Will TEM Have Trouble Finding Ongoing Traction in an Industry Where Complex Solutions Become Dominant Over Commodity Services?

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• IBM sold off its Rivermine TEM business to Tangoe in May 2015, signaling that it was not as strategic a business as its other mobility-related services.

• Verizon shuttered its TEM service in 2014, as prospects favored independent providers for billing verification, expense reporting, device and service plan logistics and provisioning, and especially multi-carrier expense optimization.

While all Tier 1 operators and IT service providers (ITSPs) have offered telecom expense management (TEM) services for years, there are some changes in the market that harken back to the original question of whether a mobile operator can be impartial enough to be trusted with seeing, validating, recommending and helping optimize both its own voice and data services, as well as those of other operators. The ITSPs often used this argument to tout their own offerings, since they clearly weren’t tied to a particular operator. But network operators went out of their way to be impartial too, by separating their TEM staff and services from their network services. Meanwhile, as the TEM platform providers grew into TEM services and became service providers themselves, carriers increasingly used them as an independent liaison, whether the carriers were simply reselling their platforms or basing more advanced services on them. Read more of this post

Can Operators Monetize MEAP/MADP? Changes in the EMM Landscape Suggest Unresolved Issues

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Three years ago MEAP/MADP services were a standard part of Tier 1 operators’ enterprise mobility offerings
  • Many report problems monetizing MEAPs, while others have disbanded them altogether

Current Analysis recently updated our bi-annual profiles of the global managed mobility services offered by U.S. and European operators. While burgeoning use of mobile applications in the business segment is a hot topic, it is not clear that the operators are faring that well as the providers of these applications, in spite of initiatives announced years ago to enable application development and back-end integration through mobile enterprise application platforms. The term “MEAP” is not used very widely any more in the application platform provider community, discarded in favor of mobile application development platforms (MADP); more importantly the market has evolved as cloud-enablement has spurred on “as a service” offers provided directly to enterprises rather than resold through the carrier channel. Mobile back-end as a service (MBaaS) from companies such as Kony and FeedHenry, and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings such as Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Red Hat OpenShift, and VMware vCloud Air are being adopted directly by businesses to allow them to develop business applications, to readily provide mobile access to these apps via the cloud or build native mobile B2B/B2C apps that may reside on the mobile device. Cloud-based app platforms are also leveraged by ITSPs such as IBM, Accenture, CSC, and HP to develop mobile apps for their business customers. PaaS provides opportunities for the ITSPs looking to support the infrastructure enterprises need to support agile and rapid mobile app development. At the same time pre-built mobile applications by companies such as SAP, and IBM together with Apple, are saving time and effort for operators, ITSPs and other channel partners, and enterprises themselves. Read more of this post

Mobile Analytics as an Enterprise Service

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • New mobile analytic practices have recently been announced by both Vodafone and IBM
  • IT service providers and mobile network operators are both interested in providing additional value to existing enterprise mobility services through analytics

Mobile analytics have been around for a while. They are often provided to retail customers by companies ranging from branding and marketing specialists, to enterprise software developers, to service providers that can analyze buying habits of the retailers’ consumer customers. The intent is to use the data to enhance sales and marketing campaigns. The role of analytics is growing in the B2B space as well, especially with the rise in M2M data collection, where machines are spewing out lots of information but businesses need help analyzing and using it effectively. In the last few weeks, we have seen formal service launches in different areas of mobile analytics from Vodafone Global Enterprise and from IBM.

Read more of this post

Vodafone – Riding its Competitive Advantage to Expand in Adjacent Markets

ITCB-HarishTaoriSummary Bullets:

  • In its annual global analyst event, Vodafone emphasized its evolution as a global “Total Communications” service provider.
  • Planned new investments, under Project Spring, to enhance the network (NFV, SDN) and solutions (M2M, Cloud connect, UCaaS) capabilities globally.

Vodafone hosted its annual global analyst event this year in London. This blog post summarizes some of the key takeaways from that event, and analyzes the implications on industry and enterprises.

  • The key theme was Vodafone’s strategy to become a global total communications service provider. Vodafone is making concerted efforts to enable this strategy by expanding global network (fixed and mobile) reach and related communication services (cloud, mobility unified collaboration, and M2M) portfolios.
  • Vodafone has deep network reach in 60 countries with 211 fixed PoPs in 161 cities. In AMEA, Vodafone has recently added new PoPs in Philippines, Taiwan and 22 African countries expanding its network presence in 14 Asia-Pacific, three Middle East and 24 African countries. Vodafone intends to expand its global coverage to 92 countries by end of 2016. Under Project Spring, Vodafone commits to invest GBP 500 million in five years to scale up its network and solution capabilities, people and offices across Asia and Africa
  • Vodafone has witnessed good momentum in its M2M portfolio, especially from automotive, consumer electronics and utilities verticals. The acquisition of Cobra consolidated Vodafone’s position in automotive, as Cobra’s clientele includes Porsche, Ferrari, Renault, and Toyota. Furthermore, Cobra enables Vodafone to provide solutions for embedded and aftermarket automotive opportunities in 41 markets as well as in fleet management for rental, leasing, and sharing of cars.
  • Vodafone reiterated its competitive advantage in mobile networks. Leveraging its core capabilities, Vodafone is offering comprehensive enterprise mobility solutions. Vodafone is further extending its service portfolio in adjacent businesses – cloud and hosting, unified communications and collaboration. Currently these services are available in US and Europe and expected to come in AMEA by next year.
  • Vodafone Global Enterprise (VGE) is targeting 1,700 global MNCs. Its key value proposition for these customers is a consistent global SLA across Vodafone and partner networks. ‘Mobile First’ people and process initiatives are key themes among VGE customers. Vodafone has also created a business unit to target SMEs. SME products and solutions are expected to roll out in AMEA by next year.

