Women In Comms

The Collaboration Imperative

There is a word that keeps popping up in any comms-related discussion I've had lately (and no it's not SDN, NFV or big data, although they won't stop popping up either). It's collaboration.

When it comes to the skills that are needed to navigate the move to virtualization, cloud and software-defined networks, collaboration is at the top of the list. This skill -- the ability to effectively communicate and work well with others, often across silos -- is more important than any technical talent, it would seem.

Collaboration can come in many forms too: To break down organizational silos, which is necessary for any company that wants a complete view of the customer experience, collaboration must take place. To take advantage of big data analytics, networks teams must collaborate with marketing folks. To drive innovation within a legacy carrier, collaborate with a startup. To truly understand what a customer wants... collaborate with the customer!

You get the point. Collaboration is more important than ever. (See Women in Telecom: Collaboration Critical to New IP.)

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s President of Partner Solutions Brooks McCorcle reaffirmed this on a recent radio show on The New IP, noting that working with agile technology requires looking at the world in a new way. It requires an open culture and a willingness to operate differently. (See The Winds of Change and AT&T Takes 'Startup Mentality' to Wholesale.)

"A culture based on true collaboration looks different from old hierarchies of the past," she said on the show. "In our business, it's all about collaboration. There is no one here at AT&T that can do anything by him or herself. It's totally collaborative."

AT&T's Brooks McCorcle will be a keynote speaker at Light Reading's upcoming Women in Comms breakfast in Dallas ahead of the NFV Everywhere show on September 16. If you're a woman in the industry, please join us by registering here!

So how can wireless operators create this culture of collaboration? Locking engineers in a room with coders, marketing folks and HR probably isn't a good idea. Employees can typically see through forced or fake attempts at culture.

McCorcle suggests it's about empowering employees to make decisions, even if they end up being the wrong decisions, which can be quickly moved on from. She says it also takes providing resources to stay current with the skills needed to adapt to technology changes, even if that means "reskilling" employee talents. (See New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide.)

I would add that it also requires having a diversity of people with a diversity of viewpoints involved in every discussion. That includes women, who often excel at collaboration, and those with different backgrounds, both professional and personal. (See Women in Tech: People Skills Trump Tech Skills .)

All those intangibles like adaptability, communication skills, problem solving and, again, collaboration, are just as important -- if not more so -- as technical know-how in the communications industry today.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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