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The winners & losers in the future game

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

House of CardsMy non-drinking vegetarian friend, @tsahil (I’m going to find something I like about him, just give me more time!) wrote about the changing face of WebRTC vendors. I’m not sure there are any new models, business do things for 2 very simple reasons: it either makes them money or saves them money. Period. Businesses failing to follow these two rules, mostly just fail.

 

What is changing is the introduction of WebRTC and HTML5 allow for lower cost solutions that do more. This adheres to my start-up test that if what you’re offering is more for less, you probably have an opportunity for success. Both of these technologies are aids to upstarts in hitting these sweet spots.

Coming from the aging voice world, people also wondered why PBX systems had 400 features. Surely no one alive could possibly need that many features. But no, it wasn’t some over zealous product manager playing a game of “feature roulette”. Instead, those features got there because some paying customer asked for them. Unfortunately, the systems of yesterday (and today) are monolithic. You get every feature in each load whether you want/use or desire them. This isn’t limited to comm systems, a quick peek at Microsoft Word is equally scary.

These monolithic systems face the stacking cards problem. Adding new functionality becomes increasingly complex, requiring more development time and ultimately prone to error (your house of cards may simply collapse with a big boo-hoo).

If you were asked 10 years ago to build me a custom communications solution for a hospital, you’d of told me I couldn’t have afforded it; either in terms of time to build nor was there a sufficient business case for the required investment. Today, with these emerging technologies, the answer is yes, you can probably build it quickly and at relatively low cost using off the shelf tools and technology.

Now the monolithic companies will tell me that perhaps I shouldn’t be too hasty. These companies have spent years honing their products and have deep knowledge of the market. Indeed they have. But the market is changing. And history is on my side (don’t you just hate history).

The opportunity is to be able to address smaller more niche opportunities rapidly and at a lower cost. This unfortunately requires smaller more niche teams who can perhaps leverage a common base of tools that can be calved away from the previous monolithic system. This isn’t easy because while the monolithic companies are trying to figure out how to do this, a bunch of new upstarts will appear, unencumbered with a pesky installed base of paying customers asking for feature #401. Ah the joy.

As well, the “cloud” stuff will enable these niche teams to not worry about some of the heavy lifting and simply outsource this to the new segment of players content to be enablers in the overall solution architecture. Need phones numbers? Email? A TURN server? Voice messaging? Translation? SMS? Chat? Transcoding? All will be just a credit card and a click away.

The great change is upon us. Act I is about to begin.