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DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
9/10/2013 | 8:48:37 AM
Einstein
"The word "genius" isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like
Norman Einstein." --Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback


 

Per your article, a lot of big telcos still haven't got the message about hackathons and whatnot though, they're still going on, planning more etc. So are they getting something out of them?
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
9/10/2013 | 9:56:33 AM
Strategic suppliers as roadblocks?
Alan, 

I was intrigued by the recommendation that telcos "retake control of internal service innovation from their so-called "strategic suppliers" that have stifled it"  -- can you explain that one a bit more? Are telco vendors inserting themselves as gatekeepers?

 
alan@alanquayle.com
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[email protected],
User Rank: Lightning
9/10/2013 | 10:07:19 AM
Re: Einstein
:) Hi Dan, you're spot-on.  AT&T in January had $125k in prizes on offer, including a Chevy Volt with an MSRP of $40k.  Has anything been launched with 'Good Time' the winner of $30k, or other winners, or myaNumber who was interviewed on stage, what's happened there?  

Telecoms is a $2T industry that has not yet created a viable developer ecosystem, instead tries to ride on the coat-tails of Apple and Android, and are considereded irrelevant by developers in those communities. 

We need to get focused on where real business is being generated today.  There are thousands of Telecom Application Developer successes like:
  • Ask Ziggy adds Siri-like capabilities to a business's phone number;
  • Babelverse provided a universal translator of the spoken word, powered by a global community of remote interpreters;
  • BLI Messaging helps schools communicate with students' parents quickly;
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield STATchat is a fast, free and simple way to talk with a provider services representative after a healthcare provider (usually a doctor or dentist's secretary) has searched online for the answer to a claims status or eligibility question;
  • Calliflower is a web and audio conference service for both local and international meetings;
  • Calltacular simplifies the processes of call centers with an application that combines customer management and lead management tools allowing their clients to track, learn and understand more about their customers;
  • Crunched improves sales and marketing performance;
  • delivery.com focuses on truly representing the local businesses within a neighborhood;
  • Imprezzio helps its Fortune 100 financial and insurance customers with a full-featured, affordable solutions to manage every facet of the customer life-cycle;
  • HealthSense.com is a telehealth system that saves people's lives;
  • MeuTarô is a marketplace for astrological consultants;
  • Quobis QoffeeSIP provides a corporate WebRTC webphone;
  • RadioWaves created low cost, highly integrated call center;
  • Speak2Leads enables businesses to respond almost immediately to a customer lead, with six in total carefully timed contact attempts;  
  • TextGen extends a business's phone number into a text service; and
  • Zingaya embed a 'Call' button into the website.


These are all made possible by Telecom APIs, WebRTC, telecom application platforms and free and open source telecom software.  TADS, www.tadsummit.com, is an independent grassroots initiative, focused on trying to build the telecom application ecosystem based simply on what's happening in the market.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
9/10/2013 | 10:15:00 AM
Re: Einstein
Thanks for this great list, Alan! I'm beginning to see a theme -- telecom apps that are successful use telecom's core services, like the phone number/call. It seems so obvious! In general, were these apps done in partnership with developers, done by developers and acquired or licensed by operators, or done by operators alone? I agree that operators need to switch focuses, but I'm curious what you think is the best way to do that.
alan@alanquayle.com
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[email protected],
User Rank: Lightning
9/10/2013 | 10:34:05 AM
Re: Strategic suppliers as roadblocks?
Hi Carol,

Great question.  I answer it in depth in this article, http://alanquayle.com/2013/09/staring-abyss/, check out the presentation at the end and in particular slide 44 - the brown-nosed middle manager ;)

The short answer is about 20 years ago telcos built lots of cool stuff, as per the video in the weblog.  It then became fashionable to outsource innovation to the strategic vendors so the telco could focus on customer service.  On the network side this made sense.  However, for services this has not proven to be a successful strategy. In the litany of excuses at the end of the presentation you'll see the "It must be delivered through our preferred SI/NEP."  This has killed many innovative services, to the point that some telcos have broken from this fashion and are working with innovative companies directly, and TADS, www.tadsummit.com, is case studying them and their success.

Technology is democratizing innovation, free and open source telecom software, WebRTC, Telecom APIs, and telecom application platforms enable telcos and their partners to build services themselves.  As a specific example, financial services compliance is a significent telecoms opportunity, today calls and SMS remain outside of compliance.  A telco could look to a big vendor to take 18 months and tens of millions of dollars to build a solution.  Or they can do it themsleves using APIs and application platforms in a few weeks, get it in front of their customers, rev to meet the customer's specific needs, and enhance as they go along. 

