Orange Business Services: Cautious Maybe – But Sensible

It’s easy to bash incumbent telcos, to count them as being among the losers in the digital revolution. Cloud services players are taking business from telcos in the storage and server capacity space. Over-the-top providers are free-riding on the telco infrastructure. Software firms are eating into the communication business. Regulators are pressing for further price reductions. And to top this scenario, telcos are continuing to undercut each other in price wars.

During a round of executive discussions with Forrester, Orange Business Services (OBS) has shown that against these odds, it keeps a pretty even keel regarding the most hyped topics in ICT, most notably cloud and mobility. OBS is selective in its cloud offerings, focusing on UCaaS and IaaS. UCaaS is a natural extension of its communication business and thus falls into OBS’ home turf. All telcos should see communication services from the cloud as a natural extension of what they have always done.

OBS’ drive into IaaS, meanwhile, looks like a less convincing pitch. Its IaaS offering essentially comprises a virtual data centre offering with virtual firewalls and load balancing. The question is: How OBS can compete against the dominant cloud players in the storage and server space? In the short term, such an approach is conceivable. However, OBS will need to provide a much broader range of virtual infrastructure choices to avoid slipping into a low-margin market segment.

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Mobility Is The Tail That Will Wag The UC Dog

How much of your IT operating and capital budget will go to UC related investments? I predict that spending by large distributed enterprises (defined as firms with 1,000 or more employees) on communications infrastructure and services will grow between 7% and 10% per year during the next three years. Moreover, there will be a gradual shift away from hardware to software, and wireless connectivity will account for MOST of the growth in communications services spending.

Momentum is building for broader UC adoption, and our Q1 2011 survey of 601 firms that have implemented or are piloting a UC solution showed that 55% of the respondents consider UC a top priority this year.

There are two BIG drivers of widespread UC adoption in large distributed organizations: Mobility and new business models (how UC technology and services are delivered). Mobility will become the “tail that wags the UC dog.” Why? Consider the management and usage cost efficiencies offered by fixed mobile convergence (FMC)  technology — least-cost routing savings including reduced international calling and roaming charges,  to name one.

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