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A Conversation with Steve Elfman, President, Network Operations and Wholesale, Sprint Nextel June 26, 2012

Posted by chetan in : Mobile Future Forward , add a comment

This interview with Steve Elfman is excerpted from the 2011 Mobile Future Forward Book. We are delighted to have him join us for the 2012 Mobile Future Forward program.

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Running a multi-billion dollar operator business requires the best of operational experience and foresight. As the mobile business is becoming more data-centric, there is a significant emphasis on running a tight operation to manage the margins. Driving the operational efficiency is as important as revenue generation to help manage the margins. Steve Elfman, President, Network Operations and Wholesale, Sprint has a very keen eye on operations and how to make them better. He has done that repeatedly throughout his illustrious career. To gain a better understanding of how operators think about operations and how the ecosystem should think about the same while coming up with relevant solutions and products, Mobile Future Forward (MFF) sat down with Steve to gain some insights on what drives operational efficiency.

MFF: When you get into a new situation, what’s the process you follow to figure out the opportunities for operational efficiency? Is it the process or the technology decisions that drive your thinking?

SE: It is actually yes on both counts and then a third. The first thing I look at is the overall financial picture of the company, the really high cost items of the company. Inventory is a good example. How much are we spending on inventory? Additional things to take a look at are - what are the big CAPEX and OPEX items, the network, the IT organization, building solutions, the subsidy, the logistics, and the distribution. So, start with the financials.

In the financials, I look at the two key metrics – the quality and the cycle time (and waste etc.) and then go into a deep dive and quickly determine where you can get operational efficiency with processes and change those. Then you jump to technologies to make sure we got the most efficient technology to not only automate but also to figure out if we are getting the cost down by using the technology. It is equally important to assess if it is impacting the go to market strategy.

The third thing I get into is the ecosystem and the partnerships like outsourcing and where we can work with the domain experts and partners to bring in the efficiency, the time to market advantage, and also minimize the cost out of the equation.

Finally, it is important to establish the benchmarks so you can gauge the progress.

So, that’s the kind of the process I go through.

MFF: Can you give us some examples in each of these categories?

SE: Sure. When I got here, I looked at the whole network operations. Our network cost and the margins were not in sync compared to of our competitors and when I looked deeper, it was easy to explain – we had more labor costs because we had lot more cell sites and switches per subscriber and then we looked at investments we have been making in the processes and in the technology. It drove us to look at the outsourcing opportunities to improve efficiency and also to automate a bunch of things. And we found a partner in Ericsson which has been operating networks in various parts of the world. This allowed us to focus on customer service while Ericsson helped us with automation and improving the processes, in the use of best in class technology so we didn’t have to invest in best practices.

Second example - in pursuing the Network Vision, we said that in addition to the operational efficiencies, we need to leapfrog our competition and go to the next generation technology. That’s why we went to multi-mode technology which is lower cost. Like many, we saw the data tsunami coming and we needed flexibility and a lower per unit cost.

MFF: How has the focus on operational efficiency changed as we are migrating from the voice world to a data-centric universe?

SE: Indeed it has changed and the reason is quite obvious. Data uses greater bandwidth, especially, rich media, and the usage characteristics are so different than voice. The pricing equation is challenging as we try to be efficient and at the same time give customers what they want, where they want it. The increasing demand of data has driven us to be more operationally efficient. Additionally, the go-to-market strategy has to be different as well.

MFF: Do you see the segments of postpaid, prepaid, connected devices differently? Since their cost and the revenue structures are different, does it mean that the strategy for operations is different as well?

SE: Yes there is but you have to look at not just the operational efficiency and here is why. Connected devices space is very nascent and immature and I will call that the segment is in the early part of the S curve and so you are making the investments, some will work out and will not. But you are trying to have other businesses fund the investment just like a new business.

In terms of prepaid and postpaid, both are fairly mature businesses, prepaid a bit less so. So, the cost structures are mature as well. The prepaid business can ride on top of the postpaid business since the basic components are the same – operational efficiency in the network, many of the same underlying IT systems, same distribution and logistics, warehousing etc. The prepaid segment has low lifetime value (LTV), so you need to get all the costs out to make it an operationally efficient business.

