NB A PDF version of this Executive Briefing can be downloaded here.
This special Executive Briefing report summarises the brainstorming output from the Enterprise Services 2.0 section of the 6th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm, held on 6-7 May in Nice, France, with over 200 senior participants from across the Telecoms, Media and Technology sectors. See: www.telco2.net/event/may2009.
It forms part of our effort to stimulate a structured, ongoing debate within the context of our ‘Telco 2.0’ business model framework (see www.telco2research.com).
Each section of the Executive Brainstorm involved short stimulus presentations from leading figures in the industry, group brainstorming using our ‘Mindshare’ interactive technology and method, a panel discussion, and a vote on the best industry strategy for moving forward.
There are 5 other reports in this post-event series, covering the other sections of the event: Devices 2.0, Content Distribution 2.0, Retail Services 2.0, Piloting 2.0, Technical Architecture 2.0, and APIs 2.0. In addition there is an overall ‘Executive Summary’ report highlighting the overall messages from the event.
Each report contains:
- Our independent summary of some of the key points from the stimulus presentations
- An analysis of the brainstorming output, including a large selection of verbatim comments
- The ‘next steps’ vote by the participants
- Our conclusions of the key lessons learnt and our suggestions for industry next steps.
The brainstorm method generated many questions in real-time. Some were covered at the event itself and others we have responded to in each report. In addition we have asked the presenters and other experts to respond to some more specific points. Over the next few weeks we will produce additional ‘Analyst Notes’ with some of these more detailed responses.
NOTE: The presentations referred to in this and other reports, some videos of the presentations themselves, and whole series of post-event reports are available at the event download site.
Access is for event participants only or for subscribers to our Executive Briefing service. If you would like more details on the latter please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background to this report
Enterprises are rapidly extending their use of the internet and mobile to promote, sell, deliver and support their products and services and manage their customer and supplier relationships. However, companies involved in the ‘digital economy’ still face substantial challenges in doing business effectively and efficiently. Telcos have a unique mix of assets (user data, voice and messaging, data and connectivity capabilities) that can be re-configured into platform-based services to help reduce the friction in everyday enterprise business processes: Identity, Authentication and Security , Marketing and Advertising , Digital Content Distribution , Offline Logistics, Transactions (billing and payments), Customer Care.
Research from the Telco 2.0™ team has identified significant potential market demand for these services which could generate new profitable growth opportunities and increase the value of the telecoms industry to investors and government.
- What assets should operators be leveraging to help enterprises?
- What would a platform to support improved customer relationships for enterprises look like?
- What ecosystem is needed to deliver telco platform services to enterprises?
- Best practice use cases and case studies
- Cutting-edge developments in voice-Web integration
Stimulus Presenters and Panelists
- Joe Hogan, CTO and Founder, Openet
- Laurence Galligo, VP Communications, Oracle
- Glenda Akers, SVP, Telecommunications, SAP
- J.P. Rangaswami, MD, BT Design
- Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon
- Thomas Howe, CEO, Jaduka
- Simon Torrance, CEO, Telco 2.0 Initiative
- Chris Barraclough, Managing Director, Telco 2.0 Initiative
- Dean Bubley, Senior Associate, Telco 2.0 Initiative
- Alex Harrowell, Analyst, Telco 2.0 Initiative
Stimulus presentation summaries
How to create profitable QoS, bandwidth, and network usage services
Joe Hogan, CTO, Openet said that things happen slowly at telcos, but they also have short memories. Looking back at the beginning of AOL, they provided modems, services, proprietary browsers, and content in their walled garden. Eventually, though, they had a disastrous experience with over-the-top (OTT) players; people started independent ISPs, and you could use your own e-mail and Mosaic or later, Netscape, which was actually better.
The lesson is that, if you try to own the entire value chain, you will be disaggregated. For telcos and ISPs today, the equivalent is the dumb pipe phenomenon. We’re now seeing RFPs from operators for serious intelligent pipe projects. We expect them to start coming from cable, and from mobile operators who are seeing their dongles used as broadband access.
