If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll see that by thinking further along the UC spectrum and value chain, the more ideas start to come forward that lead to innovation. The creative process follows no rulebook, but great ideas are always percolating beneath the surface. They really can’t come into consciousness unless you’re thinking about them– and more importantly, you must be ready to recognize them as such. That’s not likely to happen if innovation isn’t on your everyday radar, but it certainly will if you know what to look for.
The point of this latest series is to provide examples whereby thinking differently will open up your mind to new possibilities from which IT can drive innovation for the business. That’s really the end game here, but it all starts with having the right frame of mind.
I’ve been talking mostly about voice lately, but now it’s time to focus elsewhere for inspiration. It may be first nature for IT to think about the network and associated applications, but there are many other ways to be innovative. So, let’s explore a new tangent where thinking differently should spur some different thinking.
Innovation path #5 – think of end users as subscribers
If you go back to my early posts on this column, I wrote quite a bit about the challenges facing service providers to keep adding value with UC. With so many options available to get broadband – at your desk, on the road, at home, etc. – legacy carriers no longer have a lock on providing connectivity, over which UC applications can run. Not only are fixed line carriers competing with wireless carriers, but they both must contend with non-conventional entrants such as cable or utilities. Furthermore, there is a host of OTT and free applications/services that provide UC functionality which can be a viable alternative to what UC vendors are offering.
The array of options continues to grow, and no matter how you look at the market, there’s no easy way to tell who in essence “owns” the customer. There is, of course, a lot at stake here with money to be made from both carrier broadband services and vendor-based UC platforms. Each has a vested interest to own the customer, which is IT, since this is where the budget comes from. So, what does this have to do with your end users? Well, very little in terms of how budgets get built and spent, since they’re not the ones paying for UC.
Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them or take them for granted. On one level, end users are a captive audience, especially for working over the LAN – but IT does not have a monopoly on general broadband connectivity. There really are two issues to consider here. First is the fact not all methods of access to the LAN – your LAN – are fully under your control. You can’t turn the clock back to the days of dumb terminals, and for UC to thrive, end users need network access by whatever means possible. Second is the fact that an increasing amount of end user broadband activity is occurring outside the LAN altogether. Some of this is for personal/recreational use, but in the spirit of work/life balance, some of it will be work-related. That’s just the way it is now.
This is a good place to pause, and I’ll continue along this path in my next post where I’ll explain why thinking about end users as subscribers is a great tangent for IT to innovate on. Any reasons come to mind now? I’d love to hear your thoughts.