The above sounds obvious but the big strategic vendors have considerable control over telcos and are an impediment to service innovation in our industry - just look at how few are prepared to sponsor TADS.  I'm supposed to believe they can not spare 0.01% of their marketing budget to help support the creation of a telecom application developer ecosystem.  Rather than gatekeeper, I'd suggestion the term is 'paranoid control-freak intent on stamping out any threats to their account dominance,' also known as 'the brown-nosed middle manager.'
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
9/10/2013 | 10:54:46 AM
Re: Strategic suppliers as roadblocks?
Hmm, I like this - 'paranoid control-freak intent on stamping out any threats to their account dominance' but we need to get it down to an acceptable link for an acronym. How about 'Control-freak obsessed with threats to account domination' or COTAD?

So it seems like the key for the telcos is to be more insistent on open APIs that can be more easiliy exposed to developers?
alan@alanquayle.com
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[email protected],
User Rank: Lightning
9/10/2013 | 10:59:40 AM
Re: Einstein
Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the question.  All of the above is the answer :) 

Take delivery.com (a Tropo customer) as an example, they built stuff themselves using dialogic cards, then discovered that Telecom APIs could do what they built, so they migrated over.  It was simply a sale person and word of mouth helped delivery.com understand how easy Telecom APIs are to use.  Telcos have thousands of such sales people talking to their business customers every day!

Some can be done in partnership.  For example Dialog (a hSenid Mobile customer) has created IdeaMart, I'm hoping within the next day or so we'll have a CxO level presenter confirmed for TADS, to share their experiences, its a great case study.

At the OpenCloud customer event last week, http://alanquayle.com/2013/09/staring-abyss/, they had some of their 60 telco customers describing the services they have both created themselves and commissioned, e.g. Bouygues B.duo http://alanquayle.com/2013/08/interview-with-jonathan-bell-vp-marketing-at-opencloud/

Telestax are an active member of the Mobicents community, many of their customers come from the community, e.g. HealthSense.com, a service that is saving people's lives using free and open source telecom software.

Some services will be created internally by the telco (own developed or commissioned), some with existing partners, some with customers, some from telecom focused communities like Tropo or Mobicents, and some from local independent telecom application developers. Its about focusing on the basics, communications and payments.  Embedding them across all business ecosystems.  And focusing on changing the anti-innovation culture (the litany of excuses) that can only come about by seeing how others have solved that problem - hence why we focus on case studies at TADS, www.tadsummit.com.
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/10/2013 | 11:17:31 AM
Re: Strategic suppliers as roadblocks?
"The short answer is about 20 years ago telcos built lots of cool stuff, as per the video in the weblog"

You have your timeframe off by about 10 years.  The last time a telco built anything was when the original AT&T existed - before 1984.  Let's compare them to Amazon...

How much from scratch software did Amazon write?  Right now the Amazon R&D budget is $1.5B per quarter right now (according to Ycharts).  Now of course that includes Kindle and some other things.

How much from scratch software did Verizon and AT&T write?  The only thing I am aware of is the OSS development at Verizon...call it $100M a year?

The service provider "R&D" is about systems integration, testing, and creating the ability to scale services with employees that are modestly educated.  These are fine things.  But they have NOTHING to do with writing applications or developing new things.

seven

 
alan@alanquayle.com
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[email protected],
User Rank: Lightning
9/10/2013 | 11:20:03 AM
Re: Strategic suppliers as roadblocks?
:) That's a good acronym.  I was surprised when a searched on 'brown-nosed middle manager' there were not more links.

APIs just need to be well-written and fit for purpose.  OneAPI is neither of these.  The key is the service that is exposed through the API, as in the limit an API is just a http request.

So its the service's business model, security, public/private, support, ancillary services, availability, features, community knowledge-base, sample code, etc. that all come together in creating a popular public API.

Most businesses and government agencies use private APIs with their vendors and customers.  Layer 7 is a leader in that space, its increadible the volume of transactions going over private APIs.  And similary for telcos with their partners and customers, they will offer private APIs.  The financial services compliance example I gave would like have some features and reporting that would only be available through private APIs.

Openness depends on the busienss application; being well-written and fit-for-purpose are the keys to success.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
9/10/2013 | 11:36:07 AM
Re: Strategic suppliers as roadblocks?
Actually, I was impressed by the AT&T Watson translator, did they buy that from somewhere. I thought it was in-house.
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