Crowdsourcing Uses For Google's Forthcoming FTTH Networks

As you might recall, Google is building Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) networks in Kansas City, MO and at Stanford University. Google claims it will offer 1 Gbps broadband at a price consistent with services offered by other broadband providers. (The service is currently offered at $49/month to a handful of customers in Palo Alto.) But what will consumers actually do with such a fat pipe? Most assume that question can't be answered until the service is launched.

But Kansas City-based Think Big Partners is impatient. The early-stage business incubator has launched a crowdsourcing contest of sorts to identify apps or services that have the potential to advantage of all that bandwidth. The Gigabit Challenge will award a total of $200,000 in cash and services to the top ideas, with $100,000 going to the winner. Entries must be submitted between October 3 and October 31; a round of 25 finalists will be announced in mid-November; follow-up business plans are to be submitted by mid-December; and the winners will be announced in mid- to late-January 2012 -- right about the time when the Google network should be up and running.

This is another example of the creative use of crowdsourcing, which provides benefits all around:

  • Bright, creative people are incentivized to think twice about the use cases for a 1 Gbps broadband connection -- even those who are not directly linked to this market;
  • Developers who have already crafted ideas on how to leverage this asset have a chance at some early capital and promotional opportunities that could get them up and running quicker;
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IT Services Industrialization 2.0

Mobility, cloud, and smart computing will drive tremendous growth and significant changes in the IT industry over the next few years. My fellow analysts have brilliantly covered these topics in the past few months.

I would like to build on these views and focus more specifically on the productivity race that the IT services industry and its clients have been in during the past 10 years or so. While IT services vendors have managed to improve their output levels in order to protect margins in a market of severely eroding price points, I believe they will rapidly reach a plateau if they continue to use traditional methods. Instead, the most successful IT services firms of tomorrow will increasingly leverage disruptive methods in order to fulfill the client expectations to always “do more with less.”

Ever since the Internet bubble burst a decade ago, clients have pushed their providers to find ways to provide them with continued price decreases for similar or greater output levels. This was achieved thanks to two main levers to decrease the amount of resources required to run IT systems by end user firms:

  • Fewer resources: Optimizing the utilization of resources in order to reduce their consumption. For example, most projects around asset management, infrastructure standardization, consolidation, and virtualization yield the most evident returns as sources of productivity improvement. This is the case in particular in developed countries where companies need to cope with multi-layered legacy technologies that render IT systems as complex and expensive to maintain.
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