Customer relevance; does anyone get it?

The theme of this year’s Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto (the 7th annual) was maintaining relevance for the customer.

The Canadian Telecom Summit is the pre-eminent Canadian telecom event that brings senior executives, carriers, manufacturers, regulators, integrators and enterprise professionals and the channel partners together. The Summit certainly provided a forum for the broad section of suppliers, customers, regulators and other stakeholders to exchange views, share ideas, network and plan for the future.

The co-produced by Mark Goldberg and Michael Sone did a first class job of bringing the top industry professionals from IT, telecom carriers and manufacturers together to educate and inform us as to their future views of the industry. We were sorry we could not attend all of the sessions to be able to provide the highlights. We do encourage folks to attend the Telecom Summit next year, which is again to be held in Toronto June 15, 16, 17, 2009.

It was interesting to listen to the various IT and telecom leaders provide their thoughts and views of the future, the competitive landscape and where they think their companies fit it. We found it particularly interesting to hear from new participants that we believe had not participated in past conferences; and particularly from the new industry areas.

During the three day conference, some of the new presenters discussed:

Media/entertainment industry discussing content and intellectual property rights management.

Hosted voice providers discussing the trends in hosted solutions.

International offshore telecom providers and integrators discussion international trends in off shoring and partnering.

An international delegation from Israel interested in discussing working with Canadian corporations and suppliers to grow revenue across international boundaries.

From our anecdotal observations, it appeared that there were, (as expected), the usual mature telecom industry professionals, but it also appeared that there were more young professionals than in previous years. This seemed to be true whether they were customers or suppliers. Many of them came from the IT side of their businesses, rather than traditional telecommunications, and when we talked to them, it was either their first time or a relatively new trend to attend this type of conference.

Some of the main Canadian suppliers and providers from past conferences did not participate, either as presenters or attendees. (not quite sure why, and we welcome your thoughts and feedback on this topic).

The participants felt that the telecom industry is in an accelerated rate of change through a murky crystal ball.

Alliances, co-operation and co-petition continues, but with different players.

In spite of the theme of the conference that Goldberg and Sone strived to have the presenters focus on, we in fact, heard very little about relevance to us as customers, and most disappointing, that the industry still continues looking at things from their own viewpoint, rather than ours as customers.

What do we think this all means to the Telecom and IT industry?

From our multiple 1-on-1 interviews, attending key note sessions and talking to multiple conference participants, it appears that the Telecom Industry continues to genuinely try to be committed to us as customers, but is not quite sure how to go about doing it.

The Industry also continues to struggle with the ever accelerated pace of technology change; financial, market and regulatory pressures; and even changing competitive landscape where companies are sometimes their ‘business partners’ while still being ‘fierce competitors’.

What do we think it all means to us as telecom and IT customers?

The 2008 Conference Board of Canada study comments on Canada’s decrease in productivity and their thoughts about the linkage to Information Communications Technology slowed innovation.

We strongly encourage the telecom and IT industry in Canada to work together, to develop innovative, creative business solutions for SMB and enterprise customers. We also ask them to educate and help deploy these solutions to enable Canadian businesses to evolve, grow and prosper.

I hope you have found our thoughts of value, educational, enlightening or at least humorous, and feel free me at Roberta J. Fox at [email protected] or 905.473.3369 x 1001 to discuss further.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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