Disruptive technologies only keep a few of you up at night, but please read on anyway. I’ll explain what they are, outline what Quartet is doing about them and reassure you that you should continue to sleep well.
Disruptive technologies are the quintessential better mousetraps that come along in virtually every industry. They change the nature of the industry, leading to terrific opportunities for those who can adapt and adopt. VOIP and broadband wireless are two exciting ones at the early stages in IT.
Sectors vulnerable to disruptive technologies are those where customers won’t pay for incremental improvements. For example, I’m not willing to pay for an additional cable TV channel. I’ve got more than I’ll ever watch now. Similarly, most companies are unwilling to pay for additional internet speed. They have more than they need now. Competition evolves away from the prime features of the old technology into areas particular to the disruptive technology.
VOIP is the most obvious example in IT. VOIP business cases based on long distance savings are usually marginal because LD rates are so low. VOIP is competing here directly against traditional technologies and the results are inconsistent. On the other hand, business cases built around unique VOIP capabilities are usually exceptional. Multi-office networking is an example. Traditional telecom technology can do this, but VOIP has a tremendous inherent advantage and that shows up in the business case.
The attractiveness of VOIP varies by the VOIP application used, call activity patterns, company size and other characteristics. The best example we have of this is at the GTAA, where Quartet has been responsible for the voice systems for years. The GTAA voice platform is an integration of traditional and VOIP technologies. When VOIP-specific applications are deployed, the business case is much better than when VOIP competes directly against traditional technologies. With more and more exciting VOIP applications on the horizon, we see excellent potential for VOIP at the GTAA.
VOIP is an example of how Quartet deals with disruptive technologies. We take action long before we have to and we evaluate attractiveness on a case by case basis. We have a generous staff training allowance and we are not afraid to break down existing business models in favor of new ones. Our “service first” approach makes this possible. We are not paid to push new boxes at you. We are paid to be your eyes and ears on technology and we take that responsibility seriously.
Our role is to introduce disruptive technologies when the business case is right for you. By sharing infrastructure and training investments, by leveraging our experience and by keeping down time minimal, Quartet accelerates when new technology business cases become attractive.
My next President’s Letter will be a little less academic and will be out much more quickly than this one was. We’ve got some good ideas for the next one. All the best over the summer. Call me if a disruptive technology keeps you awake.