MFF: In the mobile world today, things are changing so fast as new devices are coming onto the market and the consumption itself is changing dramatically, how do you go about planning for 2-5 years out when the forecasts get exceeded on a continuous basis?

SE: I think you hit the nail. Forecasts by their nature are wrong. The only way you can be effective is by getting more discipline in that forecast and it doesn’t mean that it has to be right the first time but you are forecasting more regularly as you get more data and information about how things are selling, what the usage patterns are by subscriber, media, and data type. So, you are updating the forecasts more frequently, almost like an MRP-type system.

At the start of the year, you start with what devices you are going to put out, what kind of promotions, what capabilities, what applications, and do the micro segmentation of the customers to figure out the best strategy. Additionally, you are spending lot of time with network gear providers and device OEMs and other companies in the ecosystem to look at offload and optimization strategies more so than it used to be in the voice centric world. We also work closely with the major content providers to make sure that the multimedia content is optimized for the network. So, tighter planning, more data analysis, and finally look at the revenue side as well and try to differentiate the services and how you price services and products.

MFF: From managing the competitiveness in the market, does it come down to maximizing the margins per bit? What metrics do you keep an eye on that tells you how the business is doing?

SE: I think there can be a gazillion metrics but at the end of the day, it is the EBITDA. You have to make sure that you are delivering on that metric and it drives a whole bunch of behaviors whether it is subsidy, operational cost, negotiating deals, offload, roaming, access costs, etc. The EBITDA is a central measurement, week over week. Others are revenue, net-adds, churn, gross adds - day over day because then you take your precious EBITDA to invest so that you keep more customers and focus on higher value customers. It helps with pricing and with competitiveness. Managing your unit cost per GB is important in driving it down to the lowest possible cost.

Every day in this industry there is something going on which nullifies what you thought was true yesterday and I will give you an example. We went into the year not expecting that AT&T will put out a $49 iPhone. The day it came out – big surprise from the competitor – looks irrational, how do we respond to that. For a company like ours, cash flow and EBITDA are critically important. Over the last 3 years, we have managed the cash very well.

MFF: Operators obviously understand how the business is run. Do you think the ecosystem understands how the operator business is run and what metrics are important so they can better design solutions for you?

SE: No, I don’t think so. However, where we are in sync are with the larger vendors as you spend a tremendous amount of time with them, spend lot of money with them, so you tend to go through the underlying metrics in great detail with them. At the smaller and the mid-level, historically, we have spent less time since we spend less. And what we have tried to do is to recognize that a great deal of innovation comes from outside the operator. It is our job to seek out and support these innovators to help us out.

We recognize that by being open, our partners can come up with solutions as they are nimble. There has been a mismatch in the past but it is getting better. We are interdependent on their success. Traditionally, the culture in operators has been more of a supplier/customer relationship vs. a true partnership and I have tried to shift that dramatically here at Sprint.

MFF: As you look towards the next three years, is there going to be any fundamental shift in strategy?

SE: The time is upon us when making money from other than subscribers is essential. Over the course of the next three years – mobile advertising, mobile commerce, VAS, where operator can play a key role, can help us make a lot of money as long as they are not greedy.

MFF: Does the operator model shift to empowerment and enablement?

SE: Yes, we should bring the assets we have to the table, to the developers and to the ecosystem - things like the network, the back office, and the distribution and show that the ecosystem can generate revenues for everyone. This helps in building new revenue streams and share fairly with our partners while enriching the customer experience.

Mobile Future Forward 2012 Update - Connected Universe. Monetizing Opportunities. June 25, 2012

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, Applications, European Wireless Market, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile OEMs, Mobile Operators, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Greetings,

Hope all’s well. Just a quick update on how the program is shaping up.

We have been working steadily on our fall mobile executive summit – Mobile Future Forward (Sept 10th in Seattle) and I am very pleased to announce the preliminary program. We will provide an update as we continue to refine the program and announce more speakers. As you know, our programs are deep in content and high on participant caliber. Each year we strive to bring together some of the leading thinkers and doers from around the world to brainstorm the future of mobile. As we like to call it – it is a mobile boot camp with the brightest brains in mobile.

I am delighted to be partnering with some of the leading players in the mobile ecosystem: Intel, Ericsson, Synchronoss, and Tekelec.

