Case | HBS Case Collection | November 1999

Lucent Technologies: Optical Networking Group

by Marco Iansiti and Barbara Feinberg


Set in June 1999, this case describes the development of a new platform product, the Wavestar OLS 400G, that responded both to a demand for greater "bandwidth" and aggressive competitors seeking to supply it. The 400G's development process took only 14 months and pioneered a number of new development approaches, while expanding customer and supplier bases. Yet traditional customers remained concerned that the 400G was not as "feature-rich" as they wanted, and many in Lucent's Optical Networking Group felt "burned out" by the hectic development pace. Students debate what should follow the 400G project. The first option is an evolutionary product, relatively consistent with the later releases of 400G but extending its performance by as much as a factor of two. The second option is to ignite another technological revolution, using a "clean sheet of paper" to completely redesign the 400G platform and potentially achieve more than a four-times performance improvement.

Keywords: Customers; Operations; Product Development; Performance Improvement; Technology; Technology Networks;


Iansiti, Marco, and Barbara Feinberg. "Lucent Technologies: Optical Networking Group." Harvard Business School Case 600-053, November 1999.