Archive for the ‘Telecoms Convergence’ Category

Can Innovation Survive in the Telecoms World?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

From an innovation perspective, I have always been convinced that “the language we use defines the horizons of our imagination” and so it struck a chord with me when I read in a recent ITU document that “voice calls are no longer the preferred communication mechanism between people”.

This phraseology implies peril for the telecoms industry and a golden opportunity for the internet world. Voice is, however, still the preferred mechanism of human communication but voice calls via a fixed or mobile telephone system are now not the only option available.

This glass half full, myopic misperception leads me to suggest that the business models of telcos are overly focused on the delivery of “coms”. While this has been a highly successful strategy throughout the 20th century, it is rapidly running out of steam as the internet world and telecoms collide to create the new mobile cloud world of today.

Maybe we should learn from Max Frisch (1911-1991), the Swiss author and critic, who said: “We live in an age of reproduction. Most of what makes up our personal picture of the world we have never seen with our own eyes—or rather we have seen it with our own eyes, but not on the spot: our knowledge comes to us from a distance, we are tele-viewers, tele-hearers, tele-knowers”.

So is it time to pivot this focus? Given the colossal change that convergence has forced within a concatenated time frame, the answer should most definitely be “yes”. The challenge for the telecoms industry is to shift its mindset to focus less on the delivery of “coms” and innovatively focus on “tele”literally meaning “at a distance”.  This demands a focus on innovation that leverages the assets already in place, the layered technology developments of the last 5 years as well as the new ones that are emerging; most importantly, a focus on the evolution of global consumer and business usage needs and patterns. It means combining capabilities and services to “enable engagement over distance”. Now the question to ask is: what is it that tele-consumers and tele-enterprises really need in this 3.0 world?

As an entrepreneur, I have learned much over the past five years about the concepts and practices of lean startups, and I realize that some of the challenges they face are very often closely aligned to those of the telecoms companies: namely, having to pivot and adopt a change in strategy without changing the vision, as well as creating multiple iterations of minimum viable solutions to solve customers’ real problems. In essence, getting back to what mobile operators were doing naturally in the early days of cellular. This may require smaller out-boarded organizations but, more importantly, a return of the visionary leaders and problem solvers to replace the accountants and managers before they succumb to the same fate that awaits many startups – running out of resources!

In conclusion, the panel on innovation that I moderated at last week’s ITU Telecom World 2013 conference in Bangkok was about the need for new mindsets and a reevaluation of the telecoms landscape, chiefly because the current map and strategy no longer accurately represent a territory that has been ripped up by the convergence forces of the last five years. I have no doubt that innovation will thrive in the converged industry but the questions still remain: who will the players be and where will this innovation come from?

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Apple and Huawei – Zen and the Art of the Long View

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Article first published as Apple and Huawei – Zen and the Art of the Long View on Technorati.

The telecoms and technology markets have always taken the long view with regard to product and business development. This week has seen two companies look to the future in different ways. Apple, the original Zen Master of strategy, coming to grips with an apparent hiccup in their recent string of successes and Huawei struggling in the aftermath of rejection by the U.S. government.

Apple has been in the press recently due to the substantial fall in its stock price and the increasing demands from shareholders to receive part of the $145 billion cash mountain that it has amassed. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, finally acquiesced and has just announced a capital buyback program that will increase the return to shareholders from $10 billion to $60 billion, as well as increasing its quarterly dividend by15%. This may quell the unrest of Wall Street investors in the short term but it exposes the company to a significant long term threat to their enterprise viability due to their increasing risk adversity and lack of innovative product introductions, particularly when compared to those of Samsung. It’s very easy to slip from grace and require cash to sustain operations if you miss market turning points – have a look at what happened to Motorola, Nokia and Rim! Steve Jobs, with his Zen Master ability, excelled at recognizing long-term future opportunities and betting the company in order to secure that future. He was protective of the cash, understanding that to “bet big” you need to cover the downside mistakes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case with Apple today.

