In the five years that this industry has been discussing Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), we’ve made some real progress. Network operators are implementing common product catalogs with reusable components and order orchestration - and that’s good for the industry and good for Concept Wave - but there’s still something missing. Operators are still selling services, just like public utilities do. There’s electric service, water service, trash service and communications service that are delivered the same way to everybody. But haven’t we been preaching that this industry doesn’t want to be a utility? That we don’t want to sell commoditized services? Then we shouldn’t - while we still have the choice.
Network operators aren’t going to be like supermarkets that sell flour, eggs and milk. No, they need to be like a bakery that takes those ingredients and creates all sorts of delectable goodies. Granted, a lot of customers will want the same chocolate chip cookies, but others will want a wedding cake that is a special combination of all the ingredients put together to meet a specific customer need. With a rapidly expanding list of product choices and more complexity in how they are assembled, most network users don’t want to do their own baking, they want the finished product. The right device with the right connectivity, the right applications and the right configurations that work, right out of the box.
It’s entirely reasonable to expect that the “On Demand” function from my cable provider should present me with a menu that includes Netflix or YouTube or the video of my daughter’s swim meet that I have in cloud storage somewhere. As a business customer I should be able to choose from a menu that includes SalesForce.com, storage, back-up, website maintenance and security in addition to connectivity for voice, VPNs and the internet. This is the chance for operators to get creative, become the target market and invest in defining the components and then creating and delivering the kinds of products that make sense.
There is a need for operators to develop a product mentality but they can’t stop there, it must be a solutions mentality. Sometimes the solution is connectivity, handsets and bandwidth but more often than not the solution will be a delectable combination of products for a one-of-a-kind experience.
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