- Vodafone has demonstrated a clear intent for its enterprise and carrier services groups and is seeking to combine a strong wireless position (solutions, M2M, security and analytics) with on-net fixed line services, data centers and cloud solutions. The logic is sound; however, the execution and deployment tactics for Asia-Pacific are less clear (outside of executive management).
- The complexity of integrations (C&WW) into its network operations as well as the broader spread of wireless partners for solutions delivery across Asia-Pacific creates a potentially unwieldy mass in the short term. Brand recognition too in many Asia Pacific markets is not as robust as compared to Europe, India and, dare I say it, Australia. All three sides of the triangle – infrastructure, services and go-to-market activities – will require intense execution focus to ensure Spring does not turn to a Winter of (Customer) Discontent.
Over two days in London in November 2013, Vodafone laid out its plans for future growth in its enterprise and carrier services groups. A common mantra over multiple presentations invoked the importance of both Asia-Pacific and the Middle East & Africa to the group’s future success. Both regions were highlighted as key priorities and investment points of focus as the company aims to present VGE as an integrator of communications networks by 2017. The operator is building capabilities around its Vodafone Red mobile tariffs, the HCS-based Vodafone One Net for Global Enterprise, Microsoft Lync, network services, M2M and hosting solutions (both data centers and cloud-based contact centers).
Tactically, the company highlighted four parts to its strategy: expanding M2M coverage; creating an integrated analytics platform, processing and reporting solution set; expanding hosting and fixed network coverage in region to support MNCs; and further growing its carrier services group in Asia in line with customer demand.
Vodafone’s fixed+wireless value proposition is exceptionally strong and will provide the organization with significant competitive advantages, particularly around mobile services delivery and on-net solutions. Yet, beyond suggesting that Project Spring will provide investment, executives were light on detail about actual plans for execution in the AP region during the analyst event.
Yes, Vodafone acquired Cable & Wireless Worldwide, giving it a stronger regional network presence across India, Australia, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong, and it has key NNIs in place with Chinese carriers.
Yes, the company has its Conexus strategic partnership which will supplement coverage outside India, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand by bringing Taiwan (FarEasTone), Hong Kong (Hutchison), Japan (NTT DoCoMo), the Philippines (SMART), Singapore (StarHub) and Thailand (TrueMove) into the mix … eventually. Both initiatives require time (for CWW, it’s an issue of stabilizing the UK operations before anything else, and the Conexus initiative will only see partners join when Vodafone’s current in-country contracts expire over the next few years).
Both initiatives are very worthy, yet Vodafone will need to accelerate each if it is to realize its plans to expand its cloud and data center coverage and solutions delivery within the region. Currently, of its seven hosting operations in Asia, six are delivered through partners – nothing particularly wrong with that, per se – however, with the company keen to drive strong cloud, UC and contact center solutions off its own network, the current scarcity of its own DCs in the region will retard the speed at which it will bring these to market. It would make sense for the operator to strengthen its positions in India (underway), China (mooted), Singapore, Australia (currently on the cusp of recovery) and the emerging markets of Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.
For the time being – with Vodafone promising ‘significant’ levels of investment within Asia-Pacific over the next 12-24 months and a desire to expand M2M, hosting, cloud, UC and both wireline and wireless capabilities – it’s a case of watch this space. Vodafone has a very strong opportunity to seize a commanding position in the pan-regional Asia-Pacific enterprise market.