Contrast this with Huawei that announced within the last 48 hours that it would abandon its pursuit of penetrating the North American telecoms network market after five years of battling the U.S. government. At the same time as this apparent retreat, however, Huawei has begun focusing on building its consumer product brand in the U.S. The company’s introduction of new products at this year’s CES gave it significant presence, and this month it announced a new marquee handset along with sponsorship for the Jonas Brothers tours, starting in Chicago. Huawei appears to be adopting a long term strategy to establish itself at the heart of the U.S. psyche as a “brand of trust”, potentially making it more difficult for them to be politically blocked in the next round of network purchases. Equally, since 4G networks have effectively been sold and rolled out in the U.S., the market opportunity is now elsewhere. The reality is that the market momentum of Huawei globally over the next five years will probably cause two of the five remaining network providers to be eliminated, meaning that Huawei will be the only real alternative to Ericsson when network operators look to upgrade their systems in 5 years time. The bet is that the U.S. government will have little choice but to reluctantly accept Huawei, even if it’s not with open arms.

The Zen Master, it seems, has actually moved back to China.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Could TomTom Provide the Roadmap to Success for Apple?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Article first published as Could TomTom Provide the Roadmap to Success for Apple? on Technorati.

Much has been written about Apple’s $135 billion in cash and the desire of some shareholders to see part of it returned. Technology companies that thrive in their heyday often face the challenges of a post-glory period when their product ceases to appeal or the market has moved on. Nokia and Blackberry (formally RIM) are recent examples of this, and Motorola is another within the mobile space.

At times such as this, a company’s cash reserve is the only thing that allows for continued investment in R&D; it enables them to try to hit the next product cycle and provides coverage for a cash flow shortfall should the company no longer have the volume to generate profits. Having cash on the balance sheet also provides a company with the opportunity to invest, through acquisition, in new technology and intellectual property to ensure enhanced offerings.

In the case of Apple, the recent debacle over the new Apple Maps app on their iPhone 5 emphasizes the fact that when they’re looking to create a new experience, Apple is better off using in-house software. Dutch navigation company, TomTom, which provides the map software for Apple, has recently been reported to be struggling as its hardware sales begin to falter. For the last couple of years the company has focused on selling their map software but they haven’t had the financial resources necessary to successfully compete against the deep pockets of Google or Nokia (Navteq).

TomTom could, however, be an ideal acquisition candidate for Apple. Within their portfolio they could provide the inspirational innovation to blend hardware capabilities with location, content (iTunes) and contextual information to create new and engaging consumer experiences that enhance the digital life of the consumer. In reality, this mapping capability is already within the portfolio of Google and Microsoft, their main rivals in the operating system space.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Which 3 Digital Technologies became Catalysts for Change?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

So what exactly have we recognized as being the three catalyst technologies or products that emerged in the year 2007? Below is an overview of each of these and highlighted are the main factors that we believe have influenced their evolution and subsequent relevance today.

WiMAX

WiMAX was an early 4G technology that started the move of the U.S. market to wireless broadband; it is often likened to “Wi-Fi on steroids”. The fact that Sprint and Clearwire, a startup that was supported by Google and Intel, could deliver blisteringly fast mobile Internet service forced AT&T and Verizon, the two largest U.S. carriers, to accelerate their deployment of 4G LTE. This development meant that standards needed to be agreed upon and formalized, and that network equipment manufacturers needed to accelerate production in order to provide for these large customers.

Having AT&T and Verizon focus on a single frequency (700 MHz) made it easier for device manufacturers to accelerate their development of 4G Internet products and deliver consumer-ready devices. The fact that some of these device manufacturers had been working on WiMAX devices in cooperation with semiconductor providers meant that they could accelerate products based on the WiMAX chipsets that almost 80% matched LTE.

