Can Pigs Fly? I don’t want to offend anyone, but I am just using a common idiom to make a point…
Last month, I took part in TADSummit 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal. TADSummit is an intimate conference which brings together small innovative developers like Fone.Do together with Big Telco and their suppliers. Among the 250 attendees, there were big guys like Telenor, Orange, T-Mobile, Cisco, Oracle and Huawei, rising stars such as Nexmo and Kandy mixing with relative small outfits such as Apidaze, Telestax, Zen.ly, Vivaction and others (just to mention a few!).
Towards the end Alan Quayle the conference organizer, led a panel and announced the TADS Mentor initiative. The mentoring program will assist innovative startups with technical and business mentorship. Werner Eriksen of Telenor Digital, who was sitting in the audience, pointed the discussion in a new direction when he suggested that maybe it is the Telcos who need a mentoring program! Sad that it may be, I must say that there is something to that statement. While Werner’s company, Telenor is probably one of the most innovative Telcos, most of their innovation is shunted off to a small group that it is kept at arms length from the mother ship.
At other companies the situation is even worse. So while people like Werner, Sebastian Schumann of T-Mobile, Fernando Mendioroz of Digicel, among others are doing great work – in most their work stays in the PoC stage.
Same story for many of the other Big Telcos. Features like MultiRing (one number on multiple devices) are considered new, innovative products. Now, lets take a look at the Internet, see how it has changed tremendously in the last decade, while Telecom has stagnated. With new technologies like WebRTC, ubiquitous bandwidth, abundant APIS and smart mobile devices, so much more can be done.!
CEOs of the Big Telcos need to turn innovation into their personal mission. The technology is there, as is the need. Those who do not heed the call for change, will be left being that term that they all abhor – Dumb Pipes!
So, while it may be true that Pigs can not fly – Telcos can! But it is up to their captains to take control. Will they?