Spring is almost here, and it’s time for me to resume my blog after a brief hiatus. What with Christmas, New Year, a big family wedding and travels to Asia and back, there was no time to think outside the box.

Now, I want to link back to my previous posts, starting with a question for you all: in my last blog I put to you that business transformation is not the answer. While interest in the blog was high, I was surprised at the limited response to such a statement.

When I made that statement, I expected an avalanche of feedback because so many of you read the blog. No one said to me: “Are you crazy? Of course it’s working!”

None of you challenged me on this, so my question to you is: how do I read that? Am I right, or am I wrong?

One thing is for sure: I meant what I said, and over the coming months I will continue to blog about this, because it is very important if we are all to succeed.

There are multiple reasons why I believe that business transformation does not work, a primary one being what I like to call the “plague of customization” that further complicates an operator’s already complex systems.

The fault here lies with the vendors and the operators because both drive more customization than is actually required. On one hand, the vendors seek to make more money from more customers by refining new products and systems to meet customer requirements, while on the other hand operators want the products to match those that are already in place.

This involves a high level of customization on the part of the vendors that ensures every new business transformation project ends up in the same place as all the legacy systems. This in turn often means that telcos can no longer upgrade the COTS products because they cannot without even more customization. In other words, they become stuck with no repeatability or upgradeability, and they are driven into a hole out of which it is impossible to climb.

This situation can be found at every telco to a greater or lesser degree, and both the telco and the vendor are to blame for that. What is required here is a greater number of telcos that are willing to change their processes to take advantage of inherent COTS capability. There is no doubt that telcos are tired with not getting what they want any more out of what can sometimes be a large investment.

While there is a lot of innovation on the part of smaller vendors, the larger vendors are the ones with the products that drive the market, and they in turn are driving customisation. This needs to stop.

A telco’s business is about ongoing change, but every product they bring in is a drain on the speed of deployment because they have to drive through a set of systems to get it to work.

In conclusion, I also want to stress here that I am not pessimistic. I have seen some evidence of the situation getting better, although not a lot. We are all learning, but the problem here is also that lessons do not get passed on; no one wants to admit when something has been a failure.