Subsequently, both Sprint and T-Mobile have also either invested in or announced plans to build a 4G LTE network on top of their existing systems. What this means is that for the first time all four large U.S. carriers are offering mobile Internet services utilizing the same technology as the rest of the world, enabling global interoperability and roaming.

The iPhone

The second catalyst product was the iPhone which has received much acclaim for its elegant design and simple user interface. The real essence of the catalytic change that the iPhone initiated, however, was a shift in the consumer paradigm of a mobile device being used solely for communication to one that enabled interaction. The iPhone allows users to connect easily on-the-go and to share information, content, pictures and video simply and effortlessly. When it was first released, users found the interface to be so effortless that data volumes climbed exponentially and severely disrupted the AT&T network that had not been designed for large data capability! This forced AT&T, as well as other mobile operators, to rethink the entire concept of network architecture to include Wi-Fi as an offload mechanism. It also resulted in AT&T acquiring Wayport, and in the process becoming the single largest operator of Wi-F in the U.S.

Not only did the iPhone change the existing consumer paradigm and network architectures, it also broke the carrier stranglehold on its relationship with the subscriber. The iPhone was and still is provisioned via iTunes, which had previously been the domain of the mobile operator. This relationship with the subscriber, initiated at the time of purchase, was then solidified through the introduction of the app store and ultimately the iCloud. Apple effectively took the existing mobile business model, tore it up and replaced it with a hybrid that established a stronger bond with the consumer based on end-to-end user experience. The impact of the iPhone’s innovative design, end-to-end system, business model, user paradigm and elegant packaging of an everyday technology has had a tsunami-like impact on RIM, Motorola and Nokia, as well as on major mobile operators around the globe.

The Amazon Kindle

The third catalyst product that has been an instrumental agent of change is the Amazon Kindle. This device did for a 500-year-old product concept, the book, what the Walkman or iPod did for music. Best sellers are now cheaper and easier to obtain via the Kindle which provides on-the-go access to the world’s largest library/bookstore. This simple to use, low cost device made the mobile Internet transparent to the user by incorporating the cost of access into the price of the book. Amazon achieved this by creating a blanket connection relationship with AT&T for global access. The fact that the Kindle e-Reader automatically creates a relationship with Amazon means that loyal subscribers are a natural evolution. Proof that this technological revolution is affecting the literary world is evidenced by the number of large bookstores, such as Borders in the U.S., that have closed, and Barnes & Noble swiftly producing their own e-Reader, the Nook.

The iPhone and the e-Reader together have evolved into an instant-on class of device – the tablet – that satisfies the mobile consumer’s need to instantly connect, be entertained and informed. While small enough to remain portable, smartphones and tablets facilitate sharing, learning, creating and interacting using wireless broadband connectivity (3G, 4G and WiMAX) and these in turn have become indispensable parts of our everyday digital lives.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

 

What Spawned the New Digital Renaissance 2.0?

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

This article is the first of a trilogy in which we share some of the more intriguing aspects we have uncovered about digital technologies and the dynamic impact they are having on our business and personal lives. This first blog examines the unique origins of the new age Renaissance – what we call Digital Renaissance 2.0™ – and its impact on today’s global economy.

Previously, we identified the four “enabling technologies” (cell phone, PC, Internet, Walkman) that rocked the world and pointed out that they all emerged on the scene around the same time – 1981. We also pinpointed 2010 as a “year of convergence” when 3G, 4G and the Cloud all came together. It was only recently, however, that it became apparent to us that 2007 was the year that the “catalyst technologies” facilitated this convergence and, with it, the advent of the new digital age.

My colleague, Steve Benton, and I coined the expression Digital Renaissance 2.0™ (Ren 2.0™) to capture the concept that a fundamental shift is occurring in the way that information is now being accessed and shared. In the original Renaissance era, the enlightenment of Europe occurred due to the introduction of the printing press which led to the democratization of books.

