Big business

Big business

Peter Kelly, Vodafone’s enterprise director

Peter Kelly, Vodafone’s enterprise director

Vodafone is a huge UK mobile network operator, with a £5 billion revenue stream. Around one third of its revenue is driven by the enterprise market, giving it the number one position as the UK’s top mobile operator for businesses. Here, Peter Kelly, Vodafone’s director of enterprise, discusses his views on the market and where Vodafone is going in 2010.

“To be a leading operator, you need to be strong in both consumer and business. We’re the number one operator in business and have equally strong strategies in consumer,” states Kelly. Since O2 won the first iPhone deal, there’s been an escalating battle between operators to get the hottest smartphones on exclusive deals, to pull in and tie down increasing numbers of consumers and business users moving from mobile, up to smartphone.

Smart battle

The battle is now heading towards value add in the form of content, says Kelly. “Form factor counts, but gone are the days where the corporate sector will buy phones for corporate jewellery. They are looking to drive productivity of their employee bases, so it’s very much more about content.”

 

To that end, Kelly says smartphones will feature heavily in Vodafone’s business portfolio in 2010. “It’s about giving customers the right choice. BlackBerry has been very successful for us because it’s so strong on email, and as we go into the New Year we will be adding the iPhone to our portfolio, but while form factor counts, it’s very much about the business benefits a device can bring to an organisation.”

On added business benefits, mobile unified communications (UC) is finally ready to happenthanks to new products like Vodafone’s One and One Net. Kelly is enthusiastic about this area and says 2010 will see the operator moving further towards this unified strategy.

The reason it has taken longer for the mobile sector to get strong UC products to market is, Kelly claims, down to the operators. “There hasn’t been enough dialogue between operators and customers, to raise end user awareness of mobile-centric UC, to show what it offers and what it can do for them.”

 

Vodafone One

Kelly adds that another issue here is that no one operator has stepped up to the mark and taken the lead, until Vodafone launched its Vodafone One in July 2009. “Today, businesses do not have comms integrated as part of their overall IP and comms strategy; a lot of customers still purchase fixed comms in one part of their business and mobile in another. Vodafone is the first mobile operator to dedicate significant CAPEX to integrating mobile and fixed, with Vodafone One for corporates and Vodafone One Net for SMEs and SOHOs, who will be able to integrate their fixed world with mobile in an intelligent way,” he states.

Kelly expects success with mobile UC. Vodafone recently carried out customer surveys and asked if businesses would trust the operator to carry both their mobile and fixed communications. “We got a resounding yes,” states Kelly. The operator bought Central Telecom in December 2008, taking on 300 employees from the fixed line world, giving Vodafone a ready-made experience base.

One Net launched in September 2009, or 09/09/09 to be precise. In the third quarter of Vodafone’s financial year, the company began pilot testing the technology and rolling it out to selected customers. In the fourth quarter, it will undergo higher volume roll outs at SME customers. Vodafone will bring the product out to the first customers going through the newly developed indirect mobile UC channel early in the first quarter, this coming April.

 

Dealer time

Now that Vodafone has the products and capability, it has to take them to market cleverly, states Kelly. Vodafone currently conducts its mobile enterprise sales on a split of 70% direct and 30% indirect. However, adds Kelly: “My business model for UC supports 60% of our mobile UC business being driven by indirect, with mobile and also fixed line resellers.”

On which type of dealer will be most suited to delivering this technology, Kelly continues: “Between the fixed and mobile guys, I think it will be a good scrap. We work with a lot of high quality mobile dealers today, who have good capability in LAN and WAN, and I’m confident a lot of our existing mobile community partners will come on our UC journey, and come on it rapidly.”

2010 is set to be an important year for Vodafone, says Kelly. On the merger of T-Mobile and Orange reducing the Big Five to the Big Four, Kelly comments: “It’s a positive move for the UK. We’re number one today, and we’ll remain so, despite Orange and T-Mobile getting together; just look at the level of investment we’ve made in taking our company forward. Vodafone will continue with its strategy, offering the most innovative solutions we can in mobile, fixed line and UC.”

He concludes: “It will be another tough year, for both mobile and fixed, but market pressure presents opportunity. We will have a business level dialogue with our customers and indirect partners, and I think it will be different to what the industry has heard before as we move from just mobile, to mobilecentric UC in our capability. We will be that much more relevant to our customers.”

 
 
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