– William Morrow
The data point in this BLOG post reflects how one upstart startup got it right.
Cerent’s success was a tale of focus and execution. The privately-held company:
- Targeted an unserved (or underserved) market segment, in terms of innovation
- Focused on economics rather than technology
- Packaged leading-edge technology to do almost everything better than existing technology could do (in Cerent’s case, much better than legacy SONET could do).
- Secured anchor customers in places the competition didn’t appear to care about and learned from its mistakes across all facets of serving the customer.
Tom Nolle agrees in principle by highlighting one company that did NOT get it right, a large Scandinavian telecom manufacturer. The absence of marketing can doom any company, and this is especially true for startups.
Nolle argues how important targeting continues to be: “Systemic positioning is especially critical for companies who don’t have highly visible product families . . . [positioning] provides visibility for things that on their own don’t seem all that visible. That positioning can then easily tie in with buyer goals is another bonus, but that kind of success takes some serious effort and major insight.”
In the optical transport segment, Cerent adopted an innovative solution during the late 1990s that took its targeted market – the metropolitan optical transport market – by storm.
We offered service providers a new way of thinking how optical transport networks could be built. Again, Nolle concurs, and he pointed this out in an October 2016 post: “The problem is that operators now recognize their challenges as being systemic rather than point-of-purchase in nature. They don’t need a new box, they need a new approach.”
And Cerent-Cisco optical provided that new approach, one that tier 1 service providers such as AT&T adopted for their evolving Ethernet-IP architecture. Again, Nolle recently pointed out, “If you look at the architectures of operators like AT&T and Verizon, you see an attempt to model a new approach to services by framing a new model for infrastructure and service lifecycle management. That’s what [that Swedish company] should have come up with on its own, and should still work to support.”
 Good Riddance 2001; Welcome 2002: A Look Ahead At Trends That Will Shape The Industry, Fiber Optics News, December 24, 2001, p.3.