Software-Driven Ecosystems

At best, it turned into a set of distractions that tried to support higher stock prices—before Wall Street saw through them.

So, senior management doesn’t have the needed expertise to correctly respond to the softwarization wave. The people they turn to not only don’t have it, they act as blockers. The few articulate people that understand the problem are just beginning to find each other. 

Making Required Changes

With this background, it becomes clear that the telecommunications industry has to, as the adage goes, ‘pull itself up by its bootstraps.’ That is, although a few thought leaders recognize both the problem and have the expertise needed to solve it, the industry as a whole has both leadership and support staff that tend to be struggling with softwarization.

Some years ago, many senior telecommunications executives and board members started visiting Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other digitally native companies to learn how they did things. They then returned to their organizations and tried to preach the Silicon Valley mantra. Unfortunately, the telecommunications industry is fundamentally different from the web industry. Though the web and telecommunications may have some similarities, there are key structural differences.

In the end, this initiative didn’t work. At best, it turned into a set of distractions that tried to support higher stock prices—before Wall Street saw through them.

Making this kind of fundamental change is not easy. It will probably require efforts coming from several directions. Leadership from the top by leading telecommunications companies is important. Involving CEOs with the right understanding and background is key. Support for involved CEOs from at least one of their board members—with the right understanding and background—is also important.

Where will these people come from? There are many potential sources, including people with enterprise IT or ICT experience; financial systems development, deployment, or maintenance experience; or some of the people who have been already trying to act as thought leaders. This effort may mean bringing in new leadership blood.  At least one company has already started this process.

But senior leadership is not enough. There have to be people at the working level to make change work. Finding and supporting the few internal staff members who have been working without much support up until now is important. At the same time, it is important to recognize that when you first reach out to them, they may be very frustrated.

Another key vector that can help are the outside forces such technical and business consultants and Wall Street analysts. Here again, there are likely to be only a few thought leaders at this point.

Finally, informal communication between these different people may help give them the reinforcing feedback necessary for the confidence and stick-to-it-ive-ness required. 

Achieving a Software-Driven Ecosystem

A friend of mine says that no one really likes change, and that if someone tells you that they like change, what they really mean is that they like watching other people change. They don’t actually want to change themselves.

It is important to recognize that the changes required are not easy. But current industry conditions make it both necessary and possible to achieve a software-driven ecosystem that will propel the telecommunications industry to another generation of success. 


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