I think not having a policy management system will be unusual in 24-36 months time; we need throttling, subscriber management, and deep packet inspection.
The second part of our strategy, he said, is to work with the OTT players. We need to impose controls on users who are essentially abusing the service, but only in a back to back relationship with the OTTers, so as to open up the network even if significant controls are imposed. For example, if someone uses all their bandwidth in the first three days in the month but goes to Hulu, and Hulu has a relationship with the network, they can still see the video anyway. As a result, we need a highly dynamic infrastructure.
So we’ve formed a new relationship with Cisco – making sure that the infrastructure does stay smart. If you’re a bandwidth hog, you will get shaped; unless you’re on a web site with a relationship.
Policy management, then, is a strategic piece of infrastructure for vertical revenue sharing and competition. In IMS parlance, it’s the PCRF that is responsible; this means that it must be able to process a significant volume of real-time decisions. We’re looking at 3,000-5,000 transactions a second.
J.P. Rangaswami, MD, BT Design: ”The old model worked and we were good at it, but the only way we could learn about the new model was by experimenting”
Looking ahead, the cable industry’s Canoe is the VISA for advertising – a standard for the technical aspects of ad insertion, for the business model, and for the accounting, reporting and management information system. It requires the infrastructure to provider subscriber- and context-aware charging rules, integrated, context-aware policy management (so it can improve QoS in appropriate contexts), multi-dimensional rating & charging, multiple balances for subscribers (general balance, service-specific balance, points balance), notifications/advice of charge, re-direction, and comprehensive auditing and reporting to support customer service. It needs to provide high performance and be essentially invisible to the subscriber.
Exploring the e-citizen opportunity
Laurence Galligo, VP, Communications, Oracle, presented results from a survey which suggested there was strong support for Telco 2.0 among Oracle customers. Who, she asked, has had a bad experience interacting with the public sector recently? Oracle has put a lot of focus into this recently under Smart City, their project to support improved citizen experience with government services.
For example, there is the SNEN – Single Non Emergency Number. A single point of contact for a whole range of government services outside the emergency-response sector. Value estimated at $1.2bn in five years.
We implemented this as 311 for New York City – the single point of contact led into an integrated ”citizen service centre”. This requires a lot of the underlying Telco 2.0 capabilities – to make it work, we need to authenticate the citizen, to federate their data, to carry out e-commerce transactions, to provide location-based services, and to route voice and messaging intelligently.
The result was an unified government platform – including networking, location-based services and GIS, voice and CTI, CRM, reporting, and transaction-processing systems. Working with a system integrator or software company, the Telco could become a leading partner for government in delivering better citizen services.
Enabling the Transition to Customer Self-Care
Glenda Akers, SVP, Telecommunications, SAP said that the mobile phone had become the preferred route for individuals to interact with organisations. But call centres were horribly inefficient – there is a need to balance quantity – the rate at which calls are processed – and quality – the outcome of the calls, and many fail at this. CTI systems are frequently very poorly integrated – hence there are lots of mistakes and much routing of calls between multiple call centres.
According to an Accenture study, 40% of agents’ time was spent dealing with calls that had gone to the wrong call centre.
And 60-70% of call centre costs are accounted for by labour; anything that can reduce the number of calls is therefore a good deal. Human agents are far too valuable to spend their time just looking up information from the database, so query-only calls must go. So – there is a clear business need to make self-care much better.
High priority sectors are those which have high volumes of traffic, complex queries, distributed resources, and which need to handle contact through multiple channels. Specifically, telecoms/IT itself, finance, retail, media, health, transport, government, unions.
BusinessObjects Mobile is the widgetry interface for SAP’s enterprise workflow systems. Some use cases are bank accounts, bills, energy usage statistics. Mostly, they are query-only, or they have a few one-click controls. The iPhone showed the way, now we want to spread it to many other devices. Web-based, so only a minimal degree of configuration required.
