New Year's Thoughts

The next decade will show another landscape which is completely different from what the last decade has shown to us. During the last decade, we have been experiencing the successful innovation of i-mode derived in 1999 from the combination of ACCESS micro-browser and DOCOMO’s always-on mobile packet network that had been already existed in 1998, years ahead GSM GPRS packet network development.
After having the success, rules of the game are changing from local to global, from  walled-gardens to open markets, and from pay services to fee-on-free serves.  Telecommunication operators need to act otherwise they are doomed. Given no status quo, a rolling stone gathers no moss (in American Interpretation).
The i-mode business is now hitting on a plateau on the first ‘S’ curve, thus DOCOMO R&D needs to jump onto a second ‘S’ curve.

Where will be such a next ‘S’ curve? Here are some hints.

The essence of Communication is secure and reliable “Redirection” which appears at several levels: packet routing, directory services for session creation, search engine applications, and SNS relation such as Facebook. As we know, that essential redirection functionalities are now away from telecommunication operators’ monopoly, and being integrated to web services.  Any Internet company who owns data enough to provide redirection functionality may replace the telecommunication operation with their own.  Google voice, skype, and twitter are good examples. Only data with a large customer base for redirection has the power to win the game. Thus, operators’ leverage lies in two holds: 1. Scale of data, customer-base, delivery system and sufficient free cash flow,   and  2. Trustability, in other word, reliability of redirection.
Redirection may have effects in the following two areas.

  1. Machine Communication. That means “non cellular phone communication” in a broader sense.  The market expansion of wireless internet card shows very positive figures nowadays.  Dr. Keiji Tachikawa, the CEO of NTT DOCOMO at that time in 2000, predicted that around 20 million cats and dogs in Japan would wear tracking devices linked to cellular networks by 2010. Although his prediction has not come true yet, his envisaged direction is valid enough to explain the current non-voice cellular application trends.Seeking non-voice communication services is the key to expand the revenue. Here the crucial point is that we design our business model carefully so as to promote our business to be a machine communication platform business. At this moment, most “Machine Communication” businesses have remained at just selling data communication cards.My colleagues at DOCOMO Service & Solution development department invented a digital photo frame service called Otayori Photo Service™  in 2009.  (This system was adopted by Korean Telecom and exported to Korea.  See http://www.nttdocomo.com/pr/2010/001492.html).  That’s a good example to thinks about the next step.  Any Machine communication platform should have a redirection function empowered by data or reliability.
  2. Federation of Data Monetization.  There are things multiple companies can accomplish working together that they couldn't do alone. That’s O’Reilly’s remark in “What lies ahead: Data” (see http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/12/2011-data.html) .Data mining, to which I devote everything from machine learning algorithm developments to high-performance massive parallel servers deployment at DOMO, is a tough process, since without mining the data we cannot find its value. Data mining involves very ironically self definition.  If we are allowed to federate data among data-driven companies, we can reach to critical points where innovations emerge. Let us see what will happen.  http://strataconf.com/strata2011 may give us some clue to figure out the future. Data is the power. Federation is the key to reach the critical points.

That’s it about S-curve identification. In identifying the next ‘S’ and increasing its success rate, we need collaboration with external companies. The open innovation concept described by Chesbrough is essentially imperative to generate the next innovation.  That includes, in general, licensing out of patents, collecting ideas, collaborating with other businesses, external R&D or consultants on development and so on.

The term, open innovation, is easy to understand though, it is not easy to implement.
We need the culture transformation Our way of seeking next S-curves with open innovation scheme should move toward High Performance Culture. Those consists of  
        Empowered people and cross-functional communication,
        Creating focused, collaborative, results-driven teams; energizes others,
        Integrating existing solutions without not-invented-here syndrome and adding new values,
        Facilitating the creation and communication of a compelling and strategically sound vision,
        Changing our mind from “technology push” to “collaborative innovation” with business departments (ultimately i.e., our customers), and
        Transforming our value from technology consultation to commitment of any necessary technical support until its service launch; that means we need to engage “concurrent engineering.”
Implementation of Open Innovation scheme requires culture transformation. 

With the above consideration, I hope year 2011 will give us good developer experience.

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