Where does Sam Walton think OSS customers are going to be?

Don’t build where they are. Build where they’re going to be.”
Sam Walton

Sounds like a persuasive argument and not dissimilar to Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote about skating to where the ice hockey puck is going to be. Sam Walton had plenty of proof to back up this claim (as did Gretzky). Walton was after all one of the most successful retailers of the 20th century. A friend of mine used the same model in his family’s hardware business, expanding a net worth by many millions of dollars along the way. Many years ago I wondered why he was opening a new store in the middle of nowhere. Little did I know that his family owned hundreds of hectares in that “middle of nowhere” and the last few decades have seen suburbia rapidly expanding around him, with the hardware store in the centre.

Where are “they” going to be in OSS?

Well, I see OSS breaking into three main classes:

  1. Telcos as utilities (Traditional CSP) – providers of telecommunications pipes – speeds and feeds – that will not look too different to the telco of today. Big physical networks, which require lots of cash to expand, maintain and upgrade, but bring in lots of cash (albeit with commoditising and/or regulated pricing). Basically a telco as a REIT. I don’t see the core OSS changing too much for this type of service provider. Maybe the field workforce will get more mobile and become less dependent on A0 print-outs. Maybe they’ll get augmented reality apps to provide decision assistance. Maybe they’ll get machine-assisted design, augmentation and routine maintenance capabilities. But the core geospatially-located outside plant networks and associated assets will still be managed in GIS-like environments
  2. Telcos as OTT players (next-gen DSP) – providers of content and managed services, based on virtualised networks and the associated automations that allow the expanding device/service volume to be managed efficiently. These will be more transient by nature – services, contracts, capacity, etc. will be spun up and torn down at will, requiring rapid flexibility to respond to market needs far more quickly than the current OSS. They need to provide the ecosystems for content, applications and interfaces (and ledgers / blockchains??) that allow for crowd-contribution to the needs of their vast number of subscribers
  3. Enterprise as e-businesses – the dependence on comms networks will amplify the need for the growing e-business class to get far more sophisticated in the management of their e-assets. Whether that is managing their own virtual networks, IT services, public clouds, private clouds, etc, there is a need for more self-service OSS-style toolsets. These will be simpler by design and a mandatory requirement will be that they won’t need armies of engineers to keep them running. These enterprise models exist today, primarily for the large organisations that can afford the spend but there’s a new niche opening up for taking OSS to the masses

This provides a bit of a hint as to where “they” will be. Where will you be?
Do you agree with where I think they’ll be?

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2 Responses

  1. Funny, I wrote a very similar slide for a discussion piece about telco of the future. Spot on!

  2. Nice one Pete! You might be interested in the relevance of tomorrow’s blog to the digital service provider model. 😉

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