It took more than 100 years from the invention of the telephone to the point where virtually every home in the developed word had a phone line.
In the mid-1980's the first cellular networks appeared and, 25 years later, we get to the point where there are 6 billion cell phones in a world with 7 billion people. More people have access to a cell phone than to drinking water or toilets.
As cell phones reach universal coverage, traditional phones usage is declining. As of 2013, 1/3 of the US households no longer have a phone landline, and that coverage is fast.
VoIP technology as we know it today appeared in the 90's and became widely available to consumers in the early 2000's. Those services have incorporated capabilities to add video, text chat, screen share, etc.
But IP-based communications has not yet reached universal coverage. I cannot simply "pick-up the phone and call anyone in the word". Users are still segmented among a handful of proprietary platforms.
But the day where real-time communications over IP become universal is coming. We can already see the beginnings of the decline in the use of cell phone. I am not necessarily typical, but I used only 5 minutes of my cell phone plan last month (most of my communication these days happen over Facebook, Twitter and Skype).
How long will it take? Considering that adoption of new technologies is accelerating, it won't take 100 years like the telephone or 25 years like the cell phone. We have been using IP-based communications for over 10 years, so we are going to see universal coverage in IP RTC in a couple of years.
There are two rational reasons why customers of software development projects are still attracted to fixed-price contracts:
The title of this post calls that a myth because in exchange for offloading the technical risk, the customer usually assumes the risk on requirements uncertainty. Naturally, to take on a fixed-price project, the provider will demand a fixed set of well-defined requirements and a static Statement of Work.
So what happens? As the project starts, we naturally learn more about the competitive landscape, the real market requirements, new use cases. The technical requirements change and we are left with two options: (a) stick to the fixed-everything contract and develop a product that does not match user needs or (b) change the scope of the project and adjust the schedule/price accordingly.
So, the fixed-price project is not really.
Agile Development is about recognizing the reality that both market requirements and engineering estimates will change over the life of a project. So, the agreements and software releases are iterative, fixed for short periods of time and adaptive to the reality of execution. Most internal software development organizations have already made that transition.
Agile Outsourcing is about finding external development partners that will be able to share technical and market risks and work collaboratively to adapt to those changes and deliver the best possible result, within schedule and budget. Most external development organizations became good at minimizing per hour cost, but are still not able to deal with change in requirements. So most software development outsourcing is still based on small fixed tasks being managed by the customer.
It is past the time for that to change. Engineering organizations know that, but companies, particularly large ones, continue to focus on "cost per head" as the main reason to pursue external development. A shift towards more meaninful metrics would benefit both software developers and product groups alike.
Daitan Group provides development services to accelerate product development in Telecom, Cloud, and Mobile. Daitan customers can rely on a partner able either take complete ownership of a project, or work as part of a team in full Agile mode. Contact Daitan to discuss how we can help in your next project.
We have just released the first of our DaitanFlash monthly newsletters.
The Jun/2013 edition highlights WebRTC and asks the question "How are you going to use it?"
Click below to access the online version of the newsletter and subscribe to receive it in your mailbox every month.
It was early 1900's when the telephone became a medium for real-time communications. It took us 100 years to build a telecom infrastructure that brought a phone line to virtually every home in the developed world.
But that picture of universal coverage is changing rapidly. As of end of 2012, more than a third of all households in the US were no longer using a landline (source). These people have ditched their traditional telephones and rely solely on their cell phones and internet connections.
AT&T, the largest telephone operator in the US has publicly announced it will turn off its traditional telephone network (PSTN) by 2015. Regulatory requirements are the only reason that doesn't happen even faster.
The first cellular networks appeared in the early 1980's and, 20 years later, we reach the point where virtually every person in the developed world has a cell phone. In emerging countries, cell phone penetration is higher than landlines have ever been. In Brazil today, there are 260M cell phones for 190M people. China has 1.1B cell phones, 3 times more than the US. It is universal coverage again.
