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The Experience Layer Design Framework

What is a broadband experience provider, and how does this business model differ from a traditional broadband service provider (BSP)? During the course of 2008, as the customer experience era unfolds, we'll be describing the various attributes -- relative to the evolving service delivery process.

Let's start by describing the conceptual elements. Essentially, the "experience layer" is the space above the applications layer where customers interact with service offerings. It's the place where innovations like "visual voice mail" are designed with creative inspiration.

Up to this point in time, broadband service providers have focused primarily on building IP Next Generation Network (NGN) infrastructure that potentially enables distinctive customer experiences to be designed on top of these foundational platforms.

However, since most vendors of networking products and services are barely capable in reaching up into the application layer, broadband services providers must take the lead to apply their new service delivery platforms -- in the essential task of creating compelling and highly-differentiated customer experiences.

According to Forrester Research, over the next five years, marketing strategists at leading BSPs will turn the tide by using experienced-based differentiation to deliver products that meet customer needs.

These new experience-based providers (EBPs) will integrate both internal and external innovations to create end-to-end customer experiences like TV-your-way; ultimate gaming; and integrated voice, video, and text communications.

To prepare for the change, marketing strategists at both telcos and cablecos must embrace customer-driven innovation, rebuild business models to incorporate multiple revenue sources, and retool their sales and service channels to support digital experience products.

An EBP offers services that demonstrate the following attributes:

- Bridge existing internal product silos. Today's discounted bundles will evolve from discrete commodity services, like wired and wireless voice, to converged value-added applications, like anywhere voice.

- Use platforms and partnerships to build cross-industry products. In the past, operators built services internally; but to meet consumer's shifting needs, operators must work with third parties to source content and applications as well as build platforms to support the consumption of these services over any device.

- Improve usability with better user interfaces and industrial design. Over the next two years, EBPs will combine industrial and software design with personalization to build experiences that cross device and content boundaries. The designs do not always create something totally new, but they will make existing technologies easier to consume by eliminating complexity.

- Leverage customer-driven innovations and communities. Traditional operators build and test services in the lab environment. Meanwhile, insurgent communications providers like Yahoo! and Skype develop prototypes, immediately release them to the consumer community as beta versions, and gather instant feedback.

Creating and delivering a meaningful and remarkable customer experience may seem like an esoteric notion that is difficult to apply in practice. It isn't, when you know how to conceptualize.

As an example, is it possible to create an alternative digital media service delivery model that takes advantage of the current media fragmentation trend, while improving personalization? My own Digital Lifescapes concept inverts the requirement to use a "search" as the starting point.

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