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TeleChoice - TeleSparks

On occasion, we will share with our friends throughout the industry our views on major events and issues in the telecom industry.
We will use TeleSparks as the primary vehicle for sharing these (usually highly opinionated) views and we welcome your feedback.

TeleSparks is authored by Danny Briere, TeleChoice Chief ExecutiveOfficer, with input from others throughout the TeleChoice organization.

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TeleSparks Archive

TeleChoice TeleSparks - Rejoice! Again, I say Rejoice!

+=+=+The News+=+=+

The telecom/networking industry is to blame for the 
failure of the economy.

+=+=+The TeleChoice Take+=+=+

The telecom industry is clearly in the midst of intense 
trials and tribulations, but we must not lose sight of the 
incredible blessings delivered through networking in 
the past few years. Looking back on this first year of 
TeleSparks, I believe it's time to dwell on the good 
fruits of the industry, the things deserving of praise.

It is incredible to look back just 5-10 years and see 
the awesome improvements in how people and 
businesses operate because of the advances made 
in our industry. I think the foundational (but enormous) 
impacts can be summed up into four key areas of 
- Immediacy of communication
- Freedom from time
- Freedom from place
- Ubiquitous access to information

Obviously, there are overlaps between these areas, 
but I'd like to explore each one briefly to help us all 
dwell on these good things at the end of a very bad 

+=+ Immediacy of Communication +=+
Go back 10 years. How did you communicate? You 
probably used three primary tools: telephone calls, 
faxes, and letters/memos. Do you remember when an 
Inbox really meant a metal tray on your desk and not 
something accessed using your phone or your 
computer? It wasn't that long ago.

Think back - official communications were largely put 
in writing. Faxes were not yet accepted as legally 
binding communications, so an original document 
had to be physically delivered. 

Internally, memos were hand carried from building 
to building, from floor to floor, from secretary to secretary, 
and finally into that metal inbox. In the large company 
where I worked, mail was picked up and delivered to 
our floor twice a day. If I put a memo into my outbox 
before my secretary brought in my morning mail, it 
could make it into the afternoon mail pickup, get sorted 
in the basement, and hopefully delivered to my 
co-worker 20 feet below me the next morning. 

Moving outside our company added more days to 
the process. In those rare circumstances when I could 
justify overnight delivery, getting a letter into my outbox 
in the morning might get it into the FedEx truck that 
afternoon for 10am delivery. If the mail sorting department 
on the other end was operating well, it might be on my 
correspondent's desk by mid-afternoon - a day and a 
half after I "sent" it. Best case, his response to me would 
be in his outbox the next morning, and best case, I'd have 
the response on my desk by the afternoon of the fourth 
day. (Day 1 a.m.: my outbox, Day 2 p.m.: his inbox, 
Day 3 a.m.: his outbox, Day 4 p.m.: my inbox).

Of course, most correspondence didn't rate express 
delivery, so add at least a day into each of the above 
steps, and we're talking a week or more for roundtrip 
communication. (Mon. a.m.: my outbox, Tue: transit, 
Wed p.m.: his inbox, Thursday a.m.: his outbox, 
Friday: transit, Monday a.m.: my inbox).

Compare this to e-mail. Roundtrip best case: 
5 minutes. Roundtrip worst case: typically 1 day.

Sure - fax was faster, but in most companies, fax 
machines were centralized and delivered through 
the same 2-a-day cycles described above. So, 
if a document wasn't legally binding, and would 
be legible when received via fax, then the process 
for communicating anywhere in the world would be 
reduced to the same timing as internal 
communications. (Day 1 a.m.: my outbox, 
Day 1 p.m.: faxed, Day 2 a.m.: his inbox, 
Day 2 p.m.: his outbox, Day 3 a.m.: faxed, 
Day 3 p.m.: my inbox).

