What if your career in telco were to end tomorrow?

Are you a dyed-in-the-wool telco person? Has your whole career, or a majority of it, been built around the telco industry?

If your career in telco were to cease tomorrow, what would you do next? 

As we mentioned in our previous article on “Burning Platforms”, the black curve of the traditional telco business is trending towards an asymptote (see the black curve in the diagram below). But today’s post looks at the future of telco even closer to home – not the industry and its organisations, but the careers of all of us people in telco.

S-curve image courtesy of strategictoolkits.com

Telco networks are still vitally important, but the profit engine of traditional telco is expiring. With it goes innovation, projects, jobs. All of those things are facilitated by profitability. Many telcos in developed nations have long since moved into a financial engineering, asset selling and incremental innovation phase. Those aren’t indicators of rapid improvement on an S curve. They’re indicators of an asymptote.

Alternatively, what if there were a doomsday event that disrupts the market, slashing the relevance of traditional telco models and/or networks? 

Or what if you work for a supplier that is heavily dependent on telcos (or your role at the supplier is dependent on telco)? What if your telco customers’ access to capital dries up after they embark on massive 5G roll-outs, re-tooling and re-skilling that doesn’t bear fruit? Does that impact your employer’s revenues and the viability of your roles / projects?

If you’re a battle-worn telco person, where do you go next? What’s your red curve? What skills, assets, connections, etc will carry you into the red curve? Don’t have a red curve? Are you already on the lookout to find one?

I’ve seen many telco experts transition to roles with hyperscalers recently. They’ve sought out their red curve by investing in cloud awareness / skills and making the leap to telco cloud.

But cloud is far from being the only red curve candidate. Telco has precipitated a Cambrian explosion of red curves over many decades, yet hasn’t really been able to find its own of late.

Cloud is telco’s Kodak moment. As George Glass mentioned in his podcast with us, he was able to spot the opportunity of cloud at BT around the turn of the century, but the hyperscalers have usurped the telcos with that business / technology model.

The internet red curve was facilitated by telco and partly leveraged (via Internet connectivity), yet other opportunities were missed. Many telcos are now trying to transform their DNA to software but aren’t really proving to be as good at it as other software-first organisations (possibly for reasons mentioned in Bert Hubert’s video cited in the Burning Platform post).

There are many better red curve candidates in my opinion, ones that are better suited to the many strengths that telcos still retain.

But my red curve/s, the ones I’ve been investing in over the last few years, aren’t the same as yours. You have different strengths, skills, connections and capabilities. The question remains, “what would you do next if your telco career were to cease tomorrow?”

Just as suggested in burning platform post that Telco needs to quest to find its red curve/s, so do us telco/OSS/BSS experts need to form our jumping off points. The burning platform is as much for us as it is for the Telco industry.

Take a look at the second video in the Burning Platforms post. It provides some great suggestions about embarking on a pioneering quest to help find your red curve/s.

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