Telcos could provide this as a hosted service, using their identity, billing, voice switching, and device management capabilities, and perhaps also their call centres.
The Front Line of Communications-Enabled Business Processes
Thomas Howe, CEO, Jaduka said that Jaduka, his new company, differs from the Thomas Howe Co. in that it does more voice mashups for more people. Communications-enabled business processes – it’s about making processes faster and more efficient by including real-time communications, which may be voice but may not. There is a traditional heavy approach, using dialers, IVRs and call centres. This involves either heavy CAPEX, or else heavy OPEX on long term systems integration or outsourcing contracts.
The alternative is to do it on the Web. Think of it as long-tail delivery – many small applications, dealing with highly specific tasks. But the needs involved are more like the short head – because many, many enterprises have the same or similar problems. An important, but underestimated market for CEBP is within the enterprise. Many companies lock out suppliers, customers, other stakeholders and even employees in the field from their systems. CEBP breaches this – it extends the enterprise IT system outside the firewall.
Traditionally, there have been about 10 voice apps and about 10,000 nonvoice apps. The difference is that group 1 wouldn’t exist without voice but group 2 would. That doesn’t mean, though, that group 2 wouldn’t benefit from voice.
There are 4 fundamental CEBP services, out of which the others are constructed – Notifications, Diary, Click to Call, and Conferencing.
Consider the Ribbit/Salesforce app that lets salesmen leave voice messages into the CRM system an example of the Diary. Click-to-Call allows you to add metadata to the raw voice file. For narrowcast messaging: this means leaving a particular message for a particular person. It’s better than snailmail, and has a similar role to e-mail in e-commerce. But everyone has a phone number, and you can find them. E-mail isn’t the same.
Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon.com: ”You can’t keep the whole value chain in your own hands – you’ve got to be part of the chain and take your one cent!”
Unique telco contributions here are: intelligent routing, determination between mobile and fixed numbers, information about which number is best, ability to switch between text and voice.
Voicesage did a solution for a furniture delivery service. Using notifications, confirmations, and post-delivery checks, they achieved a 10-fold reduction in missed deliveries. This reduced truck rolls, but also reduced inventory and accounts receivable. And they also made the customers happy. The solution is software-as-a-service, so there is no capex upfront. And it creates lots of interesting metrics.
Assume an average delivery cost of $70 for furniture in the US; 40,000 deliveries, of which 4% fail. There is an opportunity for a $120,000 saving at a cost of 50 cents a trip. This means additional carrier revenue of $20,000 at over 90% margin. There are appliance sales of $20bn a year in the US, 50 million deliveries per day.
But there are thousands of segments, thousands of distributors, and thousands of applications. In reality, serving these will require about a 50/50 split between ready-made solutions and custom development. Value creation requires vertical expertise being applied to horizontal capabilities. One example would be using voice messaging to monitor congestive heart failure patients. .
Software as a Service is great for customers, but not so good for systems integrators. Their business model is getting more complicated. We, the developers, want to share revenue with the integrators – but they struggle with the idea. But do they want to be cut out entirely?
We’ve stopped using the term “price per minute” – instead, we refer to value based pricing. This is the natural way for Telcos to monetise things like location, billing, and voice and to reintroduce variable (value-based pricing) into their business models.
Undoubtedly, some of the more ‘glamorous’ Telco 2.0 propositions revolve around advertising, content and entertainment. New business models from operators and Internet players in the consumer space garner much of the attention of Telco executives and media commentators. Blyk, YouTube, iPlayer, music downloads and P2P video distribution sit at the top of the agenda in terms of driving new revenue opportunities and evolving cost models. Approaches like “sender pays” data are primarily aimed at those sending large chunks of “content”.
Yet historically it has been the corporate marketplace which has driven much of operators’ traffic and profits, through large voice volumes, national and international data networks, and value-added services like system integration and hosted applications. Much of the current hype around Cloud Computing and software-as-a-service is solidly enterprise-driven, while two-sided business models involve deriving extra revenues from large ‘upstream’ organisations rather than consumers. Even the mass-market mobile operators will need to learn to engage with (and sell to) corporate technology representatives.
