& cplSiteName &

Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto

Ray Le Maistre
1/19/2011
50%
50%

What are the biggest challenges facing traditional communications service providers today?

Well, they need to:

  • find new ways to grow revenues, by developing and successfully selling new services and products;
  • cut costs;
  • develop and offer new services to market quickly (so, MUCH quicker than they're capable of right now); and
  • come to terms with the fact they're no longer the only source of real-time, multimedia communications.

A tough list. And while new technology can help service providers meet some of these challenges, it's only a small, though very important, piece of the pie.

The biggest piece of the pie, and the one that's going to be the hardest to swallow, is organizational, and relates to the operators' main asset -- their staff.

Historically (and currently, in most instances), service providers have organized themselves into teams that, while (supposedly) pulling in the same direction to the overall benefit of the company, have operated within their own confines -- in silos -- with very little, if any, interaction (even when it made sense).

Now, if those service providers that have relied on mass-market voice and enterprise connectivity for their revenues stand any chance of survival and becoming true next-generation service providers that can compete with the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google, that needs to change.

Here at Light Reading, we believe that service providers need to make a fundamental change to the way they're organized if they have aspirations to be more than just utility bit pipes -- they need to bring their networks and IT teams together as a single, integrated unit. This process -- the integration of these related but disparate teams -- is something we're calling Bridging the Chasm. That's because the divide between the two teams currently is wide and it's going to take a lot of hard work, organizational skills and sheer bloody-mindedness to bring them together.

It's a tough task but it's essential.

More than ever before, the networks and IT teams need each other. For almost the first time they need many of the same skills, need to be able to understand the same technical languages, and be able to communicate with each other. Communications service providers need to adapt to an IP-centric world where delivering a great customer experience from the moment a customer makes initial contact and then throughout their engagement (whether that's for one minute or 30 years) is absolutely critical. And that can't be achieved to scale and in real time unless there is true coordination and understanding between what are currently separate teams.

That applies equally to the challenge of developing relevant new services and products that people will want to buy. It's universally acknowledged that service providers need to work with third-party applications developers, and Heavy Reading research has shown that most operators recognize this as an essential relationship to build. But enabling that relationship means the operators need to create an automated process, involving networks assets and back-office software (billing, subscriber data management, provisioning and so on), that enables the developers to build, test and deliver the new applications. That can't be achieved in any meaningful, productive and profitable way in an environment where phrases such as "that's the billing team's problem" or "that's nothing to do with us -- it's a network issue" are commonplace.

Closely linked to this need to bring the two teams together is the increasing reliance by network operators on their Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) assets, something we highlighted in 2010, starting in February when we published The SPIT Manifesto. Essentially, communications service providers are increasingly reliant on their SPIT assets to remain competitive and enable their transformation from legacy carrier to next-generation service provider, and now they need to bring the networks and IT teams together so they can best utilize the capabilities inherent in those assets. The IT team alone can't deliver the required transformation on its own, and neither can the networks team.

Some operators have already taken some of the first steps towards Bridging the Chasm. One such step is to put a single executive in charge of networks and IT -- in other words, to have a joint CTO/CIO. UK operator BT Group took this step in mid-2009 when its then CTO Matt Bross left the company and his responsibilities were handed on to the then CIO Al-Noor Ramji. These days, Clive Selley is the executive in BT's Bridging the Chasm hotseat.

One operator has even managed to bridge the chasm from day one, and never have disparate network and IT teams. Nucleus Connect, the operator that's running Singapore's next-generation national broadband network, has had a combined team from day one. The company, though, was only formed in the first half of 2009, so it avoided any legacy issues, and is relatively small. However, the management team had the foresight to build a single technology team, and it has paid off, according to CEO David Storrie, who says the networks and IT folk hired to work together at Nucleus Connect have been learning from each other and identifying new ways of doing things more efficiently.

Storrie's story (if you'll pardon the phrase) will be the exception, of course. For most operators, Bridging the Chasm will be a Herculean operational challenge, but one that, we believe, they will have to undertake in one form or another. Some may opt to outsource the running of all network and IT systems to a third party, though that would be a move equally fraught with difficulties.

We expect, therefore, to see more and more operators take initial steps along the same lines as BT and gradually transform the way they run the very heart of their business operations. And we intend to track and monitor those strategies, plans and projects, and talk to the relevant people along the way about their goals, challenges, gains and failures. We think there will be plenty of each.

