Become problem solvers to deliver IT, telcos urged

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Become problem solvers to deliver IT, telcos urged

John-Paul Kamath

Telecoms providers have been given advice on the disciplines needed to deliver IT projects to enterprises successfully, through a study by Bristol Business School.

Telecoms companies are increasingly bidding for IT contracts in areas such as unified communications, where the overlap between telecoms and IT is strong, said a report by Merlin Stone, professor of marketing at Bristol Business School.

The study identified common reasons why projects in the telecoms industry can fail, and showed the cost of failures to businesses by carrying out benchmarking assessments.

The research estimated that 20% of major telecoms projects over the past 10 years had failed mainly because telcos oversold what they could deliver.

Suppliers also failed to meet an average of 50% of the agreed project targets, the study suggested. Some enterprise users told researchers that they were left with half-finished systems or no system at all.

“The distinction between what constitutes an IT project and what makes it a telecoms project is disappearing. In the 1980s, the type of contract that a major telecoms provider would bid for would be markedly different to the type of project that a company like IBM would bid for, but now they are not that different,” Stone said.

He categorised five behaviours of telcos when working on projects that could cause failure. The most common cause of failure was a culture of “promise now, deliver never”, which Stone claimed was endemic across the telecoms industry.

A sixth behaviour, dubbed “the problem solver”, was identified as a state typified by diligence on the part of the telecoms supplier  – and something that Stone said all telcos should aspire to.

Mike Barnard, director of strategy and transformation at telco Cable & Wireless, which worked with Bristol Business School on the study, said, “We are absolutely focused on becoming ‘the problem solver’, as customers are fed up with telecoms suppliers who sell what they have, rather than what customers need.”

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