Although it is possible to see the long-term roadmap of “exposed” network and device capabilities taking friction out of business processes, it seems that the initial group of service options are rather more prosaic. It should be relatively easy to build on existing communications platforms like call centres and customer-service platforms, extending B2C interactions in more intelligent ways.
Feedback (Verbatim comments): The money is in the enterprises
The feedback from the event highlighted some general agreement that the enterprise market offers significant opportunities.
- Great service examples, how do we show the value based on actual cases and savings, also need to consider the green angle [#22]
- Great explorations of the dual sided biz models. [#27]
- This is a good case that shows how Telco assets can be put to use. Helping customers and businesses to interact better is also a good way to diffuse new services to consumers B2B2C. [#10]
Feedback: Where do telcos fit?
But significant doubts remain as to the precise value that the Telcos can contribute, or their fit in the enterprise technology value chain. This is not surprising, especially in mobile, where many operators have shown limited interest in integrating with corporate IT and business processes, often just focusing on bulk sales of phones and minutes.
- Is this not just supporting opening the networks to monetisation of long tail applications utilising Open APIs?. [#6]
- In all the cases we heard the value was in the application not the Telco services, and no obvious reason why the Telco should capture the application. Where is the Telco 2.0 value in all this? [#7]
- rgd. 7: the question: what is Telco service in the future? The Telco service will include traditional services as well as applications and process support. [#11]
- <How are those examples being translated into service provider revenue and business, maybe in the cloud? [#12]
- In a flat cost / head count world, what do you stop as an operator to free up people to develop these services with enterprises; governments etc who are often slow in decision making? [#19]
- Ref 19: this is where vendor expertise matters. Don’t reinvent the wheel. [#36]
- Telco’s own self care offerings are not mature or sophisticated so although they could help enable this their ability to market/offer this seems like a stretch. [#25]
- Re: 7 agree, at a high level, is business process outsourcing a function for a Telco to enable/extract value. [#26]
- USP of Telco’s unclear. Could all be done by an ASP using Telco wholesale products? [#23]
- How does this all integrate across the value chain? [#38]
- Customer service platforms used internally by Telcos should be generic-ised, extended and then exposed to third parties, a bit like the Amazon web services strategy. [#40]
- CIOs at large Telcos are, now more than ever, in need of cojones (balls). They need to take risk or the Telco 2.0 will not be realised. They have the old school PTT mentality. this make take a generation to achieve. [#54]
- <What is the value added Telco2.0 services that these applications need? Examples didn’t focus on this core question [#32]
- How will a Telco in these situations deal with enterprise customers who use a different access provider? E.g. if you’re the Telco supporting e-citizens for local govt, do you have to wear lots of interconnect costs to communicate with those citizens using competing cell phone providers? [#49]
- re 49, good point. we need to coordinate activity or the costs became prohibitive. banks solved this for credit cards and ATMs so it is possible [#51]
Feedback: Jaduka & Communications-enabled Business Processes
A regular speaker at Telco 2.0 events, “Mr Voice Mashup” Thomas Howe received a lot of attention at his new gig as Jaduka CEO
- >At first I was bored the Jaduka presentation, but after thinking about it, it was the best example of real world Telco 2.0. [#35]
- What is Jaduka’s business model, how do they make money, it was not clear in the presentation? [#9]
- What is Jaduka’s view on reselling, sharing customer data with partners is this beginning to happen? [#28]
- Where does Jaduka see the money coming from, voice apps, data apps, SMS apps, what are the sweet spots?
- [#15]One wonders whether we are missing some opportunities to span from Jaduka type capabilities with Bondi type standards to ensure that there is a logical hand-shake with the end customer.
