Living in a Device-Centric World

Accenture published an article on Living in a Device-Centric World, a strategic view of an evolving market for digital devices:

“The current market focus on the “three screens” of the consumer—a television in your family room, a PC on your desk and a mobile phone in your pocket—is a new, device-centric way of seeing the digital services ecosystem. It’s a view with the potential to dramatically change the way in which people work, seek out entertainment and interact with one another.

The idea is that each of our screens would have full access to all our digital assets—files, content, applications and so forth. We could view the same content from any screen or, even better, we could use whatever screen was appropriate for the content and for our needs, based on where we were and what we wanted to do. Unless we were cast away on a desert island, we would probably not read a novel on a wristwatch-sized screen—but the idea is that we could if we wanted to.

A device-centric world presents both challenges and opportunities to the industry players involved. Some analysts have predicted that services that cross the three screens of the consumer—at work, on the road and in the digital home—will soon be a multitrillion-dollar business. However, the technology architecture that brings the three screens to life is complex. It’s important to understand both the technological and business changes occurring today if a company is to take advantage of device-centric opportunities to achieve and sustain high performance.

Big Change: Trivergence and Tridgets
The communications, high-tech and media industries are currently struggling to get out in front of a wave of change that may be unprecedented. Competition has always been fierce, but at least the marketplace boundaries were clear. No more. Today, software companies are creating development platforms for wireless communications services. We can buy a phone from a company better known for its airline service. Content companies look like high-tech companies, which look like phone companies. It’s not a marketplace; it’s a rugby scrum.

As the various players try to move the ball forward, all are looking for surer footing. One place to begin is with a better understanding of the device architecture that will make three-screen services possible. Accenture calls this emerging architecture “trivergence,” because its distinctive character is in using the network to separate (1) the physical device from (2) its data and (3) its controls.

To appreciate the importance of the trivergence architecture, compare a portable CD music player with an Apple iPod. The CD player has mechanisms inside that access the data, translate it into sound and send that to your headphones. On the unit itself are various controls that let you choose music tracks, adjust the volume and so forth. Everything is contained within the device.

The iPod, on the other hand, is dependent on the network for its data and controls. You download data—your media files—through a network, and then you control and manipulate those files using a Web-based, soft-panel application. Without the network, the iPod is just an expensive paperweight. Accenture refers to these trivergent devices as “tridgets,” and more of them are entering the marketplace almost every day. Apple has very successfully demonstrated that devices, data and controls—when fully networked—can work together to produce a compelling user experience. “

Basically they point out that you need a combination of ‘hardware, software and services’ to create compelling products.  Nothing new here, I would say… In the remaining part of the article they talk about the opportunities and challanges for the communications industry. For instance, network service providers could leverage their capabilities in end-user billing and customer service (something that companies such as Google and Microsoft can not offer so easily).

After reading the article again, I am thinking to call myself consultant and sell my ‘strategic views’ to large companies sleeping at the wheel (and make lots of money with it). Thanks Stefan for commenting. 



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