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Telecommunication organizations and innovation

Telecom organizations should not look at change as a threat to the way they have always done business.

This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK.

“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat.”  

Interesting words. A related phrase is: “Problems are opportunities in disguise.” More often than not, these types of phrases are used to ease the pain of a significant “revolutionary change” in a person’s or an organization’s life. However, I firmly believe that innovation, or the embrace of change, should not be to ease the pain of a situation, but rather to avoid the pain of a “change” situation in the first place. 

New Leadership
If you take a look at the telecommunication organizations in the Inc. Magazine 500 for 2006, you will find a group of companies who have taken up the challenge to innovate and have been successful by focusing on that innovation. There are the typical small hardware manufacturers and VoIP implementers. However, most of these organizations have focused on particular areas of expertise or opportunity to put their organization in a particular target market niche that either larger telecommunications organizations do not want to participate in or are willing to pay others for those products or services. 

It is Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight…
In a recent article, Jeffrey Pfeffer observes that one of the most important aspects of successful companies is their leaderships’ ability to fight through adversity to develop a competitive advantage either in terms of a product or service, or in terms of price or cost advantage. These leaders fight through tough times and the obstacles that are placed in their way to develop, refine and implement new ideas. One of the great examples was of a telecom startup’s billing manager. To save on costs and to offer a variety of products that appealed to their customers, the billing manager learned more about the inner workings of their billing application. With this knowledge, the telecom was able to put together a unique offering at minimal cost. 

Used for Good, Not for Evil
This year, author and consultant Geoffrey Moore came out with a new book on how Darwin’s theories have more in common with corporate innovation than most people care to admit. Moore’s observations on where and when corporations should be using their scarce resources are a breath of fresh air. It is not an approach where companies stand on the works of their employees or improve simply to knock down a competitor. No, Moore states that companies should create “core innovation”. This innovation is defined as “innovation for differentiation.” It is amazing that this investment in time and effort should be allocated not to the detriment of the people who enable it (as might be implied by most people’s understanding of Darwin’s theories) or based on the whims of the Wall Street investment community’s interpretation of a business. Rather this investment should be made to make a firm, for lack of more elegant words, “better, faster, and stronger.”  

The Moral of the Story…
Telecom firms need to look at change not as threat to the way that they have always done business; they need to look at innovation as the way to keep doing business. In particular, the business intelligence organizations of the above-stated telecommunications firms need to embrace innovation and bring new wrinkles to the company. The business intelligence organizations have the tools and the information to produce the type of change that Moore speaks of. They just need to embrace the challenges overcoming the obstacles to bring that change to reality. Whether it be extensions of existing applications to produce results, such as the example of the billing manager from one of their smaller brethren, or entirely new applications that impact revenue or costs. Telecommunications business intelligence organizations are poised to raise the ranking of their company higher. Whether that be Inc’s 500 or Fortune’s 500. 

Monthly Notes:
Unofficial Book of the Month Innovation by Curtis Carlson and William Wilmot is a book on innovation from one of the organizations that has brought innovation to the masses, SRI International. The particular aspect of this book that I enjoy/appreciate it that hard work and discipline are highlighted. Not every “business book” author points out that failure is a part of their “self-help” process. 

Interesting MBA Legal Observation of the Month – Recently, a hacker who exposed the information of 400 T-Mobile customers, including a Secret Service agent, received a $10,000 fine and home detention. Amazing that this breach of security earned the hacker “only” a meager fine. If this is the type of penalty that hackers and information “pirates” can expect, then it is no wonder that the number of stories of missing laptops, hacked databases, etc. will only increase… 

Highlighted EventThe Gartner Business Process Management Summit, February 26-28, 2007, in San Diego, CA, will address the challenges of bringing cross functional/department/discipline processes under control and improving them to find innovations that create competitive advantage.


John Myers

John has more than 10 years of information technology and consulting experience in positions including business intelligence subject-matter expert, technical architect and systems integrator. Over the past eight years, he has gained a wealth of business and information technology consulting experience in the telecommunications industry. John specializes in business intelligence/data warehousing and systems integration solutions. John may be contacted by email at

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