Home North AmericaNorth America II 2014 Race to the Top: Winning in the New World of Browser-based Real Time Communications: WebRTC and the Art of War

Race to the Top: Winning in the New World of Browser-based Real Time Communications: WebRTC and the Art of War

by Administrator
Brad Bush Issue: North America II 2014
Article no.: 6
Topic: Race to the Top: Winning in the New World of Browser-based
Real Time Communications: WebRTC and the Art of War
Author: Brad Bush
Title: EVP & CMO
Organisation: GENBAND
PDF size: 205KB

About author

Brad Bush is EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of GENBAND. Mr. Bush has held a number of positions within GENBAND, including serving as Chief Information Officer and Chief Integration Officer, SVP of sales operations, and most recently Chief-of-Staff running the office of the CEO. Before joining GENBAND, he was responsible for business unit operations in the Tekelec Switching Solutions Group, which was acquired by GENBAND in 2007. Prior to Tekelec, he spent eight years at Nortel Networks, where he held various strategic positions in wireless operations and information systems.

Previously, Mr. Bush founded Sharpsite Interactive, a successful startup specializing in Internet application development, and has management experience in the structural engineering and construction industries.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Rice University, and an MBA from Southern Methodist University.

Article abstract

Abstract
The good news for operators is, even without their jumping into the WebRTC pond, this will drive up data revenues as long as data is being sold as a service (and the industry does not completely succumb to all-you-can-eat data plans).

The bad news for operators is voice revenues, including international roaming services, are going away faster. Then there are all those massive investments in IMS and VoLTE to factor in.

Full Article

Forget everything you thought you knew about ‘telecommunications’ – all the acronyms, the stacks, the protocols, the business models, and the distinctions between fixed and mobile worlds. For a moment, step back and think about how you and your colleagues, your friends and your family, actually communicate digitally these days.

Forget everything you thought you knew about the ‘world wide web’ – we are now more than twenty years into the mass commercialization of the Internet, intersecting in its growth curve with mobile innovation to create a ‘perfect storm’ for creativity and value generation.

Remember when we thought VoIP was cool? Remember when we were first dazzled by the iPhone? Those memories are fast being replaced by a ‘new normal’ where our requirements to ‘dial a phone number’ or “join a conference bridge” are being replaced with one tap, touch, click or swipe to initiate a conversation in voice, video or text – real-time, where ever you are in your daily digital life.

How is it possible that companies like WhatsApp are valued at US$19B with nearly no revenue? That just doesn’t seem fair after all the billions of dollars sunk into 2G/3G/4G and now IMS/LTE networks. But the math works – the valuation of companies like WhatsApp are based upon subscriber footprints and user adoption and ‘adoration’ rates. Why is the next generation turning to Over the Top (OTT) applications like WhatsApp? Why are companies like Facebook acquiring them?

Simple – this is how the new generation (and many of the prior generation) prefers to connect with others.

It’s not going to get easier for traditional service providers unless they wake up and realize that their most important assets are not necessarily their physical ones – in fact their most important assets are their customers.

The OTT innovators initially used ‘telco’ companies’ assets as a means to disrupt. Skype is the obvious example, but many hundreds more followed. There has been over a decade of discussion on the topic of “value added services” vs “dumb pipes” and I am uninterested in contributing to that bone pile. What I see is a second tsunami of change coming. We already see Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and others building their own servers, switches and data centers, buying their own spectrum, and moving more and more into Internet services. At small scale these activities won’t immediately impact traditional players, but at some point they could marginalize them beyond dumb pipes.

But then – in comes WebRTC. Friend – or for?

Winning the war: How you think is half the battle

Why fight OTT? Why not go to market with your own browser-based solutions? Why not sell your own creative consumer and business solutions; why not leverage software models instead of being threatened by them?

WebRTC is:

“…a free, open project that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple JavaScript APIs. The WebRTC components have been optimized to best serve this purpose…to enable rich, high quality, RTC applications to be developed in the browser via simple JavaScript APIs and HTML5.”

Source? Google’s WebRTC initiative website. Relevance? It is now possible to ‘call people’ or “join a conference call” without a phone number and without downloading a client.