Steve Elfman, President, Sprint will give us an update on the state of the wireless industry – the opportunities and the investment areas. Glenn Lurie, President, Emerging Enterprises and Partnerships at AT&T Mobility will provide us with a glimpse into the world of emerging devices and opportunities. Both Steve and Glenn are mobile industry veterans with decades of experience and their perspective will be invaluable for our Mobile Future Forward community.

Mobile commerce has been a hot topic lately. We have two terrific speakers – Mung Ki Woo, Head of Mobile at Mastercard Worldwide and Antonio Benjamin, Global CTO at Citi to lay the roadmap of the mobile commerce ecosystem evolution.

When it comes to retail, brands, and technology, there are not many people with deeper insights than Stephen David, former CIO of Procter & Gamble. He is a highly sought-after advisor to global brands around the world. I have had the good fortune to work with him in the past and his grasp on how wireless is going to disrupt retail is just brilliant. We are delighted to have him back to have a conversation about mobile, brands, retail, and IT.

As you can see below, we have an outstanding group of executives who are responsible for changing the industry every day. Their viewpoints and commentary will be invaluable. The Mobile Future Forward team, our esteemed partners, our fantastic speakers and our engaged community are really looking forward to Sept 10th.

Confirmed Speakers

· Steve Elfman, President, Sprint

· Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T

· Renee James, SVP, Software and Services Group, Intel

· Wim Sweldens, President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless

· Michael Bayle, SVP and GM, ESPN Mobile

· Martin Fichter, President, HTC

· Stephen Bye, CTO, Sprint

· Bobby Morrison, President, Verizon Wireless

· Erik Moreno, EVP, Fox

· Stephen David, former CIO, Procter & Gamble

· Ed Cantwell, SVP, West Wireless Health Institute

· Jana Messerschmidt, VP, Twitter

.. More to come

· Mung Ki Woo, Head of Mobile, Mastercard Worldwide

· Antonio Benjamin, Global CTO, Citi

· Biju Nair, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Synchronoss

· Hank Skorny, VP/GM, Intel

· Jack Kennedy, EVP, News Corp Digital Media

· Marianne Marck, VP – Engineering, Starbucks

· Tim Chang, Partner, Mayfield

· Vish Nandlall, CTO and EVP, Ericsson

· Carlos Domingo, President and CEO, Telefonica R&D

· Kevin Packingham, SVP – Product Innovation, Samsung

· Frank Meehan, Executive, Horizons Ventures

· Oke Okaro, Global Head of Mobile, Bloomberg

Discussion Topics

· Looking back from Mobile 2020 – the last 10 years

· The fight for developers – Apps, APIs, and Dollars

· Will Privacy get in the way of mobile growth?

· PostPC era and the tablets – commerce, engagement, and consumption

· Quantified Self. Quantified Enterprise – how to benefit from big data?

· Gamification of Everything – How to reinvent business models and revenue streams

· When will Mobile Commerce eclipse Ecommerce? And How?

· Mobile Broadband – LTE is here and now. What’s Next?

· Mobile Competitive Policy – Balancing competitiveness, consumer interests, policy, and innovation

· nScreen Connected Consumer – Expectations, Solution roadmap, and Revenue flows

· Operators vs. OTT – Competition, Co-opetition, and the new landscape. Measuring the seismic shifts.

· Big (Mobile) Data – Collection, Management and Use of Data

· Mobile Cloud Computing – Innovation, Competition, and Business Models

· Mobile CIO Prism – Disruption in the enterprise. Opportunities for growth and cost reductions

· Managing networking growth in the Yottabyte Era – strategies to tame signaling and data tsunamis

· Mobile Platforms and Ecosystems – The Cycles and the Eternal Debate

· Mobile Security – BYOD, Hacking, Protecting, and Monetization

· Emerging Markets, Emerging Opportunities

· Battle for the Home – Devices, Apps, Networks

· Retail channel transformation – how are we going to shop and who makes money?

I hope you will join us in what is shaping up to be an exceptional gathering of the mobile minds. Registration is open now. Early bird will expire July 10th. The last two events were sold out so be sure to grab your seat to one of the most anticipated mobile gathering of the year.

Thanks.

Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma

Mobile Breakfast Series Recap – Atlanta – Connected Devices, Cloud, and Consumer June 24, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, Applications, Connected Devices, European Wireless Market, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Content, Mobile Devices, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

We started doing Mobile Breakfast Series in Seattle back in 2009 and after hosting10 straight events, it was time to expand the wings and explore other cities. The first stop in this journey was Atlanta and we worked closely with our partners at “Wireless Technology Forum” to make it a successful event last friday. I also had the good fortune of participating in WTF’s event the night before. Both events focused on Connected Devices and their impact on the consumer, the ecosystem and the value-chains thus making it a “connected week” in Atlanta.

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As I mentioned, the night before the event, I had the opportunity to present and moderate a panel on Connected Devices with Glenn Lurie, President of Emerging Enterprises at AT&T and Jeff Smith, CTO at Numerex. Both are movers and shakers in the space and it was such a pleasure meeting with many WTF members and interacting with the top-notch panelists. The event was recorded and is available on WTF’s Youtube Channel.

We hosted the Atlanta Mobile Breakfast Series Event in Atlanta at the Commerce Club of Atlanta which has beautiful views of the Atlanta area.

There is an old Chinese saying, “When the wind of change blows, some build walls others build windmills.” Our industry is going through tremendous change; it won’t be an exaggeration if I say that the tectonic plates are moving and moving fast. The motion is being forced both by the economic conditions but also the technology and business progress. I have been around the industry long enough but it still amazes me – the stuff that’s in the pipeline and how quickly consumers absorb it.

The topic of our discussion was Connected Devices, the Cloud, and the Consumer. With connected devices, I am referring to the broad availability of devices that are connected to data networks – so they include smartphones, tablets, connected auto but also wellness devices like fitbit, energy meters, dog collars, medical devices, etc. as of last year, the subscription penetration was at 6B, next year, we will have more connections than people on this planet. In another 5-7 years, we might touch 20 Billion sensors on the planet. So you can see the growth is going to be astronomical.

Another phenomenon is that of cloud. If a startup mentions Cloud in their presentation to a VC, the valuation doubles, you say mobile, and it quadruples. I don’t know how many of you are a fan of Mark Weisier, the Xerox Parc researcher who pioneered what became “always on, always connected” tagline of pervasive computing. It was more than 20 years ago, we finally are seeing that with the help of broadband networks, amazing devices, and open business models, information is truly available at the fingertips.

The third leg of our discussion was the consumer – their appetite for new and the latest is creating this tremendous opportunity that is shaping their behavior and expectations.

We had an awesome panel to discuss things in detail. First I discussed the topic with David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer at AT&T Mobility. As most of you might be aware, AT&T is leading not only the US but the globe in their efforts to bring connected solutions to the market. I work around the world with top operators, and I can tell you there is no exciting place in mobile right now than right here in the US of A. US is leading in innovation, technology, and business model. We had lost touch after 1G and US truly teaching rest of the world how to do 4G right. David has a terrific background – a product and operationally driven CMO at one of the world’s biggest mobile operator and it was a delight to have him on the panel.

I have known both Biju Nair and Louis Gump for sometime – several decades of mobile expertise. Louis is with CNN, has been running their mobile efforts which are top-notch. He is a recognized leader in the mobile advertising space and given that CNN’s properties span across multiple screens, he has really great insights as to how consumers behave across n-screens.

Biju is a hard core technologist, has been working at solutions that make Louis’ stuff work across networks and devices. Many of you might not know but Synchronoss where Biju is the Chief Strategy Officer and Products EVP, powers online activation at AT&T. If you bought the iPhone over the last few years at AT&T, there is a good chance your order was processed by Synchronoss.

Highlights from the discussion below:

The team at Chetan Sharma Consulting really enjoyed taking the Breakfast Series to Atlanta. My thanks to the terrific team at WTF for their support and to the Atlanta Mobile Community for making the event so successful. Finally, the event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our series partner – Synchronoss.

As you might be aware, our fall mobile executive summit – Mobile Future Forward is going to be on Sept 10th. Registration is open. We are likely to sell out so grab your tickets early.

