xPlay: Connecting the Digital Lifestyle

By: Jesse Cryderman

Your phone ain’t what it used to be, and neither is your phone company. Today, the mobile device is just one of many connected devices owned by a typical user, and is a primary portal into the digital lifestyle. Smartphones will undoubtedly become smarter, as will cars, street lights, and toasters, but getting them all to play nice and talk to one another is a fundamental challenge. Another is delivering these converged digital experiences in a way that is simple and seamless to the end customer. Together, these two factors represent the crux of the digital revolution, and it’s not just telecommunications service providers angling to become digital service providers (DSP), but also retailers, content networks, web-based Goliaths like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and even device manufacturers.

Communications, as it turns out, is an enabler of the digital lifestyle, not an end service. Let that sink in for a second.

When it all shakes out in five to ten years, the digital landscape will be characterized by a spectrum that starts at “fat dumb pipe” and ends at “virtual pipe.” Some service providers today will become pure-play infrastructure companies, while others will make a business solely out of customer data and relationships. Somewhere in the middle is “smart pipe,” and this is the realm of the digital service provider that creates and monetizes platforms for xPlay experiences. Customer experience management (CEM) for xPlay will be extremely important, and communications service providers (CSPs) who want to become DSPs should to stay away from the poles of the spectrum and focus on the middle.

Opportunities on the xPlay Spectrum, Jesse Cryderman, 2015

There are several steps CSPs must take to become a DSP and deliver the xPlay experience. Luckily, CSPs already have huge customer bases, strong billing relationships, and many have established CEM strategies in place. Also, there are some excellent solutions in the marketplace to ease this transition.

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CSPs must take an evolutionary journey to deliver xPlay (Jimi Hendrix sang about a different kind of trip). It starts with envisioning a new type of integrated experience that will be based, in part, on legacy enablers like communication and connectivity. What’s more, given that the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem is highly fragmented and yet nascent from a standards perspective, it is highly unlikely that all connected devices in a household will be produced by the same vendor or use the same connectivity. Similarly, consumers want to aggregate content from on-demand, pay-TV, and OTT sources.


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