& 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
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
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
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
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
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
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

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.