Category Archives: Innovation

Industry Standards – Thoughts from Management World Americas 2010


How TM Forum specifications can become as effective as industry leading standards

I’ve been involved in industry forums and standard bodies for many years. I’ve had experience in creating industry standards and getting them adopted. I’ve seen many successes and failures of these standardization efforts. It’s never easy to get agreement and even more difficult to get the right standards created and adopted.

Having just come back from Management World Americas in Orlando, the largest OSS/BSS (Operations Support Systems / Business Support systems) event in the industry, it’s gotten me thinking about the standards and frameworks set by TM Forum, and how they might be improved.

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Our response to Ofcom and the European Commission regarding Net Neutrality

This blog post was co-authored with John Oswald. John is a consulting manager out of our consulting division and is based in the UK. He also blogs. Recently, John and I worked together on responding on behalf of Amdocs to Ofcom’s public consultation on Net Neutrality and the European Commission’s consultation on the Open Internet and Net Neutrality. Attached you can find our formal detailed responses (Amdocs Response to Ofcom inquiry regarding Net Neutrality and Amdocs Response to European Commission’s Net Neutrality Consultation). Here’s a slightly more personal perspective:  

Why I’d love Net Neutrality

Speaking as a consumer I would instinctively love the idea of net neutrality. I’d love everything I do on the Internet to be treated equally. No different from that experienced by any other person. I would like to be able to access every site with the same speed and the same quality of experience. I’d like to be able to share stuff with peers. I’d like to be able to serve any content from my own servers or web site, and do so at the same speeds and latency that Google does. I’d love to be able to do all that. It would also mean that I could access any file, any file type, any type of data, from any server and any peer – using any service, unencumbered and unfettered by the network provider I just happen to be connected to in order to have access to it all. 

Basically, wouldn’t it be great if internet access was a human right, a little bit like access to the oxygen we need in order to breathe? Although the quality is not uniform, just about every living person on the planet has unrestricted access to oxygen. Continue reading Our response to Ofcom and the European Commission regarding Net Neutrality

About Innovation: Why we hung movie posters on our office walls

Click to enlarge

A key part of my day job is looking at how Amdocs, as a company, continuously improves its innovation capabilities and becomes an innovation powerhouse. So, I’m going to start a series of “About Innovation” posts talking about this—welcome to the first installment! I have so many things to tell you about what we do at Amdocs to nurture a culture of innovation and to become an effective innovator. So in order to help me choose which topics to discuss, I’ll rely on your feedback to help guide me.

So why did we hang a bunch of movie posters across the company?

We wanted to make sure everybody in the company, and beyond, understands that “innovation works” at Amdocs. Not only that we are seeing the results of our innovation activities, but also that it is really worth it for all the various stakeholders, and in particular, one community was most of interest to me – the innovators themselves. As a large company, we have many processes to help weed out variability in our day-to-day operations, in order to consistently recreate our successes, consistently produce quality products, and consistently deliver massive transformation projects for the world’s largest service providers. You cannot do these things consistently without good established processes and best practices—so we have many of these. But that can make innovation, challenging, as it requires trying something that’s new and different, and not part of the established process. Some might think that innovators might not fit in this culture. Well, they are wrong. Innovators can fit in, and we need them. But it takes some adjusting and encouragement to make this happen.

Continue reading About Innovation: Why we hung movie posters on our office walls

The Impact of Social Communications on Communication Service Providers

This blog post is going to be a little bit different than the past few posts. This time, I really need your ideas about a topic that’s been on my mind for a while. I’m just going to tee up the discussion and ask you all to help with ideas.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the tsunami of social media, and in particular, that of social communications, and its impact on communication service providers – in particular, on fixed line and mobile operators. Social communications are the communications facilitated by social media, especially in the form of Facebook and Twitter, but also LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs and talkbacks. While social media impacts all businesses – which I’ll touch on briefly – the sector which is most affected by social media is the communication service providers whose core business is providing means of communications and connectivity, mostly paid services. Social communications are obviously competing with and are possibly disruptive to the business of communication service providers. With this in mind, I pose the following question:

What should communication service providers do in order to mitigate the impact or even benefit from the evolution of social communications?

