COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: November 2007

Managed communications are in demand

29 November 2007
Wernher Lotter, sales director, Centravoice

Managed communications (MCS) have emerged in response to growing demand from enterprises for an enhanced range of network-based services that can optimise the total cost of ownership, integrate with traditional service delivery models and guarantee an appropriate technological evolution path.
Market forecasts for MCS point to a rapid growth of 10 to 15% per year over the next five years, reaching $60 billion per year worldwide - or approximately 20% of total service provider business with enterprises.
Service providers looking to take a piece of this market are enhancing their enterprise service offerings - and their business relationships - by adding high-value services across the MCS range: managed business communication, managed customer interaction and managed networking.
Managed communications (MCS) present a major growth opportunity for service providers to move up the value chain with integrated bundles of higher-value enterprise services. These services exist in three domains: managed networking, managed business communications, and managed customer interaction. Although the market potential for managed communication services is large, service providers will face new types of competition from global system integrators and regional integrators.
Successful operators will be those who are able to transform their businesses by forming a new and different relationship with their enterprise customers, including:
* Providing a flexible range of service solutions to enterprises, complete with optimised cost structures at both the network and operational levels.

* Developing solution and integration capabilities with a proper go-to-market approach that addresses different enterprise segments.

* Providing solution integration, local support and maintenance capabilities.

* Using effective marketing to match enterprise-segment needs with the appropriate service bundles and trusted support.
Why managed communications present an opportunity
Enterprises are dealing with complex communication requirements and growing workforce mobility and prefer to focus on improving their operations rather than investing in new equipment. Industry analysts and market research findings concur that the opportunity for this market is large and strategically important. Many service providers are jumping in to take advantage of this new opportunity.
New revenue streams, with key market differentiators
MCS presents an opportunity for service providers to generate new revenue streams and differentiate themselves from pure-commodity competitors to build a sustainable competitive advantage. Moving up the value chain from connectivity services to higher-value managed communication services requires a transformation in terms of the relationship service providers have with enterprise customers.
Service providers must focus on addressing growing requirements for more integrated, flexible and cost-effective solutions across the entire spectrum from SMBs to very large enterprises. Transforming relationships with enterprise customers from a connectivity-cost model to business process partnerships will enable service providers to capture a broader share of the enterprise wallet. By going beyond connectivity services to the broader domain of enterprise telecom total cost of ownership (TCO), service providers can tap into more than three times the existing addressable connectivity market.
MCS for enterprise business transformation
Because advanced applications such as VPN, collaboration and contact centres are not new to the large-enterprise world, MCS offerings have first been offered and adapted to large-scale businesses.
This is where a network-based ;managed; solution comes into play. While it is true that business communication and customer interaction require investments in people, technology and knowledge, the delivery of these services as managed services transforms the potential market opportunity.
MCS - the opportunity for mobile service providers to secure enterprise business today's enterprises have a limited range of choices when it comes to working with mobile operators. Options for mobile usually include bundle-pricing or volume-discount approaches. As more enterprises begin to address total costs and integrate their employee communication and business processes for greater efficiency, these approaches are reaching their limits.
A large proportion of new enterprise installations are adopting VoIP, and the installed base is expected to follow this lead. In the medium term, the move toward VoIP presents new opportunities for mobile service providers to extend service offerings to a full range of communication services that combine IP and mobile services. However, mobile service providers are currently missing key capabilities: a lack of fixed-access networks and the converged go-to-market approach suited for complex services that require integration into the enterprise infrastructure.
To succeed in the mobile space, independent mobile operators need to build a strategy that applies their network assets to a combination of focused service and customer segments, incorporating the following components:
* Adopt a phased approach that starts with integrated mobile data, mobile voice VPN integrating with existing PBX, and virtual PBX services and that can be extended later with FMC services. Leveraging enterprise mobility growth trends and service providers' mobile network assets and customer bases, mobile providers can offer mobile e-mail and other interaction and collaboration services such as mobile controlled conferencing.

* Focus on SMBs and the non-structured part of medium and large enterprises, with mobile-centric services that combine pure mobile with some fixed extensions.

* Accelerate partnerships with fixed-access providers and/or providers' own access development with wireless access solutions.

* Develop a channel strategy geared toward supporting services that require some form of integration.
The mobile divisions of integrated service-provider groups can address demands for user-centric services by teaming up with fixed divisions to develop converged communication service offerings. To date, these services have proven effective in winning market share in enterprise accounts, reducing churn by delivering improved cost control, simpler management for the enterprise, and seamless service with common communication features across fixed and mobile.
Combining the right solutions with efficient go-to-market support
Once the business strategy and the segmentation are understood, implementation is the issue. Service providers need to find a partner (or partners) capable of integrating the right solutions in the network and in the field. Solution elements must be able to provide common interfaces and core functionalities in multiple deployment scenarios and must address an infinite range of unique enterprise-customer requirements.


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