Fred Briggs: MCI's CTO shifts the company's playing field |  Networking

THE FACT THAT MCI WorldCom's outspoken CEO Bernie Ebbers last month railed against the use of the word "telecom" to describe his company has enormous implications for CTO Fred Briggs.

It is Briggs who must drive the company's future product and service development, which will stand behind Ebbers' vision for taking MCI WorldCom far from its roots as a long-distance phone company.

Ebbers let it be known last month that he has in mind a plan to transform the company into a one-stop provider enterprise, one that dot-com customers can use to meet virtually all communications and ecommerce needs. So dramatic is that announced transformation that Ebbers has even suggested banishing the use of the "MCI" label strictly to the company's separate long-distance voice efforts.

The details of what to call and how to define MCI WorldCom point to the challenges facing Briggs, who has worked extensively with Ebbers and other key executives in shaping the company's makeover.

Specifically, Briggs has already had to steer the technology solutions behind the new MCI WorldCom advertising blitz that attempts to capsulize Ebbers' ideas -- a marketing campaign centered on the phrase "generation d." Because the "d" stands for "digital," the slogan is an attempt to designate the company as a staunch player in the digital marketplace.

Briggs talked with InfoWorld Senior Editor Jennifer Jones about his vision for the tactical deployment of solutions that will help stake MCI WorldCom's claim on the ecommerce space.

InfoWorld: Do you think MCI WorldCom's declaration that it no longer wants to be considered a telecom company is indicative of the market? Is there no longer such a thing as a traditional telco?

Briggs: There will always be telecom companies that provide just connectivity, dial-up, and other traditional services. And sure, we will still have some telecom components. But with our 'generation d' announcement, we have signaled that we are going to change.

That does not mean we won't leverage our traditional telecom past. But it does mean that we will be getting into a whole new area of providing infrastructure support to e-commerce companies along with the tools and capabilities they need in their market.

If you look at some of the research lately on that market, it puts us in a space that Forrester Research and others say will be a $7 trillion market in four to five years.

InfoWorld: Does your new focus on the e-commerce space and your new strategic direction signal any changes for your enterprise customers?

Briggs: One of the basic things about our enterprise customers is that many of them at all levels are now looking at what they can do to become more involved in e-commerce.

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