During Ren 2.0™ the Internet has led to the democratization of information, now freely available to everyone – anywhere, anyhow and anytime – and as a result, the collective knowledge held by society is expanding exponentially, both actively and passively. The Internet has enabled information to become much more “transparent” as silos of data are shared between continents, countries and corporations, and on a significantly broader basis. This in turn has facilitated the global cross-pollination of ideas and concepts on a scale never seen before.

The four enabling technologies referred to above evolved rapidly and converged to facilitate the emergence of the Mobile Internet age. In our paper “Introduction to Digital Life Renaissance” (contact us to obtain a copy) we determine that this change is occurring at an unprecedented pace and show how it is touching all aspects of society, as well as governments and global economies.

The magnitude of these digital world changes in economic terms is captured in a chart we compiled that shows the global economy growing from less than $10 trillion in 1981 and accelerating to over $60 trillion by 2010. In a recent blog article in the Economist it was identified that between May 2011 and 2012 the global economy generated $65 trillion of trade (GDP), and that by September 2013 it will add a further $10 trillion to achieve a global GDP of $75 trillion.

The case can be made that global saturation of cellular and expanding penetration of mobile broadband access are primarily responsible for this rapid, worldwide distribution of information, which in turn is fueling economic growth at an unprecedented rate. Concurrently, this transformation is impacting the lives of individuals in developing and developed countries, and their awareness and expectations are growing as they become more exposed to vast amounts of new, previously inaccessible, information. As human behavioral patterns and methods of interaction change, so do their needs and requirements, which in turn are generating an abundance of new business and service opportunities.

It is our belief that the reinforcing cycle of continued innovation, based on the application of new digital technologies, is facilitating an increasingly interconnected planet which will, in turn, strengthen economic growth and favorably impact our digital lives.

Look out for our next two blogs in this series and find out exactly what the “catalyst technologies” are, what their significance is today and the powerful impact that they are going to have on our business and personal lives going forward.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Mobile Industry Trends and Beyond

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

 

 

The mobile industry is a global business that generates $1.5 trillion in revenue every year, approximately 1.5% of the world’s GDP. Throughout its 30 year history the industry has become ever more inextricably intertwined with the global economy. The World Bank estimates that for every 10% increase in mobile penetration the GDP in developed countries increases by 0.6%, in developing countries by 0.8% and for low income countries GDP increases by 1.4 %.

The bottom line is that wireless communications are impacting our personal and business lives because the physical networks are, in the words of President Clinton, “facilitating networks of collaboration and cooperation” that make boundaries transparent between countries, industries, societies and cultures. As the connected world shrinks in a virtual sense, possibility expands in a real sense as boundaries blur and new and previously unforeseen opportunities emerge globally. It is against this background that it becomes critical for industry leaders to make themselves aware of the emerging mobile trends and the implications they have on the global economic landscape, and more specifically on their own businesses.