Continue reading The Impact of Social Communications on Communication Service Providers

How Apple Can Still Beat Android

Last week – what most predicted – has finally happened: Android passed Apple iPhone in global units sold. This was no surprise. Google’s Android has a much more effective distribution mechanism than Apple’s iPhone. Apple’s iPhone is made by one manufacturer, Apple, and in the US, is only distributed by one service provider – AT&T. On the other hand, Google’s mobile operating system, Android, runs on many hardware manufacturers’ devices (HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others) and is distributed by many service providers in almost every region. It was just a matter of time until this strategy paid off for Google.

This raises the question: Will Android do to the iPhone what Windows has done to the Macintosh? More specifically, will Android make iPhone a niche solution? Even though the Mac was the first successful computer to have a graphical user interface and a mouse, Microsoft came from behind with Windows and reduced the Apple Macintosh computer to about 4% market share. It did so by making Windows practically ubiquitous – distributed by practically all other PC manufacturers.

Is Google Android going to do the same to the iPhone? All early indications are that it will.

So what might Apple do in order to prevent history from repeating itself?

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Why OTT Video Might Not Be So Disruptive After All

Earlier this year, I presented at OTTcon. This was the first major conference about OTT (video) ever, and was attended by a few hundred people and many industry players. Coming into this conference, I was under the distinct impression that OTT is a significant disruption to traditional service provider business and that it would have a significant and negative long-term impact on that marketplace. The common wizdom is that service providers who have the most to lose will be the least motivated to support OTT, and will therefore be the last to embrace it, if ever, will ultimately face the disruptive impact most of all, possibly losing their video distribution business over time.

But—I came out of the conference with the opposite conclusion! It’s not that OTT won’t be disruptive – it will, but not “as” disruptive as one might expect. And most of the market players will probably remain in place and not be sidelined by OTT. If it were truly disruptive, it would harm the existing service providers more than I expect it actually will.

Why? Because I think the current service providers themselves will ultimately be the ones that enable OTT content, thus avoiding a major disruption – whether they know it right now or not! In fact, right now, they’re doing very little, and most OTT is being enabled by others. So why do I think they’ll wake up in time? Read on to find out.

How OTT might get to the viewers

Some background

In case you’re wondering, OTT means “over the top” and it refers to all traffic that flows “on top” of broadband access, typically provided by someone else. For the service provider who provides the access to the Internet, this is just “data”, but for the consumer, this is “video”. While there are many other types of OTT content, this conference was only about video. When I’ll use of the term and “OTT” here, I’m referring only to over-the-top video content.

Continue reading Why OTT Video Might Not Be So Disruptive After All

A dozen reasons why 3D TV will not take off as planned

(…and two reasons I might be wrong)

Since the Consumer Electronics Show back in January 2010 we’ve all been inundated with announcements suggesting 3D will quickly move from the cinema to our TV at home. 3D viewing isn’t new – stereoscopy was patented as early as 1838, and 3D has hyped time and time again, most notably in the 1950’s. The consumer electronics industry is trying to recreate the success of HD, now for 3D, based on the cinematic revival of 3D of recent years.

And indeed, since January, many 3D TVs were brought to market, TV networks and programs in 3D are about to be broadcast, and most notably, the world cup is now broadcast in 3D, and there’s still more to come. Some consider 3D much more important to consumers than the HD transition. So why, despite all these rosy predictions, do I believe that 3D TV will not take off nearly as quickly, if at all? Why am I betting against the experts on this one?

Continue reading A dozen reasons why 3D TV will not take off as planned

Very old first blog post about In-flight Internet

Originally posted Nov 21, 2006 on Blogger:

That’s it. I took the plunge. Just as life couldn’t be much busier, I decided to share with you my very recent experience.

