I recently attended the Tata Communications Analyst event in central London, and fascinating it was too. Tata Communications is a domestic Indian, South African and International communications service provider comprising the former businesses known as VSNL, Teleglobe, Tyco, Neotel and DishnetDSL. All were acquired in the past few years. Tata Communications is part of the Tata IT and Communications division (ITC) that also includes Tata Consultancy Services (TCS - the systems integration, applications, and outsourcing business) which in turn is part of the Tata Group conglomerate.
So what? What makes Tata Communications interesting is they are part of the ITC division alongside TCS. If anything symbolizes the fusing of IT and communications into ICT (Information and Communications Technology) over the past decade in one business then this is it. This is important because the traditional telecoms cascade supply-chain is being replaced by an integrated ecosystem (see Forrester research Farewell to the Traditional Telecom Ecosystem). As a consequence Tata can play multiple roles (rather than predominantly one as is the case for many of their rivals) and so is a new type of player.
But Tata are not alone. Late last year I spent some time with Huawei - the Chinese Network Equipment Provider (NEP)- at their EMEA H.Q. in Germany. Apart from posting spectacular revenue growth figures (in contrast to their established western-based NEP rivals) it is also busy creating a systems integration business too. They have seen the parallel growth of the IT Services sector and have decided they want a slice of this pie too. With the resources and determination they have it would take a brave person to bet against them succeeding.
We have all heard a lot about the growing segment of information workers including senior executives, managers, legal professionals, and financial service executives who use their smartphones for work. About 45% of all employees in the US are information workers, and Forrester survey results show that nearly 15% of these workers use smartphones for work. In addition, nearly 33% of information workers are issued smartphones by their company, and about 25% select and purchase a smartphone that may, or may not be supported by the company. We expect the info worker segment to grow significantly as more employees work away from their desk or telecommute.
Vendor marketing and strategy professionals across the mobile value chain must understand how information workers use smartphones and applications, so they can successfully develop products to address the needs of these workers. Information workers are going beyond plain vanilla email, calendar and PIM applications. Many are trying out instant messaging, productivity apps to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, and location-based services. To tap the fast-growing slice of information workers relying on their smartphones, business application categories must be clearly identified on mobile operator portals and mobile app store sites. Device manufacturers and mobile operators must also ensure smartphone features and functionality address both personal and professional user needs. Are there other strategies vendors are using to address the needs of the mobile information worker segment?