Emerging Mobile Trends

  1. Mobile technology is disrupting business models and consumer habits, not just within Telecoms but also neighboring industries. The medical, utility, transportation, education and banking industries are all experiencing a shift from simple communication to total connectivity anywhere that mobility facilitates. Some are embracing the opportunities that this brings faster than others, resulting in significant redistribution of wealth along multiple value chains. Industry structures will most likely change as companies look at horizontal and vertical integration to acquire “Super Stacks” of intellectual property in order to exert increased control over their business model.
  2. Over the Top (OTT) Communication Services, easily downloaded from “App Stores”, are encouraging consumers to explore different ways of communicating, wherever they are and with whom they want, across multiple platforms. Voice has become just another bit of data in the new networked world. Consequently there is gradual recognition that mobile operators do not have a monopoly on the provision of voice over their networks; this could ultimately be the end of the existing subsidy model for phones and smartphones.
  3. Network architecture is being rethought to handle the masses of data resulting from the unprecedented growth in uploading and sharing of video from mobile phones. The traditional asymmetric network design has been found wanting and has forced a more symmetric heterogeneous networks (Het-Nets) structure that encompasses multiple technologies, spectrum and access capabilities, including offload to Wi-Fi. This frantic scramble by operators to provide the vision and reality of “anywhere – anytime – anyhow connectivity” has a significant cost implication at a time when the industry economics are in flux.
  4. Clouds of Things” captures the convergence of five rapidly developing vectors of technology: the Internet of Things, Hybrid Clouds, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. “Clouds of Things” will provide intelligent management, control, utilization and distribution of resources. This convergence of capability will be driven by the needs of smart cities as the increasing flight to urbanization continues. It is forecast that by the year 2016 thirty percent of the global population will be living in cities.
  5. Smart connected homes are becoming a reality as embedded and “black box” connectivity become simple to use and install, or come as part of a home automation package from cable companies, utilities or security firms. This will allow enhanced and remote management of all of the connected consumer electronic devices within a household. Smart home management will be facilitated by personal tablets and smartphones linked to augmented reality and will inevitably result in peoples’ social behaviors adapting and changing.
  6. The Mobile Wallet, utilizing Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, could revolutionize online and offline commerce as it is currently understood. This technology appears to be closer to reality in 2012 than ever before and is being deployed in millions of smartphones by multiple manufacturers.  However, in the developed markets there is need for systems and infrastructure change in order to handle mobile wallet transactions; this requires the agreement of many parties with vested interests, many of which are not yet aligned. Unless the complex industry value chain (retailers, card issuers, banks, mobile operators, internet intermediaries to name but a few) can meet consumers’ expectations for “elegant” mobile solutions (simplicity of use, privacy and security) then adoption by users will be inhibited.
  7. Smart devices, together with consumer adoption of “there’s an app for that”, revealed the enormous power and flexibility of the mobile internet. Beyond web apps, HTML5 is the next evolution of the mobile web. It is a comprehensive app development platform that can be used on multiple browsers and phone operating systems. Businesses providing services and content are attracted to HTML5 to overcome the following issues: the fragmentation of Android across an increasing number of device manufacturers and Apple app store economics that takes 30% of each app transaction while restricting these businesses access to their own subscriber information.
  8. Seamless connections management software, with varying degrees of capability, will soon become common place on devices to meet consumers’ expectations for simple, elegant, lower cost access everywhere across the world. It will also enable operators to load- balance across increasingly complex networks using multiple technologies and spectrum. This software will also help operators address the challenge that IT managers face in aligning Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) requirements with corporate security needs.
  9. Green ownership philosophies and government policy are focusing attention on ecological and energy saving issues. It is forcing a rethink of the total cost of ownership calculation for networks and, by default, the cost of consumer and enterprise services. This calculation becomes more complex now that it has to address an increased number of factors: the traditional economic pressures that are compounded by the exponential rise in data traffic, the increasing expectation of customers for access anywhere, as well as the impact of environmental pollution and concerns about energy efficiency.
  10. Mobile discovery will increasingly become the focus of mobile marketing specialists in the same way that SEO is an integral part of internet marketing today. Addressing the abundance of apps, services and information is a new type of problem. Mobile operators are complicating this situation by starting to mine vast amounts of subscriber data. They are blending this intelligence with offerings from a rich ecosystem of service and content providers, and creating unique personalized propositions for consumers that are targeted by location and context. With this diversity of offering, the challenge for small businesses and app developers is how to stand out in this operator and app store dominated environment? This is the emerging art and science of mobile discovery.

