The increasing desire amongst enterprises to provide flexible and productive working arrangements for their employees is creating a growing opportunity for mobile operators.
Earlier this week, the Cohen Research Group released a survey of 200 IT professionals in the USA and UK, that showed that many of them plan to move to more deployment of Unified and Collaborative Communications technologies.
The survey, commissioned by Unified Communications (UC) provider Broadsoft, found that 64% of respondents planned to deploy Videoconferencing, 56% Instant Messaging, 53% Unified Messaging and 46% Single Voicemail services on desktops and notebooks within the next year.
Interestingly for mobile operators, the survey also found that mobile service providers cam very high up the list of companies that enterprises would view as "best positioned" to provide these services.
“Enterprise end-users are demanding their IT department support a consumer-grade communications experience that includes access to advanced communications services and applications across their preferred mobile communication device,” said Leslie Ferry, vice president marketing, BroadSoft.
“More telling, the survey revealed mobile network operators have a compelling, but closing window of opportunity to be the preferred provider of choice when it comes to delivering unified communications services that keep mobile employees connected via video, instant messaging, web conferencing and presence management, indicating MNOs need to act now, before competitors erode their customer base.”
On a per technology basis, between 40 and 50% of respondents thought that mobile service providers were best positioned to provide Single voicemail, instant messaging, unified messaging, video calling, extension dialling and video conferencing.
When asked who could "put it all together", to provide a complete set of UC services, Microsoft, Google and "my mobile service provider" were the top three choices, with all three recording very similar scores.
Nick Webb, Head of Solutions Marketing at Vodafone Global Enterprise, said that he was "not surprised" by the high score given to mobile operators.
"We know that the workplace is going mobile, and therefore any UC or converged solution that does not have mobile at its core is not addressing the needs of businesses in the next few years," Webb said.
"We also know that mobile providers are at the heart of this because customers are asking us to talk to them about UC and convergence and how they can change their working practices."
Vodafone is building up its competency in UC, forming a dedicated UC practice within its Global Enterprise unit, and providing an increased amount of professional services and consulting support to enterprises, Webb said. Just yesterday it announced it had bought UK firm Bluefish, to boost its professional services capability.
"Our customers see things in broad terms - how can they keep their end users productive, and they are asking for our help and guidance in how we can support that need for more flexibility and productivity," Webb said, " With that it makes sense to put together to put together a UC practice."