We are already living a new major transformation. We are starting to use our cell phones less and do most real-time communications using Social Media and Voice/Video-over IP (Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, Google Voice).
We have finally reached a point where the communication applications are independent from the underlying transport infrastructure. When we talk over the Internet, it doesn't matter what the transport is (wi-fi, cell, copper wires), applications are free from control from operators. New technologies and standards like WebRTC will further democratize access to communication functions, making them available from any IP capable device.
What is coming is a new wave of innovation, when real-time communications will be richer (voice, video, screen, text), ubiquitous (computer, appliances, mobile, wearable) and seamless (move from one device or network or media to another without interrupting the conversation).
It is the end of Telecom as we know it. Or a new beginning.
In the past years, communications applications such as Skype and FaceTime have revolutionized how consumers use computers to communicate in real-time. Grandma talks and interacts with her grandchildren through the Internet even when they live thousands of miles apart.
Now WebRTC, an emerging standard for real-time communications, is gathering a lot of attention. Its promise is similar: seamless sharing of voice, video, data. Why is it so special?
That will bring a new wave of inovation, creating disruption and new opportunities. Grandma led the way, now it is time for business to wake up to the potential of WebRTC in customer service, video conferencing, marketing, sales.
We have recently talked to TMC about WebRTC in Business. Check the interview here.
What is WebRTC?
WebRTC is an emerging standard to enable real-time communications (voice, text, video, data) directly on a web-browser running in any machine or mobile phone. It is like having ubiquitous Skype, but without the need to install any proprietary application or browser plugins.
Skype, Google Hangouts, and other stand-alone communication applications are changing how we communicate using our laptops and smartphones. WebRTC integrates that change to web services and mobile Apps.
WebRTC and Customer Service: Transforming Customer Communications
One of the greatest challenges for Customer Service today is to keep context independent of channel. A conversation that starts on the website via chat can turn into a phone call and then transition to Twitter to be eventually resolved by email.
The promisse of WebRTC is to be the single channel of real-time communications enabling the seamless transition between data, text, voice, video sharing. For example, "Click to Call" buttons become trivial and independent of platform or type of client device.
So what we see in the horizon is a future of no more traditional phone lines, no more proprietary web widgets for chat, and a seamless, integrated channel for real time communication that will both make current problems irrelevant and create a new set of challenges for Customer Service organizations.
Where is WebRTC Today?
WebRTC is a standard driven by the IETF and W3C. It is in draft mode and is currently supported by Google Chrome, Mozilla and Opera Browsers. Safari and Internet Explorer are not yet supporting the WebRTC standards, although plug-ins are available for both browsers.
A good gateway for additional information can be found at http://www.webrtc.org/ (which is maintained by the Chrome Browser team).
Daitan Group is a pioneer in WebRTC development for business applications. Our development partners were the first in the industry to introduce call center and customer service products supporting WebRTC. If you plan to develop WebRTC services, don't start it before contacting us.
In the past decade or so the software industry has moved from waterfall to Agile Software Development methods.
In waterfall development, marketing and engineering signed a “contract” based on a fixed scope of work (the “Product Requirements Document”) and embarked in a long project based on engineering estimates of execution complexity. That provided a false sense of predictability and risk management. The problem is that requirements change and estimates are proved wrong as soon as developers start writing code, resulting in delays, budget overruns, and mismatch between product capabilities and user needs.
The idea behind Agile is that both marketing and engineering teams develop a relationship of trust and share common goals and responsibilities. Both sides agree that plans are subject to change and work collaboratively, managing schedule, scope and cost, continuously making plan adjustments often. The result is more efficiency and better products.
Another trend in software development that has only increased in the past decade is the use of external development teams (outsourcing). It is about cost and risk management and accessing skills where they are readily available.
If you do or plan to use external teams for software development, you must transform your thinking on the relationship with them to materialize the efficiency advantages of Agile development. The interface between product developers and traditional outsourcing providers has not yet caught up with the level of transparency and collaboration required for Agile methods to work.
So, what do you need to look for when working with a software development partner?
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