Friday, September 14, 2007
In a sea of multi-play product launch sameness, how can a forward looking broadband service provider (BSP) deliver something truly unique and remarkable for their customers? That's the question that I considered as I prepared my entry for the Cisco Connected Life Contest.
Moreover, will real innovation bubble-up to the surface, and see the light of day? I wonder.
Regular readers of my columns may recall that I'm eager to offer ideas and suggestions. When I was previously approached by Dell, regarding the introduction of their Idea Storm microsite, I gladly submitted my "Dell Customer Corps" concept for their consideration.
Service Delivery Platform Innovation
I prefer to avoid the obvious topics, and use my deep-domain knowledge to propose something off the beaten track -- so to speak. That's exactly why I decided to tackle the issue of service delivery platforms (SDP), and more specifically enhancing the consumer experience in a distinctive way.
I believe that multi-play service offerings are typically conceived from an inside-out perspective -- the typical BSP marketer often starts from the point of view of revenue generation, instead of customer needs or wants. No wonder then, that BSP offerings look so much alike, or are similar to their newfound competitors in the pay-TV sector.
I have previously commented on the Cisco Human Network campaign, which to this day I commend for its apparent vision and timely introduction. I suggested a greater degree of public engagement, and they have clearly responded with the very outgoing Connected Life Contest.
My entry submission is entitled, appropriately I believe, the "Digital Lifescapes" concept.
I don't know the total number of submissions that Cisco has received. Regardless, I applaud them for soliciting bold new ideas -- from their broad constituency base. Encouraging the addition of complementary video content was actually a bold move, since it's still quite rare within the world of B2B public relations.
Raising the Bar of Expectations
That said, having had the privilege of reviewing numerous BSP launch plan best-practices over the past year, I thought that it was time to not only raise the bar of expectations -- it was also time to clearly articulate a consumer-centric objective that would appeal to all mainstream BSP customers. After all, isn't that the whole point of this exercise?
With the exception of the PCCW launch of their a-la-carte IPTV offering in the Hong Kong market, I've been underwhelmed by the apparent lack of creativity that's been applied to developing most BSP next-generation networks (NGN) and associated SDPs.
It is said that the simplest ideas to implement are often the most valuable. If the notion of delivering an adaptive all-in-one personalized single channel isn't profound, then perhaps it will be offered by a forward-looking BSP very soon. Always the optimist, I remain hopeful.
Given the multi-billion dollar investments in IP NGNs and SDPs, I would expect that Telco CEOs would demand that the final outcome is a very substantive competitive edge. Instead, most currently end up with a pay-TV offering that's at parity with a mid 20th Century broadcast news and entertainment user experience.
I believe that the upside payback for real innovation will be significant, and therefore worth the extra effort. Supporting user generated content and enabling video on demand is good progress. But, they're not going to be enough to sustain a BSP through the disruptive changes that are about to occur in the marketplace.