Moving up the value chain

23 Jan 2008

Nortel president and CEO Mike Zafirovski, who met with group editor Joseph Waring during a recent visit to Hong Kong, says operators understand the future will be very different than the past and that they have to be marketing machines to drive the experience and deliver value

Telecom Asia: What brings you to Asia‾

Mike Zafirovski: Customers, suppliers, employees and the media. I try to spend a lot of time in the field - at least half is outside North America with customers. I think this is my eighth trip to Australia/Asia in the two years I've been on the job. Somehow you get stifled and people tell you what you want to hear at headquarters, so it's better to get out there and see where the action is.

What are people telling you‾

Greater China is growing fast and competition is fierce as ever as the major players are not only trying to meet positions with the current technology but also with the next level.

Nortel has made a number of major investments in China in India over the past year. What is the status of those‾

Asia is about 15% of our business globally. We'll like to make that between 20% and 25% in the next three to five years, so this is a very important region in regards to revenue and customers, but also using the region as a center of excellence for engineering and operations. Our investment in the Beijing R&D center more than a year ago is starting to take leadership in certain aspects of globally R&D - everything from cellular to Ethernet switching.

Our investments in enterprise businesses are starting to pay off nicely. We've been able to grow our global enterprise sales more than 25% over the past 12 months. The growth in enterprise in Asia has been over 30%. We're very serious about growing our enterprise business. Most people know us as a carrier company, which of course is important to us. We believe in leveraging our R&D for both; and in this world of convergence the expectations of top-notch companies, such as HSBC, are not very different than quite a few of the tier one or tier two carriers. So how you bring carrier-grade services and applications to enterprises is something we believe we're uniquely positioned to deliver. This is a major part of my visit here - to show a commitment to enterprise customers.

Why are many operators now pursing a multiple technology network platform‾

It's smart. It really shows an increase in sophistication in many of the operators. In the past they have referred themselves as 'accident marketers', and they've been working diligently to change that. They have to become marketing machines to be driving the experience. So smart companies look at what technologies are best suited to deliver real value. Using Vodafone as an example, they've looked at what technologies can be there to drive the VodLife experience.

How are you advising operators to navigate this new world‾

First of all, quite of few of the top operators globally are doing quite well today.

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