Want to know where the next wave of OSS/BSS innovation is coming from?

Everything you know right now, and all the knowledge you have collected over your career, is diminishing in relevance at an increasing rate.

For those of us who’ve been in this game for decades rather than years, a lot of the knowledge we accumulated during our “apprenticeship” years is losing its lustre. This is particularly true of technical knowledge as new waves of technology arrive like cloud-native development, generative AI, low-code applications, CI/CD pipelines, etc. It’s incumbent on us to be constantly refreshing our knowledge, but perhaps even more incumbent on us to be refreshing with the right elements of knowledge from the firehose of possibilities that are available to us.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m mentioning our apprenticeship years and knowledge decay? (It’s not just because I’m getting old and forgetful). I believe this knowledge decay will have a big say in where the next wave of innovation will come from. In our recent article, What does the future hold for telco? we mentioned the following:

Look to the East for the next wave of leadership: For the last few decades, Western telcos have been outsourcing their technology “apprenticeship” roles to countries in the East like India, Indonesia, Philippines, and others. This shift of where “hands-on” work is done has hollowed out a lot of the technical experiences and expertise within Western telcos. Network maintenance, solution development, operational responsibility and more have been outsourced. This hands-on involvement with and understanding of delivery has occurred within the context of modern technology (eg cloud, modern application development pipelines, etc), not an understanding of older technologies. When modern tech awareness is combined with the need to do more with less (eg compare Eastern telco ARPU with Western telco ARPU) and the deep-seated ambition harboured by many in developing countries, comes a likely wellspring of innovation, leadership and even novel telco business models (eg Rakuten Symphony, Reliance Jio, etc). Telcos and OSS/BSS vendors alike certainly could seek out, promote and even invest in the next wave rather than bemoan the skills shortage (in their Western network of contacts) and simply await disruption

That’s not to say all innovation will occur in Eastern countries. Not by any stretch. However the following key macro trends lead me to believe that innovators from the East are going to trigger greater proportions of disruption than ever before:

  • Western workforces are aging and hands-on “apprenticeship” knowledge is diminishing in relevance (ie past tech). As those apprentices from the 1990s and 2000s have risen into designer / leadership roles in their organisations, many have become more removed from the deep tech understanding that only comes from hands-on implementation
  • Eastern workforces are the “doing” engine for many Western telcos and therefore have a deeper understanding of how to leverage current tech and spot opportunities for next-gen tech
  • Needing to do more with less (eg lower ARPUs) inspires creativity and innovative approaches
  • The confidence and aspirations of these fast-developing regions are growing
  • The apprentices of the 2010s (in Eastern countries) have built up the necessary stockpiles of capital required to give enough confidence to make entrepreneurial leaps (by capital, I mean not just cash, but also skills, networks / connections, knowledge and other non-monetary forms of capital)

Having spent my apprenticeship years working for Western companies delivering to Eastern carriers, I straddled the cultural divide. Actually, it’s not a divide, just different ways of doing things. The tide has since switched directions since then and Eastern companies are increasingly delivering to Western Carriers.

We already know that Eastern services companies help to operate western networks today. I expect we’ll see an increasing number of Eastern product companies creating innovative solutions that will be taken up by Western carriers. I also expect we’ll increasingly see Western investors and channel partners buying into these Eastern product companies because of the value they’ll create too (I don’t just expect it, I’m already seeing it).

Just as I had to figure out the cultural aspects of a tidal flow of information-sharing from/with West to East in the 2000s, I expect that I and the telco world will increasingly need to adapt to the reverse flow. That is, info-sharing from/with East to West.

If you’re an investor / carrier in the West, or an innovative product company in the East, what are you putting in place to be ready for this wave of innovation? Are your cross-cultural contact networks sufficiently developed? Do you know how to do business between regions?

PS. As an aside, the diminishing value of knowledge mirrors the concept of data half-life or diminishing value of data. The diagram below, from a wonderful article from Nucleus Research, called Measuring the Half-Life of Data, indicates that the rate of decline in data value can be correlated to how it’s used, from tactical to strategic to operational.


If this article was helpful, subscribe to the Passionate About OSS Blog to get each new post sent directly to your inbox. 100% free of charge and free of spam.

Our Solutions


Most Recent Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.