Last month, we held the 4th Annual Evolve User Conference, playing host to Sigma customers from around the globe. I look forward to this event every year – as do our Sigma customers – as it offers a rare opportunity for us to gather to share our experiences, ideas and thoughts on the evolution of services and the industry as a whole.
The theme for Evolve 2011 was “Experience What’s Now”. This theme came through loud and clear in both the formal presentations and the informal discussions amongst Sigma’s customers and partners. While many organizations are struggling with delivering new services and delivering the customer experience demanded of them today, we are excited to see so many of our customers leading the way – with service evolution and back-office transformation that is outpacing their competition.
This year, we turned the agenda over to our customers, inviting them to share their experiences with Sigma solutions and discuss their future plans. We were very pleased to have Charter, Rogers, Bell Aliant, Columbus Communications, Tiscali, Zon Multimedia, Net Servicos, WOW!, CaboVisao, American Technical Support, TELUS and others participate in our interactive panel sessions.
Throughout the 2-day event, two topics emerged as top of mind at this year’s event: IP Video and Cloud Service enablement.
The use of IP Video to offer multi-screen and interactive entertainment is now a reality for many Sigma customers. Their rapid adoption of these services have been driven by the need to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace, improve the user experience with video, deliver new micro-ARPU services, consolidate their network delivery architectures, incorporate new service delivery partners and reduce CPE costs. The audience heard details of the various ways in which providers are addressing the customer demand for these services today. Some are delivering OTT video services with partners and devices such as the Tivo powered set-top boxes over their existing cable HFC networks, some are deploying next-gen hybrid QAM/IP home gateways, and others are now deploying pure IP set-top boxes with middleware from vendors such as Microsoft. Regardless of the path chosen to get there, each of the operators in attendance has recognized the need to deliver the enhanced, interactive and on-demand user experience that consumers are starting to expect.
Evolve 2011 included both a keynote from Jeff Kaplan of Think Strategies entitled “Get Your Head into the Clouds” and a Cloud Services Enablement panel that explored new business models, service offerings and OSS best practices for delivering cloud/SaaS services by Service Providers. While the telecom and cable industries are still working to define their evolutionary plans to launch new cloud/SaaS offerings to SMB and residential consumers, our industry panelists definitely agreed that they need to have a plan in place and to act quickly to seize this opportunity. According to one panelist, “Everything we deliver should have cloud thinking behind it” and “In considerations of cloud strategies, SaaS is where service providers can deliver differentiation.”
Evolve 2011 would not have been as successful without the support of our partners and sponsors. This year, Convergys was the Platinum Sponsor and key strategic partner for Evolve. We were also pleased to welcome Pavilion sponsors Digital Route, Mozy, NAGRA OpenTV and Innowave and Signature sponsors Redknee, Cerillion and CSG.
Now that I’m back at our head office in Toronto, I have had time to reflect on the themes that emerged during out Evolve conference, such as
- Even amidst an economic downturn in many markets, our lead customers have continued to innovate at an astonishing pace.
- The telecommunications and cable industries are fiercely competitive – yet participants at this year’s event showed a remarkable willingness to share information with others and to learn from others’ experiences
- Cloud – the opportunity is for service providers to store-front SMB SaaS services.
- IP Video is emerging as a priority and there are many strategies, and a growing number of deployments, all at different stages of evolution. All customers see it as a need but also see the challenges in their legacy video fulfillment solutions. OSS Service transformation is a requirement to deliver the next wave of IP video services and manage through the complexity of legacy video transition.
I personally learned a lot from our customers at Evolve 2011 and came away from the event feeling even more excited about the opportunities our customers are facing and the role that Sigma will play in their growth. I look forward to sharing them with you here.