Thursday, April 21, 2005

Know your enemy

Earlier today I spoke with an uber-platinum value reader, who commented that recent industry conferences have revealed the sheer prevalence of obsolescent hardware in the hands of the average telco employee. Aged, battered laptops are common, and for at least one carrier, Word 97 is apparently the corporate standard. We both concluded that this may contribute to some of the apparent befuddlement we witness when confronting telcos with some of the threats which may bring them to their knees.

Devices locked down by corporate IT policies, running last century’s applications on slow processors, will never know the joys of a truly good Skype connection, or marvel at the elegance with which BitTorrent can do its job under the right circumstances. This is strange in light of all the sloganeering going on. BT’s currently using “More power to you,” but perhaps that should be more appropriately stated as “More power to you - whatever it is you’re doing.”

While the telcos grapple with their own internal issues and their very size and complexity, the broadband consumer may be at least one technology generation ahead of the service provider’s people, which is a very real risk in terms of understanding the customer's point of view. Take Richard Stastny’s recent experience. Sunday he posited the idea of integrating Skype user IDs in ENUM, and by Thursday someone had done it, incorporating the Skype callto: URI in an ENUM softphone. More power to us, whatever it is we’re doing!

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