& cplSiteName &

Alcatel-Lucent CEO: We Can Go It Alone

Ray Le Maistre
5/8/2014
50%
50%

Just over a year ago, the name plate on the Alcatel-Lucent CEO office got a refresh, as Michel Combes became the first French national to take the helm at the Franco-American vendor. (His predecessors, of course, were Dutch and American -- Ben Verwaayen and Pat Russo, respectively.)

Combes moved in on April 1, 2013, and quickly stamped his authority on the company, initiating his Shift Plan (a fancy name for a restructuring process) and doing all he could to make sure the company didn't follow Nortel to the vendor scrap yard. (See Alcatel-Lucent Unveils Shift Plan and Alcatel-Lucent Builds Future Around IP.)

Since then, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s share price has tripled, from a shocking $1.32 on the day he took over to $4.02 today. That's still not great -- the company's market capitalization is still only US$11 billion. And when Alcatel-Lucent was formed in late 2006 the stock was trading above $14.00.

The CEO says he had a number of things to address. The company was "trying to do too many things," Combes told Light Reading recently. "We had lost our competitiveness, and we had a broken balance sheet. But we have innovation, which we are reigniting, and a clear vision, and we have fixed the balance sheet. We are starting to reshape." (See Alcatel-Lucent Shifts Up a Gear to End 2013 and AlcaLu Breathes New Life Into Bell Labs.)

That stock might move again tomorrow (May 9) once the company's first-quarter financials have been unveiled.

Whatever those numbers show, Combes will, of course, tell everyone that the company has a bright future as the world becomes ever more connected. The reason he may be right, of course, is that the bedrock of Alcatel-Lucent these days, and the fulcrum of Combes's Shift Plan, is the vendor's IP division, which has long been the company's shining star. And that's just as well, as the future of communications and information networks is IP -- at least for the foreseeable future. (See TiMetra at Heart of AlcaLu's Shift.)

Michel Combes has put in a decent shift as CEO of Alcatel-Lucent.
Michel Combes has put in a decent shift as CEO of Alcatel-Lucent.

The CEO has plenty of convincing to do, though, especially as questions still arise about AlcaLu's future portfolio. Does it have what it takes to make a viable business from mobile broadband access, in the face of intense competition from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and a rejuvenated Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)? (See Nokia Ushers In New Era, Retires NSN Name and Nokia, Juniper Team To Target Telco Cloud.)

Combes is adamant that radio access is part of the company's future. The CEO reiterated that "ultra-broadband access -- all types of fixed and mobile, from 4G, small cells, 5G," plays a critical role in the roadmap of the company. "We have absolute dedication and commitment to our own mobile broadband. The future is an IP router with a small antenna. 5G will be a small-cell-based architecture and will have to be context-aware -- that's a big challenge."

Combes is also excited about many other emerging technologies and markets. He sees massive potential in the connected car sector -- and he's clearly a fan of the four-wheeled world in general, as he names his favorite movie as Rush, the biopic of 1970s Formula 1 driver James Hunt. And he's bullish about AlcaLu's role in the shift towards virtualization in telecom networks.

"The cloud and NFV -- we are investing a lot in that space. It's the convergence of networks and IT," notes Combes, before adding that the company's SDN unit, Nuage Networks , is already well advanced in what he calls the "first stage of SDN," in the data center. The second stage is the software-defined VPN, and the third step is the virtualization of "the [enterprise] campus… There will be much less hardware on the customer premises."

He adds: "One of the biggest surprises I had when I joined was finding Nuage and CloudBand. That was a very nice surprise." (See How Alcatel-Lucent Set a Telco Cloud Example .)

The upheaval that the cloud and virtualization will bring will result in a "substantial transformation of the way networks will be managed -- they will need a distributed cloud."

And, naturally, Combes is confident his company can deliver what's needed for that. But can it deliver it alone? Will the upheaval force the vendor community into further consolidation? There is constant speculation that Alcatel-Lucent might join forces with the Networks business of Nokia (which was until very recently NSN). (See Eurobites: Alcatel-Lucent's Shares Rise on Nokia Bid Rumor.)

"I don't think consolidation is inevitable. The Shift Plan has reconnected us with cash generation, and we are now in control of our own destiny," Combes says. "That doesn't mean it won't happen, but our focus now is on our own future and building strong partnerships, like the ones we have with Qualcomm and Intel. Those are very powerful." (See Joint Qualcomm & AlcaLu Small Cells Due Mid-Year and Alcatel-Lucent announces global collaboration with Intel to speed industry move to cloud.)

For the time being, Combes is faced with squaring up to his main rivals -- Ericsson, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Huawei, he believes -- to win new business and further improve the company's fortunes. How well he's been doing lately, we'll see when the first-quarter numbers get published.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(13)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
MikeP688
50%
50%
MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/13/2014 | 12:44:08 AM
Re: Makes me think of
I hope so for the sake of the thousands who still work for ALU and all who depend on it especially as I saw ALU's latest quest to partner w/Australia's NEXTGEN Team... 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/12/2014 | 4:52:43 PM
Re: Makes me think of
MikeP - I don't think it's at all the case that hte train has left the station and AlcaLu has been left behind. The company's IP focus gives it a solid foundation to rebuild on. 
MikeP688
50%
50%
MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/10/2014 | 11:38:45 PM
Re: Makes me think of
What is gratifying to see how cheerful and optimistic he is--but it seems to me as you noted that the train has left the station and ALU has been left in the midst.   
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/10/2014 | 4:07:02 PM
Makes me think of
Alcatel-Lucent's story makes me think of another struggling company: BlackBerry.