And, of course, we could always pick up the phone 
and call, if our need for immediate information 
justified the cost (daytime rates of $0.50/minute?). 
If I was lucky, I'd catch my counterpart at her desk 
and able to talk. If not, the response from the other 
end might go like this: "I'm sorry, Mrs. Jones is not 
at her desk, would you like to leave a message? 
No, I don't know when she might be available. 
She keeps her own calendar. Would you like me 
to write your message down on a pink sheet of 
paper so that she can return your call and try to 
catch you at your desk?"

Praise the blessings of voice mail, e-mail, cell 
phones, pagers, blackberries, and falling long 
distance costs!

+=+ Freedom from Time +=+

Directly related to the above description is how 
networking technology has freed us from the 
constraints of time. 

Those of us doing international business were 
the first to experience this blessing. Fax machines 
were the first broadly available technology to 
combine, the immediacy of telecom networks, 
with the ability to time shift communications. I 
recall projects where work was being done on 
two continents with no overlap in workdays. Work 
would progress on one continent. A summary of 
progress would be faxed at the end of the day to 
the team on the other continent, who would receive 
it first thing in the morning. They would work all day 
addressing any issues and fax their results back 
at the end of their day. This early technology, 
although primitive, laid the foundation for how most 
of our business is conducted today.

Between voice mail and e-mail, we are now almost 
completely freed from the constraints of time. 
Even among people working in the same time zone, 
how many messages do you receive that are either 
left or sent outside of your "normal" working hours? 
Think about how many tasks you've been able to 
accomplish purely through voice messages or 
e-mail messages sent back and forth, without ever 
speaking directly with each other? Think about 
how many times you've been able to reach 
conclusion on an issue within one day, despite 
the fact that schedules would not permit a direct 
meeting or conversation?

Of course, the concept of time shifting has extended 
well beyond these critical tasks and now is taken 
for granted. Think about audio conference 
playbacks, hosted storage of streamed 
videoconferences, even the mundane task of
watching TV using a TiVo or ReplayTV unit.

Praise the blessings of falling networking costs, 
falling storage costs, and the development of 
technologies that have made time shifting as 
simple as speaking into a phone, typing on a 
keyboard, or looking into a webcam!

+=+ Freedom from Place +=+

Remember when that metal box and that black 
phone on your desk would wait patiently for 
your return, along with the growing stack of pink 
message slips. 

I remember when I dreaded returning to the 
office after either a long business trip or vacation. 
The stack of memos and messages would take 
days to wade through and return. Sometimes I 
wonder if it's better, but now, at least I can wade 
through the voice mails and e-mails on a daily 
basis - deleting the unimportant, and responding 
to the urgent.

Cell phones, of course, make you reachable 
almost anywhere in this country, and most places 
you're likely to travel in the world. In fact, no one 
even needs to know whether you're sitting at your 
desk, across town in the doctor's waiting room, or 
in a far corner of the world. If you need to be 
reached, or if you need to reach someone, it's 
now as easy as if you were still chained to that 

But even beyond this incredible freedom we all 
regularly enjoy, the freedom from place can be 
even greater. The way that TeleChoice operates 
is a great example. We often struggle to answer 
the question "Where is TeleChoice based?" Our 
employees literally stretch from Maine to San Diego. 
Our CEO is in the Northeast. Our President is in the 
Southwest. And our CFO is in the Southeast. And 
our business has taken us to every continent on the 
globe (except for Antarctica - so far). And yet, as you 
'do business with us, you probably have no sense 
of where we are, unless you ask. And even then the 
answer might surprise you. On a recent conference 
call, client participants were in the U.S. Pacific time 
zone and London, while TeleChoice participants 
were from Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern 
time zones. And yet through web conferencing and 
teleconferencing, we were able to communicate 
nearly as well as if we were all in the same place.

A key component of TeleChoice's ability to cohesively 
operate despite out physical separation is our use of 
Instant Messaging. Through my IM client, I can quickly 
see who is "in the office" and can easily "stick my 
head" in someone's "doorway" to ask a quick question 
and get a quick answer. In fact, if I'm able to multitask, 
I can actually use this technology to carry on several 
such conversations at once.

