Tata and Huawei: New-style competitors and change agents in the ICT ecosystem

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.


The implications of these new types of players on the ICT market should not be underestimated. Not only are they active at different levels of the ecosystem, they are also paying as much attention to growth markets (such as the BRIC countries and Africa) as to the mature markets (such as Western Europe). Both Tata and Huawei are global suppliers and important change agents making the ecosystems a reality today.


But what do you think? I'd be happy to discuss as ever.


Incumbent NEPs focus on SI.

Ericsson focuses on global services:
With new CEO Hans Vestberg and CFO Jan Frykhammar, Ericsson to drive market innovation and also both of them, come from global services business unit.

Ericsson' strategy for global services: Together with the operation of the operators' networks to include consulting & SI activities.

String of acquistions: Adds competence & capacity to the growing global services business.

Over the past 5 years, Ericsson has acquired 6 companies in the field of consulting and SI, includes
• Audilog, France: 2004
• Teleca OSS, Sweden: 2005
• TUSC, Australia: 2005
• HyC, Spain: 2007
• Bizitek, Turkey: 2009
• Pride Group, Italy: 2010

Currently, global services business unit has 40,000 professionals and global operator relatiosnhips.

New competitors and ICT blog

Thanks for yoour comment - it is always nice to know you are being read.

This is a fair point. The same can be made for Alcatel-Lucent and NSN. All three have been extending their operations in to new areas, but with modest success. The point I was trying to make is that Huawei have been spectacularly successful as an NEP, and on the basis of their past track record, it is reasonable to assume they will be so again as they move into SI.