ConceptWave is now part of Ericsson and while the acquisition may not have been a surprise, it is certainly a change. Becoming a small part of a large organization is daunting, and takes some getting used to. But we’ve been together since September and as we work to define the identity of this new venture, it’s important not to forget about our customers or the need for continuous product innovation. Operators that implement ConceptWave solutions believe our small company can innovatively solve serious order management problems by implementing a catalog-driven approach that focuses on customers. And it is our intention to maintain that approach and continue to innovate for our customers. Ericsson recognizes the special relationship we have with our customers and has every intention of maintaining the “small company” feel of a ConceptWave relationship.
It is important to recognize that investing in the acquisition of technology assets is not the same as investing in the actual asset. Small companies are successful because all their investment goes toward solving problems in new and innovative ways. It’s what is exciting about start-ups and seeing those ideas work is what is fun about bringing those new solutions to market is. But where start-ups are typically concerned with solving a single functional challenge, solution providers like Ericsson must take a larger view. Integration platforms, interoperability, data management, agile software development methodologies, version control and maintenance are just a few of the challenges facing large OSS/BSS solution providers. So the question becomes how best to balance the strategic customer demands of a platform provider with the tactical customer demands of an OSS/BSS component supplier? Software developers typically dread big companies because the need to commoditize software products results in an abundance of process improvements, metrics, methodologies, and oversight that small development groups don’t typically have to contend with. While some amount of process structure is valuable and even welcome, administrative burdens and oversight can quickly suffocate innovation.
As Ericsson continues to emphasize operations and OSS/BSS in its strategic plans, the need to innovate becomes even more apparent. Becoming the single source for OSS/BSS is a large undertaking and cannot be successful without increased investment in the development of new or optimized functionality. That means small, agile development groups that understand the big picture but are free to innovate within their areas of specialization. There is however, a requirement for added oversight to ensure that all the elements of the product portfolio are interoperable and aligned to the same strategic roadmap. Prior to the acquisition, ConceptWave maintained partnerships with both Ericsson and Telcordia so most of that integration is done which means that new development will not be delayed or deferred by integration efforts and there are no major changes to the individual product roadmaps.
It’s Still Personal
Probably the biggest single advantage that a small business of any type has is its customer relationships. These relationships are strong, supportive and personal. We know their names, how many children they have, where they used to work, and how they like their steak cooked. We also know what keeps them up at night, what business problems are causing the most pain, and the kind of pressure they are under to solve those problems. We understand the business, the processes, and the technology. We listen; we share stories of product successes and failures and make it clear that we will solve their immediate problems while keeping the big picture in mind. We may not have all the answers but we can help find them. We aren’t selling products so much as we are selling ideas and solutions that make the most sense for each individual operator. Size and scale are important to show our customers that our products will meet their needs now and in the future. But it’s also important that our customers and partners know that we are still here and intend to maintain those relationships.
The leadership at ConceptWave and the leadership at Ericsson are working on how to encapsulate the best aspects of both companies – freedom to innovate and close customer relationships – within a large company framework for scale. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.