I’ve Seen the Future and It’s a Hot Mess
by Bernie Arnason
There are aspects of my job at Pivot I really love. One of the most rewarding is my role as chief editor at our industry blog Telecompetitor. At Telecompetitor, we blog about important news and trends in the broadband industry – developments that impact many of Pivot’s clients. In this role I have the fortune of seeing the industry from a big picture perspective – a macro level (for my fellow economics majors), if you will.
One way I get this view is a lot of daily research and a lot of provided information and data. We’re lucky to receive a daily dose of market intelligence from a variety of sources: industry analysts, public relations professionals, market research firms, and vendors. They send us research notes, press releases, product announcements, and opinions and commentary, in the hopes that we’ll write about it. The blog is our perspective and commentary regarding all of this information.
This vantage point can give us some window into the future. We get all kinds of predictions and market forecasts, “groundbreaking” (at least in some people’s minds) product announcements, and technology roadmaps. I’ve been doing the blog for well over seven years. It’s given me a unique perspective about our industry and its future.
I can tell you, that future is a hot mess. Why, you ask? Because the reality is, despite all of the broadcasted opinion, commentary, and conjecture, we really don’t know what the future of the broadband industry is. We get predictions and forecasts regarding technology and applications that are literally and figuratively “all over the map,” sometimes in the same day. The reality is, there is no broadband crystal ball. In some ways, that’s what makes it so fun.
Case in point: broadband access service. If I told you just three years ago that service providers would soon be launching Gigabit service (1,000 Mbps) with regularity, some charging less than $100 per month, would you have believed it? That in some urban markets (Atlanta, Austin, and Phoenix, for example), you would have two or even three competitors offering Gigabit, you might think I was nuts. “Who the heck needs Gigabit?” and “Who in their right mind would sell it for less than $100?” might be some of the questions you’d ask. But indeed, that’s exactly what’s happening. What will the next three years bring?
This is not to equate “hot mess” with something negative or something to approach with trepidation. Rather, it’s just to put it in the proper context. The future is dynamic and ever-changing. Frenetic, even. It’s quite difficult to accurately predict. You know: a hot mess. It will challenge those of us who work in it to be flexible, adaptive, and agile.
Take it all in. Check in with customers regularly and deliberately. Listen to them. Gain real market intelligence of your own market through professional research. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail. Avoid analysis paralysis. Find some corporate personality and don’t be afraid to promote it. Train your employees. Give them the tools they need to succeed. Embrace the future with your eyes wide open, but with a slight hint of healthy skepticism. And of course, read Telecompetitor.
These are but a few things you can do to embrace this hot mess that we call the future of the broadband industry.