Breaking the glass ceiling
DataQuest|September 2021
The pandemic has turned the tables in the IT industry. Now, anyone who has a great idea for a product or service can enter the arena without any special pass
Manoj Chugh

Two decades ago, while working for an IT networking tech firm, I tried hard to convince telecom operators to embrace IP technology to carry their voice, data and video traffic on data networks. No one believed in our vision at the time. They thought that we were peddling snake oil. One day, with great difficulty, I got a meeting with the chairman of one of the premier telecom players of the time. I was informed that the entire leadership team would be there, gathered, to listen to our revolutionary ideas (though bizarre at that time). We wanted to pitch the idea of a robust, scalable IP backbone that would carry all types of traffic, not just data.

Finally, the D-Day came. My team and I reached the corporate office well in time. We were chaperoned politely into the boardroom. Soon, the chairman arrived. After the usual polite introductions, I was asked to begin my presentation. Five minutes in, the chairman looked at his watch and excused himself. He said that he had an urgent call to make. I guess, the tough message that was being given to us was that we were not ‘telecom network’ class players, but ragtag IT equipment folks, foolishly venturing into the brave new world of telecom.

No sooner had he left the room, all the executives started excusing themselves, one by one. Within a few minutes, we were left alone to eat humble pie and make our way out of the building. Before leaving, we were asked to hand over our presentation on a memory stick, “just in case”. We licked our wounds and came back to our office in a rather sombre mood. Our goal that afternoon was to make a pitch, for MPLS networks, which would, in a very bandwidth-efficient fashion allow service providers to offer voice, data, and video services seamlessly to businesses and consumers.

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