- [#37]Does Jaduka create a database of user identities mapped to phone numbers that works across carriers? This would be a powerful resource to enable anonymous communications and business processes. [#42]
- What are Jaduka’s requirements to Telcos in terms of API and other interfaces in order to enable Telcos to build appropriate wholesale offering? [#43]
- What can Telcos offer a company like Jaduka for them to make new services? What should Telcos standardize of new APIs to allow a company like Jaduka to reach as many users as possible? [#18]
Feedback: Customer care opportunities beyond call centres
But although there is interest in Voice 2.0 and mashups, it remains unclear what services are there beyond next generation contact centre-type applications
- Machine to machine is an amazing opportunity but business process engineering is more difficult than expected. [#24]
- re:24 BPR is only part of the problem, legacy infrastructure and proprietary black box end-to-end are holding us back. There needs to be an internal conversation within the Enterprise to rethink the application of technology against new business models. [#47]
- Some good stuff but maybe too much is just call centre + a bit more. Interesting but hardly revolutionary. [#46]
- Not enough focus on more advanced assets like GPS in phones, pushing widgets to devices etc. There’s a lot more than just advanced call centres. [#44]
- What is a little disappointing is the low level of Telco 2.0 insight and vision amongst these enterprise protagonists compared to the entertainment and content people. Is this because there is less Telco 2.0 opportunity here, or because they’ve thought less about it? [#56
- re 56 – I think it’s because in the enterprise there’s an issue that most Telcos, especially mobile, don’t really understand the detailed business processes at their corporate customers, so it’s difficult to come up with solutions that exploit Telco assets. Also there’s a big mass of SI’s and VARs/ISVs and outsourcers who sit much closer to the customer than the big apps providers. [#58]
Feedback: Telco 2.0 for Government 2.0?
Taken as a whole, it is exceptionally difficult to target the whole enterprise marketplace. The IT industry tends to sell its offerings through offering industry-specific teams, which take general software or service components and tune them for the requirements of particular verticals. Telcos will need to fit their “two-sided” offers (or just basic single-sided hosted options) into a similar structure, except for the most “vanilla” horizontal service elements. The event threw up some doubts that new upstream customers could be reached easily. One approach that seemed to resonate was Oracle’s pitch around a central contact point for all local government services, or a “311” number in US parlance.
- These apps need detailed use cases and expertise for the verticals. Where would a Telco get this knowledge or would they partner with these type of companies, we heard from today? [#16]
- I love the 311 idea. This is like a special 0800 number to the local government call centre. [#34]
- I don’t think the SAP proposition works well for consumers – who wants to download a customer service app for their gas/electricity company to their mobile phone? [#41]
- At what size does this make sense as a municipal opportunity for a Telco? 3 million residents? More? [#45]
- In my discussions with the Telcos they do not believe that the local services are coordinated enough to see the value proposition, we need to widen our industry engagement to include these local service companies. [#17]
- Does this signal the death of the traditional Telco and the emergence of the local communications provider attached to the local municipality? [#33]
- Not sure the Telco can cooperate enough with the local government. to provide an integrated 311. e.g. provide location service to find nearest service. [#39]
Feedback: Marketing Telco 2.0 to the enterprise
The engagement model between operators and enterprises remains opaque. Is it about partnering or new channels & marketing techniques? Telco 2.0 believes that many operators need to be realistic – they cannot “own” the enterprise value chain simply via provision of a few APIs, when incumbent integrators and software vendors are already tightly bound to business processes.
- Can a Telco actually logistically work with hundreds of SIs to make this feasible [#30]
- As a Telco how do you stop partners taking the majority of the value chain with enterprises and governments? [#31]
- How does a Telco manage to sell the idea of these services to millions of small businesses? the cost of sale is too high to service a dentist who might spend $100 a year on phone/SMS reminders for appointments. [#48]
- Re 48, in the same way Google and Amazon can do it: by driving down the cost of bringing companies on to the platform. it doesn’t work if it needs an SI involved – the whole point is that this works if it is plug and play. [#50]
- If the likely evolution of many Telcos is that network assets are spun off into a few shared netco’s and the remaining service operations are left competing for customers (with Google, Nokia etc), who exploits the 2 sided business model – the netco with open API’s or the service leveraging the end customer relationship? [#60]
Feedback: Competing with Big Technology Solutions
Software vendors like SAP and Oracle could be the bridges between enterprise and Telco IT domains. These companies already have strong footholds in almost all vertical markets – and are also ramping up the reach of their applications for telecoms operators. That said, their incumbency also represents a challenge to the Telco 2.0 model, particularly where the more innovative web- and SaaS-based models conflict with large-scale “owned” in-house application architectures.
