- The top U.S. carriers for enterprise mobility (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) held analyst events over the past two months, disclosing service strategies for the business market.
- How different are their plans, do they see the same trends in customer deployments, and what kinds of new offerings are on the horizon?
The season for analyst events is not quite over, with a number of European operators still planning to host analysts over the summer and fall. These events provide a general perspective on each company’s strategic focus, performance, key service areas, customer case studies, and in some cases, planned service launches. Do they all have the same priorities in providing solutions to enterprise customers?
Verizon held events in both the U.S. and Europe; this year was quite different, as its new Verizon Enterprise Solutions group reflects a significant transformation in which formerly separate groups are now united to offer solutions spanning wireless and wireline as well as the organization and assets from the Terremark acquisition. The big themes for Verizon were becoming a ‘frictionless’ service provider, providing platforms (for Terremark hosting, M2M, and unified communications) that are aligned with its ‘Everything as a Service’ messaging and which provide APIs for custom solutions. Vertical solutions were another big theme, spanning all service areas and empowering the carrier to forge a deeper relationship with customers. Verizon also wants to become ‘the most channel-friendly company,’ and it will develop a tiered channel partner program that it hopes will drive approximately 30% of annual revenue by 2015.
AT&T’s key messages also related to platforms and integrated solutions. These included the concept of the ‘new network,’ an always-on platform to support a variety of endpoints and enable the creation and delivery of innovative mobile applications and services that go hand in hand with cloud, security, and unified communications (UC) to create seamless end-to-end solutions. AT&T executives described a goal of getting to ‘effortless,’ with the new network providing the platform for the delivery of innovative solutions and a consistent customer experience. AT&T described a transformation of its sales team, teaching them to ‘think horizontally’ about the problem and solution rather than focusing on point products, with overlay specialist teams in security, cloud, and mobility to address specific customer requirements.
Sprint’s event focused on its turnaround, as executives highlighted the fact that improvements in network performance and customer service since 2008 have helped offset the declines of 2006/2007. Brand improvement has been a driver of what appears to be a solid turnaround, with not only impressive customer satisfaction and ‘promoter’ numbers, but also ARPU growth and a decline in postpaid churn, followed by positive net additions. In Q1 2012, Sprint had its sixth consecutive quarter of more than 1 million net additions, with service revenues up 16% and subscribers up by 19% year-over-year. Sprint looks to its Network Vision (key to its LTE build-out and what it hopes will be a Push-to-Talk resurgence as iDEN customers migrate to CDMA), its redeployed and better trained sales force, its momentum in M2M, planned enhancements to its professional managed mobility services, and expanded ‘converged services’ (including cloud-based UC, Ethernet expansion, and an infrastructure-as-a-service launch) as areas of positive growth.
Verizon and AT&T used quite similar messaging during their events, with ‘platform,’ ‘open,’ ‘integrated’ solutions, and ‘vertical’ focus as common themes. While Verizon described itself as ‘frictionless,’ AT&T’s goal is to be ‘effortless’ (with both Sprint and T-Mobile often citing their position as ‘the carrier easiest to do business with’). There is actually a lot of commonality in the operators’ view of their priorities in addressing enterprise communications requirements, albeit with differences in the way they will execute these strategies.