Alcatel-Lucent launches assault on Cisco

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Alcatel-Lucent launches assault on Cisco

Merged company plans to steal market share from 'the elephant'.

Alcatel-Lucent is launching a major offensive to try and win market share from its competitors, especially Cisco. 

The buzzword was "transformation" at the company's Enterprise Forum in Paris, which applied to both Alcatel-Lucent and its clients.

"Transformation is all about reinventing yourself," said Oscar Rodriguez, chief marketing officer for the Alcatel-Lucent business group.

"It is about improvement, about moving to the next step so that we can progress as a world, as a planet, as a people and in everything that we do."

Rodriguez explained that "transformation" will allow Alcatel-Lucent to increase its own business by helping its customers to grow their own.

"The title of 'transformation' really means how we transform an enterprise to continue to grow, to drive profits, to drive capabilities, so they can serve their customers and advance their employees' abilities to serve those customers, " he said.

Tom Burns, president of the Enterprise Solutions Division at Alcatel-Lucent, said that chief information officers and chief executives are spending a lot of money on IT and telecoms and expect the investments to pay dividends.

"They are looking for a way to transform this asset and this investment to become a competitive threat and be part of their business model," he said.

"Once these foundations are built, enterprises are asking how they can make their users and customers more productive.

"This is pushing information outside the standard boundaries of the enterprise, giving people the information they need, in the format that they need it and on the device they want it."

One of the problems Alcatel-Lucent will have to overcome to achieve its goals is what chief executive Pat Russo referred to as an "uncertain" merger.

As a player in a market with some major competitors, Alcatel-Lucent has to get its name out there and scrap for market share. But the company acknowledged that it will not usually be the name on everyone's lips.

"While everyone [at the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Forum] obviously knows who we are, I am well aware that in the broader market in which we compete we have some formidable competitors and we may not always be the first company that comes to mind," said Russo.

With the merger now in full swing, Alcatel-Lucent also needs to overcome the brand problems faced by its double-barrelled name.

The company's spokespeople recognised that there are difficulties with the name constantly being shortened to the first word, branding the company as simply 'Alcatel'.

The same problem cropped up in a number of talks and videos shown at the Enterprise Forum. In one instance, the IT project manager for Gonzaga University referred to the company simply as Alcatel. 

More noticeably, Dan Drawbaugh, chief information officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC), corrected himself mid-sentence. " Alcatel has selected UPMC … Alcatel-Lucent has selected UPMC," he said.

Hubert de Pesquidoux, president of Alcatel-Lucent's Enterprise Business group, took things in a different direction with his habit of calling the company "Alca-Lucent".

However, Michael Hardiman, director of global accounts conferencing and collaboration solutions at the company, suggested that the double-barrelled name could actually work in Alcatel-Lucent's favour.

"Alcatel-Lucent has strong brands in each location. Alcatel is very powerful in Europe, and Lucent is very powerful in the US," he said.

"Bell Labs is another strong name, so that gives us a huge amount of potential in the US to increase revenue."

Pushing the Alcatel-Lucent name will be made easier thanks to the creation of a dedicated team aimed at winning big-name accounts.

Pesquidoux described Cisco as "the elephant" in the market and has no illusions about the difficulty of the task to win market share.

"We have a lot of respect for Cisco because they are doing a good job," he said. "Pierre de Coubertin, the man who gave new life to the Olympic Games, used to say it was important to participate. He was wrong. It is more important to win." 

Pesquidoux claimed that the real benefit of the merger was the portfolio of products Alcatel-Lucent needed to win clients. "We are dead serious about winning in the big international market," he declared.

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