Thoughts from the AT&T Analyst Conference

By Tim Smith
On Sep 27, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013

I recently attended the AT&T Analyst Conference in Dallas and several different and unrelated ideas really stood out for me. These are by no means all or even part of the major themes of the conference but each got me thinking in different ways.

First were a couple of ideas concerning innovation. (Innovation was the major theme at Nemertes’ recent Navigator 360 Conference). The CIO for the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team (a 600 person subsidiary of Red Bull and Infiniti) gave a fascinating presentation on the use of communications and IT in Formula 1 auto racing. It’s difficult to pick out just one interesting point but one that resonated with me was that many of their innovations are the sum of small improvements to a number of different things. All of a sudden, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. I find this a great way to think about innovation; small improvements are much more visible and achievable and can have great impact.

Another idea that resonates with me is AT&T’s Partner Exchange initiative. This is a formal program where AT&T engages with small businesses to develop integrated solutions for mid-market customers. It is a great way to build relationships to the benefit of both parties; again with the emphasis on innovation.

Next was a response from a Microsoft representative to questions concerning service provider (like AT&T) performance guarantees (e.g. SLAs). He said that he thought the emphasis on SLAs and other “guarantees” would go away in favor of a focus on historical uptime measures. Although I understand the value of using historical performance to judge a vendor’s ability to meet future performance needs, I do not believe that past performance eliminates the need to negotiate future performance levels with consequences for failure to perform. These negotiations may be difficult but enterprises cannot just take the vendor’s/service provider’s word because they’ve done it before.

Finally, several of the comments from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson were just plain interesting. Consider that by 2020:

• AT&T will completely turn off TDM services – this of course has been ongoing for some time and it wouldn’t surprise me if it happens sooner.

• AT&T will be a 100% IP, mobility and cloud company – they are aggressively moving internal operations to the cloud

• Video will drive a major portion of traffic carried on the AT&T network – will video drive the same pace of change that mobility, smartphones and tablets have driven during the past five years?

With 2020 being only six years away, there are many transitions yet to occur.

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