Positioned for flexibility

04 Jan 2008

The emergence of the new-age consumer, whose services are dictated by his or her lifestyle, is one of the most significant drivers behind investment in next-generation systems, because legacy networks weren't build to support lifestyle-centric apps. The cost and technical risk, however, of any consolidation, much less a full migration, are substantial and increasing as new offerings proliferate and expectations change.

Consumers, for example, want to change their services on demand - not in a week or even a day. Telcos now have to be agile and positioned to respond to the next big thing, even if it means sacrificing some short-term advantage.

Participating in a virtual roundtable, led by Telecom Asia group editor Joseph Waring, were senior executives from BT Global Services, Cable & Wireless, Intec and Viaccess. The executives were asked a series of questions via email and the responses were consolidated and complied in a Q&A format.

Waring: To succeed in the converged world, how must operators prioritize their investments‾

Barrault: Investments need to be prioritized around the client. The services we are now investing in need to be increasingly targeted at the clients themselves, and communication services need to be flexible, scalable, virtual and above all global. It is about balancing the business issues our clients are facing today in the areas of unified communications, customer relations management, security and mobility.

It is also about looking ahead to the challenges our clients will face tomorrow. In this aspect, by leveraging our R&D centers in Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai for example, BT looks to leverage new technologies and integration to meet the evolving needs of our clients in the future.

Hughes: I totally agree. Ultimately, it's the customer who decides whether to use a particular service or not, and service providers have to make that their primary investment driver, while still taking the long view about future trends. A balance needs to be found, especially in a capex-constrained environment, and in a market where the next big thing can be a surprising call.

For example, who would have predicted the success of the iPhone at the level it has been‾ The best approach is the one that gives the most flexibility, even if that means sacrificing some short-term advantage.

Lambert: Indeed. Surprisingly, in recent times, a lot of operators have forgotten the old definition of the purpose of a business - to create a customer. To borrow from Peter Drucker, 'It is not the role of businesses to reform customers but to satisfy them.'

The customers, thankfully, are wising up. Today, true service provider partners no longer fight their customers, they help them meet their key business outcomes, by ensuring uptimes on their mission critical business networks.

Enterprises realize that they need to invest in their service providers and encourage them to look ahead. Service providers, in turn, need to invest into their networks, deliver smart IP-based products and services - as well as deliver appropriate levels of service to ensure that they provide every customer email and log every order, each and every time.

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