I’m now on a flight between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt, on my way to South Africa (for a mere 10 hours… HELP!). However, this flight conflicted with a conference call and WebEx that I had scheduled with over 15 participants. Changing the conference call time would have postponed it too much, delaying many dependent activities. Therefore, I decided to try out all the technologies available and to connect with the conference call from the flight. Thankfully, on this Lufthansa flight there’s wireless Internet connectivity that LH have branded FlyNet. For $30/flight or $10/hour, I can connect to the Internet and my VPN. I then proceeded to use the following technologies in combination in order to actually participate in the conference call:

  • WiFi to hook the laptop up to the WiFi access point on the plane
  • Satelite link for bi-directional Internet while in flight at 36,000 feet in the air
  • Skype to perform a VoIP conversation
  • SkypeOut to call for free to a colleague of mine in the US
  • My colleague connected me through the internal network to our company’s office in Israel to my assistant, who connected me to an active conference bridge
  • WebEx was used to chat with the participants as well as see the presentation live, as everybody else was seeing it
  • Bose noise canceling headset as my earphone to hear the conversation crystal clear without noise while in the air
  • IBM Thinkpad built-in microphone captured my voice. I had to mute it when I wasn’t speaking, but that was the only minor inconvenience

This impressed me – a fully productive flight from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt. I proceeded to call a bunch of my friends over Skype until just now, when I got the urge to document my experience.

Now the catch – they’re about to pull the plug on all this technology. Connexion by Boeing that operates the service for Lufthansa (and all other airlines in the world) has notified its customers that it is going out of business and pulling the service at the end of 2006. That would be a pitty. In our always-on, connected, world, having the ability to connect to the Internet, and through it to all communication, information, and entertainment in the world, is going to be assumed. It is hard to believe that this service is really going to have a hiccup and shut down.

True, not everybody wants to be connected all the time. Many see flights as a way to “disengage” and “disconnect”. I believe this is a temporary situation – the next generation might no longer feel that way. In any case, that’s a choice anybody can make. The nice thing about airplanes is that they are such noise environments and everybody is already shielded with some noise reducing (active or passive) mechanism, that it is hard to interfere with your neighboors on the flight. Especially if you have a headset with a boom to capture your speech right from your mouth.

Obviously, a huge capital investment went into Connexion by Boeing. In fact, they were my customer in the past and we helped them a bit putting the back-end of these systems in place. As with the Air Phone service, I believe it wasn’t marketted successfullly nor priced correctly. They really needed to get people addicted and gradually raise the price. Air Phone was priced at $3-10 per minute for many years. It became such that people understood that this is a luxury-only service (not even suitable for the average business traveler / road warrior). The mindset was set so well that even though in the last two years the price was dropped to $0.69/minute (domestic US) for Verizon Wireless subscribers or $0.10/minute when a subscriber pays $10/month. That made it so reasonable that I was a frequent user. All my mobile phone calls came right to my seat when I was on domestic calls in the US. Well, I’m sad to say that Verizon also decided to pull the plug on this service, and it too, has recently been shut down (or is about to be shut down very shortly). Mostly – nobody knew about it, or was made to understand the value…

What’s the message here? Companies that market such advanced products really need to get to the right customers, market effectively, sell effectively, and price effectively. There are, obviously, massive investments – but isn’t it a shame that only the companies that buy out these assets at bargain-basement prices will really reap the benefits of the technology?
While not a surprise, it appears to have evaded Connexion by Boeing and Verizon that getting the technology to work in a carrier-grade fashion is a far cry from commercial success. The investment in changing customer behavior to use the disruptive service was critically overlooked.

Unfortunately, many of the same mistakes are happening these days as most of the world’s service providers are rolling out IMS and NGN network infrastructures. They often overlook the key factors that will make their services commercially viable or total commercial flops. Service providers must focus on rolling out customer experiences – not networks nor services. Only then, will they be able to capitalize on this potential. This, of course, is not the only advice – but it is an important lesson too often overlooked.

I don’t guarantee many more of these – but who knows? I might like it…

Update on December 24, 2007:

At last, I see a future for in-flight Internet access. Multiple technologies with more viable approaches are emerging. These are all described in this article. I’m still a believer that the more long-term acceptable solution would be satelite-based rather than ground based – given that the value of in-flight Internet is more valuable on longer haul flights that tend to span the 80%+ of our planet that is covered with the water. In any case, I’m still waiting to reemerge as an in-flight Internet user once service resumes. Until then, I tend to sleep more on flights than I ever used to. Would love to hear feedback.