Next Stop – London for our first venture across the pond. On June 29th, we host the discussion on Operator/OTT – The way forward with Telefonica, Orange, Rebtel, and Horizons Ventures. Read Frank Meehan’s pre-event interview about the topic here.

Operators and OTT - The Way Forward - London

Operator traditional revenue streams are under threat esp. voice and messaging. Access margins will continue to stay under pressure. OTT players are coming in fast and furious and it is not just the big ones like Google but also players like Whatsapp, Voxer, Viber and others. How do operators play in the new landscape – lessen the decline of their traditional revenues while investing in new areas that improve their overall margins and revenues. Do they play the role of an enabler, a utility player, or become the OTT player themselves? In a software-driven world, how do they stay nimble? On the flip side, what are some things that operators can provide to the OTT players that make them successful, take them to the market quickly and maintain a long-term healthy and mutually-beneficial partnership? Operators still generate 70% of the global mobile industry revenues, so they are an important part of the chain but how do they ensure they have an equally relevant share in the profits. The panel will discuss how operators and OTT players think about the challenges and the opportunities, the competition and the coopetition.

Announcing Mobile Future Forward 2012 June 13, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 4G, AORTA, Connected Devices, Mobile Applications, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Operators, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Greetings,

I hope you are enjoying the advent of summer.

We have been working steadily on our fall mobile executive summit – Mobile Future Forward and I am very pleased to announce the preliminary program. We will provide an update as we continue to refine the program and announce more speakers. As you know, our programs are deep in content and high on participant caliber. Each year we strive to bring together some of the leading thinkers and doers from around the world to brainstorm the future of mobile. As we like to call it – it is a mobile boot camp with the brightest brains in mobile.

I am delighted to be partnering with some of the leading players in the ecosystem: Intel, Ericsson, and Synchronoss.

Renee James, Senior Vice President of Software and Services at Intel will be giving an opening keynote. Renee is leading the charge that is making Intel a software powerhouse. It will be great to get her perspective how the trends are shaping up-and-down the innovation stack.

Dr. Vish Nandlall, CTO of Ericsson will be leading a fascinating panel discussion with some terrific industry leaders – Mobile in 2020: the last 10 years. I have had a chance to interact with him in the past and he will be a great person to help us visualize the back from the future journey.

As you can see below, we have an outstanding group of executives who are responsible for changing the industry every day. Their insights will be invaluable. The Mobile Future Forward team, our esteemed partners, our fantastic speakers and our engaged community are really looking forward to Sept 10th.

Confirmed Speakers

· Steve Elfman, President, Sprint

· Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T

· Renee James, SVP, Software and Services Group, Intel

· Wim Sweldens, President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless

· Michael Bayle, SVP and GM, ESPN Mobile

· Martin Fichter, President, HTC

· Stephen Bye, CTO, Sprint

· Bobby Morrison, President, Verizon Wireless

· Stephen David, former CIO, Proctor & Gamble

.. More to come

· Mung Ki Woo, Head of Mobile, Mastercard Worldwide

· Biju Nair, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Synchronoss

· Hank Skorny, VP/GM, Intel

· Jack Kennedy, EVP, News Corp Digital Media

· Marianne Marck, VP – Engineering, Starbucks

· Tim Chang, Partner, Mayfield

· Vish Nandlall, CTO and EVP, Ericsson

· Carlos Domingo, President and CEO, Telefonica R&D

· Kevin Packingham, SVP – Product Innovation, Samsung

Topic Discussions

· Looking back from Mobile 2020 – the last 10 years

· The fight for developers – Apps, APIs, and Dollars

· Will Privacy get in the way of mobile growth?

· PostPC era and the tablets – commerce, engagement, and consumption

· Quantified Self. Quantified Enterprise – how to benefit from big data?

· Gamification of Everything – How to reinvent business models and revenue streams

· When will Mobile Commerce eclipse Ecommerce? And How?

· Mobile Broadband – LTE is here and now. What’s Next?

· Mobile Competitive Policy – Balancing competitiveness, consumer interests, policy, and innovation

· nScreen Connected Consumer – Expectations, Solution roadmap, and Revenue flows

· Operators vs. OTT – Competition, Co-opetition, and the new landscape. Measuring the seismic shifts.

