The future of NSN: can NSN survive without its Managed Services business?

Our recent article on NSN (The future of NSN: a happy-end at last?) has been a blockbuster of sort. It has attracted more than 3,500 readers since publication at the end of April 2012, from Germany, Finland, Portugal, India as well as many other countries. We have been very surprised by the interest that the article has generated. There was nothing new in the article that was not in the public domain already, and the financial numbers were taken straight from the Nokia web site.

We have reasons to believe that many readers must have been NSN employees trying to decide what to do now, in the view of the various outplacement and redundancy programs set up by the company. Also a former NSN employee indicated that “the NSN management would never point out the series of multi-hundred-million annual loss so clearly”! If this means that the NSN management has lacked transparency towards its own employees in the past, then this is rather worrying.

Are you a product, a solution or a service company?

Recently, we have noticed something interesting.   Go to the web sites of the top telecom suppliers and check in which order the words “products”, “solutions” and “services” appear there.

We have done the check:

  • Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN): products, solutions, services
  • Huawei: solutions, products, services
  • Alcatel-Lucent (ALU): solutions, products, services
  • IBM:  solutions, services, products
  • Cisco: products & services
  • Ciena: products & services

Interestingly, IBM is the only company that puts ‘products’ last. And NSN, ALU and Huawei seem to put a strong focus on ‘solutions’.  But are they really ‘solutions’ companies?  Well, not in the IBM sense. Finally, Cisco and Ciena don’t even talk about solutions, at least at the top level.

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.