airtel business recently held their first analyst meet. The key message that was clearly and loudly articulated by the company’s executive team was – we are in the space of enterprise communications and have the capability of providing end-to-end solutions to enterprises be they large or small.
Why enterprise services are becoming relevant is not the question or topic of debate. Industry watchers like me know that Telcos are nearing maturity with their consumer service offerings, and the uptake of high speed data services at a scale that would see handsome revenue streams for operators is still a few years away. So, for now, operators want to serve the under-served enterprise communications space. This is what Bharti airtel want to achieve through their airtel business SBU.
Offering communications services to enterprises is not an easy task. Particularly, the geographically dispersed organisations of today with mobile workforces, where it is difficult to estimate the exact communication requirements. At the same time, the customer expects nothing less than world class services, which the operator has to provide without reinvesting in a major infrastructure refresh. In today’s tough macro-economic scenario, no operator would like to implement solutions that require a large or substantial revamping its infrastructure. To further complicate the business scenario, SMB enterprises cannot afford to dedicate resources to manage their infrastructure within their very limited budgets.
Visualising this situation, airtel business, through analysts like me clearly want to convey that they have simplified the complexity. The company has attempted to articulate enterprise requirements into a ‘single window’ business model, resulting in a bouquet of offerings for large as well as SMB enterprises.
airtel business seem to have understood that being successful in this domain means change in their enterprise philosophy and merely investing in a ‘high decibel’ go-to-market campaign would not yield the desired business results. The operator fully understands that it needs to play the role of enabler rather than just a facilitator. It is not only about being a cost effective infrastructure or service provider, but gaining a deep understanding of what the client aims to do with the infrastructure or service and empowering customer teams with the requisite tools to enable them to add value to their end product / service. So, the role of the operator is not just to provide business enterprises with an infrastructure backbone or telecommunications service, but also partner them to maximise value addition in their offerings. The operator has to play the role of a consultant rather than being just a service provider.
Another important element in providing services to businesses is the growth of enterprise mobility, or the seamless convergence of IT and Telecommunications solutions. Therefore, the airtel business leadership team would do well to hire the best IT resources, which the company says it is already in the process of doing.
To sum up, airtel business seem to be geared up to serve enterprises with an end-to-end communication solutions portfolio. The company has tried to take a holistic view of enterprise communication requirements and integrated all the important building blocks, while keeping a flexible structure. They have attempted to simplify all the anticipated complexities faced by enterprises, while shopping for business communication solutions.
This ‘Simplex’ bouquet of services, as I would like to call it, will be tested by the prevailing dull all-round business sentiment. airtel business would do well to stress on the positive, growth enabling nature of their services, without the requirement for any major capital investment at the customer premises.