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Hard and Fast


Confidence

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 10-Mar-2010 06:07

Well, what a february it was, as a start to the new decade.

Telecom suffered the most ignominious of sustained failure, with their shiny new WCDMA 850Mhz network having fallen over several times, with the blame eventually falling on AlcaCent (the supplier) and a sacrificial head from Telecom (Frank Mount, whose contract ended in June 2010 anyway). Add to the woe problems with the sacrosanct 111 emergency call system, and the Telecom must feel like someone has a voodoo doll of Spot furnished away, full of broken fibres (in the stitching). Add the new comments from the former boss Ms G about how things were'nt like this when she was there, and you can't help but feel that someone probably doesn't like you!

But never fear, as Vodafone NZ and 2degrees have invoked the fates and called on the combined forces of Murphy and Sod, taking switching campaigns to market on the back of these failures, inviting customers to join a reliable network. so now it's just a waiting game for their network to fail (as indeed it already has, but not to the same scale).

I'm interested in what is happening inside Telecom, to it's sales staff, support staff, field staff and everyone involved in service delivery. Because it is from these folks that customer's present and future take their lead on purchasing decisions. and there is nothing that has more inertia or destructive force that delivery entity that refuses to supply. A loss of confidence is hideously difficult to turn around - collective memory being a self-healing, reinforcing wall of despair (at least where salesfolk are concerned). After all, who wants to sell something they perceive to be a lemon, and have to deal with the fallout?

It has been my jolly good luck to have taken career roles where a turnaround has been required, coming from high expectations to failure to having to rebuild. and it never quite is the same again. The hubris is gone, replaced by an air of 'whatever', and a market that actively questions what is being said, even if all the elements are fixed. My article on using Telecom Mobile over the Christmas period has been challenged, but I stick with my assertion that Telecom has the better network. especially now that the failures will force people inside the company to sit up and take notice.

Microsoft required Windows 7 to get over the failure of Windows Vista, even though the service packed product is quite usable (I have Vista on one of my machines and it works very well). But markets have long memories, and product quality is so good these days, that customer replacement cycles have extended and people are more selective.

Service providers (like Telco's) can be frustrating to work in at times - you know good stuff is coming but you can't really say anything, because inevitably Sod's Law kicks in and you miss the dates you said. Equally people don't want to hear 'coming soon, we are working on it really really really'. they want solid dates, and they expect them met. Fair enough - but technology is such a complex beast that dates given are almost always under threat, and compromises/workarounds have to be made to get to the dates - or if the above can't be done. you slip. As companies get larger and have more systems, the complexity becomes exponential. so things take longer.

Speaking to some folk I know (none of which are involved with XT), we surmised that somewhere in the deployment of XT a compromise was made. A workaround was introduced to meet a date - "of course we can reuse xxx component, it's a few years old now but it still works" - which is pure poison with technology. Vendors can only backup, within reason, their own kit (and even then they struggle against all permutations), but telco's rarely rip and replace an entire system.

So 'integration' is required - words that are enough to send a shudder down your spine if you've ever had to do it.  Integration is a level of joy reserved only for the brave.

But when integration goes right then wrong, products don't work well. When products don't work well, the humans cannot explain, respond or repair fast enough. When response is slow, confidence is lost.

Confidence lost is not a good place to be, personally, professionally or collectively. The YouTube clip of the Downfall/XT mashup is below, which I found quite funny. But the original is very sobering (when reality has struck home, when you have to take responsibility. and the first response is so very human, and so very appalling).

 

What conversations are being had inside the great Service Providers everyday? at what point are the accusations made of 'lies, betrayal, hiding things etc'?

I wonder how confident the Telecom folk are feeling today?



Other related posts:
2Degrees prepay price change
Consolidation (“and then there were fewer”)
Introducing the Hot New Social Network (updated!)






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antoniosk's profile

Antonios Karantze
Wellington
New Zealand


I'm a born and bred Wellingtonian, and have chosen IT and Telecommunications as my industry, as a Commercial Manager.

Credits include but are not limited to:
- The O2 Xda smartphone range, and O2's range of 3G Mobile Internet services
- Numerous TelstraClear Mobile and IP voice products

In my journey through the industry I have worked at
- Bellsouth NZ
- Telecom NZ
- ICO Global
- T-Mobile International (formerly One2One Communications)
- O2 Plc
- TelstraClear
- Vodafone NZ

I'm a fan of technology, and what it can do for people and business... and I enjoy bringing new things to market and seeing them grow. Enjoy the blog, take the time to think about what I write - it's not technology heavy, and is my reflection on life and the people around me.