By Becky Huang
[Wellesley Women in Business recently invited Ambassador Terry Kramer to Wellesley to give a presentation called The Changing Landscape of Mobile Communication. Below, you will find summaries of the main topics he covered during his presentation.]
Current state of the mobile communications industry
Since everyone wants to be the leader in the fast-growing mobile communications industry, recent years have seen the emergence of winners (e.g. Apple and Samsung) and losers (e.g. Nokia and Blackberry). Strategies are changing as well. Since the fixed landline service is less popular than it once was, companies often bundle together fixed landline and mobile services instead of offering it separately. In addition, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model of matching different phones with companies’ services is becoming ubiquitous. Since mobile businesses cannot always predict their friends or foes in the near future, seeking partnership in the present is key to potential future growth. Another key success factor in the mobile industry is having a whole “ecosystem”. Think of the iPhone model: it was not “whiz-bang” technology that made it so popular, but rather the ease of use. The iPhone box comes not only with the device itself (one with a highly-intuitive user interface), but also the end service of iTunes. Finally, mobile is the wallet of the future. Nowadays, Starbucks offers a payment option through Square, an app that stores payment information on the mobile phone. Imagine every business offering a mobile payment option in the future; then cell phones would replace wallets, too!
Global political considerations
Ambassador Kramer recently partook in an international treaty negotiation, where non-democratic nations sought government control over the Internet and wished to use new payment models to charge for Internet traffic delivery. The U.S opposed the treaty, believing that a free telecommunications market allows entrepreneurial activities to flourish and creates economic opportunities. The U.S.’s stance was that multi-stakeholders should manage the market issue, instead of the government. Otherwise, there would be a risk of government censorship. Iran and Cuba pushed an addendum that human rights should be accrued only to nations, not individuals. Taking this extreme position backfired to bring 54 out of 88 nations to stand with the U.S. to oppose the treaty.
Reflections on leadership
Leadership necessitates having great awareness of what is happening around you. On this subject, Ambassador Kramer drew two conclusions. First, when you are starting a new job, do not be quick to pass judgment. Instead, take the time to absorb new information and learn about the environment around you. This is because you have not yet earned the right to impose knowledge on others as a newcomer to the office. Second, when working in a global context, remember that business models differ by country. For example, Americans are known to generally prefer “clunkier” styles of phones, while European and Asian customers generally prefer their devices to be small and sleek. In addition, business etiquette varies by culture. American managers might praise an employee in the midst of others to applaud him or her as an example for others to follow. However, in Europe or Asia, this would actually be an embarrassing moment for that person due to the lack of individualistic corporate culture.