On Sunsets and Telecom
Another perfect sunset seen from Redondo Beach, California. Since arriving here in June I've had the pleasure of watching many sunsets while jogging or walking along the Redondo "Strand," and have yet to tire of the endless beauty of each individual sunset. Each one is stunning, each one is different. While jogging along this evening, watching today's contribution to my portfolio of California memories, the thought came to me that sunsets are a lot like the day to day activities that challenge our lives.
A Redondo Beach sunset has four major components:
· The sun
· The ocean
· Clouds (or lack of clouds)
With this combination we have the ability to put together a different sunset every evening, never repeating the same sunset. Each sunset is very different, leaving a completely different emotion to the sunset participant. In Redondo Beach, the entire waterfront area appears to pause for about 10 minutes each day to watch the sun go down, indulging in explosions of color and emotion that accompany the event. Our business lives show some interesting parallels to sunsets. In my industry, telecommunications, we also have very few basic ingredients supporting business:
Cable and air (wireless)
Packet handlers (routers, switches, modems, etc)
When you think about it, each new company developing and deploying a new telecom-related product is using a combination of the above items - they are just connected and marketed in unique models needed to fulfill requirements a market or industry. Thus, whether you are an Internet Service Provider, a web hosting company, a Voice over Internet provider, or a traditional telephone company, at some point in your business case your product will include all the above components.
Thus it is not magic to understand the technical portions of a telecom business. All telecom and Internet-related companies use the above components - they are just put together and marketed in a different manner.
This also leads me to believe technology is not the discriminating factor in the success or failure of any business. That factor is more a product of understanding your market, developing a product with a well-prepared business plan, And then aggressively executing against your business plan. Technology can never stand alone, and very few successful businesses have ever been built solely around an emerging technology. The technology must be designed to solve a business challenge, or enable a new business model.
We have all gone through the exercise of taking an object, and determining what the purpose of that object may be. A sheet of paper may be a tool for recording written or printed information, it may be the raw material for a paper airplane or origami, just as it might be a tool for cleaning your teeth when you cannot find a pick or floss. The sheet of paper works well for all.
Computers and networks are similar. You ask what a computer is, and the response may be a word processor, or a communications terminal, or an emergency disk backup platform, or even a platform for playing games and entertainment. One computer may accomplish all the above, although the owner of each individual computer may give you a very different answer on how a computer should be used.
An Internet connection may be used primarily by one company for research and business intelligence, while another company may consider the Internet as a delivery system for disaster recovery backup and storage. Again, suitable for both, but very different in application.
Just as a sunset changes every day based on the presentation or conditions of its contributing components, the business must also consider technology as a tool to execute a successful business plan. It is important to first understand the business requirements, and then reach into the technology "tool bag" for the components needed to deliver.
(About the Author - John Savageau is a managing director at CRG-West, responsible for managing operations and architecture for several of the largest telecommunications interconnect facilities in the US, including One Wilshire in Los Angeles)
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