Well another thought on Clouds and Clarity

Not all of my blog articles will contain both IT and Business.  This one will as well as it is an expansion on yesterday's.

This is about Focus.

At Focal Point, we talk about Clarity.  The reason is that we really want people to Focus.  If they have Clarity in what they want, it achieves Focus on what they do.

I want to use an example from my days at AFC.  We were the kings of the small carrier access business in the hey day of the company.  One of the things that won a lot of business was the automation built into the product.  Small carriers have limited staff, so the less time spent working on turning up a service the better.  Well, the UMC-1000 (now known at the Tellabs 1000) would try to hook up ports when they were installed.  There was a demo that was done where people brought boxes in installed plugs and phone service started working.  With no provisioning.  There was no trick, it was the way the product worked.  Many competitive products required hours of work, just to get to the point of being able to install the ports.

The smaller carriers LOVED this function.

And then, we began to sell to the Regional Bell Operating Companies (aka the RBOCs).  One of the functions we had automated was the ability to pull out a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) plug and put in a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) plug that had POTS ports on it as well.  The POTS ports on the new plug reconnected as if nothing had changed.  This means pull POTS out, put DSL in and voila the POTS service was restored.  The small carriers really liked it and the RBOCs were appalled. 

What the RBOCs wanted was control.  If a POTS card was replaced, they wanted to be sure it was replaced with a POTS card unless somebody commanded otherwise.  This way the RBOC had complete understanding of the inventory involved.  They ensured that there was complete control of what was done by whom.  That was their need.

As you can see, it was very difficult to have a product do both things.  We were able to resolve this through our Operating Support System (it reported the problem, but the product still put the ports back into service).  This capability was fundamental to our product and helped define how we approached the market.  

Clarity like this made the UMC-1000 a great fit for the small carrier market.  Clarity about what you do and how you do it can do the same for you in your business.

Now to the IT side of this post.  Let me ask a really simple question.  Is there a reason that you are still running basic applications out of your data center?  If you have security needs or other issues then they need to be addressed.  But I have seen lots of companies still hosting services that are really basic.  This means that they have to deal with the hardware and software maintenance and upgrades.  I would advise you to look at your IT infrastructure and ask yourself, "Am I doing this because I always have or because I should?"  If it is the latter, you can probably find more important things to spend your IT resources on.

Jim Sackman
Certified Business Coach
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