Scarce Resources

Customers are the centre of the universe
Anne Mulcahy

What are the resources that stop a company from growing?
Capital? Yes, companies are measured on KPIs like Return on Equity and other accounting terms.
Skilled resources? Yes, each OSS vendor’s solution is so unique that there is a dearth of resources able to be highly productive for them, even if there are many other OSS experts out there will experience in other products.

But these are not the ultimate reason why companies are unable to grow. The real reason is customers. With paying customers it is possible to get capital or to generate skilled resources. Customers are a scarce and finite resource in every industry, no matter how large the customer pool is.

This is even more prevalent in the OSS industry. Traditionally there are only a handful of CSPs in any country that are interested in using OSS tools, although deregulation of telecommunications has opened up this market somewhat.

Most CSPs already have tools for managing their network, even if those tools are simply spreadsheets or network diagrams. OSS vendors are constantly seeking churn of these customers over to their solution. This is a tough ask for OSS Account Executives because OSS solutions tend to be very sticky (ie a customer retains them for long periods).

But four things spring to mind as pathways to additional customers:

  • OSS inventory tools are simply the management of nodes and arcs (ie network devices and circuits in telco speak). Other forms of networks such as electricity grids, water/sewerage systems, even social networks also consist of nodes and arcs. So rather than designing a system that’s exclusive to telco, is it possible to make a boilerplate system (where field names can be easily modified) that allows a broader customer base to be targetted
  • Alarm and performance management tools are simply high volume data crunching and pattern visualisation/recognition. Does this make the tools suitable for broadening capabilities to suit other industries with high data volumes (eg finance, healthcare, utilities)
  • Service management tools are high transaction workflow engines with order entry and customer relationship management. There are many retail industries that need these functionalities
  • Rather than building a specialist telco tool, should products be built from the ground up by breaking concepts down to lowest common denominators (eg nodes and arcs), then allowing templates/frameworks to be built on top of them to meet specialist needs? For example, build a node/arc engine with APIs that allow OSS integrators to construct specialist telco tools on top of

Are there others that are overlooked from the list above?

Should a company stick to the industry/ies they specialise in and have demonstrable expertise in?

On a slightly separate note, are Big Data tools an example of an engine upon which an innovative new OSS could be built?

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