I have been inspired by JP's story to recount my personal experience of privacy invasion by making the mistake of signing up for Facebook.
I opened an account a few years back to get a sense of what the fuss was all about. Since I have a lot of industry contacts, I found it to be an endless stream of tedious invites to approve people I barely knew as 'friends', and with whom I had no intention of sharing the intimate details of my scandalous personal life.
In the meantime, I bought a teeny weeny PC to stick behind the telly and run Skype, so I could talk to my kids and behave in a childlike manner without the limitations of my laptop being on and charged up. This Skype account was not my main one, and had only two buddies: my parents, and the mother of my children. Nobody else.
Which made it a bit of a surprise when an industry colleague popped up one day with a "Hi Martin!" instant message. It took me a bit of detective work to sense what had happened. He has been suggested to contact me via a feature in Facebook that integrated Skype contacts, following a biz dev alliance between the two companies.
The only way of matching identities must have been through the email address or mobile I number I gave Skype when I had signed up. Remember - I had never explicitly shared this Skype ID, or authorised its publication via Facebook.
Having a private Skype account leak data via Facebook told me that this was a totally toxic relationship. Since Skype is not in the business of collecting personal data and monetising it, and Facebook is, I immediately proceeded to shut down and permanently delete my Facebook account.
And that's why I will never, ever give any of my personal data to Facebook again or do business with them.
I feel data raped.Posted by Martin Geddes at 07:12 PM
Disruptive Analysis has launched a new premium Tweeting service. It's no secret Dean's insights are both highly-read and highly-regarded. Now his best up-to-the-minute reflections on what's going on in telecoms are behind a paywall. I (and many others I am sure) wish him well in making some lucre from this very interesting business model experiment!Posted by Martin Geddes at 01:10 AM
The kind of person we're looking for is likely to have a deep industry network with professional services expertise. Someone with consultative selling skills, marketing prowess and technology thought leadership.
We're also looking for sponsors for North American events.Posted by Martin Geddes at 01:17 PM
Next week's Future of Voice workshop is now sold out. Contact me if you want to join a waiting list - we can upscale the venue if enough additional people are interested and willing to cover the cost.Posted by Martin Geddes at 05:00 PM
This blog is suffering from bit-rot, with the hosting service changing versions of Perl and wanting another $240 to host it for a year. So I'm switching over to www.futureofcomms.com for future blog posts until I work out what to do with Telepocalypse.
I've just posted 3 CHALLENGES OF UNIFIED COMMS ON UNIFIED NETWORKS. I hope you enjoy it!Posted by Martin Geddes at 11:55 AM
If you'd like to come to the Future of Voice workshop next week in central London, get in touch with me at email@example.com for a discount code. More info at www.futureofcomms.com. We've got an interesting group of people coming!Posted by Martin Geddes at 01:12 PM
There is a 2-for-1 offer in the newsletter for the upcoming Future of Voice workshop in London on 27th October.Posted by Martin Geddes at 10:34 PM
I've decided to invest the time and energy to share the best ideas and links I find each month, and also to keep people up to date with the cutting-edge subject areas I tend to work on. In return, you have to offer up a little of your attention via your email inbox. (Email - the original and best social medium!)
The newsletter covers some of the topic areas from the Future of Voice workshops I am doing in collaboration with Dean Bubley. For more information on the workshops, go to www.futureofcomms.com.
To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
I've thought about blogging this stuff, but decided that putting content out there with no reciprocity from the reader (money, attention, data) is a fool's errand.Posted by Martin Geddes at 06:15 PM
Myself and Dean Bubley will be running the next in our successful series of Future of Voice workshops in London on 27th October.
The workshop is an interactive learning and networking event, limited to 20 attendees. This is a particularly exciting time, given the challenge of 'over the top' providers to core telco voice and messaging products, and the response of telcos: RCS as the formal industry standard route, as well as a variety of their own 'over the top' services. Add in shifting business models, delivery technologies and ecosystems and it will be a packed day. If your company or livelihood depends on understanding where voice service is going, and you want to know what you peers are thinking, you should be there.
I recently gave a talk at a private event, and I thought I would re-post some of my speaker notes here. I have edited out some personal stories that I don't want to reproduce here.
There are two parts to this post. Firstly four lessons from life; and then four beliefs I have about the future of the tech and telecoms industry.
The thread that joins these is the difference between truth and belief, and how we use magical thinking as a defence against uncomfortable truths.
