The telecommunications market and technology are forging ahead even faster and on several fronts. A number of different factors may have had an impact on this acceleration of progress, including the new digital transformation, the incorporation of Big Data, the conversion to SD-WAN technology, or network providers and the deployment of new competitive services.
By now IP devices are already more than just a fancy hype. The Internet of Things (IoT) will connect about 5 billion terminals and devices this year, with a rising tendency – in 2020 about 25 billion intelligent objects are expected to be connected to the Internet, about three times more than the world’s current population.
The increasing interconnectedness between the fields of information technology and telecommunications is not new. We all know that these two worlds have grown more and more together and still do (keyword: convergence). On the one hand business communication requires professional telephony and professional routing, but on the other hand, no company, especially in the SME segment, wants to buy only a PBX in order to fulfill their telecommunication needs and no company acquires a router, and let it be as professional as possible, only for routing. The SME segment wants one device for both needs. They are driven by costs but at the same time, they want all professional benefits like larger companies as well.
Besides costs and efforts, deep integration into their technical environment and into their workflows is a must. Standardized interfaces in applications and devices, sometimes even certified by third-party suppliers, are the fundamental requirements for a seamless integration. Further challenges, such as usability, flexibility, security of investment, mobility and as a matter of course security have to be guaranteed at any time. Particularly mobility has stressed the requirement of security lately. Over the last few years the number of private smart phones and tablet PCs has continuously increased and many of these users also take advantage of their devices for business purposes (key word: BYOD or bring your own device). The convenience of eliminating the difference between “in the office” and “on the road” changes daily business while availability and communication use remain unaffected. This balancing act between mobility and security is certainly one of the biggest challenges.
Besides various challenges mentioned above which we have to overcome in the SME segment, we come to the conclusion that it is essential to have some kind of “PBX with business routing” or a sort of “router with professional telephony” for SMEs. It is necessary to find a solution that can cope with telecommunications as well as with information technology in order to fulfill all business needs for SMEs. From the perspective of the customer the crucial question that he asks himself is: What kind of device would be the professional solution? And who is able to really offer both? An IT company selling routers with telephony? Or a telecommunications company offering PBXs with professional routing? Isn’t there a real ICT company which offers both? As a matter of fact, there is. Teldat. Possibly the largest European manufacturer of ICT devices for the business market, offers true convergence. Its Bintec brand stands for professional routing and its Elmeg brand for professional telecommunications solutions. The Elmeg hybird 120 and 130 is the true converged solution to meet all communication demands of SMEs and even freelancers and home offices.
Many of you will probably have heard of a new film that is currently being shown now called “The eye of the storm”, which relates the story of a small town hit by enormous storms one after another including tornadoes and hurricanes. For those of us that may think that there´s a mistake in the post, yes; this is still about technology. But seeing the film the other day, I noticed some facts that somehow reminded me of the routing business we are in.
The film has nothing new to offer. Especially for those of us who may have watched a similar one called Twister in the 80s (and still remember the flying cow!). The interesting thing is that I watched the film in experience mode. This means the theater had set up huge fans and water sprinklers that were coordinated with the different scenes. Thus, when the hurricane hit the people on the screen, the system turned on the fans and a strong wind with tiny water drops would hit your face and body – practically all through the film. So, by the end, and since the film is all about hurricane scenes, when lights turn on you are chilled and wet. I cannot think who thought this would be a good idea! Let´s see:
First of all it doesn´t help a bit to get into the film. You keep wondering when the fans are going to turn on, the strength of the air, and other things that have nothing to do with the story. And by the end you only want to run off to get a towel and a warm drink. Secondly, I am sure that the theater made a great investment in a system that the customers might not like, or is not a real improvement in the experience of just watching the film. And the third point, it´s more expensive to go and see. So many customers would just prefer to save their money.
And here is where this links with the Routing Business (yes, I mentioned this was about Technology). To begin with, we all know that Network Technology right now is exactly in the very eye of the storm. NFV, SND, Security, Mobility needs and such are expected to bring important changes in the way that service providers consider the current network business. But apart from the obvious word games, let´s see why I saw similarities between a vendor manufacturer, the film and the theater experience:
- Efficiency: The necessities of customers when it comes to network equipment are well known. However, many vendors pack their equipment with lots of features that, a) the clients do not need and b) end up draining resources thus lowering the performance of their routers in key features that the customers pay for. In the same way as the film, where the story starts to lose all interest due to the endless storms.
- Investment: When a vendor designs a product roadmap, the return of investment is one of the key factors. So, they invest in features that suit the needs of the majority of their customers or in special features that are demanded from a niche market or special customers. Contrariwise, the investment is useless. Throughout the film, I kept thinking. “Apart from a hurricane film, what is all this investment in this infrastructure valid for?” Because it cannot possibly be reused for any other films (or only for a very small number of them).
- Price: Is the customer ready to pay extra for what you are offering? We live in a world where budgets are tighter each year. And customers try to save as much money as possible in things that are not really necessary. So is it reasonable to charge extra (and risk rising above the market price) for features that the customer may not need, want or even appreciate?
As you can appreciate, I didn´t find the film very interesting (with or without fans), but I reached the conclusion that it makes sense to avoid some extraordinary, even appealing and marketable features, that only raise the cost and do not help to more effectively solve the customer requirements (in this case, the obvious need was watching a good film).
This is what we have in mind in Teldat when we design our routers. How to solve the customer needs as efficiently as possible, at a lower cost. Consequently the first thing we do is to find out what these needs are and stick to them, without adding a lot of features and functionalities that we charge our customers for, but do not necessarily add a significant value. For us in Teldat, this is what competitiveness is all about.