Operators are stranded by a 25 year old operating system, their IN platform. Imagine a web application developer trying to compete in today’s market using Windows 1 as its operating system! Being stranded in the mid 1980s creates a surreal situation. Unfortunately for operators their customers are living in 2009, and their expectations of service providers are increasingly shaped by services on the web, e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter; and consumer equipment providers, e.g. Apple, Sony and Nintendo. Even evolved IN products only pay lip service to IT and web based technologies, they do not enable operators to play a significant role in the emerging services landscape beyond connectivity.
The artificial war created between JAIN SLEE and SIP Servlet, has delayed decisions on how operators add value to the emerging services landscape. SIP Servlet is generally used for VoIP service features and bought by the IT organization, while JAIN SLEE is bought by the network guys to solve a particular IN service problem. So generally they’re not competing. It’s not a battle between SIP Serlvet or JAIN SLEE, it’s a battle between action and inaction, and the ‘false war’ has prompted inaction. As evidence: the spend on legacy IN platforms is still greater than the total spend on next generation technologies.
Legacy is both a gift and a curse. Legacy networks have enabled operators to create an impressive business that even in today’s economy is growing, for example the telecoms industry in Europe accounts for 3% of GDP. But that legacy is a curse when technologies evolve in other industries so that the rules of service delivery change. Just like IBM had to create a wrenching transition from its siloed ‘we build everything’ IT model, to an open innovation model; so operators must also address this change in their ‘we deliver everything’ service model, to an open service innovation model, as the change will happen far faster than most organizations can respond.
Change can only come from within, for some operators it will be a stark financial hole in the business model that prompts change, that so called ‘near-death’ experience. Note the near-death experience only applies to the few that survive, most fail; IBM is an exception in its industry. For other customer-focused operators, they recognize the large gap in their service innovation ability from their customer’s perspective, e.g. O2 Litmus. And are adopting the processes and technologies to enable them to play a part in the emerging services landscape, by understanding developers’ needs, exposing capabilities, enabling service reuse, and leveraging their core voice assets by mashing them up with the web (see my IN returns article on some service examples). Enabling them to share in the value created in the new service delivery landscape, and avoid becoming a pipe to the Net.