‘Business Planning for Managers’ now available on Amazon

This guide is the ultimate reference for business planning practitioners.  Following an introduction, it contrains 13 chapters:

Getting started

  • Structuring a business plan
  • Case study of a UMTS service provider
  • What can we learn from the dot.com crash?Business Planning for Managers

Financial Statements and Valuation

  • Understanding financial statements
  • Valuing businesses
  • Checklist of common pitfalls

Forecasting Revenues and Costs

  • Forecasting is an art
  • Forecasting on the supply side
  • Forecasting on the demand side

Advanced Techniques

  • Knowing your competitors
  • Value chain and business model
  • Scenario planning
  • Valuing business opportunities as ‘Real Options’

Business Planning for Managers is illustrated with 100 pictures.

More info under www.business-planning-for-managers.com

View the book on Amazon web site

ITIL: only for IT? (Part 2 of 2)

Translated from an original article written by Thomas Bez, TEDESCA Consulting, www.tedesca.com


The TeleManagement Forum (TMF) Framework

Unlike the ITU-T, the TMF is not a traditional standardisation organization but an independent industry consortium of telecom network operators, manufacturers and service providers. This is probably one of its greatest advantages, as it can overcome the traditional slowness of other telecom standardization bodies.

This brief article is not meant to be an introduction to eTOM, as the TMF provides an excellent primer for this purpose.  We are proud to be a member of the TMF, and advise our clients on the content and application of the various TMF ‘standards’.

The TMF has launched a series of complementary frameworks and initiated a number of marketing activities, with focus on the management of telecommunications networks. These frameworks are as follows:

  • NGOSS (Next Generation Operations Support and Software) has set itself the task to provide telecom operators with interoperable solutions for managing their services and networks
  • eTOM (enhanced Telecommunications Operations Map) is the process model behind all activities of the TMF, and obviously takes a very telecom-specific view of the business processes of an operator
  • TAM (Telecom Applications Map), a non-binding blue print of applications or application functions of OSS that are necessary for the implementation of the eTOM processes
  • SID (Shared Information / Data Model), a range of object-oriented information models that describe the interfaces between OSS or applications (as defined in TAM)
  • A number of other activities, such as technology and showcase programs that are designed to demonstrate the interoperability of OSS solutions, and certification of OSS solutions for compliance to the TMF standards

The truth about strategy

Louis V. Gerstner Jr. was CEO of IBM from 1993 to 2002.   He managed the turn-around of the company from a product business to a service and solution business.  He is regarded by many as “the man who saved IBM”.

“It is extremely difficult to develop a unique strategy for a company; and if the strategy is truly different from what others in the industry are doing, it is probably highly risky.

…. at the end of the day, more often than not, every competitor basically fights with the same weapons.

…. in most industries five or six success factors that drive performance can be identified.

…. it is difficult, if not impossible, to redefine what it takes to be successful in that industry.

…. so execution is really the critical part of a successful strategy.  Getting it done, getting in done right, getting it done better than the next person is far more important than dreaming up new visions of the future.”


About the value of getting involved

Here our advice for the week:

“It is easy to underestimate what you will learn once you get involved in something.”

“Things have a habit of looking simple until you really try them.”

Both quotes are from Richard Farleigh, the investor and entrepreneur

ITIL: only for IT? (Part 1 of 2)

Translated from an original article written by Thomas Bez, TEDESCA Consulting, www.tedesca.com


A service management project – whether it be the restructuring of a service unit, the development of SLA and the set-up of a Service Level Management, or a service outsourcing – rarely follows a textbook format.  However, the usage of a methodology or reference model (also called framework or blueprint) is absolutely essential. Reference models are usually developed in a particular industry, and, if they are successful at all, further mature over time with the addition of new releases.  Many of you might still remember the now extinct “FCAPS” reference model from the telecommunications industry, a fairly simple process model from the ITU-T M.3400 standard with its five functional areas: Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance and Security Management.

It is not unusual for these reference models to become more widely used during the course of their development, or at least to give the appearance that their concepts are applicable beyond their industry of origin.  We are particularly familiar with two of these frameworks:

  • ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), a collection of “best practices” or, as recently more modestly described, “good practices” in IT service management – today indispensable in the IT service area.
  • eTOM (enhanced Telecommunications Operations Map) from the TeleManagement Forum (TMF), which is more and more becoming the de facto standard for the design of business processes in the telecommunications industry.

In this article, we want to show how ITIL is becoming universally applicable for service management purposes beyond the IT industry, and in particular in the telecom sector where it can be used in parallel with the standards of the TeleManagement Forum.

Breakthough on the stock markets?

I don´t know whether you have noticed, but something happened on the stock markets this week.

Take the DAX Total Return, a well-constructed index (unlike the Dow Jones).  The index had been hitting a ceiling at 6300 points a number of times this year but never managed to get through.  This week, we have passed 6400 points for a couple of days now.  This might be a sign that it is time for you to invest your money in stocks.

Last time the DAX reached 6400 points, this was in early September 2008, more than 2 years ago, before the Lehman disaster was announced.  6400 points were also reached in early 2007, while the DAX was on its way to a high of 8000 points reached only 6 months later.  Before that, you had to go as far back as February 2001 to see the DAX at 6400 points, on its way down to a low of 2200 points reached in March 2003.

