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Agilent exec tells telecom story

Posted: 16 Aug 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:telecom? oss? naveen bhat? agilent technologies? career?

Bhat: You must believe in yourself and that you can be successful in areas other than the technical and engineering side.

In the Operational Support System (OSS) world, technology changes can be faster than current software product cycles. Oftentimes, service providers face difficult challenges as they upgrade OSSes even before an implementation is completed. Naveen Bhat, newly appointed OSS vice president and Asia-Pacific general manager at Agilent Technologies Inc., faces the task of developing approaches to solve common OSS frustrations.

Before making his mark in the telecom industry, Bhat spent 14 years in the United States working for Texaco Inc., a manufacturing firm that produces oil and natural gases. Armed with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland, Bhat later worked for Pavilion Technologies Inc., a developer of advanced process-control and environmental solutions. From there, he took charge in areas related to improving manufacturing efficiency through automation and control.

Bhat became director of Pavilion and led the Asia-Pacific division. He established and managed a branch office in Japan with a network of partners across India, mainland China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. After years of working on formulas and strategies for the manufacturing business, Bhat moved to telecommunications and became director of Lucent Technologies' OSS business in Asia. He worked extensively with service providers in the region, covering wireline, wireless and data technologies. He was also active in the TeleManagement Forum, working with various service providers on electronic telecom operations maps and next-generation OSS implementations.

"I shifted to the telecom sector because it's an exciting industry. Operational support systems are the brains behind telecom networks. There's nothing more exciting than being here," Bhat said.

While some people make decisions based on impulse and insufficient experience, Bhat took time to carefully study the industry. According to him, his move to telecom was a learning process. He first started in engineering, moved to pre-sales, consulting, and then to customer service. After learning about customer concerns, Bhat moved into sales. After that, Bhat assumed a business management role.

"It takes a bit of planning, but once you make the lead, there is an exciting future. You must believe in yourself and that you can be successful in areas other than the technical and engineering side."

Managing Agilent's overall OSS business in Asia, Bhat is responsible for sales, marketing, delivery and support. The OSS division helps communications service providers get new services to market, improve quality-of-service and reduce operational costs.

New task
Although the telecom sector experienced some difficulty a few years back!one that has cut half a million jobs!a recent study by Insight Research Corp. predicts that the worldwide telecom service revenue will grow from $1.1 trillion in 2005 to $1.5 trillion in 2010, bringing an end to the industry slump.

Bhat feels he must discover an anchor that will secure stability for the business amid difficult times!something that cannot be displaced or stirred by re-engineering or re-invention. He believes that profitability is the key to survival.

"Concentrating on profitability allows us to make a few adjustments on our deals. We may have to give up a few markets that are not profitable and re-invest those dollars in our higher-margin customers and regions," Bhat said.

According to Bhat, Agilent is now concentrating on the cost side of the business, as well as the value side of the equation. He said that the company is geared toward reducing cost structure on a global basis. The company has invested on R&D centers in China and India!centers that are growing rapidly, he said. As a result, the company's cost structures are falling pretty fast, Bhat said. The question now is how fast the adjusted cost structures will meet their profitability goal and what prices customers will demand from them.

In terms of value, Agilent's operational support system business in the past has been network-centric!i.e. focused on looking at the network itself and the technology. Network management was entirely concentrated on equipment and did not translate much to the end-customer. The effect resulted in projects being driven by how much the company spent on the OSS.

With the OSS unit now in his hands, Bhat is pushing toward implementing a customer-centric operation, giving value to the customer's view of what service means. Agilent's open, modular family of OSS wireline and wireless solutions supports next-generation network architectures, thus helping improve levels of performance, reduce fault resolution times and enable new value-added intellectual-property services.

Bhat's chronicle has been a daring but worthwhile undertaking. As an engineer in a high-tech firm, profitability is something that has influenced his day-to-day technical decision-making. He believes that without profits, no business survives, jobs are lost and no one gets raises.

The secret of Bhat's career success did not lie in books, but in an exciting journey of discovering OSS.

- Kathryn Gerardino
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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