- It was not clear in the SAP presentation how it really fits into the Telco2.0 initiative – it may have been better received if it addressed the commercial model the technology allows. [#20]
- I don’t understand the Oracle or SAP examples. they have a vested interest in complex, heavy apps which are attractive to SIs with very high total cost of ownership. [#52]
- Web services, cloud computing and virtualization are absolute disruptive advances which will allow operators to save money thus to be more apt to take risks on new biz models. [#21]
- Is oracle/sap interested to provide apps to Telcos on a pure revenue sharing basis? [#59]
- Do oracle and sap really interested in working with carriers? Why? For sharing revenues? [#61]
- To Openet: have you ever met someone from a Telco with the job title of ‘policy manager’? who manages all this stuff, given you need to understand access, apps, legal issues, behaviour, core networks, issues around false positives/negatives etc? [#55]
Participants’ “Next steps” Vote
Participants were asked which of the following statements best described their view on communications-enabled business processes for the enterprise?
- Individual operators should focus their efforts very carefully on specific capabilities (e.g. billing and payments or customer care) and verticals (e.g. government, healthcare) and compete with point providers (such as Paypal) in these markets.
- Individual operators should focus their efforts on building a broad set of horizontal capabilities (covering identity, authentication, security, marketing and advertising, content distribution, off-line logistics support, billing and payments and customer care) to a broad range of vertical markets as this will enable a unique value proposition and develop scale.
- Telcos should avoid Telco enabled business processes – the market is a red herring.
Lessons learnt & next steps
In theory, the enterprise segment ought to be at the heart of operators’ Telco 2.0 strategies. Irrespective of single-sided corporate retail propositions, in a two-sided world “upstream” providers are generally businesses or governments. But many of the comments during the session identified just how difficult it is to extract the value in a Telco’s inherent assets and capabilities, and apply this to corporate IT and business problems.
The Telco 2.0 Initiative believes that one of the major issues around exploiting the enterprise opportunity is that Telcos need to learn how to develop, sell and support services which are customised, as well as mass-market “basic” applications and APIs. Ideally, the technical platform will be made of underlying components (e.g. the API interface “machinery” and the associated back-office support systems) designed to cope with both “off the shelf” and “bespoke” go-to-market models for new services.
Especially in the two-sided model, there are very few opportunities to gain millions – or even tens of thousands – of B2B customers buying the same basic “product”. Google has managed it for advertising, while Amazon has large numbers of hosting and “cloud computing” customers – but these are the exceptions. Even in the software industry, only a few players have really huge scale for basic APIs (Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, etc.) across millions of developers.
Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon.com: ”Amazon cloud services took off with the creative people and start-ups, but the enterprises came aboard because they could get agility here they couldn’t get anywhere else.”
Operators may indeed have some easily-replicable “upstream” services that could be sold through an online platform in bulk (perhaps authentication or billing, or basic APIs like location), but these often also face competition in terms of alternative technological routes to their provision. They may also need to be “federated” across multiple operators to be truly useful. Perhaps the most easy and universal horizontals will be enhancements to voice and messaging capabilities – after all, these are the ubiquitous cross-sectoral services today, so it seems likely that any enhancements will follow.
To really exploit unique assets and “take friction out of business processes”, there will also be a need to understand specific companies’ (or at least sectors’) processes in detail – and offer customised or integrated solutions. Although this does not scale up quite as compellingly, the aggregated value involved may be even higher. Even Microsoft and Oracle have dedicated solutions for healthcare or manufacturing, as well as their baseline horizontal products.
