Why New Ideas are Critical to Surviving in the Telecoms Carrier Business

January 7, 2015 Christian Michaud

For decades, wholesale telecoms carriers have been happy to harvest revenue from a similar set of services without thinking beyond their core businesses. This mind-set doesn’t work anymore.

We all know the market is changing. The lines between telecoms sectors are blurring everyday. Over-the-top applications, search engines, device manufacturers, Big Data analytics businesses and a whole range of players are now potential competitors. They are competing not only with us in the carrier space but also with each other.

These new players are more agile and can react quickly using the latest technologies. This situation has resulted in declining margins for the wholesale telecoms carriers but instead of seeing this situation as a threat, we need to see it as a new opportunity.

While it is important to deliver our quarterly results, I believe it is even more important to focus on shaping the future of our businesses with innovation. Innovation to me is a change of mind-set that both nurtures and delivers new ideas and ways of doing business. It is a new culture that brings people and processes together. Innovation comes in different shapes and colors, but it all boils down to changing the game, whether marginally or radically.

I agree that this is not easy to implement and can even be scary!

Here are five ways we can embrace innovation in our businesses:

1. Engage in a Culture Change: Get out of your comfort zone. Come up with ideas and experiment them fast. You may fail. Don’t be afraid of it! This is part of the whole process. In fact, I suggest you celebrate failures…and quickly start over. This will help you keep the motivation to adapt your products and services faster and in line with your customers’ needs.

2. Establish a Partnership Model: Innovation does not happen in isolation. You must leverage stakeholders, expertise and partnerships. It is critical to develop the right mind-set and give innovators a setting where they feel they can share their ideas and bring them to life.

3. Bring Money to the Table: Funding must be available for new projects and developing new ideas. This doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money but you must be prepared to invest in brainstorming and in experimentation, even without developing a thick business plan.

4. Be Patient…Even in Emergency: Once you’re convinced that you found THE idea that is worth the investment: give it a chance, especially when you reach theGarner’s phase of Disillusionment. Keep focus and results will follow.

5. Give Your Team Tools: Innovation can be Bring in experts in lean processes. Buy books like The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Look for tips aligned with you strategy and prepare for transformation. You will ultimately come back to Point 1: Engage in a Culture Change!

Innovation should be part of all aspects of our day-to-day activities and cut across the organization. I encourage all of us in the wholesale telecoms market to focus on innovation as it will benefit the industry as a whole and show new ways forward for competitors as well as partners.

I will be sharing additional thoughts on innovation over the coming months and, as always, encourage your thoughts and feedback.

About the Author

Senior VP, Product & Business Strategy at Tata Communications

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