Metratech was always an annoying company. Watching Metratech was like watching a brilliant young tennis player. There were passing shots that made you gasp and made you believe for a moment you were watching the next world champion. Then there would be two double faults.
Part of the brilliance, and the problem, was that they would not view their market in the conventional, vertical way. They positioned themselves as the agnostic billing company. As such, they went after business in the same agnostic and opportunistic manner. One month they would win a telecoms contract, another, adapting what they had, they would win a contract to support ticketing and security mechanisms of a large international airport. “Take off those little icons that mean telecoms switches and replace them with little ticketing machines and you can re-engineer the model really quickly,” this, according to a senior executive from some years ago. They also landed the system for DTCC, ‘America’s leading clearing and settlement firm’ that processes four billion transactions a day.
Their agnostic approach launched them into new, even bigger and more complicated markets. The IoT ‘market’ and the ability to support ‘Everything as a Service’ became their strategy.
But, for a company of 140 souls, going after every market on earth was simply too much to ask. They were seldom at telecoms events, because they were not a ‘telecoms biller.’ They did not have the resources to be everywhere. Many within the company knew that the sensible approach would be to choose one market and go after it. But they were too insanely great to do that.
Ericsson is not annoying, it is huge. Ericsson networks carry more traffic than many of the largest operators on earth. In fact if you add the networks they manage for operators and the traffic that goes over their network equipment every day, the answer is three and a half billion customers. On the BSS side, they have grown their business through acquisition. LHS, after its own stormy life, came to rest in its arms. EHPT, the interconnect biller from many years ago, was folded in. Ericsson can pull off the ‘all things to all people’ play, it is big enough. Metratech could not.
Although Ericsson does not keep the identify of its new children, preferring to rely on the safety of the Ericsson brand, they look after them. Almost all of the old LHS gang are still working for LHS, it just happens to be a division of Ericsson. The same will happen with Metratech.
If Ericsson can tame the child prodigy that is Metratech, and bring its enormous influence and coverage to bear, then maybe this is the best thing that could ever have happened to it. There is no reason to suppose it will not happen either – their track record of integrating smaller companies is good.
So, soon, we should see Ericsson launching ‘Everything – from the Cloud.’
Read Scott Schwartz, CEO, Metratech’s view here.