J. P. Rangaswami, MD, BT Design: ”Our measure of success should be how easy it is for customers to use the network. Margins will be like a retail business – a razor thin layer of value spread across a huge area of the economy.”
Another interesting example is that of the BlackBerry. Although today we think of mobile email as a generic capability used across the whole of the economy, the original roots of the company (pagers) were highly financial-oriented. The banking sector very much catalysed the subsequent growth in other knowledge industries (e.g. legal / consulting) and then the more general adoption among businesses of all types. This reflected not just the need for (and high value of) real-time messaging, but also other issues that a pure horizontal approach may have neglected. A specialist salesforce, an early focus on enterprise network security integration – and a large target audience of Microsoft Exchange users were all important. Even the “gadget envy” of a well-paid and dense concentration of users (Wall Street) may have helped the device’s early viral adoption.
As yet, this need for customisation and integration has not been fully recognised. The results of the vote at the end of the session were stark – perhaps surprisingly so. The vast majority of survey responses suggested that operators should attempt to build up exposed capabilities across a set of horizontals, rather than focus on the needs of specific markets.
This seems to reflect the hope for more Google/Amazon-style cross-sector offerings. But as discussed above, this may not be easy, nor will it be the whole story. It is also unlikely to work for every operator. Telco 2.0 thinks that the horizontal approach certainly makes sense in terms of the core abilities of the technical platform, but in terms of developing solutions and partnering with particular integrators or influencers, some measure of vertical specialism is often necessary.
That said, the telecom industry has not often been good at “picking winners” from an enterprise stance,
In the short term, Telco 2.0 would recommend the following:
- Look for “low hanging fruit” around next-generation contact centres and voice mashups. These are prime targets for horizontal exploitation. Where appropriate, partner with one or more start-ups if existing internal skillsets are weak. ‘Eat your own dog food’ – sort out your own call centres first and develop skills and processes that can be applied to other industries
- Continue with plans to monetise certain other assets for enterprise utility – especially security, payments, messaging and features that can add value to logistics processes. However, work in parallel on broad commercial platforms (e.g. web-based APIs) and more customised routes to market.
- Conduct research to identify any particularly attractive near-term addressable target verticals. This can reflect existing skills/services (e.g. within an internal integration business unit), national-specific trends (e.g. major healthcare or environmental projects), local legislation (e.g. banking rules) or wider industry collaboration (e.g. GSMA projects in areas like mobile payments).
- Build a database of possible acquisition targets (for example, corporate web/telco specialists), especially those with funding vulnerabilities that may make them available at low prices in the recession.
- Start thinking about the implications of network outsourcing or managed service contracts on the ease of offering exposed service capabilities to upstream enterprise customers.
Longer term, other considerations come into play:
- Develop separate strategies for high-volume/low-value enterprise services (e.g. servicing thousands of customers via web service platforms for generic “building blocks” like authentication), and low-volume/high-value corporate projects. [Note: volume here means # of customers, not # of transactions or events: imagine a one-off deal with a government, for national health ID & patient records]. Ultimately these may use the same underlying capabilities, but the engagement model is totally different – for example, participation in a Government-led scheme to extend smart metering for utilities, or a one-off deal with a broadcaster for a new advertising and content-delivery partnership.
- Aim to work closely with one or more top-tier enterprise IT vendors to help add value to their hardware/software solutions. IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Cisco, HP, Sun and others have large bases of extremely loyal customers.
- Look to exploit new device and network capabilities, such as sensors, cameras, enhanced browsers and widgets on phones, or femtocells in B2C customers’ homes. In particular, there are various government/public-sector applications that could benefit from closer integration with citizens’ technology. Examples could include authentication for local services (or even voting), or assorted types of monitoring for environmental, healthcare or public safety reasons.Do a full analysis of applications that can be hosted in the cloud – but beware the integration and “touch points” with corporates’ in-house infrastructure.