Is there money left in being Publicly Objective?

The answer to this question is a qualified yes.  The fact it’s qualified is a bit sad because of the dominance of marketing across the industry.

There is no money in being publicly objective when you’re going head to head with the unchecked marketing silliness of the industry. Dean Bubley and I try to do our bit in telecoms / programmable communications, but a couple of middle-aged Brits ranting in the wilderness I suspect is increasingly of curiosity value. When I posted about my cesspit escapade, CXTech Week 22 2022, the engagement for that newsletter was 3 times that of my usual newsletter 😉 Personal interest has a much more significant sway than objective analysis, at least for me. BTW here’s the Cesspit 2022 photo album.

When I present at some corporations, the audience roughly divides into 2. Half consider what I say as obvious and wonder why I’m being paid to say it, while the other half think its heretical and wonder why I’m being paid to say it. That divide is based on whether they consider the marketing buzz in the industry to be either truth or at least close to it, or noise to distract from BAU (Business As Usual) sales. I have a whole theory of the mind on why we see such a divide, but that’s not my expertise.

Which is the best vendor to select depends on your situation. CPaaS has filled the gaps UCaaS and CCaaS failed to fill as they move slowly and have legacy pricing. Once upon a time doing anything with your call center began at $1m and grew from there. But the market is evolving.

I remember sharing a neat innovation 5 or 6 years ago, Dzinga (UCaaS) had for a simple contact center service for $15 per seat per month that worked well in the multilingual situation in Europe for SMB. I was called a liar by an analyst for the big brands. For a service that exists. Marketing resists innovation when its not theirs.

You see the big brand events the AR (Analyst Relations) people wining and dining the analysts, paying for their travel, discussing reports they’d like them to publish. This does not deliver objective analysis. 

The magic quadrants, waves, grids, radars, universes, etc. Are all influenced by customer spend with the firm. And for most buyers your needs and situation will impact an implementation’s success or failure far more than the company’s position on a particular shape.

The money is not in sharing objective analysis publicly. Rather the money is where you help buyers negotiate contracts with vendors. No need for quadrants, waves, grids, universes; simply show a lower price for the project with the same result. Another example of objective analysis is a pension fund looking to make a long term investment in company X, and has lots of ‘what about’ questions. One old chestnut I still get is about Twilio and their dependence on telcos. But many others pop up across programmable communications. For example, when Ericsson announced its intention to buy Vonage, for one month I had people calling me on that one. Not public, rather private sharing of objective analysis. Though as Dean points out there is a public objective analysis seam to be mined when focused on the regulatory and policymaking worlds.

I run a weekly CXTech newsletter, just to maintain some pretense at public objectivity and force myself to think about what’s going on sometimes. It’s easy to make an instant judgement on an announcement, when you have to write something publicly you check your thinking.

The upshot is if you’re basing your purchase decisions on those quadrants, waves, grids, radars, universes. It’s not objective, it’s marketing. You have to dig much deeper to get closer to what is best for your situation.

On some of the other trending marketing:

Metaverses are years away, if not a decade. It requires massive advances in machine learning to create personalized 3D environments. We’re starting to see images being created from simple text descriptions, e.g. DALL·E. In time personalized 3D interactive environments could be created. No need for expensive designers, artists, and games engineers. Yet most strategy decks have metaverse as a driver for 5G.

5G not generating much revenue is not a surprise, 4G is good enough. The 5G subscription numbers are driven by phone upgrades, camera and device performance dominate that purchase decision.

The Telco to Techco journey is yet more silly marketing. I will likely keep saying this until I die, “focus on creating locally relevant services”. Telcos and techco are apples and pears. There is no journey, it’s like asking a fish to climb a tree. They’re not evolved to do that.

Using BT as an example. Research investment dropped by 80% in the early ’90s. Many people at the labs were retired early or laid off. BT staff was 239,000 in 1990 and 137,500 in 1995. R&D funds were ‘refocused’ on development, building out the network and BOSS (Business and Operational Support Systems). Vendors were positioned as the R&D centers for the industry’s future, which was OK for network research, just not services, cloud computing, devices, internet, etc. 30 years later, the hurdle is too high to compete with techcos and telcos have evolved into a very different organism.

Whether it’s called partnering with Google, Amazon, Microsoft (let’s ignore FB as its lost in the Metaverse) or simply being a customer, does not make a telco a techco. I’m a customer of all 3 and not a techco.

Linked to the above is the “cloud journey” marketing, starting with VNF (telco-special virtualization), through cloud-ready to cloud-native with true micro-services. Beware any marketing slides that talk about ‘true’; you’re being asked to believe not think. I’ve said this for decades, and will continue to say it. Technology by itself does not deliver change; people, process and technology must all change. So adopting “true-microservices” will make no difference to your business.

I could go one, but money is made talking about how the above marketing trends will make big $$$ soon, which is objectively unlikely to be the case. Rather than more mundane objective analysis such as “focus on creating locally relevant services.” That’s what TADHack and TADSummit do. Thank you to everyone who supports those events from around the world. Being objective in today’s industry is tougher than its ever been!