New AT&T president: Company 'doing more things right than wrong'

AT&T Corp., which has operated without a company president since late last year, this week named David Dorman to fill that job. Dorman, 46, previously was the CEO of Concert, a global networking joint venture between AT&T and London-based British Telecommunications PLC.

The appointment of Dorman as AT&T's president comes just a month after the company announced a plan to split itself into four separate entities in an attempt to revitalize its financial performance. Following this week's announcement, Dorman spoke with Computerworld about the challenges he faces in his new position.

Q: What are your key management challenges?

A: First of all, it will be to assess the things that need to be dealt with immediately and changed. My initial blush is we're doing more things right than wrong. ... It's just that things that are going well are not getting a lot of airtime.

Q: What is going well at AT&T, in your opinion?

A: Data services, for example, to business customers. AT&T has taken its growth rate there from the low teens in the first quarter of this year to the low twenties in the third quarter, which we believe is faster than the market is growing at this point. So we're actually increasing our share in that very important market. In my view, the future of business communications will be driven off of data networks, which will encompass in large measure a lot of the voice communications today that ride on separate facilities.

Q: What's the most significant business challenge facing AT&T?

A: I'd say it's just overall credibility [with investors]. We've got a great set of assets here, and we believe [our stock price is] significantly undervalued. We've just got to systematically regain the confidence of the marketplace from a financial perspective in order to get rewarded for what our assets represent.

Q: What changes in technology do you expect to most impact your business going forward?

A: There's been an incredible investment flow into telecom. Largely, it has gone into optical transmission. Optical has been the basis of telecom for the last 10 years, but what's changed is the pace of innovation. The optical transmission rates in the last three years have just skyrocketed. ... The switching technology is getting better all the time to take advantage of that capacity, too. But frankly, the issue that's coming to the forefront now is that [telecommunications] is about more than just building a physical network. It's about building services and products and then distribution channels to take those to customers.You can't just put fiber in the ground.

This story, "New AT&T president: Company 'doing more things right than wrong'" was originally published by Computerworld.

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