For more information about any of the above contact us at +1847-478-1633 or info@keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

“Mobile Gaming – Everything to Play For”

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A $60 billion market over the next five years

A brand new and increasingly popular category of business, Mobile Gaming, has taken the market by storm. Three interrelated components of the converged wireless world have given rise to its exponential growth and rapidly increasing popularity:

  • Increased availability of wireless broadband on cellular and Wi-Fi
  • Abundance of reasonably priced smartphones and tablets
  • Easy accessibility to app stores that expand the functionality of mobile devices

 

 

Mobile Market Developments

Mobile gaming is a global phenomenon but because it is leading the world in 4G, LTE and smartphone penetration, the U.S.market is taking off more rapidly, as shown by the following developments:

  • Forecasts indicate that 4.3 billion smartphones and 1.2 billion tablets will be sold globally over the next 5 years. These devices have transformed daily habits, enabling mobile entertainment – and gaming in particular – to become an integral part of everyday life.
  •  ComScore saw gaming usage increase by 77% in 2011 in the U.S. where 31% of mobile users play games on their devices, and 27% in the 5 largest European countries. Gaming is the number one entertainment activity for tablet users in the U.S.

P.J. McNeally, of Digital World Research, concluded: “Gaming is now a ‘need to have’ category, not a ‘nice to have’ category for mobile devices, whether they be tablets or phones.”

Shifting Business Models

The impact of these developments is that the industry’s value chain and the way that games are sold are being forced to change with the adoption of the new “freemium” business model in the mobile environment. The “freemium” model provides the initial game for free but the user is then charged for subsequent in-game purchases. Currently incremental revenue is only generated by about 5 -10% of active game players and this will have to increase if existing games companies are to survive.

The impact of value chain shifts can be seen in the plight of Nintendo where the console market has been severely impacted by the “freemium” model. Consumers find it difficult to justify paying for a stand-alone gaming device, plus games, when they can download these for free on their smartphones or tablets and then play them on their TV’s using HDMI cables.

What does the Future Hold?

For the mobile consumer, the online “word-of-mouth effect” combined with the growing power of social networking will be a significant driver of viral game growth and in-game purchases.

In the mobile gaming category, businesses boundaries will continue to blur as value chains adapt to the converged space of ICT, telecoms and consumer electronics – coined the “Crossover Era” by Gamesbeat. As devices become more sophisticated, games incorporate more advanced features and gamers continue to view mobile entertainment as a “must have”, this market segment will without doubt continue to grow rapidly, evolving into a $60+ billion market over the next five years.

Contact us at info@keysoglobal.com or +1847-478-1633 to obtain a copy of our final report on Mobile Gaming.

Article first published as Mobile Gaming – Everything to Play For on Technorati.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global   www.keysoglobal.com

Five Essentials for Business Success in the Digital World

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Digital technologies are forcing an unprecedented pace of change for business. If you don’t get on board now, you risk being left behind! To determine whether your business is on track to becoming a Digital Business, you need to ask these five questions:  

 

 

  1. Do you proactively monitor the industry changes that are affecting your business?

Use web based tools to help track the impact that converged technologies are having on all aspects of your business, such as customer behaviors, new suppliers, technology trends etc. This approach will give you a holistic perspective of your industry and enable you to identify strategic options ahead of your competition.

 

  1. Do you encourage collaborative behaviors within your organization?

It is crucial that your company provides the tools and environment that enable the sharing of knowledge and information in order to tap into one of its most valuable attributes – the tacit knowledge of your employees.

 

  1. Do you regularly engage with communities external to your company? 

It is essential to adopt a digital mind set and rethink how your business can more effectively engage (interact, listen, learn and co-create) with the rapidly growing collective knowledge base outside of your company in order to understand changing customer requirements, generate new ideas and gain important feedback.

 

  1. Do you disrupt your business model?

Traditional business models, tools and methodologies do not adapt well to the opportunities and threats encountered in today’s digital world. First you need to understand how the individual elements of your existing model work together and then take full advantage of digital technologies to create a disruptive new business model – before your competition does it for you!

 

  1. Do you inspire your employees to bring innovation into the workplace?  

You need to encourage your employees to leverage the mobile and social technologies that they use in their everyday lives to generate innovative ideas that will enhance, simplify and accelerate the business processes within your company.

