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Monday, January 16, 2017

My 2017 Plans: Research, Events & Client Focus

Excuse the narcissism: This blog post is about me. 

It's intended to clarify my current research focus, the ways I engage with clients, events I get involved in, and the other people and companies I work with.

Most of my work falls into 3 broad and overlapping areas:
  • Network Technology, Policy & Strategy: Evolution of telecom networks & operator business models. Fixed & mobile infrastructure, 5G, WiFi, LPWAN, NFV/SDN, spectrum policy, net neutrality, SD-WAN, MEC, MVNOs, eSIM, policy, mobile broadband, OSS/BSS and so on. (I don't do much on photonics & transport, or detailed product analysis or economic modelling though).
  • Communications Applications & Services: How humans & machines communicate & what that enables. Voice, telephony, video comms, messaging, WebRTC, cPaaS, VoLTE, UC/UCaaS, role of telcos, contextual communications, social communications, VoIP apps, bots & speech-tech, wholesale, numbering, collaboration etc.
  • TelcoFuturism: The intersection points of the telecoms / enterprise comms industry, with other orthogonal trends such as AI, blockchain, AR/VR, robotics, drones, IoT, self-driving vehicles, quantum technology, technological (un)employment, future government, human enhancement, geopolitics, advanced healthcare and demography.
In terms of client engagement and business model, I work as an analyst, consultant and futurist. This means several areas of activity:

  • Written reports, sometimes under my own Disruptive Analysis brand (eg recently on eSIM - link - and soon on Blockchain + Telecoms & maybe WebRTC/cPaaS once again). 
  • But in much greater volume, my report output goes through STL Partners / Telco 2.0, for which I act as Associate Director of the "Future of the Network" research stream (link). Recent FoN reports have covered 5G strategy, eSIM, LPWAN, Net Neutrality, SDN/NFV, SD-WAN. I'll be writing for STL on those topics plus also spectrum policy, VoLTE, satellite communications, vendor positioning & value-chain, network slicing & edge-computing in 2017. (If you're interested in subscribing to the Future of the Network programme, please contact me at information AT disruptive-analysis DOT com, or speak to an existing STL Partners sales contact).
  • Internal advisory projects and workshops for operators, vendors, regulators and investors. I participate in various private consulting assignments, under-NDA roundtables and presentations, or advisory workshops - sometimes for C-level executives and sometimes for departmental/product/strategy teams. Much of my work is on assisting companies to understand future market context & opportunities (especially across multiple silos), answer complex questions about value-chain & competitive dynamics, or "stress-testing" of existing plans and world-views. I'm happy to provide proposals & references on request.
  • Keynote speaker at public and private events. This spans both technology-specific issues ("what will 5G look like?", "what are the uses of blockchain in telecoms?") through to broader futurism ("what will the telecom industry look like in 2030, and what can we do about it?)". Get in touch if you want me to speak at something - fees/expenses apply for events that are company-specific, or require significant travel.
  • Providing input into M&A due-diligence, regulatory & policymaking processes or investment theses. I'm no longer a certified financial analyst, though.
  • Advisory boards and retainer relationships. I'm happy to work with clients on an ongoing basis, as long as it does not compromise my independence (eg ability to criticise). 
  • Writing white papers or custom reports for vendors and operators. I only write documents where my opinion is already aligned with my client's, or where they are looking for a contrarian or "provocative" piece. I retain editorial control. Given my trenchant and well-publicised views on many technology areas, there's no point asking me to write a glowing testimonial for stuff I criticise regularly. (Also, I don't do product comparisons or endorsements).
  • Some of my work is conducted in partnership with other independent consultants and analysts. I've worked with Martin Geddes (link), Alan Quayle (link) and Chris Lewis (link) before, and am open to other collaborations if they are mutually beneficial.
  • Interviews and other contributions for press and broadcast media. As well as industry specialists like TelecomTV, I've also been quoted by BBC, Economist, FT & many others.
I attend and speak at/moderate a lot of events - probably around 30-40 a year. These are mostly in the UK, rest of Europe and US, although I'd intend to spend more time at conferences in Asia and the rest of the world. My favourite events are those with 100-300 people, run by small-to-midsize event companies, and not over-controlled by sponsors paying for speaking slots or trying to censor the agenda. Any credible event has dissenting voices and debate. 

Conferences I visit or speak at are mostly a mix of public industry events (eg TADSummit, Great Telco Debate, Terrapinn, Layer123, WiFiNow, Cambridge Wireless & Upperside are among the best), company-specific forums run by vendors (eg Comptel Nexterday, Metaswitch Forum, GenBand Perspectives) and regulatory/policy workshops. Some Meetups are good as well - in particular London Futurists.

I go to a few midsize trade shows (eg Enterprise Connect, TMForum) but not the ones with 10's of thousands of people (CES, MWC, CeBIT etc). The latter I find a complete waste of time, as I'm spread too thinly to be able to focus on particular themes. In the past I've had 400+ briefing invitations for MWC, and it takes weeks just to process emails and say "no thanks" without being excessively rude. 

My current roster of upcoming events (some speaking, some just attending) includes:
Please get in touch if you're looking for a speaker, moderator, or just an attendee prepared to ask difficult questions & post a bunch of commentary on Twitter during the event. Also, let me know if you're an AR professional running an analyst summit - I try to get to as many as I can.

In the past, I've also co-run small workshop-style events with Martin Geddes (eg on "Future of Voice") and that's something I may well return to in 2017.

In terms of publishing short-form pieces, this blog will continue to be my main vehicle. I also republish most longer pieces on my LinkedIn page (link), which often gets more comments and engagement - and also I put some on Medium (link), which doesn't. Occasionally people ask to syndicate my posts - it depends on the site and whether it gets a different audience to me. I don't often write guest posts for other people, except occasionally for consulting / retainer clients - I'm quite a bit more costly than freelance writers.

I put up quite a lot of my public conference presentations on SlideShare (link) although I intend to update it more frequently. There's also quite a few of my recent presentations on YouTube (link) & a few on Vimeo (link). I'm going to be doing - and collating - more video content in 2017.

Otherwise, for 2017 I'm hopefully going to carry on my usual broad & pithy coverage & commentary on the telecoms industry, plus spend a rather larger fraction of my time on more general futurism and tech-policy topics. If you don't know already, I'm @disruptivedean on Twitter, and can be reached by email at information at disruptive-analysis dot com.


sophia taylor said...
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