This is a transformation that will take years, and one that will involve a great deal of learning and sharing amongst the carrier community. We aim to be a part of that sharing and learning experience. That's why today is Day 1 of Light Reading's Bridging the Chasm editorial campaign, and we're opening with a message to communications service providers around the world: You need to do this -- let Light Reading's campaign, with its aim of sharing experiences and raising awareness, be a part of your process.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Grenot
50%
50%
Grenot,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:06 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


Dear Ray,


Thanks for taking the initiative, as you did with SPIT a year ago. Simple maths:

<ol>
<li>To grow their revenues, service providers need to bring more value (simplistic...).</li>
<li>The ones who pay at the end are the users&nbsp;</li>
<li>User-centric values come from&nbsp;applications (Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Salesforce, public and private clouds hosted data apps, voice, visioconf...).</li>
</ol>

1+2+3 --&gt; Network service providers&nbsp;might only fight the race to the bottom if they link their network services to application services, which can only be done if IT and network team act as one. Or not, if not.


From an other standpoint, the fast rise of cloud-based IT might either be a big threat (will Internet take all at the end?) or a wonderful opportunity&nbsp;for service providers that will be&nbsp;able to closely link datacenters and application flexible provisioning with network behavior to guarantee performance from end (server) to end (desktop). Again a strategic choice to be decided, that implies imbrication of IT and network&nbsp;organizations&nbsp;- or not.


There are so many topics linked to the Chiasm... that it's better to stop here for today&nbsp;and&nbsp;have a last Talisker :-)&nbsp; - Kind regards. Thierry Grenot, CTO @ Ipanema Technologies

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:05 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


But have we got it all wrong on services?


A reader pointed out (via email) that, when it comes to cloud services and other IP-based offerings, "there are the kind of things that I buy that I might be happy to get from a service provider but I don&rsquo;t really see any advantage at the moment in it."


Interesting, eh? This transformation might not make&nbsp;a difference at all if service providers can't win over customers who have already been trained to rely on innovators like Amazon, Google, and Apple.

digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:04 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


Are you suggesting that "customer experience" is important?


This could be revolutionary....someone tell AT&amp;T! &nbsp;:-)

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:04 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


The marriage of low latency broadband w/ apps and services could indeed make a difference.


At home, it's odd that I'd sooner buy a basket of&nbsp;cloud apps -- calendering sync, email, storage, photo sharing -- from a hardware vendor (Apple) instead of my broadband AND mobile service provider (AT&amp;T).


Why?


Apple offers them in a simple, integrated way. AT&amp;T? I dunno.


&nbsp;

digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:04 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


Phil


I think the key few words in that reader response are "at the moment"...


Telcos need to be decisive -- make key decisions about what they want to be and how they are going to operate -- and act fast. Some have/are, others aren't/haven't.


Re the cloud -- I think it will be key to see what happens once FTTH, LTE, and Docsis 3.0 access services are more prevalent. If service providers can marry up low latency broadband access with SECURE connections to cloud resources, then they have a chance.


Thierry - thanks as always for your comments. Always much appreciated!


&nbsp;


&nbsp;

Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Deepfield's Craig Labovitz

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Shades of Ray
    Leading Lights 2016: Shortlists Announced

    4|20|16   |   0:53   |   (0) comments


    The judging is over and the Leading Lights 2016 shortlists have been published -- you can see who made the cut by clicking on this link.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Introducing MulteFire – Qualcomm at MWC 2016

    4|18|16   |   3.29   |   (0) comments


    MulteFire is the latest option for using LTE in unlicensed spectrum. As oppose to its close 'siblings', LAA and LTE-U, MulteFire operates solely in unlicensed spectrum, which enables it to offer the best of two worlds – LTE-like performance with WiFi-like deployment simplicity. In this interview, Sanjeev Athalye, Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm ...
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Grant Van Rooyen of Cologix

    4|18|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    ONS 2016 – Demonstration of Huawei's NetMatrix Multi-Vendor SDN Orchestrator

    4|15|16   |     |   (0) comments


    This demonstration shows how Huawei's NetMatrix SDN Orchestrator (SDN-O) addresses an operator's core service agility needs for services spanning multi-domain, multivendor networks: it includes a demonstration of:
    - Rapid New Service Design: using YANG to model a complex example of multi-domain, multivendor L3VPN network connectivity service that ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    AT&T Wants to Own North Carolina

    4|15|16   |     |   (1) comment


    Venessa Harrison, president of North Carolina for AT&T, tells how the company will expand its GigaPower service beyond the seven N.C. cities it already serves.

  • This blog, sponsored by AT&T, is the second part of a ten-part series examining next-generation broadband technologies titled "Behind the Speeds."
  • Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 4/29/2016
    Mitel Asks: What Time of Day Do You Shower?
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/25/2016
    GoT Fans Curse HBO (Not Right) Now
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2016
    FCC Poised to Re-Regulate Wholesale Access
    Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/28/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.