(Apologies that comments are broken; my archaic Movable Type installation has gone kaput.)
MAGICAL THINKING #1: That by belief in a single, perfectible model of the world you can avoid the messy, complex reality of many competing principles which offer truth, but only over a limited domain of validity.
MORAL: There is no one bearer of truth.
- Attractive truths can be delivered wrapped in falsehood.
- Those who offer you "The Truth" should be treated with healthy scepticism.
- And your own deepest beliefs may be on shakier ground than you think.
MAGICAL THINKING #2: That belief that the structured incentives, rewards, and activities of the organised search for deeper truth as a "discipline" will necessarily deliver truth that is valuable. Indeed, the more embedded into reductionist thinking - the default in academia - the less likely it may be to deliver something of use.
MORAL: The important truths are about people (and there is no "physics of people")
- Forget clouds, data centres, packets, optics, towers and poles. It's the relationship between people and technology, and people and people, that matters.
- Self-absorption in technology alone is not healthy or productive.
- The most interesting truths about technology are at the interfaces with the social, economic and political.
MAGICAL THINKING #3: By enjoying the confirmation bias of lots of like-minded people paid a lot to hold strong opinions as "leaders", your belief in the future will become truth.
MORAL: Truth is not democratic, and can be lonely
- You can have a fragment of the truth, even if nobody else is listening, and thousands of people around you are tasked on projects and products that visibly have no future.
- Andrew Odlyzko in his treatise on the 1840s Railway Mania notes the lonely voices in the crowd who saw through the insanity. The same happened prior to the 2008 financial crash.
- Have the courage to follow-through your truth even when your voice is very alone.
MAGICAL THINKING #4: You can both know who you really are, and ignore the parts of yourself you don't like or find shameful.
MORAL: The truth is not static, but an ongoing process of discovery.
- Even as you live your "truth in the moment", it's OK to change your mind. If you can struggle to know who you yourself are, then don't feel guilty allowing new ideas into your idea closet.
- The truth is an ever-evolving phenomenon, if the truth of self-knowledge is only partially-revealed, what hope is there for more than tentative belief in external phenomena?
Now to reverse and complete the cycle back to technology:
4. Truth is not static
MAGICAL THINKING: The end-to-end principle (horizontal architectures) necessarily results in horizontal (decoupled) industry structures.
- My "Telepocalyptic" view has been given a lot more nuance over the years. Originally in 2003, I saw "over the top" services displacing telco services. That has indeed happened - see Facebook, iMessage volumes etc compared to SMS.
- It hasn't happened with voice to the same extent as quality voice is hard to deliver, and vertical integration retains some value.
- What we see are waves of vertical integration, then componentisation into more horizontal and re-combinable models.
- Apple is kicking off the next great wave of vertical integration, and should Apple use its billions to buy network distribution of digital goods and services we may see novel vertically integrated network architectures emerge.
- There is no one "right" way of building networks, just boundaries over the between different models that shift.
3. Truth is not democratic and can be lonely
MAGICAL THINKING: We've "plateaued" in our understanding of statistically multiplexed networks, and that the best future for society is always "more capacity", with little regard to efficiency.
- The "network of promises" of telcos comes at a cost of lack of innovation and high prices.
- The "network of possibilities" that is the Internet also comes at a cost: a high demand for capex in access networks to absorb variations in needs between statistically multiplexed traffic types.
- Our deeply-held belief is that there is a tussle between smart and stupid networks, and that we must make a trade-off between generativity and efficiency. This trade-off is not intrinsic.
- There is a third, almost unknown, way of building networks: the "network of probabilities".
- Through new queue algorithms we can move all buffering to entry points in networks, and eliminating (virtually) all downstream contention (and buffering).
- We can make intelligent trade-offs between applications competing for network resources, and raise efficiency at the same time, getting more out of our existing networks at less cost.
2. The important truths are about people
MAGICAL THINKING: That "voice is free" (and peer to peer) means that there will not be powerful players delivering voice services, and that voice will become "just another application".
- For all the focus on the Web in the last 15 years, we have lost sight of the importance of the human voice.
- The economic model for "talking at a distance" has historically been based on volume and tied to "telephony".
- This is going to switch to "value" and non-telephony services.
- The money is in making connection between enterprises and their customers efficient, effective and secure. Today's tools fall short.