Does that mean that the DAX could hit 8000 points soon?  I don´t know.  And nobody knows, really.  The only thing that I know is that the DAX has been at 8000 before: in March 2000, July 2007 and December 2007.  So getting there once more is not impossible.  Some say that as the DAX performance has been rather disappointing on a 10-year period basis (2000-2010: the lost decade for stocks?), the index has some catch up to do.

Dubai’s secret(s)

Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make the United Arab Emirates, located on the North Eastern shore of the Arabian peninsula, is a most amazing place. It is also an incredible example of how adversity can be turned into good fortune.

Dubai has one of the toughest climates on earth.  Well, it is essentially a flat desert.  For most of its history, its small population of Bedouin inhabitants were left alone by the neighbours – for lack of natural resources and strategic interest.  Until the 1960s, people were mostly poor.  They had no running water.  There was no electricity and the city and its inhabitants were plunged in darkness at night.  How could such a city become what it is today?  How could this happen in the course of only two generations?

When you stand in awe at the bottom of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the word with a height of 826m, an amazingly beautiful building that dwarfs any other building that you have seen on earth so far, a building surrounded by magnificent fountains that come to life and light in a ballet of fireworks at dawn, you can only be very, very impressed.

So how could this happen in such a short period of time?

Do you need a strategic tool to strategize your new strategy? (Part 1 of 2)

There is a semantic problem with the word ‘strategy’ –  it is one of the most overused but unfortunately rather vaguely defined words.  It is rare to find any two people who use it in the same way.  The consequences are disastrous.


95% of the typical workforce does not understand the strategy – Fortune Magazine

70% of CEO failures come not as a result of poor strategy, but of poor execution – Fortune Magazine

Only 1 in 10 companies successfully implement their strategy – Paul Niven



So what is strategy? I remember one company claiming: „Our strategy is to become number 1 in the market“.  That’s is not a strategy!  This is a goal – nothing more, nothing less.

About success, failure and happiness

This week, we are a little bit too busy, so we will have to keep it short.  Here our advice for the week:

“Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successfull.” – Herman Cain

“Unfortunate events, though potentially a source of anger and despair, have equal potential to be a source of spiritual growth.” – Dalai Lama

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be at the highest mountain.” – Richard Nixon

Huawei’s success wave: who can stop them?

Some people have asked us recently: who is next?   After market consolidation of suppliers, in the form of Alcatel-Lucent in 2006 and Nokia Siemens Networks in 2007, followed by the bankruptcy of Nortel Networks (2009), is this the end of the game?

Last year we heard some rumours that one particular European supplier might give up.  This year we hear rumours about another one.   We are not here to comment rumours – having said that, rumours are a sign that some people, employees and customers are worried.

They had better be.  Huawei has been massively successful in the last 10 years.  Turnover was USD2.7bn in 2002 and USD21.7bn in 2009, a CAGR of 35% over the period.  They have been eating the cake of all other telecom suppliers.

So what is the secret?  Three things: vendor financing at terms you can only dream of, massive investment in R&D, and very dedicated staff who are also shareholders, so it seems.

Europe’s rebound: will it ever happen?

Old Europe.  Young Asia.

Can Paris – Turin – Munich compete with Hanoi – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore?

These are some of the cities that I have visited in Europe and Asia in the last 2 months.   The contrast is sharp.  Asia will lead the world tomorrow.  No doubt about that.  Not only 60% of the world’s population lives there, but people are young, motivated and keen to make a better life for themselves.

Actually this has been my first return to Asia after 10 years of absence for me.  10 years ago, Asia was booming.  Today, it still is.

OK, growing when you come from a lower level is easier.   Whereas in a saturated market, creating growth is a different kind of challenge.  Maybe you can call this the “99th floor syndrome”.  When your office is already on the 99th floor and used to be on the 100th, it is hard to rebound.  Whereas anybody on the 1st floor will do what it takes to move up.

In our open and interconnected world, you would have thought that European companies can create a lot more value-added than is currently reported in our GDP statistics.  I have not checked on GNP, but knowing our politicians, if GNP were growing significantly faster than GDP, they would use GNP instead of GDP as the prime measure of economic performance – which is not the case.

So who benefits from European firms manufacturing goods in low cost countries and expanding fast by serving the needs of the middle class in emerging markets?

Investaura is pleased to announce the launch of its web site

Today, we are really happy to celebrate the launch of our Web Site.  On a recent assignment, one of the client staff asked me “How did our company find you?”.   My answer was simple: “Our customers don’t find us, we find them”.  But this statement was also an open recognition that INVESTAURA has lacked visibility on the market so far, and our Web site is one of the measures that we are implementing to better reach and interact with our clients in the future.

So first of all, we would like to welcome you on our journey to make the consultancy world -with the risk of sounding arrogant – “a Better World”.

INVESTAURA is a really new type of consultancy.  Our competitors work like this: a majority of their staff are junior people with excellent academic degrees but no industry experience.  When you as a client buy advisory services from them, you end up interfacing with very young people who are there to learn from you.  You will rarely see senior staff or partners – typically they only show up at the kick-off presentation and well as the final meeting, where they are so keen to present results to your CEO and your Board…