Sunday, February 01, 2015

Link Between Broadband and Growth

According to this article, a Report Finds Strong Link Between Broadband and Population Growth. DUH! There have been a number of studies that demonstrate a correlation between fiber broadband, tax base, jobs and home values (mainly written about in Broadband Properties mag). "Counties with the highest broadband availability levels are seeing the greatest population growth, researchers said."

One point that might be missed: The correlation may be that denser population gets network CAPEX.

Meanwhile, the FCC raises the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps, which means fiber or cable. "The benchmark broadband data rate was 25 Mbps. “Access to 25 Mbps service is a realistic indicator that a household or business can use most available broadband applications,” researchers said."

DSL isn’t cutting it. ILECs are not building out enough FTTH. Google Fiber is more marketing to light a fire under the Duopoly than to actually build out. VZ has stopped spending on DSL and FiOS.

“Nearly forty percent of American households either cannot purchase a fixed 10 Mbps connection […] or they must buy it from a single provider,” it says. “And three out of four Americans do not have a choice between providers for Internet at 25 Mbps.” Even less competition. Even worse service. Even less than we pay for.

Faced with that situation, if a city or county can build its own fast broadband for its taxpayers, why shouldn’t it?

Broward County in Florida built its own fiber ring to replace carrier services. Both the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County (Tampa, Florida) have their own fiber rings -- so does the county transportation service.

Opportunity is there for FTTx systems for independent carriers. WOW! is the largest over-builder of cable systems in the US. Ting by Tucows bought an ISP in WV and is running a city owned fiber system in Maryland. There is opportunity -- but probably not equal or fair in all places.

A good write up about Obama's community broadband plan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Branding and Customer Service

I talk about these two topics often. It probably bores you. Sorry, but here I go again.

Only two companies really brand themselves around fanatical customer care - Zappos and Rackspace. And while Zappos is a billion plus dollar company, it still acts like a small business. Rackspace is raking in $1.5 Billion in revenue annually, but it is far from a household name.

Rackspace competes with quite a few powerhouses: Amazon and Google. It also competes with CenturyLink (Savvis). It still has to act like an SMB - mainly because its competitors do NOT!

Seth Godin has a profound post about customer support by the giants. Customer support in banking (finance, credit cards), airlines, hotels, telecom, cable is known to be automated and horrible.

These companies need millions of users - and they treat them like a number. the number they have forgotten is the Lifetime Value of that Customer. Recently, a rural telephone cooperative sold for $25K per member. So what is the lifetime value? Must be more than that. So why worry about the $17-$50 to answer a call from a customer? Numbers game I guess.

The lifetime value of a customer determines how much you can spend on customer acquisition and retention. Churn can kill a company. (Excellent post about what churn means and what a good churn number is for SAAS companies.)

A couple of data points from AMDOCS:

Over 60% of customers that encounter a problem with their bill or device prefer live assistance.

48% of consumers choose not to use online self service as they expect answers to be either inaccurate or incomplete.

54% of the customers complain to their service provider via social media but only 27% actually get a response.

The NetPromoter Score of telecom is very low.

To reduce churn, you need to work on customer care and retention.

The Lifetime Value of a Customer is a significant metric.

GapingVoid on Great Customer Service is an oxymoron.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

3 Things I Learned from an IndieGogo Project

It's hard to explain my connection to Michelle Welsh. She worked for Seth Godin for a while, which is how we connected, but all of our conversations have been virtual - phone, email, Facebook. Yet she is awesome.

She moved to Nepal to teach. Then she had this idea to open an Internet cafe + Community Center. She raised funds for it on IndieGogo, a crowd-funding site like Kickstarter. She dreams big and is tenacious (both of which you need to succeed and live large, I think).

Lesson 1: It's about Passion & Story-Telling.

Crowd-funding is about telling a story about passion that connects with the viewer/audience. Michelle did that on her IndieGogo page, even describing the dream, the benefits, the problem. She knew it was a big leap (especially to sign the lease for 6 years!).

Lesson 2: Your Tribe Will Support You.

People talk about their network. Screw that. Have a Tribe. A tribe is better than a network because a tribe will support you as you support them. Networks are loose. Tribes are connected. Michelle's tribe supported her dream in 83 days. Her tribe of just 100 people!!! It doesn't take millions. You build your tribe (or even your customer base) one person at a time, but it doesn't need to be millions. I have often said that 1000 customers willing to pay your price can make you a good living as a service provider. My consulting business is closer to 125 people.

