Getting the Message – advanced services wanted

Getting the Message – advanced services wanted – Industry Overview

Mike Crawford

Byline: Mike Crawford

The telecom market has more broken bones and bruises than a prizefighter. We’ve all seen how a few once-mighty carriers have fallen. Some have even disappeared altogether. What you may not be aware of, however, is that a recovery has already begun – and companies that understand the importance of brand and message are leading the way.

Back when things started getting bad, a lot of people in the industry were hoping for improvement by 2003. Well, a full recovery is more likely “a few blocks away” as opposed to “right around the corner,” but it’s coming. Carriers and vendors are turning a profit, albeit sometimes a small profit, when the year-ago quarter saw them reporting huge losses. And it’s not just incumbents that are enjoying a bit of success. Relative newcomers have watched their customer bases grow substantially over the last six months, which bodes well for competition and improved customer service. These types of new growth are leading indicators of where the market is heading.

Carrier success will fuel vendor success, and vice versa. But carriers, which are still very focused on improving their operating efficiencies, still feel pressure to provide advanced services at competitive prices. Few people cared about it a while back, but controlling operating expenditures and capital expenditures has become a new religion. This will require that carriers get more out of their existing infrastructure and deploy new, cost-effective equipment and services from vendors. These new offerings include an assortment of broadband services, voice over IP and bundling with existing services. And while many vendors have kept a low profile through the tough economic climate, that quiescence has started to change. As a result, some vendors are already reaping the benefits.

Smart companies are recognizing the importance of brand and image, and communicating these points to customers and prospects. Everyone was quiet for so long that many companies were forgotten, and when a few companies finally made some noise – well, that saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease continues to be true.

Sadly enough, many companies are still in the wait-and-see mode. Unfortunately for them, the optimum time to get back in the marketplace has come and gone. That’s not to say it’s too late for companies to be successful by re-entering the market with focused messaging. But the smart companies have already been doing it for the past few months – making it that much harder for the Johnny-come-latelies out there.

DOSSIER MIKE CRAWFORD

Occupation: President, M/C/C

Location: Dallas

Current reading: “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins

Hobbies: Playing golf, fishing, water skiing, raising Longhorns

Favorite Web site: www.nytimes.com

Next project: Learning to lasso a steer

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