Consultant of Last Resort

I’m coming to the end of several consulting projects. I thought I’d let everyone know I’m looking for more consulting business ūüôā¬†

TADS is a Side Hustle

TADSummit and TADHack are¬†side-hustles;¬†fun, no-BS, and help make a¬†difference in people’s¬†lives. A recent¬†highlight for me is Sam Machin becoming Head of Developer Platform and Experience at¬†Stacuity. At TADHack Sam demoed¬†his amazing talent over many years; and TADSummit Nov 2022 connected him with Stacuity.¬†And coming up at the end of March is TADHack Open, before Enterprise Connect. TADHack Open is working with groups committed to increasing the influence that women have in building the technologies that shape our culture and change our world!

Why Consultant of Last Resort?

The reason for the title, Consultant of Last Resort, is I’m sometimes brought in after a big name consultancy or industry boutique has failed to deliver. A common reason for those failures, in my opinion, is the¬†consultants believe what’s written on the web and lack depth in the domain, both technically and across its history. The web’s memory is short and dominated by marketing spin.

What’s the Edge?

Why I think I have an edge is simply grey hairs, I have lots of them. I’ve been working at the bleeding edge of technology since I joined BT Labs in 1990, initially on high electron mobility transistors and opto-electronic integrated circuits; then onto digital TV (one the the few accurate uses of digital, as previously the transmission was analog); then broadband access, and since BT Labs lots of businesses and technologies. Being there through history¬†brings a deeper understanding around many of the current silly technology-focused segmentations. For example:

  • IoT (Internet of Things) is just loads of M2M (Machine to Machine) silos running over the internet, e.g. Amazon’s devices, Ring Cameras, and those awful electric rental Scooters. They’re siloed for security. The core business remains M2M, and it’s a good business, check out this presentation from Tobias of Twilio at TADSummit 2022 on their IoT offers. If we look at IIOT (Industrial IoT), it’s¬†generally wired because that just works. The production line must flow, even when someone is using the microwave. Market sizing and segmentation must accurately reflect what companies are buying, not how marketing positions those revenues.
  • Private networks have existed for decades. For wireless, WiFi will continue to reign supreme because it uses the same network management as the wired network. Private¬†mobile networks have existed for decades with PMR, DECT, TETRA, 2G/3G/4G/LTE, and lots of specialized industrial solutions. The silly market sizes I see quoted gloss over the mature, highly segmented private networks business. Picking on 5G private networks a little more, it’s not just technology, it’s also the ecosystem. If the ecosystem has not changed, technology is unlikely to make a significant difference. People, process and technology all need to change for structural change to happen.

The other benefit of grey hairs is I do not care what people think of me. I’m here to do a job to the best of my abilities. My views are backed by data and tend to be out of step with the industry’s fashionable group-think. I predicted accurately the deployment timeline¬†for IMS, yet I’m considered by some an IMS heretic for pointing out its inadequacies. I predicted the failure of OneAPI and see the industry making the same mistake with CAMARA. Yet predicted and showed how telecom/communication APIs would generate billions in new business, see the embedded slides below.

Focus

My focus is much broader than programmable communications (CPaaS, UCaaS, CCaaS), though over the past 20 years this segment has grown by tens of billions of dollars. Given all the time I’ve spent in telecoms the focus is across most telecoms-related topics.

Here are a few public samples from past work. TADS limits my time to write public reports these days, plus there’s no money in it unless your report predicts giant markets for new technologies, it does occasionally, though generally not:

I track Identity Management, which impacts customer and employee experiences. I track what is popularly known as AI since my time at BT Labs. The focus then was simulating neural networks. Today it’s weak AI. In the limit its just software where the data used to train the models remain critical regardless of the general purpose claims. I play with the AI tools and find the hype around them a little tiresome, we’re at an interesting step forward, but the applications remain constrained. For example, ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) remains critical as most telephony calls lack accuracy, the word error rate is too high. Check out Karel’s work on Local Language Tools from TADSummit on tackling that problem.

Differentiation and Types of Projects

My differentiation is a deep and more accurate, in my opinion, understanding of what is happening because its tempered by history. This enables my clients to have an edge, they are not distracted by current fashionable thinking of the herd. Rather focused on where they actually are in the market, their strengths and weaknesses over time, and the target(s) they need to chase. The retort to claiming being old is a strength is, only young people can understand this, which as we all know is BS.

If its due diligence, strategy, market / competitive analysis, business development (I know a few people); if its a one hour chat, a half day workshop, a project, or advisory; I’ve done it all. The companies I help keep being bought by larger companies that use the big name brand consultancies. Hence the continued search for consulting business.