Ah, the pain of being called “boring,”, “not innovative,” “commodity,” or “dumb pipe,” and recently being spanked
by the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission – the equivalent of the FCC in US) for trying to offer a “free data” ride to certain OTT services to differentiate and attract users. Can we say the service providers are struggling? Yup! It has been tough and not a lot of fun.
I will not dwell on what’s apparently obvious or continue to jump on the bandwagon with the rest of the finger pointers. Rather, I want to take you on a fun trip into the future - a future where at least some of service providers will possibly take the spotlight. If massive corporations like IBM and Oracle can continue to “steer the ship” to be relevant and not end up like DEC, Polaroid, and Blockbuster Video, so can global service providers. They will just need to change the way they operate and innovate.
Service providers have an absolutely incredible asset. They have access to millions of customers, but they have lost touch with those users – or perhaps never had it. Have you tried calling Verizon, Bell, Telefonica, or Rogers? If it’s because of a problem, why are we having to call in the first place? Perhaps that could already have been figured out by the service provider and solved automatically so customers never need to attempt a call. Here’s a question for you. Can we please get rid of the old school IVRs that ask you to select your language and give you a set of random numbers to select while you’re hoping to talk to a human? That’s just cruel in this day and age. Sorry, I said I would not poke! Back to the future.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is starting to touch our daily lives; we have robots that clean our floors, cars that self-park, and an intelligent personal assistant app on our phone that not only answers our questions but also can turns on the lights in our home. What is the next touch point when it comes to how we communicate? Can AI be something we can hope and expect from our communication service providers? Can AI be “connected” to the traditional services like voice and messaging? The answer is yes!
As a consumer, I want you to imagine a future where you have all your communication needs (messaging, voice, and video) assisted by intelligent automated bots that utilize artificial intelligence to turn current dumb IVR systems into exceptional experiences. Can you picture the following scenarios?
- Can I ask my Amazon Alexa to make phone calls? “Alexa, call grandma.” Surely that functionality belongs inside the service provider wheelhouse
- Can my messaging understand when I’m super busy (perhaps at a birthday dinner) and have an automated intelligent dialog with the person messaging me?
- Can I get a family-friendly voice and video conferencing app so that my kids in different parts of the world interact with their grandma or participate remotely during family events?
- Can the TV service send me a push notification when my favorite event is live on the screen or maybe enter the event into my personal calendar?
All the above scenarios are doable today, and the reasons why these actions are not ubiquitous is not a technology problem. It all has to do with three major roadblocks:
- Silos: For many years, service providers have been buying random “things” from random vendors. Most of those “things” are their own silos and do not interact much or at all with other “things.”
- Integration: The “things” both in the service provider network and in the Cloud need to talk to each other and be available for developers to leverage seamlessly.
- Speed: Service providers need to put together an environment where new, differentiated, exciting, useful, and valuable applications and services can be designed, developed, tested, trialed, and deployed FAST – not years, but months or even less!
Changing will be somewhat painful. Like as it was for developers moving from waterfall to agile development methodologies, speed and agility will need to be a key component to any new product introduction. Some ideas will fail, some will get adopted, and few will expose new killer apps that will bring amazing new solutions to the users.
The AI market is starting to heat up with the usual suspects including Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Few service providers are moving in aggressively (Orange with Djingo) as they are afraid to partner with above “motley crew” but most are still wondering how to approach this fragmented space.
Dialogic is focused on helping service providers break into new applications and solutions quickly with our DialogicOne™ suite of solutions. We work on next generation solutions that bridge the silos and integrate platforms to create innovative applications quickly.
We are experts in telecom with over 30 years of experience as well as architects of next generation applications and services for the service providers globally. We have solutions to address the roadblocks service providers face, and a proven track record working with them to leverage the past and move aggressively into the future.
Next time, we will dive into the absolutely “Wild, Wild West” called the Internet of Things and how service providers can leverage that revolution for their return to the spotlight.
Cheers - here’s to the future!
This is part 1 of the "Can Communications Service Providers Turn Dumb-Pipes to Differentiated Services?" blog series. You can read parts 2 and 3 by clicking the links below.
Can Communications Service Providers Turn Dumb-Pipes to Differentiated Services? (Part 2) – Wild Wild West of Internet of Things
Can Communications Service Providers Turn Dumb-Pipes to Differentiated Services? (Part 3) – Conversational User Experience