We at KeySo Global have developed frameworks and tools that can help you rapidly adapt to changes in the digital environment. We have assisted companies by designing and implementing development programs that produce dynamic digital strategies. Contact us at 847-478-1633 or info@keysoglobal.com  to set up an initial meeting and we’ll help you discover your digital path to success!

 

New Frontiers in the Developing Digital World

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

As a consulting company, innovation, technology, strategy and business models are all areas that are ingrained in our DNA. The impact of these capabilities to shape human behavior, expectations and life styles and the virtuous impact of these elements on national and global GDP is a fascination that has translated into our study of the digital world and digital life.

A Journey of Learning

Consequently we are always looking for stories that exemplify and support our frameworks and models. One of these models we codified nearly 4 years ago and submitted in a paper presented at the ITU Telecom World in 2009. An in-depth review of historic technology development showed that for a new technology industry to grow rapidly three components need to be in place and working together in unison. These component pieces are:

  • Technology that is ready and deployable
  • Business model that is appropriate
  • Consumer requirement that is real

The paper “Digital Life Impacts on Telecom’s And Consumers” (available to download on our website) focused on the impact of converged technologies and how this would translate into a rapid explosion of consumer demand for data services with the emergence of the mobile internet.

Two weeks ago I attended Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona and listened with interest to Sunil Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director for Bharti Airtel, describe the growth of mobile technology in India. What fascinated me about his story was the recognition that a proven business model has to change according to the market context when both the technology and consumer demand are there, and his story linked all this together in a very powerful way.

Compelling Story

Mittal’s story started in 1992 inIndia when the government auctioned the new GSM spectrum, and Bharti Airtel was awarded a license. In their own words, they were entrepreneurs at this time with more aspiration than resources. Nonetheless, over the next 5 years they built a subscriber base of nearly 5m users. In 1998 they set their sights on achieving a subscriber base of 25m and looked at 5 companies, 3 in Europe and 2 in the U.S., which had already achieved this number. They concluded that they had to grow their resource base to almost 15,000 people in order to support 25m subscribers, and to achieve this growth a new business model was needed to replace the traditional way of creating a network; the inspiration for this came from the energy market.

To help achieve this growth, IBM was awarded a $1 billion IT outsourcing contract for everything from desktops to billing to data warehousing, and Erikson and Nokia were awarded a managed service contract with 1,100 engineers. Additionally, the traditional procurement model was changed from one of buying hardware and boxes to one of traffic. Airtel decided that they would pay for utilization of the network measured in Erlangs, in other words when users made calls. The net result of this was that their subscriber base grew from 5 million to 25 million subscribers in 24 months. In partnership with the GSMA, the Indian mobile operator also managed to convince the world wide industry of manufacturers to focus on building sub $50 handsets. So with a network that was scalable and handsets that were affordable, the pent up consumer demand was met, and as a result the market in India grew phenomenally. There are now over 600 million handsets in use in India today, 200 million of the subscribers being provided by Bharti Airtel. They have exported their business model to 17 other countries with a further 15 million subscribers.

Significant Question

After telling his story, Sunil posed the question: what new business model could encourage mobile broadband deployment and enable mobile banking and mobile health to affect a life changing impact on developing economies? As he identified,India has few ATMs but there are 600 million mobile handsets which could easily become mobile ATMs for mobile banking. Equally, in countries such as Africa and India, where the primary healthcare system is either non existent or broken, mobile health can be significantly aided by the implementation of low cost mobile broadband. Compound this with expanding education through mobile education services facilitated by sub $50 tablets and you have the opportunity for growing entrepreneurs, aiding society and promoting economic growth within these emerging economies.

