Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coalition policy and other NBN fantasies

The coalition spokesman has decided to come clean and announce their policy position o the NBN. As reported in the Oz today;
Opposition communications spokesman Tony Smith said a Coalition government would adopt a non-interventionist approach to competitive broadband markets such as capital cities.

A true pity he didn't speak to any of his colleagues on this. The last Government actually found you couldn't leave the capital city broadband market to the market. In case he hasn't spoken to members from electorates where the exchanges were built in the 70s and 80s there are large areas that get no or poor ADSL coverage. Even the famous iiNet/Internode map of Sysdney stops at Parramatta.

That's why Telstra proposed an FTTN network, but demanded regulatory concessions. The G9/FANOC proposal also required regyulatory changes to be viable. As a consequence, inaction by Government is not an option. The last coalition Communications Minister (Senator Coonan) set about resolving this through what amounted to a "tender" for regulatory settings. The problem is and was that the private sector view of investment horizons draws you to an FTTN solution which involves significant investment that will need to be crapped when there is an eventual move to FTTH.

Meanwhile there is an interesting story on the ABC that suggests the NBN will "kill 25% of ASX listed companies". When you probe the story more it comes down to the fact the NBN has the potential to change the delivery model for service industries, about 25% of the ASX is made up of these service firms. The example in the article is executive coaching.

Let's hope that the article is right! The purpose of the NBN, inter alia, is to generate economic productivity. That means changes to business models. Firms that don't adapt will suffer. That is the point.

Anyone looking for a hint should check out the Cluetrain manifesto, which is now over a decade old. It is a manual on how the internet changes things.

I've developed my own summarised version of the manifesto, that might become a bigger work;

A spectre is haunting corporations, that is the spectre of consumerism. This is not the consumerism of Nader or lobbyiss, this is the consumerism of the empowered marketplace that changes the rules.

1. Markets are human conversations
Markets are conversations, they consist of humans who sound human. The tone of your voice is as communicative as the words that you speak.
2. The internet has made the network the dominant form of organization
The internet is enabling conversations that make the network the dominant form of organization, replacing both markets and hierarchies. The people in these networks are changed fundamentally – they are getting smarter, more informed and more organized than they were in markets or hierarchies.
3. People rely on their network not authority
People have figured out they get better information and support fro their network than from vendors. There are no secrets, the consumers rapidly know more about the product than the vendors.
4. Principles need to replace positions, and be at the centre of the conversation
Corporations’ homogenized voice that has been used to “motivate” the staff and “enthuse” the market sounds flat, hollow and unconvincing. Companies need to “lighten up”, not with affected humor but by adopting big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view. They need to replace “positioning” with adopting principles.
5. Loyalty is built on honest two-way communication
Brand loyalty is like a marriage and we forget that “divorce is always surpriseful” at our peril. Our partner can leave us before we know what we’ve done. Companies need to pay attention to all the clues their customers and staff provide. Companies can’t afford not to be honest with those they profess to care about.
6. Corporations need to belong to a community
Human communities are based on discourse – the conversation defines the community. Companies need to decide what community they want to be in and engage in the conversation.
7. The market and the company are not separate – they are one
There is not an external market and an internal hierarchy, there is one network of people playing multiple roles.
8. Marketing is not a mediator between the customer and the company
Customers and workers want to talk to the company that we’ve kept hidden behind a smokescreen of flacks and hucksters. Both want the same kind of open conversation with a partner they can trust. The customers want to be involved in all the conversations of the company, not just those mediated by “marketing” or market research.
9. The customer-centric organization is dead
The customer can’t be put at the centre of the organization, they need and want to be at every part of the organization.
10. The revolution is happening.
Responding to it is not a matter of strategic choice, it is a necessity.

Corporations of the world, act. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

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