- Connecting the right people at the right time, integration with automated business processes, elimination of wasteful activities like dictating names, addresses and credit card numbers to call centre operators -- all of these are what will drive business.
- What Google does with text search and advertising is going to be replicated at a much larger scale with voice media and a much wider range of business processes -- "putting people back into the cloud".
- The real cloud - one that merges the worlds of Internet and telephony -- is not just racks of on-demand compute and storage; it is also a pool of on-demand conversations with real people.
- The data, analytic and transaction driven intermediaries that enable this are going to be very powerful. Possibly more so than telcos are over voice today.
1. There is no one bearer of truth
MAGICAL THINKING: The "edge" has your best interests at heart and more than the "core".
- Look around any room of geeks, students or workers at the glowing Apples. Imagine how you would feel if they were AT&T logos.
- The dynamics of multi-sided markets mean you should be as interested and skeptical of the benevolence of Apple as you are of AT&T.
- Veneration of the "edge" ignores that power accumulates in new ways, with new centres and control over distribution, such as apps and content stores tied to OS platforms.
- Whilst your Mac or iPhone may be the product of a beautiful fantasy we call the "free market", with great industrial design and skilful marketing - success brings power.
- With power comes the ability to set the rules of the game. Marx was not all wrong. Look beyond "network neutrality" to all sources of power in the distribution of digital speech, goods and services.
- What are beliefs that you have long-held in the past as truth - but then you had to let go?
- What caused you to move on?
- What beliefs do you have today that are reaching their "use by" date and are taking magical thinking to sustain?
Myself and Dean Bubley went to the TelecomTV studios last month to capture our thoughts and insights having just completed the first two Future of Voice workshops in California and London.
The next event will be in London on 27th October, and we are working towards a late November date for the US East Coast. More information at www.futureofcomms.com.Posted by Martin Geddes at 02:47 PM
If you are involved in voice and messaging strategy at an operator or network equipment vendor, you're likely to find watching this video is a very good use of half an hour of your time. If you have any feedback, please do get in touch.
In related news, we are pleased to announce the next London event will be on 27 October. More information at www.futureofcomms.com.Posted by Martin Geddes at 12:07 PM
At eComm, I interviewed on stage Neil Davies, founder of Predictable Network Solutions. (Disclosure: they are a consulting client, we are working together to commercialise their technology.) The transcript of the interview is up on the eComm blog, titled The Internet is Not a Pipe and Bandwidth is Bad.
Neil's achievement is a breakthrough advance in the use of applied mathematics to describe behaviours of statistically multiplexed networks. The consequences are potentially widespread across the telecoms industry. The problem is that the mental models we use -- of pipes, flow, bandwidth -- do not match the reality of statistical multiplexing. This mismatch drives us into endless small fixes that deeply sub-optimise the overall use of the capacity available.
Historically we have build the "Network of Promises" (with a hat tip to Bob Frankston for the naming inspiration). Technologies like circuit-switching, ATM and IMS perform capacity reservation, admission control, and session management. Together they provide complete predictability and control -- at a price of an "all or nothing" approach. Once the network is fully reserved -- that's it -- and if someone reserves capacity and doesn't use it, tough luck. The result is a costly and inflexible network.
In contrast, the Internet is a generative "Network of Possibilities". The application and user discover what is possible. There is constantly variable capacity and quality, and we adapt to the discovered "network weather". Skype may work, it may not; video may be high definition, low definition, or unusable depending on what else is going on. We can tip the scales in favour of some applications using QoS, but that comes at a cost. When we prioritise some packets, we end up shrinking the overall value-carrying capacity of the transmission system. The more time-sensitive the traffic, the more the shrinkage when we prioritise. The downside of this approach is that the only real answer to poor network quality is more capacity. This may work for core networks, but becomes unaffordable for access networks.
What Neil has discovered is that we have been modelling our networks at the wrong logical layer, and have fundamentally misunderstood the control theory around how data is managed. Instead of managing packets, we need to manage something two logical layers higher: flows of packets over time. With the right mathematical "lens" to see the time-based effects, a new and much simpler way of building and managing networks emerges.
This "Network of Probabilities" works with networks that have statistically stable properties over short periods (milliseconds to seconds) -- as most do have. His technology can reduce the network to two control points, entry and exit in each direction. (More complex topologies, e.g. with CDNs, can also be managed, but at added complexity to signalling and maths.) Packets are re-ordered and dropped in a new way, such that they (virtually) never "self-contend" on their onward journey, and all subsequent buffering can be eliminated.
