What if your telco career was to end tomorrow?

telco career
Image by eamesBot | Bigstockphoto

Are you a dyed-in-the-wool telco person? Has your whole career, or a majority of it, been built around the telco industry?

What would you do next if your telco career were to cease tomorrow? 

As we mentioned in our previous article on “Burning Platforms”, the black curve of the traditional telco business is trending towards an asymptote (see the black curve in the diagram below). But today’s post looks at the future of telco even closer to home – not the industry and its organisations, but the careers of all of us people in telco.

S-curve image courtesy of strategictoolkits.com

Telco networks are still vitally important, but the profit engine of traditional telco is expiring. With it goes innovation, projects, and jobs. All of those things are facilitated by profitability. Many telcos in developed nations have long since moved into a financial engineering, asset selling and incremental innovation phase. Those aren’t indicators of rapid improvement on an S curve. They’re indicators of an asymptote.

Alternatively, what if there were a doomsday event that disrupts the market, slashing the relevance of traditional telco models and/or networks? 

What if your telco customers’ access to capital dries up after they embark on massive 5G roll-outs, re-tooling and re-skilling that doesn’t bear fruit? Does that impact your employer’s revenues and the viability of your roles/projects? Or what if you work for a supplier that is heavily dependent on telcos (or your role at the supplier is dependent on telco)?

If you’re a battle-worn telco person, where do you go next? What’s your red curve? What skills, assets, connections, etc., will carry you into the red curve? Don’t have a red curve? Are you already on the lookout to find one?

I’ve seen many telco experts transition to roles with hyperscalers recently. They’ve sought out their red curve by investing in cloud awareness/skills and making the leap to telco cloud.

But the cloud is far from being the only red curve candidate. Telco has precipitated a Cambrian explosion of red curves over many decades yet hasn’t really been able to find its own of late.

Cloud is telco’s Kodak moment. As George Glass mentioned in this podcast, he was able to spot the opportunity of cloud at BT around the turn of the century. Still, the hyperscalers have usurped the telcos with that business/technology model.

The internet red curve was facilitated by telco and partly leveraged (via Internet connectivity), yet other opportunities were missed. Many telcos are now trying to transform their DNA into software. Still, they aren’t really proving to be as good at it as other software-first organisations (possibly for reasons mentioned in Bert Hubert’s video cited in the Burning Platform post).

There are many better red curve candidates, in my opinion, ones that are better suited to the many strengths that telcos still retain.

But my red curve/s, the ones I’ve been investing in over the last few years, aren’t the same as yours. You have different strengths, skills, connections and capabilities. The question remains, “what would you do next if your telco career were to cease tomorrow?”

As suggested in the burning platform post, the telco needs to quest to find its red curve/s, so do we telco/OSS/BSS experts need to form our jumping-off points. The burning platform is as much for us as it is for the telecommunications industry.

Take a look at the second video in the Burning Platforms post. It provides some great suggestions about embarking on a pioneering quest to help find your red curve/s.

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