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#IMS Don’t be Shy – Telcos Need to Embrace the Beta

Most people have probably heard of the classic satire “Dr Strangelove”. Perhaps fewer will be aware of its subtitle – “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”. I was reminded of this while listening to an interesting presentation from Alan Duric of Telio at the IMS World Forum in Madrid.

His message in relation to new services was simple: just deploy. Alan highlighted a wide range of application solutions that have been developed and deployed by Telio. Telio is well-known as a competitor to operators in Norway and other countries, and has many interesting services. As an OTT player, it might be thought that Telio is not particularly interested in IMS. Not so: Alan confirmed that Telio is likely to deploy IMS in due course, but not yet.

But when it comes to deploying services, he urged telcos to lose their caution and start more aggressively deploying services in beta mode. This is something we have been hearing about for some time. The classical telco model is to buff a service to perfection. Test, re-test and, for good measure, test again. Everything has to be just-so. But this approach has huge costs: it takes time, money and expertise to test to this level. OTT providers typically don’t do this. They try to get to market as quickly as possible and run early-adopter trials, beta launches and so on.

While the services may not be perfect from day one, early market momentum can be critical in securing success. And, if services fail, there will have been less investment in their launch and refinement. And Alan wasn’t the only operator speaker to emphasise this message – Larry Biziw from Rogers Wireless in Canada also spoke about “rolling beta” programmes, layering new features to solutions as you go.

Of course, some services do have to be perfect and there are some peculiar operator requirements and operational issues in co-ordinating service delivery and launch, but this isn’t the case for everything and it’s misleading to pretend that it is. Indeed, it’s somewhat self-serving, as it provides an excuse for not doing something before it has even been attempted.

Operators are already challenged by OTT competitors. Everyone in the industry knows that it takes far too long to bring services to market – and I have seen countless presentations on reducing time to market in the last 15 years or so. The stars do not have to be perfectly aligned before a service can be launched. So why not lose a little of this caution and try to launch services on a willing public? It’s time to learn to stop worrying about failure and be more daring. Don’t be shy!