Alcatel-Lucent is succeeding by finding its strongest pillar -- IP networking -- and rebuilding the company on that foundation. 

What strong pillar does BlackBerry have? Does it even have one? Keyboard phones are a plus for many people, but is that enough to rebuild a whole company on?
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
5/9/2014 | 10:25:59 PM
Partnerships
Partnerships will help, but if ALU is intent on taking on the likes of Ericsson, the latter company is positioning competitively by both partnering AND acquiring. If ALU isn't going to sell the entire company, can it buy  to augment the areas it hasn't sold off already?
gronchi
50%
50%
gronchi,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/9/2014 | 7:13:49 AM
Re: About ALU CEO
You're right!

I always get lost between CEO/Chairman/President and so on...
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
5/9/2014 | 5:48:46 AM
Re: About ALU CEO
Tchuruk was chairman of ALcatel-Lucent, while Russo was CEO.
gronchi
50%
50%
gronchi,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/9/2014 | 5:45:09 AM
About ALU CEO
Just to be precise, Pat Russo was CEO together with Serge Tchuruk, French citizen, so M.Combes is not really the 1st one...

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serge_Tchuruk

BR,

G.

 
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/8/2014 | 5:15:07 PM
Re: A strong and competitive ALU is good...
I think the partnerships are key too. ALU said they are going to do 4 to 5 of those, so I'll be curious to hear what the next ones focus on and who they are with.
DHagar
50%
50%
DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/8/2014 | 4:38:37 PM
Alcatel-Lucent CEO: We Can Go It Alone
@Heraldsvik, it sounds as it ALU's success is a win-win for everyone. 

I like their recognition of the intersection of networks and IT as being a key to further success.  You are right, if they can now execute and bring to life their development capabilities and deliverables, they will continue to hold a strong position. 

I also think they might have a good strategy with building a multi-partner network, as opposed to just merging with a single player.  This might work.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
From The Founder
Either we perform a complete 'factory reset' on the way the telecom industry creates and deploys virtualization, or we face the consequences.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Infinera Introduces Instant Network

4|20|17   |     |   (1) comment


Mike Capuano, vice president of marketing at Infinera, discusses the advancement from Instant Bandwidth to new Instant Network capabilities, which include Bandwidth License Pools, Moveable Licenses and Automated Capacity Engineering (ACE).
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Vodafone's Eubank on Sponsors, Mentors & Moving On Up

4|19|17   |   4:25   |   (0) comments


Vodafone America's Head of Operations Kimberly Eubank breaks down the difference between a sponsor and a mentor and shares why both made a big difference in her career.
LRTV Custom TV
NYC Auto Show: Are We Smart Yet?

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


The auto industry is facing some big transformations as electric vehicles, autonomous technology and connected cars are seen as the future of the industry. During the much-anticipated NY international auto show, there was an emergence of new technology and mobility service on the show floor. Aside from performance, brands like Lincoln, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes and ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Impact of Video

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Mercer from Strategy Analytics discusses the impact of video on current strategies.
LRTV Custom TV
Pardeep Kohli Discusses Network Transformation & the Market Opportunity for the 'New' Mavenir Systems

4|13|17   |     |   (0) comments


In a brief discussion at MWC 2017, Heavy Reading analyst Adi Kishore talks to Pardeep Kohli, CEO, Mavenir Systems about the creation of the 'new Mavenir' and some of the key challenges facing operators in today's market. A key theme of the discussion centers around operator need for software-only, virtualized solutions and how they will need to adapt to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Tech Maverick Shares Her Tips for Gender Inclusivity

4|12|17   |   7:28   |   (0) comments


Wendy Hall Bohling, a corporate escapee, author and gender exclusivity consultant, tells her story of sexism, bias and progress along the road to gender equality in the workforce.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at MWC 2017

4|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress 2017, the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year, Huawei showcased its new innovations and solutions with the theme "Open Road," which focuses on cloud, 5G, operation transformation, videos and consumer-oriented products. Its campaign has been recognized by three awards given by GSMA.
LRTV Custom TV
China Telecom NFV Infrastructure on RSD

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Lynn Comp, senior director of market development of Intel, is joined by Chong Zhang, storage engineer at Inspur and Ou Li Yan, architect for technology strategies of China Telecom on what NFV brings.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's IMPACT Software Demo

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Khamis Abulgubein of IoT market development at Nokia demonstrates IMPACT (intelligent management platform for all connected things), a software solution with a horizontal approach to managing any device on any application.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia Introduces Virtual Service Router for More Rapid Service

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


James Cumming, product line manager for virtualized service routers at Nokia, demonstrates how the virtual router based off the Nokia ecosystem changes the network function experience.
LRTV Custom TV
The Keys to SD-WAN Success

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa Networks CEO Kelly Ahuja talks about the key requirements for service provider-managed SD-WANs.
LRTV Custom TV
Intel & Cisco on Joint 5G Solutions

4|5|17   |     |   (0) comments


Dave Ward, SVP and CTO of Cisco, is joined by Sandra Rivera, corporate VP and general manager of network platforms group of Intel, on the revolutionary 5G technology that changes networking and computing fundamentally.
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Brazos Hall - Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Time for a Telecom Reboot
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 4/19/2017
Comcast Ready for Clash With Hulu
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/18/2017
Unlicensed: It's What's Next for US Mobile Operators
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/19/2017
First Year TIPs the Scale Toward Success
Denise Culver, 4/24/2017
Pai Picks Up Deregulatory Pace
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 4/20/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
Now That's an Ad Campaign Click Here
Meerkats to the rescue!
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.