just before the ice age?
Assuming the industry will only get worse. What are your options?
1) Denial – deny the end of the world is near and focus on daily business. Once the recession is over things will pick up again. Tomorrow an operator will find the solution…
2) Survival – accept the industry is going to get worse so try to focus on those things that still continue: 4G networks for sure but what else:
3) Surrender – move to the winners (Apple, Google, Amazon, etc.). However, what if they are not hiring?
4) Move on – change industry. Where? Hiring freezes are general in most industries. Where do they need SS7 specialists?
Since the list ran out of options, there is only one more thing you can do: revolution.
The current model has failed. Let’s try to focus on the next model.
What if calls and SMS are free? What if monthly mobile subscription charges are €10 max? Where will the money come from in this case?
I have some ideas. They might be good or bad. However for sure there are millions of people that will have ideas. The challenge will be how to test millions of ideas without spending billions on useless ideas.
This challenge sounds very much like the same challenge venture capitalists and business angels have. So why not use their techniques to solve the same problem?
Instead of investing in yet another useless large scale OSS or BSS transformation project, why not set-up a telecom venture capitalist business with this money? There are several companies that use a similar set-up to do product innovation. They allow the crowd to suggest ideas, rank them, complement them, etc. They set-up a team of internals and externals to build prototypes for the best ideas. They allow the crowd and social tools to make publicity and a darwin-like experience to get to a certain level of profits or get killed. External companies could even be willing to participate in some of the ventures.
The best way to motivate is to create a challenge. Every approved idea will get €250K for 6 months. Who can successfully launch a telecom product or service that makes €1M profit within 6 months after idea approval? The team that does, gets €1M investment and stock options. Next challenge €10M in 6 months.
To cater for these telco startups, operators would need to set up separate legal structures, innovation platforms and expert guidance teams. Startups should be owned partially by the operator but also by their founders. Innovation platforms should avoid re-inventing the wheel continuously. Expert guidance teams should help startups with technical, business, legal, marketing, etc. support.
The idea should not be to invent the next SMS but to invent a whole portfolio of profitable new services because the industry should no longer be built around two or three killer apps…