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How to Balance Standards & Innovation


By Michail Tsatsanis

The Company faced stern opposition from incumbent vendors in accepting the standards modifications needed. The Company was successful in overcoming these objections only after a two year standards confrontation that followed these stages of escalation:

  • Establish technical credibility: The Company engaged its top engineering talent in the standards process and over time created an image of a well respected technical organization, populated with leading experts in their fields.
  • Address all technical concerns: After a technical proposal was put forth for a modification of the standard, a number of technical objections were raised by incumbent vendors. The Company had the patience and determination to devote the resources needed and address/rebut all concerns with convincing technical work and presentation of results to the technical community.
  • Enlarge your base of support: The Company was successful is earning the support of most participating companies in the standards committees (which did not have a stake in the particular outcome), through diligent technical work as well as intensive private relationship building.
  • Coordinate decisive customer intervention: Despite majority support, a stalemate ensued as the proposed modifications were not accepted by a few of the incumbent equipment vendors. At that point, the Company surprised the incumbents by gathering support from the customer base (large telecommunications providers) and was successful in having them articulate the importance of the proposed modifications in their vision of the evolution of their access networks. This coordinated response from the leading customers was the catalyst for breaking up the stalemate and dispersing any remaining opposition.