The Coming Converged Experience
We’ve talked about convergence for some time now. It’s been one of the most popular buzz words for our industry over the past decade and even spawned a few tradeshows of the same name to capitalize on the trend. First, it referred to networks, with some of the largest service providers in the world bringing together dozens of service-specific networks to a single IP Next Generation Network. (Come on now, you can’t deny IP is cool when it can do that!)
Now with a single platform, providers were able to more cost-effectively expand their offers to include those of other segments – the converged service provider could grow by not just offering, say traditional voice but move into video as well. Cable companies moved into voice, and just about everyone wanted a piece of the mobility gold rush.
Then, once that industry evolution gained traction, convergence was largely used in reference to services. New offerings such as Cisco TelePresence and others were no longer just a voice service, a video service, or a data service – but in actuality all three at the same time. This blended offer by a provider the worked against our nicely defined industry segmentation of cable, mobile, wireline providers, and led to an increased focus on converged technology of which Cisco spend quite literally billions of dollars each year to develop.
Converged platforms such as the ASR 1000 eliminated the need to have a half dozen different platforms doing separate functions and, instead, allowed a single platform to do them all at once, in a form factor only a few inches high.
Lately, the convergence theme is getting more and more buzz around devices. The iPhone gets credit for much of that, because after all, “there is an app for that” tagline does ring true. My phone now doesn’t just give me an ability to do email or rudimentary web surfing but allows me to track flights/listen to my music/find restaurants/occupy the attention of my bored 4 year old in the back seat of our car…..and it makes calls. Quite a bit of value.
Where I believe “Convergence” will be used more and more is in reference to the experience it delivers when all of these other types of convergence are realized. Because of the work of networks, providers offers, services, and devices, the limits as to what is possible with all of them working in conjunction with one another get pushed further and further out, offering some pretty amazing opportunities for providers and consumers alike.
Last week at the NCTA show, Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, one of our largest customers, demonstrated an innovative new iPad app that was the front end portal to all the types of convergence mentioned above but in a seamless and transparent way to the benefit of the user. It is an innovative example of tye type of converged experiences to come, and I encourage you to take a look:
And while you’re at it, let us know what else would you like your TV to do? As fellow blogger, Zoya, pointed out last week, we have a contest in the works now to ask that very question. You may be able to win $10,000 and who knows? With innovative providers, like Comcast, and innovative technologists, like the many we have at Cisco, your idea may very well come to reality as a converged experience in the future.