Network operators need to expand network capacity in the face of traffic commoditization and margin compression. Yet they also must carefully balance capex investment and traffic revenues; this has invigorated investment in dynamic network management technologies, including virtualization, and innovative infrastructure architectures, such as small cell. Startup companies based in Silicon Valley and other innovation centers around the world are driving many of these advances.
While these new technologies hold promise to rationalize the provisioning of basic network capacity, the more significant challenge for these network operators is to identify, develop and deploy new "value-added" services that leverage their network infrastructures, customer relationships and billing/servicing capabilities.
Virtualization provides an opening for telecom companies to leverage their inherent infrastructure advantages into new business opportunities, but the history of innovation by these same network operators has been less than impressive. At the same time, startup companies are the most efficient innovators on the planet. As such, there is a clear and compelling case for collaboration between established incumbents and disruptive innovators.
Unfortunately, most corporations fail in the implementation of their collaborative programs. There is, in effect, an impedance mismatch between the world of the established corporate leader and the disruptive startup. These are two different worlds, with different rules and requirements, tolerances for risk and reward, resources and definitions of "fast."
Overcoming these challenges isn't easy. It requires network operators to develop new skill sets in quickly bringing innovative products and services to the marketplace -- in partnership with disruptive innovators. Success depends upon consistently identifying these startups and leveraging them through the telecom's market reach, and a business architecture that provides an "open platform" that facilitates the rapid testing, deployment, validation and scaling of new services.