Archive for July, 2006

Capturing the Power: Week of 7/16/06

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Mobility is a wonderful thing. As mobility gets built into all products and services, businesses need to learn how to both capture the power of mobility and manage the dangers introduced through mobility. Here are some examples of how the power of mobility is being applied to create competitive advantage:

 

Managing the Danger: Week of 7/16/06

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

In order to be winners in the new mobile era, businesses will not only need to capture the power of mobility, but also manage the danger. Highlighted below are recent examples of the danger of mobility and how some firms are beginning to manage it:

 

Converged Products: Week of 7/16/06

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

The most convenient way that mobility is getting built into products is through the convergence of capabilities that previously existed as standalone products into the cellphone. That way, those products are now with you and available for your use whenever you need them wherever you go.

 

Mobile Declaration of Independence: The Charges

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

As previously noted, the American Declaration of Independence is largely a collection of charges against the King of Great Britain, justifying dissolution of the political bonds between Britain and the 13 American colonies. In that original post, I challenged us to develop a Mobile Declaration of Independence and to do so by August 2.

Last week, I proposed that our new Mobile Declaration of Independence focus on freedom from the oppression which I coined as “Big Bell Dogma.”

This week, I’d like to focus on the list of charges to be brought against this oppressor in justifying our claim of independence.

Depending on how you count them, the original Declaration included somewhere between 18 and 27 charges. By my quick analysis, they are grouped into roughly six categories:

  • Refusal to pass new laws
  • Lack of representation by legislature
  • Blocked immigration
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Harrassment by officers and soldiers
  • Waging a brutal war against the citizens of the American colonies

Rather than listing specific offenses of the “Big Bell Dogma” (since each of us could probably develop our own lengthy, but unique list), I propose that we list the broad categories of offenses. Here are the ones I propose:

What do you think? Does this cover the types of offenses by the “Big Bell Dogma” against mobility against which we must declare our freedom?

Enabling Technology: Weeks of 7/2/06 and 7/9/06

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

The Law of Mobility talks about value increasing with mobility. The impact of this law is being felt because the cost of adding mobility into products is falling, making it a no-brainer for mobility to be built into everything. Here are examples of technology advances enabling this to happen:

Indicators: Weeks of 7/2/06 and 7/9/06

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

More and more, the world around us reflects the growing assumption of the law of mobility. Each week we will track indicators of Mobility’s growing importance in our businesses, our lives, and our society:

Capturing the Power: Weeks of 7/2/06 and 7/9/06

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

Mobility is a wonderful thing. As mobility gets built into all products and services, businesses need to learn how to both capture the power of mobility and manage the dangers introduced through mobility. Here are some examples of how the power of mobility is being applied to create competitive advantage:

Managing the Danger: Weeks of 7/2/06 and 7/9/06

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

In order to be winners in the new mobile era, businesses will not only need to capture the power of mobility, but also manage the danger. Highlighted below are recent examples of the danger of mobility and how some firms are beginning to manage it:

Converged Products: Week of 7/9/06

Friday, July 14th, 2006

The most convenient way that mobility is getting built into products is through the convergence of capabilities that previously existed as standalone products into the cellphone. That way, those products are now with you and available for your use whenever you need them wherever you go.

Mobile Declaration of Independence: Our Oppressor

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

A week ago I laid down the challenge for us to create a Declaration of Independence for mobility. In that post, I pointed out that the bulk of the original 1776 American Declaration of Independence was a series of charges against the King of England indicating how the American colonies were being oppressed.

For us to declare our independence, we must first identify our oppressor.

Clearly, mobility provides freedom from “fixedness.” As we develop our list of charges against our oppressor, they will largely or entirely be the injustice of being tied to a specific location.

But what is forcing us into this fixed state?

Being in the telecom industry, the easy answer is the traditional telephone network. However, I believe that many fixed things and processes that are now being made mobile are tied to a place by non-telephone components – either because the equipment involved is too difficult to move or because of other forms of connectivity that are place-specific.

As much as anything, I think what we’re struggling against is a mindset that is firmly embedded in how products and processes are designed and in how businesses operate.

For fun, I’d like to call this oppressing force “Big Bell Dogma.”

According to Wikipedia, “dogma” is belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization to be authoritative and not to be disputed or doubted.

I think this well captures the mindset against which we fight. It is the belief held by product development groups and by those that define processes that “of course it can’t move, it never has.”

“Big Bell” is a reference to the way AT&T built the telephone network over the last century or so. As mentioned above, not all oppression against mobility is related to telephony, but I think the mindset of that old company well reflects the mindets we’re fighting against.

In Nerds 2.0.1, this mindset is well reflected by this quote from Len Kleinrock, one of the key players in the establishment of the ARPAnet, which would become the Internet: “I would say, ‘Please give us good data communications,’ and they would reply, ‘The United States is a copper mine – we have phone lines everywhere so use the telephone network.’ I would counter, ‘But you don’t understand, it takes twenty-five seconds to set up a call, you charge me for a minimum three minutes, and all I want is to send a millisecond of data.’ Their reply was, ‘Go away, children, the revenue stream from data transmission is dwarfed by that of our voice traffic.’ So the children went away and created the Internet!”

Back in 1995 when I co-founded an Internet startup, I encountered this same mentality within the businesses that we were selling to – a sense that communications would never change. Even though the original AT&T had been broken up 11 years earlier, when I asked one of our customers who his local telephone company was, his retort was “AT&T, of course!”

These examples are specific to the Internet, but I believe this “dogma” extends to a bias against mobility as well. The copper and fiber networks that have been built by the telecom industry represent truly “buried” costs that have historically translated into tremendous wealth creation. Obviously, these assets are well suited to continue to serve a purpose in the information economy, but newer technologies provide tremendous advantages for many applications that have traditionally been served by these fixed facilities.

What we fight against is the mindset represented by those who defend the tethering of products and processes to specific places. This mindset is fueled by the investments that have been made that establish power in the companies, departments, and individuals that stand in the way of mobilizing our lives and our businesses. These investments are not always in hard assets, but often are investments of time and experience to establish intellectual and relational assets. We should expect our assault on these “fixed” ways to be defended to the death.

So, at least personally for me, this “Big Bell Dogma” is a fair representation of the oppressor that is holding back the independence promised by Mobility.

Editorial note: Although there is still a company called AT&T, I think my readers recognize that the modern AT&T is not really the “bad guy” I’m referencing here.

The original AT&T was first dismantled in 1984 as the result of a Justice Department anti-trust action. The company that retained the AT&T name continued to self-destruct, first splitting out its innovation arm as Lucent and its computing arm as NCR and later spinning off AT&T wireless.

The company formerly known as Southwestern Bell was one of the “Baby Bells” created in 1984 out of AT&T and has been working hard to recreate much of what the original Ma Bell had been, most dramatically acquiring the remains of AT&T and taking on that moniker in the past few months.

However, this new AT&T is a very different company that has benefited as much from the fall of the old Ma Bell as anyone has. I’m not saying that the new AT&T is immune from the defensiveness described above as “Big Bell Dogma” (are any of us?), but I ask that no one equate the two.