Thank you for all your comments and email messages in response to my blog post Cloud Based Communications Services. As a follow up I wanted to elaborate a bit on one service provider (part 2) and one vendor (part 3) I believe are making the right moves in the voice and unified communications market. Of course, the premise for these articles is that the focus on cost control and increased customer demand for OPEX based solution will continue to drive adoption of cloud based communication services.
In a world where communication capabilities are offered as a service, service providers of different types are poised to benefit. I for one think that Vodafone’s entry into Europe’s enterprise communications market is a very interesting and exciting development. Quite frankly, as mobile and IP based communication technology converge, this is a natural yet bold move by Vodafone. In the case of Vodafone, its primary objective is not just to monetize its mobile network infrastructure but to deepen the commercial relationship with the enterprise market. Through its acquisition of Central Telecom, a multi-vendor solution provider and system integration firm, Vodafone will be able to provide customers the full range of unified communication (UC) capabilities, either as a service or as CPE. Its inherit ability to bridge the gap between the mobile and fixed IP networks is yet another differential value proposition. With its recent hosted UC service, Vodafone OneNet, targeted at small and mid-sized business, Vodafone can offer business customers both simplification and cost reduction for their communications needs. Down the line I’m convinced that Vodafone, together a fixed line provider, will be in a position to attract larger enterprise customers with managed UC services as well.
The biggest challenge I see for Vodafone is its ability to develop an attractive channel proposition such that other businesses which can thrive and prosper by selling and enhancing its communication services. Vodafone needs a well functioning eco-system of different types of business partners, such as value added infrastructure and application providers, system integrators, resellers and influencers, to further its business and cover all distribution paths to the customers.
So, is Vodafone going to become a dominate player in the enterprise communication market? I think the word dominance is too strong but they will likely be a contender. With cloud-based delivery gaining momentum, the benefit Vodafone and other service providers have is that they already have much of the costly operational and business support infrastructure in place. So, if cloud model for aggregating, delivering and consuming voice services, voice based applications and infrastructure takes holds, Vodafone has a fair chance at grabbing meaningful market share. However, Vodafone will not be able go it alone. Whether they can build a channel proposition and develop an indirect channel capable of aggregating, influencing and selling, remains a question. But so far, I’m certainly impressed with its strategy.
What do you think... As a consumer focused mobile network carrier, will Vodafone have the "market permission" to deliver a wider range of communication services to the enterprise market?