#5 – Enterprise services
Microsoft takes the lead for new generation operators
In today’s highly connected and collaborative world, the needs of the enterprise extend far beyond voice calls. Business requirements are increasingly IT related; and enterprises are more closely embedded with and dependent on companies such as Microsoft than they are on telecom operators. Microsoft has leveraged its large enterprise presence with Windows and the Office suite, complementing it with VoIP and collaboration solutions, into a UC solution. Soon Microsoft will be adding mobile VoIP capabilities; and in doing so attack one of the last strongholds of the operator.
Challenging virtually all operators in all markets, Microsoft reaches enterprise customers on a global, as well as local scale, through its network of some 640.000 partners. No single operator can match this. They are all, at best, regional in terms of their reach. Local connectivity is always needed, but operators’ delivery to enterprises may be reduced to pure data connectivity – no services on top. This will prove a serious challenge to operators’ IMS offerings.
Due to regulations, a single telecom operator used to be the only one who could offer voice connectivity. De-regulation gave choice and competition, but services were still operator controlled. With the Internet and IP gaining in strength worldwide, voice-over-IP became an alternative to landline calling. However, operators still enjoyed strong relations with enterprise telephony. This is about to change and UC will act as a driver. Microsoft’s UC revenues grew ‘double digits’ from Q3 to Q4 2012.
Operators now face a very difficult choice. Should they partner with Microsoft? Or should they try to develop value-added solutions of their own? Or maybe opt to focus only on connectivity? We believe there will be many differing approaches in 2013 as operators try to cling to power and relationships with customers, but in the end it will be very difficult to compete with Microsoft and their likes on the enterprise turf.