Continuing the theme from last time, this is the challenge faced by service providers: how do they get access to the right technology? How do they find the non-legacy technology or the innovative solutions that have not yet become widely known?
This is an issue that concerns both the service provider looking to launch a new product or service and the vendor that wants to show it has the answer, but does not yet have the profile. In fact, what both parties need here is a type of brokering solution that can bring the disparate strands together.
Aside from the formal RFP process, service providers do have opportunities to find innovative products, but this is based on a willingness or desire to find such products. It also means that you are willing to take a risk and spend time and money looking for an alternative answer.
Lets face it, going to the magic quadrant to find new innovation is like advertising you are looking for a pig with lipstick - and then getting upset because you found what you were looking for. By the time you make it into that quadrant, and after meeting all of the criteria required, the chances of you being a debutant is slim.
Being a trusted partner in our sector, we were recently asked to help a local service provider find an appropriate technology. Since this was not in our space, searching the Internet yielded a lot of possibilities but gave little guidance on how to separate the good from the bad and the ugly. Great - now I have to swallow my own medicine. Of course, I should have done what I had suggested in my last blog, but that’s another story.
So off we went to the magic quadrant looking for the answer, and of course we found an answer, but I cannot help but think I really didn’t help my partner out because I took an easy route and got what I deserved. Since my last blog, we have discussed a more formal but innovative approach to finding the answer, and it is really about modifying the RFP process that I outlined in my previous post.
But this still begs the question: how does the company with the innovative solution know you are looking? I find the brokering procurement applications that are now starting to be used by procurement departments are actually not a bad idea and are a great way to connect, although vendors still need to spend a little time and money upfront.
The TM Forum is another approach, but TMF just hasn’t got it quite right yet. I don’t see service providers going to TMF and advertising or looking at members and their technology just yet. I would suggest to the TMF that this is something it should look at seriously. Sure, it holds Catalyst events at its events to enable vendors to showcase leading-edge solutions, but it could go much further still. Maybe a partnership model to setup such an environment is well worth the cost. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Finally, the idea of getting a trusted partner to help is also not a bad idea. After all, the trusted status did not come easily and you have obviously gotten good results from the partner in question.
One last word: while it is really great to have that trust and find potential answers, verification is a must in our industry - especially if you want to avoid all the charlatans that are an inevitable byproduct of an industry that is in constant change.