I hate the word convergence. My hope is that eventually marketing people will do so as well. It says too much in too many different situations and becomes meaningless to everybody except the speaker. So I will propose another term. How about - “Look Ma they are doing the same thing over there that we are doing here – let’s join up”? How about – “If we do it the way they do it great things will happen”? I think “Bringing together” is OK – perhaps too Anglo-Saxon for an international industry like Telco.
Whatever. Convergence does make a nice tag line (a shortcut for an inpatient CEO) – but it too often becomes just that: a tag line. We forget why it would be good to bring things together. The tactic is remembered, but the strategic importance is forgotten. By the time it is remembered – and the tactic is implemented, often times the strategy has become irrelevant. Billing abounds with examples. Pre-paid / Post-paid convergence … remind me what its impetus is? Oh, credit and spend control. Absolutely provides real value. The primary basis of a business strategy? Perhaps for some, but for most really “I have to do it because they do it”. It is a feature – a nice feature – but a feature nonetheless.
I go back to my key point – vendors push features dressed up as strategy. Providers must be aware of this - and yes listen and take on the feature if necessary – but keep their eye on business strategy. Differentiation is not the silk purse – it is the pig (to mix a Spanish and English expression).
With that said, here is a little piece of convergence that I think is interesting. And yes – it is a feature. Billing in energy, SaaS and telco are all undergoing the same revolution at the same time. It is the billing for continuous – but variable – services.
· In Telco, the “all you can eat model” is under huge stress with the advent of the iPhone. Bandwidth is limited – by location, by time of day, by market. The day will come when data must be measured 24x7 and charged to make sure capacity is optimized. The information volumes are enormous –staggering – making voice CDR’s look like drops in the ocean.
· In SaaS – it is not bandwidth – rather machine and software resources. And given the number of dimensions that must be measured – the volumes are even more astounding.
· Finally, in Energy, the smart meter that samples usage every few minutes to make sure households consume “efficiently” has data volumes on par with Telco.
Let’s give it a silly name like “Volume Convergence”. Here is a boring one… “Billing for Variable Services”.