Lesson 3: We Live in a Global Society.

The Internet connects the world. It's no joke that the Internet has torn down the walls allowing anyone to communicate with anyone on the planet. Michelle lives in Nepal where the Internet is at best spotty (and expensive). Yet she was able to communicate with her tribe around the globe - and they helped her fund this project.

It costs a lot less than we think to start a business and get it up and running. And the Internet is a utility, despite what one attorney says. Next to electricity and running water, I think Internet and a device are the next set of necessities.

Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sales Management Stats

As I work on my presentation for my FISPA session on How to Manager Your Sales Person in New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2015 at 3 pm, I ran across a few good slide decks. I slapped some sales management stats and some sales stats into a slide deck that you can download for no charge - just cuz I like you.

Download the PDF on Sales Stats for Managers

If you can't make the sales management presentation, I created a workbook for the session that you get for just $2.99. It is about 7 pages with a lot of fill-in the blanks and highlights from my presentation on sales management.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Why of Goals

During my Goal Setting webinars I often talk about the WHY. That goals only work if we have a reason (or we only work our goals if we have a big enough reason), a burning desire to see that goal through.

"WHY is that important to me? What will I have that I don’t have now when I make this happen?

"According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of Succeed, the best way to achieve your sales goal is to know WHY you’re doing it."

Jill Konrath has a short video about this.

Friday, January 02, 2015

What Wave Are You Riding in 2015?

An interesting quote to end the year by Nicholas Bate:

A fresh start requires fresh goals;
Fresh goals require fresh thinking;
Fresh thinking requires letting go and looking forward.

Jeff Kagan is an analyst in Atlanta that gave a dire warning to Windstream's Board of Directors in 2010. Mainly he talks about cresting waves - like wireline, POTS, DSL. What wave will WIND or YOU ride in 2015 and to come?

Many FISPA members have already changed from resale to owning infrastructure. More and more CLECs and WISPs are turning to fiber assets (for many reasons).

BTW, Google commented to the FCC about Title II classification. "Google this week told the FCC that reclassifying broadband providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act would have a big side benefit for Google Fiber because it would give Google Fiber the same access to utility poles and other key infrastructure currently enjoyed by Comcast, AT&T and other big-name ISPs." I don't know how accurate that is (or if CLEC status would solve some of their issues) but it carries some weight at the FCC.

Fred Wilson, the venture capitalist in NYC, noted that "Xiaomi will spend some of the $1.1bn they just raised coming to the US. This will bring a strong player in the non-google android sector into the US market and legitimize a “third mobile OS” in the western world. The good news for developers is developing for non-google android is not much different than developing for google android."

What I would take from that is that mobility, apps, IM/chat and other UC components are still open for competition. That if Hosted PBX is the wave that you are riding, then you need to figure out how to own the mobile space for some of those activities. If not, you will be replaced or relegated to POTS replacement.

Wilson also says, "More asian penetration into the US market will come from the messenger sector as both Line and WeChat make strong moves to gain a share of the lucrative US messenger market." He is bullish on SAAS and Cybersecurity.

Good luck in 2015. See you in Miami at ITEXPO on Jan. 25-29 and in New Orleans at FISPA Live on Feb. 2-4.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5 Links to End the Year

PanTerra Networks has announced its Unified Business Analytics offering for the mid-market, available via channel partners. The solution combines unified communications (UC) analytics with content management analytics to monitor, react to and adjust business processes in real-time to make them more efficient and competitive. [CVX]

Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN) is expanding into a new business: it has acquired commercial distributed generation solar power company Green Lake Capital, for $103 million. It will form a new subsidiary, Ahana, based in San Francisco, which will operate 28 commercial solar projects at 59 sites with an aggregate 45.7 megawatts of electricity generating capacity. [CVX]

Parallels SMB Cloud Insights survey 2014 is available. It is a good read if you want to know where the puck is in cloud and web apps.

The breach reports for 2014 are out -- from Verizon and the ID Theft Center. I think security will be a central topic again in 2015 (read more here).

Happy New Year (and thanks for reading)

Plus one very different Hosted UC promo: