Dan Baker: Why talkRA Needs to Broaden its Coverage

Eric’s recent post “The End of talkRA” provoked a good discussion. And those who commented are eager to keep talkRA — or its successor — alive and well. I think this is mostly a tribute to Eric’s industry expertise and skills as a writer and moderator.

And yet, as Eric admits, “things have changed”. The business assurance software vendors serving the market are expanding in many directions. But that doesn’t mean RA and related issues are solved. New issues are entering the scene all the time.

The telecom market is evolving at a rapid pace today. Huge issues are there to be discussed, i.e. how to operate and position the business in the new IP-centric, 4G/LTE, big data, and enterprise-serving business where the boundary line between service providers, OTTs, and vendors is rapidly blurring.

So I’d like to see talkRA’s focus shift to cover these broader strategic issues. It will give Eric and everyone else plenty to talk about.

And this migration should be fine because I believe the core talkRA readership is not wedded to RA alone. Here’s my take:

  1. Readers are focused on operations and have a wide-ranging view of the telecom business. And they work in the carrier, consultant, and software camps.
  2. They are analysts or managers of analysts who seek to help the business in whatever areas deliver the biggest payoff for their companies and their own careers.
  3. The watchwords are “business rules” and “alignment of operations with the business”. To me, the simplest explanation of this philosophy was given by Ed Shanahan, the former manager of RA at TMNG.
  4. They are eager to work with software tools, but they know there’s no such thing as putting the business on auto-pilot. Telecom evolves too quickly and every major software advance requires analysts, consultants, and experts to step up and intelligently direct the analysis and interpret the results.

OK, so here are my suggestions for talkRA’s future:

  1. Participation, and more participation. If 50 expert readers of talkRA contributed a short guest column every year, you’d increase the value of visiting talkRA quite a bit and it would provoke some very nice discussions. How can we promote more participation?
  2. Surveys. Daniel Peter mentioned this and it’s a great idea. And my inclination is to support quick in-line surveys. I also think an annual “State of the Practice” survey is worth having and sharing. Here’s a good example from the publication, A List Apart.
  3. On Black Swan Journal, we do not have comments or commentary, so I’m looking for ways of doing that, and perhaps integrating with talkRA in some way would achieve that.

So these are my thoughts. Eager to hear reader and Eric’s comments.

Dan Baker
Dan Baker
Dan is a founder of the Technology Research Institute (TRI), which has published studies about the telecom software market since 1994.

As a journalist, Dan wrote for B/OSS magazine and recorded webinars with VanillaPlus before launching his own publication, Black Swan Telecom Journal.
  • Lionel Griache

    Hi Dan,

    You’re offering great suggestions and I’m sure that there’ll be more guest-post submissions in the future (let’s not look at the number of comments posted here so far as any indication).

    I think that we all know what might restrain people from offering their opinion and posting on this website, don’t we?
    For individuals, members of an established corporation, there’s the fear to express an opinion that might go against the company’s interest, be not fully endorsed by the company, or worst, that would look damaging to your credibility as an expert in the field which would compromise your career in the company.
    For individuals working as independent or smaller structure, it’s somewhat an intimidating decision to offer an opinion publicly because it’s really hard to perceive in advance that what we have to say might interest others. It’s really not a self-esteem booster to post something and receive no feedback in return. So why taking the risk?
    For all these reasons, I feel like the pool of people willing to “take the risk to engage” is smaller than we’d like it to be.

    Still, I can say without taking any risk that this website is necessary to the industry and for that reason, it is worth investing personal time and engaging more. So I’m definitely willing to do my part.
    I personally miss the monthly “Lunch-Time Teasers”. Not so much for the intellectual challenge that they offered but more because they were great windows to the daily activity of consultants in the field. It showed well the scope of activity that we can find in the industry and how broad it can be. I’d also be really interested in reading feedback from visitors of some RA conferences. Again for the same reason; it offers a unique opportunity to confront your scope of activity with others’. I’d also be interested in reading results of surveys as you suggested.

    In any case, thanks for promoting engagement and looking forward to a more interactive website.

  • Lionel,

    Thanks for your comments. Well, the column I read today “When RA goes Bad” is a high quality contribution that’s completely anonymous. And being anonymous doesn’t take away from the story at all. In fact, it allows the contributor to fully expose the dirty laundry and it’s highly interesting to read.

    I, too, liked the Lunch-Timer Teasers. Good ideas like that keep people coming back.

    Eric and I are discussing the survey concept. Stay tuned on that one.