IT Service Providers Continue Mobility Focus: Are They a Threat to Mobile Operators?

Kathryn Weldon
Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • It has taken awhile, but not only have large SIs such as Accenture, CSC, IBM, and HP finally realized that enterprise mobility is a substantial growth area, but mobile access (and mobile-powered business transformation) is also becoming increasingly integrated into their technology-oriented and vertical consulting and integration initiatives.  Even M2M is now a major focus.
  • Mobile operators are also focused on professional services and managed mobility for large enterprises and MNCs, where they would theoretically go up against the large SIs.  How do they differ?

Talking to the large SIs (e.g., Accenture, HP, IBM, CSC, T-Systems) makes it clear how important mobility has become as an enabler of business transformation, in addition to its traditional role as a way to ensure equal access to remote and traveling employees.  Mobile operators have recognized this for a long time, but SIs are starting to ramp up their initiatives in a major way.  It just took them longer to appreciate how important and transformative mobility is becoming.  With BYOD on everyone’s lips, and MDM and other ‘point’ solutions giving way to a view of providing secure, equal ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to corporate information to all endpoints regardless of technology, the perception of mobility is changing for many service providers, whether IT-focused or communications-centric.

So, what are the differences between the operator and IT service provider worldviews these days when it comes to mobility?

ITSPs are emphasizing their business consulting capabilities, buttressed by their deep expertise in key verticals (e.g., financial services, retail, and transportation).  They often have a telco vertical, so in addition to courting enterprises, the mobile operator may actually be their customer.  This is especially true of Tier 2 operators or those in emerging regions.  The kinds of services they offer operators are often in the B2C area, helping operators develop consumer-facing services, such as mobile storefronts, mobile marketing, and mobile banking, or helping them to offer business customers (B2B2C) these kinds of options.  ITSPs also talk about virtualization more often than operators do as a means to provide access to the same apps, data, and content across device types.  They are looking at mobility as a natural extension to IT services (often provided as part of a cloud or IaaS service); in contrast, mobile operators look at mobility more from the perspective of access to information via the mobile network, even though they also may be hosting the corporate data and offering it as a cloud service.

ITSPs are adept at custom application development and have also had years of experience providing consulting, integration, and support for corporate ERP systems.  In contrast, operators tend to use MEAP platforms (from vendors such as Kony, SAP, Verivo, Antenna) for app development, although some (e.g., AT&T, Verizon, DT/T-Systems, etc.) are getting more involved with this through their own professional services teams.  Operators, on the other hand, are more likely to be looking at dual persona options for BYOD, and they are still more likely to offer standardized managed service platforms than ITSPs.  Needless to say, the old ‘co-opetition’ model is still valid; operators and ITSPs may collaborate or compete head-to-head on enterprise deals or segments of them that best fit their capabilities.

What do you think?

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