· Big (Mobile) Data – Collection, Management and Use of Data

· Mobile Cloud Computing – Innovation, Competition, and Business Models

· Mobile CIO Prism – Disruption in the enterprise. Opportunities for growth and cost reductions

· Managing networking growth in the Yottabyte Era – strategies to tame signaling and data tsunamis

· Mobile Platforms and Ecosystems – The Cycles and the Eternal Debate

· Mobile Security – BYOD, Hacking, Protecting, and Monetization

· Emerging Markets, Emerging Opportunities

· Battle for the Home – Devices, Apps, Networks

· Retail channel transformation – how are we going to shop and who makes money?

I hope you will join us in what is shaping up to be an exceptional gathering of the mobile minds. Registration is open now. Early bird will expire June 22nd.

Thanks.

Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma

MBS London – Frank Meehan Interview June 9, 2012

Posted by chetan in : Mobile Breakfast Series, OTT, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

Mobile Breakfast Series Frank Meehan, Horizons Ventures VC: Why Operators Should Follow Telefónica & AT&T Innovation Blueprint

With MBS Seattle behind us, we are gearing up for Atlanta and London. Our good partner Mobile Groove did a nice interview with one of our speakers and my good friend – Frank Meehan who will be with us in London on the Operators/OTT panel. Frank has done terrific stints at Ericsson, 3 UK, INQMobile and now is with Horizons Venture -

Some highlights:

What must mobile operators do?

Yes, OTT players have had a hearty meal at the expense of the mobile operator, but there is still money to be made if mobile operators concentrate on what they do best.

As Frank puts it: “Going out and trying to build a social network is probably not the right thing to do, but there are some great things that operators are doing.  I particularly like the way Telefónica Digital has set up really a separate company which is designed to go after digital opportunities.  That’s the right way to do it.”

Facing the talent crisis

Operators should stake their turf (connected home, security, the Cloud, etc) and build their business. But, Frank warns, the biggest challenge for operators is talent. “A lot of the young and upcoming talent is going off to work for startups.”

What can operators do to stem the flow of talent to startups (that may one day be their rivals)? A lot! Follow the Telefónica Digital blueprint and give your talent freedom to innovate. “You’ve got to have incentives that compete with startups, or with the Facebooks and Googles otherwise it will become very difficult.”

When it comes to software solutions or the way they are developed, mobile operators should see these are the work of a “separate team outside of the operator standard operations.”

What awaits operators?

As a VC, Frank is convinced there is money to be made. “Operators are cash rich and it’s still a good business and they will snap up things, so certainly there’s an opportunity for investments to crystallize, particularly from a sale — then operators are very interesting.”

Overall, Frank says 2012 has been a great year from “an investment and a start-up perspective.” In his view, it’s “booming” — in part thanks to the Facebook IPO and the excitement it has generated around other companies that tap into our mobile Zeitgeist and requirement for social, sharing and connectedness. “Facebook is literally now the electricity of the Internet … and it’s a huge shift — you’re seeing the big companies like Spotify and others — and it’s just really dragging a huge start-up industry along with it, and it’s accelerating.”

You can listen to the whole interview here.

Mobile Breakfast Series Recap – Operators/OTT – The Way Forward June 8, 2012

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, Applications, Carnival of Mobilists, Connected Devices, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, OTT, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, VoIP, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

June is the Mobile Breakfast Series Month with 3 programs planned in 3 cities across 2 continents. We kicked things off with the first one earlier today in Seattle. The topic of discussion was Operators and OTT – The Way Forward.

We also announced our fall program of Mobile Future Forward. More about that later.

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There is an old Chinese saying, “When the wind of change blows, some build walls others build windmills” Our industry is going through tremendous change; it won’t be an exaggeration if I say that the tectonic plates are moving, in some places quite violently. The motion is being forced both by the economic conditions but also by the technology and business progress. I have been around the industry long enough but it still amazes me – the stuff that’s in the pipeline and how quickly consumers absorb it.

The topic of our discussion was Operators and OTT or Over the Top. These are services like Skype, Youtube, Amazon video, HBO, etc. things that go over the network. I wanted to broaden the discussion to another acronym – VAS or value added services – both for the consumer segment and the enterprise segment. These will be simple things like address backup or CRM applications to more sophisticated supply chain management, in-store location targeting, advertising etc. To discuss this we have an absolutely brilliant panel representing various parts of the value chain.