Thanks to incredible networking technologies, there's 
no longer any sense that place matters when 
performing in business. Other than the amenities of 
your comfortable desk chair and keeping your lunch 
in the office refrigerator, there's no difference between 
doing business from that Steelcase desk with the 
metal inbox and black phone, and doing it from an 
airport lounge in a far corner of the globe.

Praise the blessings of ubiquitous network coverage, 
increasing wireless options, and wonderful 
applications, which have made the desktop, truly a 
virtual reality.

+=+ Ubiquitous Access to Information +=+

What was life like before the web? Did you ever have 
a job that required much research? Do you remember 
what the terms "copy" "cut" and "paste" originally meant? 
Do you recall what the inside of a research library looks 
like? Do you own an encyclopedia that takes up more 
than half an inch of physical shelf space? Do you 
remember when the analyst reports you purchased 
only came in big binders (I mean, really big binders 
with more "thunk value" than "thought value")?

These days, we're surprised when we CAN'T find 
some information within seconds from our desktop. 
We're shocked when we can't receive an information 
product in electronic, downloadable form with instant 
delivery. We're frustrated when someone only has 
the document we need in a physical form that has to 
be mailed or hand delivered to us. 

My how times have changed, and how rich our 
blessings are, thanks to the World Wide Web and 
all of it's offspring (Adobe Acrobat, secure credit 
card transactions, e-mail attachments, online 
magazine archives, Powerpoint presentations, the 
list goes on.)

+=+=+What's Next? +=+=+

In a year that has focused on the failings of our 
industry, when many have collectively painted us 
as fools or charlatans, please take a moment to 
savor the richness of the blessings that our industry 
has delivered to the world. Perhaps this is just a 
private moment, or perhaps these are thoughts 
that you can share with others to remind them that 
you have no need to be ashamed of the industry 
you serve.

This has been a tough time for many in the industry. 
It has been painful to watch great teams dismantled, 
great technologies lost for posterity, and great 
people suffer personal challenges. I hope that this 
final TeleSparks of the year can encourage us all to 
continue to amaze and deliver.

Specifically, think on these things:

- How can you and your company build upon 
the foundational benefits discussed here. Research 
in Motion is a great example of a company that has 
done just that. What are your opportunities?

- What other barriers can be knocked down 
through networking? What physical constraints can 
be eliminated when we replace the physical with a 
networked virtual equivalent?

- What opportunities exist to make these 
advances available to every business, every 
organization no matter how small or no matter in
what corner of the world they operate (or in how many 
corners, for that matter)?

- Microsoft and National Semiconductor are 
focused on "smart objects" - making everyday items 
intelligent and networked. How will this change how 
we live and work? What opportunities does this 
create for you and your business?

- Are you and your firm taking full advantage 
of these advances in how you operate, or do you 
still chain people to their desks with a metal inbox 
and a black phone?

The ability to appreciate the past while envisioning a 
better future will always be a critical requirement for 
success in every industry. Let us know if we can help.

+=+=+Need Some Help? +=+=+

TeleChoice helps companies everyday better position their 
firms and products for success, whether re-examining 
fundamental business strategy or clearly communicating 
unique position and value in today’s tough marketplace.
Contact us at or visit (

+=+=+About TeleSparks+=+=+

On occasion, we share with our industry 
friends our views on major events and issues in telecom. 
We use TeleSparks as the primary vehicle for sharing these 
(usually highly opinionated) views, and we welcome your 
feedback. Feel free to forward these on to others, but please 
copy us on the messages so we have a sense of the extent 
of distribution of our views.

TeleSparks is generally authored by Russ McGuire, 
TeleChoice Chief Strategy Officer, with input from others 
throughout the TeleChoice organization. You may contact 
Russ ( or your favorite TeleChoice 
contact to share your thoughts on these matters.



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