Cut Products, Add People, Incubate

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Digital Disruption 2013 – Create innovation incubators, hire folks with new skill sets, and don't be afraid to jettison large parts of your product portfolio. That was some of the free advice offered by two men who normally get big bucks for helping big telecom companies and others become more agile.

In their keynote panel at Digital Disruption today, David A Pleasance, a partner in Deloitte Consulting, and Duarte Begonha, expert partner in the Business Technology Office of McKinsey & Co., also stressed the many pitfalls that telecom operators face in the digital era, starting with the ability to drive a strategy throughout a very large organization -- something both said was a must.

"This is not an IT operations thing, this is a company thing," Begonha said. Companies have to look carefully at the skill sets of current employees and be willing to bring in new blood, he added, to get the full company support.

Pleasance reminded the crowd that a critical part of transforming a company is carefully calibrating how the process will be "digested" by the organization, because without that, all the details around what needs to change and how it needs to change are for naught.

Neither speaker seemed enamored of what Pleasance called "big bang" transformation projects.

But Begonha said he's also worried by a more recent trend of moving forward with a single vendor, using an integrated approach, because in the near term it's easier and more expedient. Single-vendor approaches may get companies over the hump initially but will prevent agility in the long run, he warns. The better approach is to move to open systems and develop a strong internal enterprise IT organization, to create a wider range of options for the future.

Smart telecom operators are willing to look at portfolios of hundreds of products and cut those by 60 percent or more, as well as eliminating minor variations in products to enable more streamlined operations and running on leaner support systems that leverage open computing systems, Begonha said. That can mean a short-term revenue dip, "but you have to believe the strategy will work, which takes strong leadership."

The ability to build partnerships with innovators or to create an innovation incubator were two other ideas brought forth -- not new ones, to be sure. But the key to partnerships, Pleasance said, is being able to share the revenue and not insisting on always getting the larger share.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

TeleWRTRLiz 10/29/2013 | 7:58:19 PM
Re: Innovation incubator? Really smart rats in really complex mazes....
albreznick 10/29/2013 | 7:44:19 PM
Innovation incubator? I love that term, Carol. But what they exactly? Did the speakers describe what happens inside these incubators? I get this image of rats running thru different types of mazes, for some reason. 
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