With competition undermining their margins, telecoms companies have branched out into a wider range of business services. But can they measure up to the more demanding requirements of business systems users?
A whitepaper by market analyst K2 recently tackled this question. According to K2 director Katy Ring, core telecoms networks are under pressure from voice over internet protocol (VoIP) suppliers who have undercut prices and commoditised telecommunications.
While this has been happening, companies have started to explore the possibilities of managed services, outsourcing and IT services. ”More and more business customers are demanding that their network communications providers extend their portfolios into new areas such as LAN management, managed security, hosting and storage,” said K2 director Katy Ring.
“The border between IT and telecom service provision is breaking down because of the Internet - it means that IT services and telecom services are blurring.”
Communications networks play such an important role in business that anyone considering this route needs to ensure that they are dealing with a supplier that can deliver not just communications, but a full range of business services and support.
- It takes time to develop the kind of consultancy and back-up infrastructure required to deliver these kinds of services and many telecom providers have not put in the necessary investment. To assess the quality of service on offer from a prospective supplier, K2 advises:
- Examining how they present their services: do they talk about security as a technical issue, or something that involves wider management issues such as staff awareness and training?
- Can they talk about business issues for more than five minutes, or are they relying on external business partners or system integrators?
- Are they offering a vanilla implementation, or do they cater for the specific requirements of your business sector?
BT wins praise in the K2 report as telecoms company that has successfully managed the transition. “Over the past couple of years, BT Global Services has undergone quiet, yet significant changes... There has been a company-wide programme to organise staff into ‘professional communities’. This means that the Professional Services organisation can now ‘skill forecast’ into the future to ensure the right person, with the right training and qualifications, turns up to speak to you.”
According to Ring, BT Global Services have “as much credibility as those from traditional management consulting companies, with the added advantage that the company understands the technical issues as well”.
*'Can telecom providers really deliver business solutions?', can be downloaded for free from www.K2Advisory.com. K2 Advisory.