Continuing this 10-part series on , I wanted to look at ways operators are growing revenues from Cloud services. I was perusing through some market studies such as the Cisco Connected World Report and Cisco Visual Networking Index (check out this cool video summary of the data) and some conclusions caught my eye. For example:
- “Two-thirds of employees believe they should be able to access information using company-issued devices at any time, at any location.”
- “Sixty percent of employees believe they don’t need to be in the office to be productive.”
These imperatives are creating burdens on corporate IT to meet new workforce requirements for secure access to essential information from any device, anywhere, at any time. And IT must provide new ways of collaboration to this distributed workforce, including increased support for mobility. I suppose that another finding in these studies is no surprise either:
- “Eight out of ten IT managers plan to use Cloud computing in the next 3 years.”
Operators Have the Inside Track
It’s clear that Cloud computing is profoundly transforming the way information and services are delivered to and consumed by users. The many benefits to IT from Cloud computing include:
- Decreasing the time and cost to dynamically scale IT resources as user demand increases
- Making applications and services easier to access
- Allowing consumption on a variable cost basis versus large up front fixed capital expense
For those small businesses and enterprises who come down on the side of service provider-hosted cloud services – vs. the build-your-own approach – operators clearly come out on top of the potential list of providers of such services. See this chart from a recent Mobile Cloud Watch report from Cisco IBSG:
(Click to enlarge)
By the way, Cisco IBSG has done alot of significant and interesting research into how Service Providers can win in the Cloud.
This Horse Has a Name: Hosted Collaboration Services
Shifting from a general discussion of cloud services to specific solution areas, one opportunity stands out: Hosted Collaboration Services. As more and more companies rely on video- and web-conferencing to enable effective, real-time collaboration among employees, this creates opportunities for Operators to offer Hosted Collaboration Services – with unparalleled mobile connectivity and other unique capabilities such as location and presence – to their customers’ employees on smartphones, tablets, and laptops connecting over mobile data networks. And there is a strong preference for hosted services for these solutions. According to AMI-Partners Research, over 25 percent of U.S. small businesses would deploy unified communications integrated with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings as paid services, if these integrated services were available from a single provider.
Another proxy indicator of the operator opportunity lies in the emerging business tablet market. Gartner predicts that by 2013, 80% of businesses will support a workforce using tablets. And Cisco IBSG projects that by 2015, 50% will leverage these business tablets for enterprise UC and Video Collaboration in some form of a managed or hosted service.
Hosted Collaboration Services can be a winning ticket for operators who bet on the foundational trifecta: (1) an intelligent mobile packet core that can enable differentiated service delivery over the 3G and 4G/LTE mobile data network; (2) a carrier-class cloud infrastructure based on virtualized computing, network resources and persistent storage; and (3) a scalable, carrier-class collaboration solution such as Cisco HCS that is designed to host multiple customers securely. Many leading mobile operators are already deploying/enhancing #1, and can incrementally build out #2 while deploying #3 as the primary moneymaker application to provide a rapid ROI.
Picking a Winner
With Hosted Collaboration Services, operators can also deepen relationships with business customers, evolving from being solely a supplier of mobile connectivity to become a business solution partner, delivering complex, higher-margin hosted collaboration services in a reliable and predictable manner.
Operators like Vodafone, Verizon, and BT have launched Hosted Collaboration Services that they provide to multi-national and mid-market customers seeking to create a consistent collaboration environment across a distributed and often global workforce. Some operators are also looking to integrate HCS services with their IMS platforms to create Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC) offers for their customers.
Furthermore, Hosted Collaboration Services provide operators with excellent cross-selling synergies across other business-relevant mobile services discussed in this Monetization blog series such as Mobile VPN, Tiered Pricing Data Plans, Turbo Boost, and Day Pass.
For more information, see the Mobile Internet Monetization Showcase for case studies, data sheets, and other information on a wide range of "Use Cases" which operators can offer to generate new revenues.