Managing the egos in the digital eco system

Straddling different industries as an analyst raises some fascinating anomalies. Telecoms, Networking, IT & Media are, like the US and the UK, often divided by a common language. Some interpretation is often required when talking about managed services, multi-channel, multi-screen, let alone Customer Experience.  And, each industry believes it holds the upper hand when it comes to the convergence of activities.

Listening to recent presentations from different quarters, I am also reminded that the emerging series of ‘eco systems’ also raises the issue of the heavy weights coming into the converged digital world along with their associated ‘size 9 egos’. Coming from a telecoms background, I am only too familiar with the accusations thrown at the telcos of being arrogant about adjacent markets. Cloud is the perfect example: the telecoms and networking industry keep telling us that cloud is nothing without the network. Well, to take a leaf from the politicians’ book, a little humility is required. Cloud is nothing without the virtualisation contributions of storage and processing,  let alone the ability of applications and content to render easily across the different networks, data centres and devices.  Arguably, the network is increasingly nothing without the wealth of apps, devices, sensors and computing power sitting in data centres around the globe. Hence, other industries, and indeed many within the telecoms industry, see the networking piece as the necessary evil that links the world together.

New egos are, of course, emerging with the breakdown of traditional markets. The OTT players are the obvious ones with their global reach and advertising, retail or disruptive business models. At the same time, other players from IT and broadcasting are also adjusting their positions to leverage the digital economy. Even traditional network equipment players are shifting focus and building network operation centres , orchestration tools and services  which will potentially bring them into conflict with the emerging telco position.

When analysing any aspect of the emerging digital world it is, to quote To Kill a Mocking Bird, necessary “to stand in the shoes” of the other party before being too judgemental. It means that not everyone can bring their ego to every situation.  From a telecoms perspective, this raises the issue of ‘wholesale’ and a new approach to channels. Priming every service to the customer in a consumer or business environment is not realistic. The customer will increasingly choose their preferred channel: larger MNCs will work with their preferred integrator (sometimes telcos), SMEs will often choose their favourite local, similarly sized, industry oriented partner and consumers will often lead with the core provider of their core entertainment element. This is not to say that telcos don’t have a major role behind the scenes. The linking of all of the supporting services, analysis of  activities, hosting of services in public and private clouds and overall management and orchestration of all of these moving parts, all represent  valuable contributions to emerging business models.

If a company is to be truly customer centric, then it must be prepared to bury its ego in its Go To Market strategy and work with partners to build the end user experience.

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