I’m Tired of Talking About Innovation

By | April 3, 2016

As analyst I am constantly bombarded with the latest and the greatest. Every kind of new and nifty feature, function, service and system that vendors can imagine shows up as a press release in my in-box and every single one says it’s innovative. While there are some genuinely clever things coming to market in this industry, I’m not sure we can call it innovative. Because, you see, innovation means change and this industry avoids change like the plague.

But we’re good at talking about it and I’m getting tired of listening. I want to see it. I want to see new business models and service strategies that deliver customer solutions, not just pieces of what is becoming a very complex puzzle. But it’s not happening and it takes more than new features and functions and systems to make it happen. It takes leadership and that’s not really innovative (or maybe it is in 2016), but it does have to be solid.

The vision, the roadmap, the plan and the execution have to be rock solid because we’re talking about foundational change that affects everyone in the company as well as the bottom line. This isn’t about a new system or even a new architecture, but a new business strategy that says what we want to be and how we’re going to get there. And that’s scary. Telcos and cable co’s, because of their regulated past, are extremely risk-averse and even though this kind of change is risky, I think we’re at a point where doing nothing is just as uncertain.

Missing out on the opportunity to provide fully integrated, secure services to customers guarantees a return to utility status. There will always be the need for capacity and connections but if that’s all you’ve got to sell then you’re a utility and even though that means increased regulation, there isn’t much risk. That may prove to be the most attractive strategy if that’s what you want for your business and – surprise! you’re already there – no change needed.

If you want to be a digital service provider then it’s time to move up the value chain and really focus on your customers and what constitutes a fully formed service. Simple, easy to activate, easy to use, secure and well supported. All the pieces in one place from one provider and everything works together. But it won’t happen without partners, so make your company attractive to partners.

It’s not easy, but no business is currently better positioned to provide end-to-end, truly integrated services than telcos and cable co’s. But not for long because customer demands are getting louder and managed services providers and system integrators are putting together the platforms they need to offer those services and moving telcos and cable co’s to the bottom of the stack.

Certainly telcos and cable cos will get the comm infrastructure share of the business, but we already know that comm revenues will be relatively small compared to the revenue generated by fully functional services. And while 15-20% of a multi-trillion dollar market is pretty good, what’s the harm in going after a bit more? It doesn’t take innovation, it takes leadership. Every type of architecture, system and software necessary to deliver these services is available in the market; but before you tell me you’re a DSP, prove it!

New research coming soon from ICT Intuition: “So You Want to be a DSP?”