The Skype Developer Program is all about delivering software applications where real time conversation (aka voice and IM) is a key element for providing a mission critical business resource. For instance, OnState brings call center experience, Skylook provides a key tool for customer relationship management; Pamela supports podcasting and other voice recording applications, Unyte allows call participants to share presentations and documents in real time across dispersed geographical barriers. Alec Saunders articulated the role of software as the key to telecommunications value-add in his Voice 2.0 Manifesto eighteen months ago.
So when a legacy telco talks about learning software tricks, we know the message is getting through. Om Malik has written an excellent piece “Telco dogs need to learn software tricks” reporting how software is becoming a key to BT’s success in the 21st century:
… BT was one telco that completely understood that it was facing uncertain times, and had no choice but to reinvent itself to survive.
The senior BT management understood that while broadband was a start point for its reinvention, it had to boldly go where no telecom had gone before, if they wanted to survive. They had to behave and think like an Internet-based software company.
But to focus on a comment: in his summary paragraph:
Instead of spending $6 billion on IPTV projects, AT&T could say buy a Salesforce.com (have some money left over for satellite-based triple play) and ensure a few hundred thousand folks paying $60-odd dollars a month for the CRM as a service.
I seem to recall Skype got a bit of jump on a Salesforce.com relationship last week with its announcement of the embedding of the Skype client within the Salesforce UI.