A Brave New World
Expectations for a strong 2019
If you remember, at around this time last year, I came back from ECI’s annual sales kick-off with a blog titled: Kicking-off a Great New Year. And this year is no different. In fact as 2019, commenced, ECI sales and management once again retreated for 3 days, this time to Athens, to discuss our plans and goals for 2019. And the funny thing is that no matter how good last year was, next year (or rather this year) is expected to be even better.
2018 was a good year!
To be honest, 2018 was another good year for ECI as we cleared double digit growth for another year in a row. We now count over 90 new customers and wins since our initial growth spurt, ~3 years ago. Outpacing market average by quite a stretch (even if I do say so myself).
We are growing strong, not only in our traditional markets, but also in those we want to develop. Not only with our traditional products, but also with our newer additions and software. And we’ve taken major steps in our 5G developments, now ready for the market to move past just the ‘5G NR (new radio) in stand-alone mode’. We are ready, as our various PoCs, meetings and customer’ demonstrations confirm.
2018, yet more market consolidation!
This year was no different also in the space of M&A. With Adva gobbling up MRV (or was that already last year?) and Infinera merging with Coriant. And if we look even farther back we can reminisce upon a few other competitors which have since disappeared.
This market has very little compassion for companies who underperform for a long time. Competition remains cut throat! Discussions of commoditization are rampant. In my opinion, this is yet another indication that ECI and our ELASTIC network strategy is ‘right on the money’. Don’t get me wrong, winning is not a ‘walk in the park’. We need to fight, and fight hard. But winning so many new customers and projects, expelling incumbents, has to say something for us.
And nowhere do you feel the sheer power of victory than at a sales kick-off. This year was no different, with sales manager after sales manager, region after region, talking about their experiences. The need for networks that adapt as your needs adapt. The need for networks with inherent evolution plans to higher speeds, SDN and yes, even 5G. Gone are the days our customers have ‘extra money’ to invest in their infrastructure. Because we are not the only ones feeling the squeeze of the ‘empowered consumer’.
5G is the future
5G is definitely the future! With predictions that 5G network infrastructure revenue is expected to reach $26 billion by 2022, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (if this profession even exists anymore) to understand that the next wave of network investments is imminent. Seems like it’s almost the only thing this industry is interested in if you look around at the tabloids, events and webinars.
And there is no doubt that 5G will be big. To successfully and truly fulfill the 5G promise service provider will need to overhaul their networks, outfit them with AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) capabilities, and upgrade everything from interfaces to synch technologies. While the standards are far from final, this is the time to start.
Many of our customers are in advanced stages of research and lab trials. While some things are clearer (interface speeds and synch requirements), others less so (network slicing). Moreover, how to go about moving from 4G/LTE to 5G is even more fuzzy (as demonstrated by recent market research conducted for us by ACG Research – stay tuned). That is why ECI will be on hand at Mobile World Congress to take questions from our customers, partners and potentials. Click here if you’re attending MWC and would like to meet with our experts to hear more.
And yet with all the talk about 5G it is sometimes hard to believe, that it is not yet paying the bills 🙂. Praise be that our portfolio sales continue to be strong. 2018 was the year of Apollo for us (not that our Neptune product line did badly) and sales of our optical transport, and particularly, switching platforms skyrocketed. SW sales were also on target, with enhancements to our Muse and more traditional OSNR and analytics lines.
A strong 2019
And as we look forward to a strong 2019, it is important to stop for a minute and appreciate how far we’ve come. The sales kick-off was a perfect place for this, with sales people from around the globe descending on the Athenian Riviera. Where better, to learn from one of the world’s greatest military minds!
Alexander the Great established the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen. By turns charismatic and ruthless, brilliant and power hungry, diplomatic and bloodthirsty, he inspired such loyalty in his men that they’d follow him anywhere. Though Alexander the Great died before realizing his dream of ‘reaching the ends of the earth’, his influence on Greek and Asian culture was so profound it inspired a new epoch.
We, too, were inspired by stories of glory, from top management to heads of portfolio. We learned important lessons from our friends and colleagues. We breathed our success, and even chose an anthem. Most importantly we all left feeling even more empowered and capable. Ready to make good on our vision for ECI in 2019 and beyond. See you next year, after another great sales kick-off.