There is a tendency in our industry, as in others, to become disconnected – and not just by the network. Vendors and operators are historically carrying on two monologues at the same time, and there is a gap between the things on the vendors’ agenda and those on operators’. It is no great surprise, a vendor’s job, or part of it, is to watch the market, follow the trends and try and sell operators tomorrow’s Next Big Thing. It was true of issues such as real time and IMS and now M2M.
IMS was a classic example. A few years ago it was the Next Huge Thing, talked about at endless conferences, against a backdrop of miles of PowerPoint slides. At the time, I decided to see whether IMS was on the operators’ agenda. During the survey of about 50 operators I found that IMS was generally on a strategic plan for the next two years, but no one seemed to know why. The level of understanding of what problem IMS solved was extremely low. M2M is another example. While on everyone’s road map, the level of immediate investment in systems that can manage this new business is something that many operators will be thinking about at some point in the future, but most seem not to be thinking about it now.
That said, there are areas where is a great synergy between operators and vendors, particularly in the area of Managed Services. Carrying out some research into operators’ attitudes about Managed Services revealed that the new version of Managed Services is fostering a new trust and partnership between the two parties. The ground rules have completely changed and while cost efficiency is a key driver for choosing the outsourcing route, the ingredients for a successful relationship have changed and are now underpinned by trust and a relationship in which the vendor is a problem solving partner, not an arms-length ‘vendor’.
Whether this change is because operators are catching up with vendors’ thinking is not clear. What is clear is that there is a new impetus in the operator community. This was demonstrated by a recent presentation by an operator who said that he was implementing real-time charging for his post-paid customers. Post-paid billing, he said, was dead.
The question is: Is there still a basic lack of understanding between operators and vendors or is the gap closing? Join the discussion here….