Ma Bell isn't much of a mother figure anymore. Over the past year, AT&T was booted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average and announced it would stop marketing the consumer phone service that was once its core. Rumors that it's buffing itself up for sale have circulated for years. In the meantime, here's what AT&T needs to do to get itself back on the line.
Brian Adamik, president and CEO, the Yankee Group
"AT&T should become the consumer Amazon of connectivity. It essentially becomes an ueber reseller of voice, data, video, and wireless services for the whole industry — a destination site through the merit of its brand. Amazon is to products and books and all that jazz what AT&T could be in the consumer world to providing connectivity, media, and entertainment services."
Pascal Aguirre, SVP, Adventis, a telecommunications consulting firm
"AT&T needs to relentlessly pursue value-added services to enterprises — things like content management and application infrastructure delivery. The products may be there, but there's not full momentum to sell it all. There's not a push to get inside the mind and, more important, the operation of the CIO. AT&T needs to think about IBM and EDS [as rivals] a lot more than Sprint or MCI or Verizon."
Andy Abramson, blogger, VoIP Watch,
"It needs to make its voice over Internet protocol service, CallVantage, more cool and hip. How? With sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. I don't think AT&T is going to do sex or drugs, but it can do rock 'n' roll, which is entertainment, movies, and music. AT&T has the bandwidth, it has the pipe in the middle, it has capacity. So it should be delivering content that goes beyond just 'Hi, Mom, it's me.' "
Update: AT&T merged with SBC in early 2005.
A version of this article appeared in the March 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.