The good news for operators is, even without their jumping into the WebRTC pond, this will drive up data revenues as long as data is being sold as a service (and the industry does not completely succumb to all-you-can-eat data plans).

The bad news for operators is voice revenues, including international roaming services, are going away faster. Then there are all those massive investments in IMS and VoLTE to factor in.

But the real good news is that the world’s biggest service providers (carriers, operators included) still own hundreds of millions of subscribers. But in order to keep those subscribers, maintain or drive up ARPU, and derive the full value out of investments made to date creative approaches are a must.

Ten ways to leverage WebRTC and OTT

1. Offer cool consumer apps – you cannot beat them, so join them and compete based on providing better, more convenient applications that tie to your existing number plans and billing systems.
2. Offer cool business apps – count up the number of SMB and enterprise customers you have and figure out how you can retain them with valuable communications solutions as they begin to walk away from “telephony systems” that flourished over the last two decades.
3. Offer vertical industry solutions – the most creative work in the WebRTC world is happening in healthcare, education, government and financial services. Are these your biggest enterprise customers?
4. Extend your business beyond your physical footprint including ‘edge devices’ (‘phones’) and CPE (IP-PBX).
5. Embrace the cloud and build everything ‘cloud-ready’ as my company has; the challengers in the OTT space still must learn to scale and create reliability that you already have as a core strength.
6. Hire really smart and creative web developers, and ask them to challenge your teams to try new things – WebRTC is a web-centric world.
7. Study what your competition is doing, including companies like Telefonica, who has been investing in TokBox and starting to see the results flourish.
8. Study what the new OTT challengers are doing, and don’t dismiss the facts – learn their pricing models, learn freemium, learn why their subscribers (or ’end users’ or “community members”) are so happy and so willing to put up with ‘good enough’ vs. ‘five nines’
9. Look back at what happened the first time, when voice revenues declined due to massive price disruption caused by VoIP.
10. Think about your business using the “TCP-IP” vs. “OSI” stack and continue to push your aspirations “northbound” into the applications layer and even beyond that – into the “experience layer”.

Finally, think about every “aaS” model out there. Communications as a Service (CaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) Back-End as a Service (BEaas) then stop for a minute and think about this one thing: Outcome as a Service (OaaS). How have you succeeded before? By making customers supremely happy. By ensuring their real time communications really work. By ensuring security, reliability and convenience.

The basics have not changed. But the channels have. Switch on to WebRTC because change is not only inevitable – it is constant.

The Art of War

“All warfare is based on deception.”

“The general who understands war is the Minister of the people’s fate and arbiter of the nation’s destiny.”

“Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered.”

These quotations come from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, a guide to military strategy written more than twenty centuries ago.

It’s a great read, and a call to leadership:

“When troops flee, are insubordinate, distressed, collapse in disorder or are rerouted, it is the fault of the general. None of these disasters can be attributed to natural causes.”

Sun Tzu doesn’t beat around the bush. Whoever this mysterious author was, there is no question he is direct and blunt.

And all of us in this industry – or industries (web – software – and communications) know there is a war being waged. Will your company retreat – or charge forward? It takes leadership. Courage. And risk – without which there is rarely any reward.

WebRTC and OTT are new weapons and ‘traditionalists’ are either going to commandeer them, or risk no good outcome. While it may feel counter-intuitive to introduce services using OTT technologies (as this may ‘eat into existing revenues’ or ‘cannibalize established businesses’) what is worse? Replacing modes of communications in your existing base with new and better ways, with greater quality than the challengers? Or waiting for those same challengers to continue to develop, with the equity they have created through their own innovation and investment, services that are so good your existing customers will move on?

Keep in mind none of us who consider ourselves true builders are building – for ourselves. We’re building for the next generation of consumers and businesses, who are born with a silver smartphone in their hand, and at some point in the not-too-distant future will not only fail to recognize a ‘handset’, but may even be baffled by this ancient code of (0)+1+800+555-1212.

They won’t just ‘be a number,’ they will have their own digital identities and communicate more and more, not less and less, as humans in new humanizing yet digital ways. Create value for the digital economy and real time communicators, and you’ll create value for your shareholders – monetizing the networks, and software, embedded base of customers, and enormous brands you’ve built – so far.

 

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