Speaking at CeBit in Hanover yesterday, Lucent's vice chairman Ben Verwaayen said: "Customers are demanding more complex services quicker, therefore there is a disruption in the business model. So we are now focusing on direct business needs - how we can help them reduce costs and contain capital expenditure."
He said that this was a "transition year" for Lucent, in which the company was reshaping its customer portfolio and becoming increasingly customer driven.
"A strong relationship with the customers is key," Verwaayen said, "understanding the customer and the business market is the only way you can be true partners."
Verwaayen sees strong latent demand for telecommunications, especially in the mobile area. "Our industry is the generating engine for continued productivity for all sectors of the economy," he said, "and this is critical for creating jobs."
"We are too important an industry to be in and out of fashion."
He predicted growth in areas such as wireless communications, e-mail and broadband access where "the fundamentals are good".
"Lots of customers are looking for advice about which solutions to deploy and about next year's killer applications. This market is helping us get closer to our customers and to put our fingers in their business plans, marketing programmes and roll-out plans," he added.