"Martin is one of the most respected people in the world of telecoms. Martin isn't your analyst-as-usual, but instead can be counted on to bring big ideas to the table that can cause people to think differently, with insight into infrastructure, the impact of broadband on everything, and most importantly, thinking about connectedness." — Om Malik, Founder, GigaOm
Telecoms, IT and media used to exist as three very distinct industries. Each was characterised by the objects through which the user experienced their products and services: the telephone, the PC, and a variety of physical and electronic media. These industry boundaries are dissolving, since the digital devices that people use increasingly mix services from all three sectors. This process of integrating the user experience is generally referred to as 'convergence'.
The result is that these three industries are competing against each other for the same customers -- not 'convergence', but rather a collision of industries. This sets in place slow yet irresistible tectonic forces that disrupt old business models, whilst creating new uncontested space for innovation. Power and opportunity are constantly shifting within/among these industries as well as between these industries and the rest of the economy.
Most of all, the balance of power between producers and users is changing. The 20th century paradigm was one of mass production, marketing and consumption supplied by cheap energy. The tools of co-ordination, creation and distribution were concentrated with producers. The 21st century turns this on its head. The new currencies are the trust, attention and knowledge of the customer, with cheap information as the fuel.
The dynamics of this process are complex. Each industry has different histories, values and assumptions about what constitutes a good business model. It is one of the defining economic, social and technological events of our age.
I have spent the past decade participating in and closely observing this 'collision', as a technologist, analyst and executive. I use this experience and insight to provide strategy and innovation consultancy services to senior executives in the telecoms, media and IT industries.
The new Digital Economy
My expertise is concentrated on the boundaries between the industries that form the heart of the 'Digital Economy' -- telecoms, IT and media.
My specific areas of competence are:
- Multi-sided markets (typical of IT platforms such as Windows, Google or Apple's iTunes) that create powerful ecosystem 'hubs'. These shift power away from the telcos and media companies that control content creation, publishing and distribution.
- Platforms and open business models, particularly the trend away from closed and controlled telecoms networks and systems.
- The rise of cloud computing and an on-demand world of networked resources. This is creating new winners in infrastructure, platforms and services by lowering the cost of experimentation and erasing technical and economic barriers to entry.
- The future of voice and messaging products, the core of the telecoms industry. The human voice is the most personal and precious medium of all, and will always remain so. However, the technology and business model to deliver that voice experience are transforming.
- The combination of the all the above into a new cloud communications industry. This offers Communications as a Service (CaaS) to power Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP). These increase automation in customer contact, thus reducing operational cost and time lags.
- The decline of the industrial-era 'consumption' model of broadcast media, that has been an artifact of the cost model of distributing content attached to atoms. The rise of social media re-asserts the natural primacy of communication between people. I study the effect on existing communications and media services.
- The boundary between fixed and mobile modes of delivery, and their cost economics and technical capabilities.
- The future of retail ISPs and the shift to new wholesale models of voice, video and data delivery.
- How the unbundling of content and services from their delivery media erodes the value of vertically integrated service models. We see this effect in telecoms (e.g. landline telephony vs Skype) and media companies (e.g. TV vs YouTube).
- The effects of new aggregation models, as exemplified by search engines, on the rest of the digital ecosystem.
- The emergence of new vertically integrated business models (e.g. Apple's iPhone) and the user experience, business model and technology drivers of this process.
Making sense of complexity and change
My clients work within and across these industries that are in collision. I bring structure, insight, critical thinking and creativity that is not readily available from mainstream consultancies.
I have a distinct combination of skills and experiences:
- consulting experience at a strategic level for multinational operators and vendors;
- practical experience of opening up a telco as an application platform;
- deep technical knowledge of both IT and networking;
- a diverse network of contacts across the telecoms-media-technology ecosystem;
- intellectual stamina to understand complex and abstract design and business principles;
- the ability to communicate ideas well, both in writing and in person.