Orange CIO: Telcos are tough to do business with

  • Senior Orange exec says telcos are complex to deal with
  • Shift to cloud-oriented platforms could make it easier 
  • That shift could create more opportunities for small, innovative vendors
  • Still a big challenge for startups

“We are very difficult customers – it’s complex to interact with us.” So said Orange CIO Thierry Souche during a recent conversation with TelecomTV about the industry shift towards cloud native. (See Orange CIO: The only way is cloud native)

He noted that operators adopting open APIs and following the guidelines set out in the TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA) could, at least in theory, “remove the barrier to entry for small players to become very innovative” and become part of a multivendor deployment in a telco cloud architecture.

That, in turn, takes some of the market power away from the larger vendors that current dominate the industry. “If we make it plain and easy” for small, innovative companies to engage with the telcos, “that’s a threat” to the larger vendors, which have been reluctant, at least until recently, to buy into the cloud native vision.

That is slowly changing, as we saw from a few weeks ago when the likes of Amdocs, Netcracker, Nokia and Oracle committed to the ODA.

So that sounds like good news for small, innovative technology developers: The likes of Souche and other decision-makers at the network operators want to engage more with a broader set of companies and not have to rely on a small group of suppliers.

But as we have also heard in the past few weeks, it’s tough for smaller companies to thrive, even if they get a foot in the door at a telco: Andrew Coward, CEO at Lumina Networks, and Mark Cummings, CTO at Orchestral Networks, outlined just some of the challenges faced by small vendors in the telecom sector during a recent TelecomTV panel discussion. (See Innovation in the Telecoms Ecosystem Part 2)

So how can startups/small vendors more easily engage with network operators? That’s the topic of a paper, Accelerating Innovation in the Telecommunications Arena, which is available to download from TelecomTV and which calls for feedback and ideas about how a new “ecosystem” might be developed to improve the lot of all participants, because, as Souche said during his recent interview, “we all have to enter into a platform game – if we don't, we will be out of business. And if CSPs are out of business, they [the vendors] are out of business. It's in everybody's interest that we survive and that we all make a win-win deal around that.”

You can find out more about this topic by reading and watching the following articles and videos, downloading the paper (which hundreds of you have already done) and sharing your feedback with the authors:

  1. Why it's time for a new telecom ecosystem (article)
  2. Innovation in the Telecoms Ecosystem Part 1 (panel discussion video)
  3. Startups should be 'shepherded,' says Lumina chief (article)
  4. Innovation in the Telecoms Ecosystem Part 2 (panel discussion video)

The paper, which is available here, was co-authored by:

  • Caroline Chappell, Analysys Mason
  • Don Clarke, Telecom Foresight Consulting
  • Mark Cummings, CTO Orchestral Networks
  • Diego Lopez, Telefonica
  • Klaus Martiny, Deutsche Telekom

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV


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