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Telco Alert! The $50 billion mobile opportunity starts with champagne

In my last blog, I alerted telcos to a massive opportunity in enterprise mobility and talked about the gap between what telcos have to offer today and what enterprises want. In this blog I’ll share the four-step program to help telcos move up the enterprise mobility stack to higher value offerings that will allow them to tap into the opportunity.

It’s not a bad idea to start any $50 billion opportunity by drinking champagne, and in this particular case for telcos, it really does make sense. Here’s why.

The enterprise mobility market is evolving rapidly. Tools, application development, and the management of enterprise apps are all impacted. Telcos need to rethink their traditional offerings and adopt a mobile-first approach to information and communication. They must identify alternative ways to grow revenues from enterprise customers.

There are a number of ways telcos can grow revenues. They can pursue new service offerings such as machine-to-machine (M2M) and cloud services. They can monetize the growth in data creation and their real-time insight from the cellular network. They can also provide more flexible infrastructure and technology services so enterprises can explore new technologies instead of maintaining and managing existing ones. But before they can reap any benefits, telcos need to offer more value, and that takes a step-by-step approach that starts with the champagne.

Four steps for telcos to lead the enterprise mobility revolution 

First, drink their own champagne with a successful internal deployment

The best way for telcos is to gain and demonstrate competence is by mobilizing their own operations if they have not done so already. Innovating from the inside allows telcos to develop an intimate understanding of tools and technologies and to appreciate the value of mobile processes and practices to the business. Internal adoption can help telcos understand a typical deployment from a customer’s viewpoint. Later, when telcos are ready to launch their own offerings, this first-hand experience can cement their position as compelling and credible in front of prospective enterprise customers.

Second, provide customers with a managed environment for enterprise apps

The second phase is about helping enterprise customers deliver secure, compliant mobile apps with centralized administration, management and security. The key is to provide a mobile application development platform that is equally suitable for employee- and customer-facing apps, offering the kind of user experience demanded by corporate users and consumers alike. Such a platform also alleviates the complexity of integrating disparate legacy systems, which otherwise stifles agile and experimental app development. Similarly, telcos can provide enterprise mobility management (EMM) capability as a managed service, enabling enterprises to simplify the deployment, security and maintenance of mobile devices, either through corporate devices or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, regardless of type or operating system. And finally, it often takes a two-step approach to creating a managed mobility environment, starting with traditional on premise solutions and then building further in the cloud.  

Third, provide customers with hosted mobility plus off-the-shelf apps

It used to be that enterprise mobility was restricted to productivity apps for time and expense management. Today there is a whole new generation of mission critical, high value, off-the-shelf apps developed by enterprise software vendors. Once an enterprise has a managed environment in place, the next step is to deploy these apps which are usually industry specific and include best practices and pre-configured options that enable quick implementation with few resources. Off-the-shelf apps usually cover about 80% of required functionality and require some customization to deliver the rest. Telcos have an opportunity to help bridge the gap in these cases. But the biggest opportunity for telcos is to provide enterprise app stores to allow companies to better control app usage and software expenditure, and to increase the value of the app portfolio through a business grade storefront.

At this point, telcos also have the option to define flexible go-to-market models ranging from the traditional where telcos sell the mobile platform, apps and services to the customer to a model where the telco undertakes customization and integration to hybrid models in between.

Fourth, provide hosted mobility plus development of proprietary enterprise apps

Finally, after honing their skills to become true experts in enterprise mobility management, telcos can start achieving the greatest value for their customers and themselves by developing highly differentiated apps from scratch instead of just providing third party services and customization.  Here’s the chance to impart industry knowledge and best practices accumulated through exposure to a vast number of enterprise customers in diverse vertical markets. Here’s the chance to solve business problems rather than just provide services. Here’s the chance to elevate their status from system integrators to keepers of the intellectual property, and that’s the secret to tapping into that $50 billion opportunity.

Enterprise mobility is here to stay!  Mobilizing an enterprise is no small undertaking and many enterprises are looking to third parties to provide the tools and technologies to do the heavy-lifting of mobile app deployment and lifecycle management, together with the know-how to help them realize business value and return on investment faster. Telcos could provide such services, and this is THE opportunity. Success in this area requires partnerships between different players and stakeholders and crosses boundaries between industries, but fundamentally, telcos can really change the game by taking the lead and acting now.


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