Any link or network segment that can saturate can now be managed in a new way. The "pie" of quality attenuation (loss and delay budget) is kept constant, but can be allocated in a fine-grained way to different flows over the network. There is still a longer-term adaptation of applications to the sensed network conditions; there is no magic to overcome the fundamental (and variable) capacity of the network.
The bottom line? We can load up networks to 100% of capacity, mix multiple classes of traffic together, and also add in scavenger traffic (with no cost impact on the rest of the network).
It's like the Philosopher's Stone of telecoms, with one difference: it exists.Posted by Martin Geddes at 10:29 PM
The next Future of Voice masterclass with myself and Dean Bubley is on Thursday 14th July (this week) at Qualcomm's offices in Chiswick. We are nearly full - and it's quite a roll-call of voice industry players. If you'd like to grab one of the last places, go to www.futureofcomms.com.
If you're a solo entrepreneur/innovator, or work for a non-profit with an interest in voice, and you'd add value to the other attendees by simply by your experience, point of view, or novel technology - get in touch. There's one last "wildcard" place for someone suitably interesting.Posted by Martin Geddes at 10:12 AM
At our Future of Voice Masterclass in London next Thursday, myself and Dean Bubley will be covering how new Google-like business models can re-shape the market for voicemail. When we presented the same ideas at our California event last week, they generated plenty of interest and debate.
The timing is rather appropriate given how voicemail is rather in the news for the wrong reasons.
The proximate reasons are easy to see. The product and processes around voicemail are insecure. The service is easily prone to attack from both the technical and human perspective. Ordinary human motivations to pry and profit easily overcome moral qualms about such intrusion.
There are, however, much deeper issues going on around the vertical integration of the transport of voice, and the separate application we call 'telephony'. (This process of fragmentation of voice into many forms and markets is the heart of the Masterclass.) The market for voicemail is tied to that for telephony, which is in turn tied to the market for 'voice minutes' that is based on a limited number of spectrum licenses and copper networks. That whole stack is slowly falling apart, despite a corset of regulatory stays that holds the ungainly edifice in place.
There is no fundamental reason why the 'minutes' I buy have to be used for the telephony application supplied by my operator. Yes, there are many legacy technical issues, such as HLRs, numbering, etc. that stand in the way of me using my 'voice minutes' with any application, such as Skype. But those are not intrinsic. We can expect to see Facebook, Skype, Xbox and Facetime voice take equal stage with telephony.
An example of how stuck we are comes from my personal experience. I moved to an uber-value deal with Tesco Mobile -- £10/month for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and data. Of course, I missed the drawback - which was bad enough that I decided to amuse myself with a consumer complaint to the regulator, Ofcom:
Tesco Mobile does not support standard GSM features of call waiting and forwarding. This forces me to use Tesco's voicemail, and not any third party system such as Hullomail. This is not advertised, and effectively creates a monopoly for Tesco to supply voicemail during the contract period in a non-transparent and anti-competitive manner.
To which the response was:
There is no regulatory obligation on any provider to offer additional services such as call waiting and voicemail. Whether or not to allow access to such services is a commercial decision by each company. We are therefore unable to help with this matter.
(If anyone from Ofcom is reading, feel free to go look to inquiry ref 1-172103617.)
Now, from their framing of the world, their response makes sense. But in other markets, like automotive servicing, it has been decreed that tying the VAS to the core product is against the public interest and thus illegal when they can reasonably be expected to be separate markets.
Isn't it about time that people had a real choice of voicemail providers -- some of which might even take security seriously? That means at sign-up for a 'minutes' contract, you aren't simply defaulted to the access provider's service, but have a menu to choose from.
If you would like to explore these ideas further, do come to the Future of Voice Masterclass in London next Thursday. We still have some space available, and for Telepocalypse readers there is a 25% discount on the entry using code VIP25. Details and sign-up link at www.futureofcomms.com.Posted by Martin Geddes at 12:24 PM
The Future of Voice masterclass website is now up at www.futureofcomms.com. The next two events are in Santa Clara (30 June, nearly sold out), and London (14 July, early bird pricing still applies).
Myself and Dean Bubley are delivering our best insights and ideas. They are highly-interactive learning events, as well as an opportunity to network with top peers. We'd love to see you there - and feel free to pass the word on.Posted by Martin Geddes at 05:58 PM