Companies are faced with increasing pressures on the communications capabilities they offer their employees. More employees are mobile, working from home or in other remote locations with a growing need to talk and share information with their colleagues. This cuts across fixed and mobile communications, but businesses still want the flexibility of mobile, and the costs, predictability, quality and service models of fixed. The convergence of the technologies involved is creating a collision of service provider business issues and a confusion of alternatives for customers. This report seeks to draw out some of the important questions businesses need to address with their communication services providers.
Mobile is becoming more strategic in the IT mix
While the cost associated with mobile deployment is still the most significant factor in negotiations with mobile operators, companies continue to see their mobile spend growing and for more than two in five companies this is a planned increase in their mobile budgets.
- Centralised strategy, but decentralised tactics
Despite a strategic imperative to consolidate and reduce supplier numbers, the reality is still driven by getting the best local deal service by service. This applies across technologies, such as fixed and mobile, as well as international boundaries. Although there are plenty of alternative communications suppliers, most organisations still expect incumbent fixed or mobile telecomm companies to play the major role.
- Home broadband extends home working - but not under the control of the office
The availability of cheaper, high performance home broadband across Europe has had a significant effect on consumer internet adoption, with consequent potentially easier home access to the office. A quarter of companies take control, providing and paying for employees' connections, but most piggyback off a regular consumer service, some contributing someway to the cost.
- Back to cellular as the Wi-Fi wave slows
The lower, flat rate cost appeal of Wi-Fi has to be tempered by availability of service. As mobile working continues to grow, outside the range of Wi-Fi campuses, controlled sites or ‘wireless cities', the connection has to be cellular. Price of mobile data is still an issue, but dropping in significance as cellular data tariffs become more reasonable, increasingly now offering flat rates.
- Fixed/mobile convergence is making some progress
The perceived benefits of cost reduction and simpler supplier relationships are tempered with the need to make a decision about alternative technologies or solutions. While many companies are already actively involved with fixed/mobile convergence, there has not been a significant increase year on year, indicating some reluctance to place technology bets too early.
- Businesses look for service on top of connectivity, beyond the ‘bit pipe'
In addition to simplifying some of the connectivity choices, companies still have an appetite for services that add value to their business, rather than just plain connectivity. However some disillusionment has changed their view of mobile operators, who now appear to occupy a less strategic role.
The communications landscape has never been more complex nor offered so many choices and solutions. Businesses are looking to their suppliers to steer a safe way through the confusing array of options, and absorb some of the risk and uncertainty for them, while providing innovative new services and helping to keep a lid on escalating costs.