The Future

So the scene is set: the technologies are present, consumer demand is pent up and entrepreneurs are eager to find the right business model.  A lack of incumbent providers in the emerging markets leaves the field wide open for entrepreneurs to leapfrog into different areas. For example, mobile banking can facilitate the development of small businesses and grow the GDP as well as change funding models through the growth of peer to peer lending. In the developed world, however, where governments want to be the sole provider of currencies, and banks, credit card companies and mobile operators want to own the revenue stream of mobile banking, the challenge for shifting the business model is significantly greater. In a twist of fate, the developed world may be looking to the developing world for the new business models that are going to shape our global economy over the next 5 years.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global   www.keysoglobal.com

We are All Digital Technologists by Osmosis

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Do you feel overwhelmed every time you read about the introduction of new technologies? Do you hear how they’re going to be having a dramatic effect on the way you do business in the future, and panic? You don’t need to fear the coming evolution because the chances are that you’re already a technology expert and actually quite adept at adjusting -although you may not know it!

Technologists with hindsight

Most of us have become digital technologists by “osmosis”. In other words, if we look back dispassionately over the past 30 years, with the benefit of hindsight we can see just how much our life styles have been changed inordinately with the advent of digital technologies. We have a natural inclination to think of ourselves as novices where new technology is concerned. Yet if we step back and look at the way that we’ve embraced and adapted to the changes introduced to us over the decades, we should give ourselves more credit. We have “absorbed” these new technologies and have every reason to be confident about taking advantage of the opportunities they bring for our professional and everyday lives.

At KeySo Global we help our clients recognize that they are far more technology savvy than they realize! We point to the analogy of the frog in a pot: the premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out. If it’s placed in cold water that is slowly heated, however, it will not perceive the surrounding danger and will be cooked to death. In other words, we’re not always cognizant of the fact that we’ve been slowly adapting to the digital world changes occurring around us; we need to become more aware of these changes, and have the confidence to embrace them and incorporate them into our personal and business lives.

Four technologies that rocked our world

In order to put things into perspective, consider four major technology developments in the 1980’s that significantly changed the way we live and work today:  the personal computer; the cellphone; the establishment of a global Internet and the creation of the Sony Walkman. While the impact of the first three may be obvious, the Walkman was the device that pioneered the way for people to access personalized portable entertainment, anywhere and at anytime.

The 1980’s introduced these new technologies and the 1990’s brought about their integration into society. For example, GSM cellphone technology allowed people to roam the world, the development of the World Wide Web and Internet browsers allowed people to access information, and the creation of TiVo gave people the ability to time-shift entertainment. All of these brought technology into the mainstream. Add to these the development of the iPod and iPhone and the rise of social networking in the 2000’s, and it’s clear to see how these technologies have permeated our society and culture, and just how well we’ve all adapted to the changes they’ve brought about.

Convergence opens new opportunities

We believe 2010 was a transitional year that saw the convergence of 3G & 4G technologies with cloud computing, social media, and Wi-Fi. The evolution of smartphones and the introduction of touch screen tablets has built on this convergence and enabled a faster, easier and more compelling interactive consumer experience. Social media in turn is leveraging this interactive access to the mobile network, and uses location and context data to provide personalization of services and information, with particular focus on retail opportunities.

The confluence of technologies and services is changing the way consumers live and work. It is also generating an ecosystem of companies that are creating applications and services which are stimulating the economy locally, nationally and globally. In a recent study it was estimated that 450,000 jobs had been created by companies developing apps.

Shifting business models

Mobility, Internet and computing capable devices are not only impacting their users but also the way in which companies interact with their customers. As a result, large and small companies need to recognize that the business models of their industries, relatively static for many years, are changing around them even if they haven’t yet started to adjust their own. Our advice to any CEO or small business owner is the same: open your eyes and look around; observe the opportunities that technology is now enabling and identify how you could apply these same technologies to enhance your company’s customer offering and business performance.

There is a plethora of opportunities out there to enhance your business model. If you need help identifying these opportunities, we at KeySo Global are here to help and can show you how they can be applied. Contact us at info@keysoglobal.com, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global