RealNetworks has been the Kevin Bacon of startups in Seattle. Thanks to the people Rob Glaser hired, RN has done a better job at spawning up new ideas that your bigger cousins in town. Rob is well known for his pioneering work in giving Internet its voice (in the words of Kara Swisher in the 1998 article for WSJ). But lately, Rob has been busy with Sidecar – a next generation communication app that does more things than messaging and voice. If you haven’t tried, please do so.

Mary Jesse is one of the most distinguished engineers in WA State going back from the McCaw days, VP of Eng at AT&T, CTO of RadioFrame and now CoFounder and CEO of an enterprise communications company called Ivytalk. Again, if you haven’t tried it out, please do so.

Michael Shim was with Yahoo before Groupon and Yahoo was one of the true pioneers in the mobile space and now at Groupon he is seeing the new opportunities on the VAS, payments, and commerce. It will be great to get his view of how Groupon thinks about the space.

Have you tried T-Mobile’s Bobsled? Well, Alex Samano is the man and energy behind this service and T-Mobile is one of the few operators globally who are taking this OTT opportunity head-on. At TMO, he has been involved some really interesting initiatives like @home and wifi calling.

Last but not the least, Abhi Ingle from AT&T who heads up the mobile enterprise business. The industry has been talking about enterprise mobility for ages but his team generates more revenue than majority of the industry players combined. Did you know that AT&T is one of the biggest app developer on the planet? I bet you didn’t know that.

Operator traditional revenue streams are under threat esp. voice and messaging. Access margins will continue to stay under pressure. OTT players are coming in fast and furious and it is not just the big ones like Google but also players like Whatsapp, Voxer, Viber and others. How do operators play in the new landscape – lessen the decline of their traditional revenues while investing in new areas that improve their overall margins and revenues. Do they play the role of an enabler, a utility player, or become the OTT player themselves? In a software-driven world, how do they stay nimble? On the flip side, what are some things that operators can provide to the OTT players that make them successful, take them to the market quickly and maintain a long-term healthy and mutually-beneficial partnership? Operators still generate 70% of the global mobile industry revenues, so they are an important part of the chain but how do they ensure they have an equally relevant share in the profits. The panel discussed how operators and OTT players think about the challenges and the opportunities, the competition and the coopetition.

Some highlights from the discussion:

Our next breakfast event is in Atlanta on Connected Devices on June 22nd. Then we revisit the Operator/OTT discussion again from the European point of view in London on June 29th. Tell your colleagues and friends about it. They will thank you for that.

Partner Event: MobileBeat 2012 June 5, 2012

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , add a comment

MobileBeat2012_320x240

Friends of Chetan can register here with promo code "VB-Chetan" and get 20% off!

Headline: Design: The New Battleground for Mobile

Design. Rarely has a single force so utterly dominated the mobile ecosystem.

The most successful players are focusing on one thing: How to make products, services, and devices as compelling and delightful as possible – both visually, and experientially. 
MobileBeat 2012 — VentureBeat’s fifth annual event on the future of mobile — is assembling the most elite minds to debate how user interface and experience (UI/UX) is transforming every aspect of the mobile economy.

Recently added speakers:

· Mark Pincus, Founder, CEO & CPO, Zynga

· Dave Morin, Co-Founder & CEO, Path

· Hill Ferguson, Head of Mobile, Paypal

· Mark Curtis, Founder, Fjord

· Chris Weber, President (US), Nokia

· Scott Dadich, VP Digital Development, Conde Nast

· Jason Spero, Head of Mobile, Google

Whether you’re an enterprise company, publisher, developer, marketer, service, vendor, brand/retailer or infrastructure player, design is something you can no longer ignore. The event will uncover where the biggest opportunities lie, the pitfalls to avoid, and how to position your company to win on the new “design” battleground.

Sub themes include: tablets, consumerization of IT, infrastructure/cloud, monetization, retail, and designing distribution.

Join in for two packed days of insightful content and high-level networking with 1000+ industry execs! The event takes place July 10-11 in San Francisco, CA.

Sign up now with promo code "VB-Chetan" and get 20% off.