Implications on SP and enterprise ICT buyers:

  • Vodafone – Vodafone’s ICT solutions are primarily available in Europe. It needs to ramp up efforts to promote its ICT solution portfolio in APAC and MEA, to be seen as an end-to-end solution provider for global MNCs interested in expanding their operations in emerging markets. Furthermore, the company has to articulate its value proposition, specifically for verticals, to differentiate itself from its global and regional competition.
  • Enterprises – Asian automotive OEMs can evaluate Vodafone’s capabilities to provide M2M solutions for Infotainment, connected cars and insurance companies for usage based insurance (UBI) service. Global and regional MNCs expanding their business outside Asia can consider Vodafone’s network and ICT solution capabilities for cloud, M2M, and unified communications/collaboration against similar offerings from other global and regional service providers.

IBM’s Apple Mobile Solutions Could Indicate How Enterprises Will Implement Mobility

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • IBM’s Apple partnership could provide an enterprise mobility case study
  • IBM has honed four key MobileFirst solutions to encourage adoption/partnerships

We analysts like to say once emerging technology starts to take shape, it then becomes all about execution as far as how likely a vendor will succeed in the market. In the area of mobility IBM has put competitive differences aside over the past several months and established key partnerships with one-time rivals in order to meet customers as they look to embark on mobile app development projects. Other partnerships include SAP and Microsoft (SAP and Microsoft have just established a similar partnership).

Literally establishing offices down at the Cupertino Apple campus, IBM has been busy readying new mobile apps and solutions targeting potential Apple enterprise customers. The new partnership will inevitably provide a nice case study of enterprises looking to leverage mobility to improve/augment businesses.   Read more of this post

In Search of the Rare and Elusive DevOps Beastie

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

• Assuming that you can simply combine two important job functions into a single entity isn’t necessarily the best or smartest way of managing IT resources.
• Your environment may need a lot of work before you can effectively cross that line.
As IT professionals we’re constantly challenged to do more with less, and no one can argue that all of the wonderful flexibility offered by virtualization hasn’t fundamentally changed the nature of the data center in a remarkably short period of time. But simplifying the physical concerns of standing up servers and applications doesn’t necessarily mean that you can simply merge developer and operations functions into a single entity with a unified purpose. This is an evolutionary process, and — because bean counters are always looking for things like this to thin head counts — smart IT managers might want to head this off until they’ve taken an honest look at their environment. Read more of this post

Almost Live from Mobile World Congress: IBM and AT&T Collaborate on Smart Cities

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile World Congress is energized and energizing this year, with many announcements relating to enterprise mobility and M2M.
  • Among them was IBM and AT&T’s alliance to go to market together in specific verticals in M2M – initially, city governments and midsize utilities.

Municipalities and mid-size utilities are two vertical segments that are hard to “crack”. So-called “smart city” deployments include some really interesting use cases such as traffic management, public safety/surveillance, mass transit, utility and parking management, garbage collection, and venue/event management. In theory, cities could benefit greatly from technologies such as M2M that can bring about process improvement point solutions. They could also benefit from running analytics from collected and crowd-sourced data housed in a central database, for example to identify patterns that could improve city management, reduce costs and even generate revenues. While it sounds like there could be a solid ROI for these kinds of deployments, most municipalities in the U.S. and around the world are budget strapped. Many of the department heads that might benefit from this sort of knowledge are not tech savvy when it comes to deploying M2M and running meaningful analytics on collected data. Read more of this post

Verizon M2M Roundtable Showcases a Solid Strategy and Industry Momentum

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Verizon treated analysts to a one-day roundtable at its Innovation center for M2M in Waltham, Massachusetts on February 11
  • Executives provided information and insights on the carrier’s specific vertical industry initiatives and traction, and analysts toured the facility to view a broad range of M2M solutions across industries and use cases.

Verizon’s analyst roundtable on its Connected Solutions business was an unusual opportunity to learn in depth information on its key areas of focus for M2M. Specific sessions covering its top vertical markets (i.e., utilities, healthcare and automotive telematics) not only provided analysts with a better understanding of these markets, but also supplied proof points to generate a favorable impression of Verizon’s initiatives, strategy and market traction within each vertical and in the overall M2M market. Read more of this post

Using Virtual Presence and Robots to Enhance Mobility is Nearing Reality

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobility is driving many enterprise strategies and purchase decisions today.
  • Videoconferencing has long been sold on the claim that enterprise travel budgets would be slashed dramatically, however the reality is that travel reduction has been less than anticipated.

Last week I was invited to the “Annual Trends and Innovation Event” sponsored by Polycom, a mainstay of the audio and videoconferencing industry. Held at a local San Francisco restaurant, the annual gathering offers the opportunity for Polycom executives and select business partners to discuss technology trends and strategies with members of the press and a group of industry analysts. While the evening was full of great discussions with an abundant exchange of industry trend information and new ideas, something surprising caught my attention. Among the group of 50 or so attendees was a robot who was mingling with the crowd. In actuality the robot, provided by a relatively new Polycom business partner – Anybots of Santa Clara, California – was there to demonstrate “virtual presence” and its potential to change business environments by allowing remotely-located individuals to participate in events actively, even when circumstances prevent them from being physically present. In essence, the travelling robot was a videoconferencing endpoint that stood just under six-feet tall and had an eye-level video screen and cameras which allowed “him” to converse with other attendees. Read more of this post

Oh, You Tease, You: Vodafone Provides a Glimpse into Its Asia-Pacific Enterprise Goals

itcblog-dillonSummary Bullets:

  • 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). Read more of this post