On February 15th, I received an update on Vodafone’s current Unified Communications business in a briefing led by Peter Terry-Brown and Craig Marshall.
Key metrics that got my attention included Vodafone’s current base of 4.7 million One Net users, 10% growth Year-over-Year in the UC business, and a massive increase in their multi-national pipeline. The adoption of these offerings are starting to accelerate as global trends for TDM retirement are forcing enterprises to re-evaluate network and voice infrastructure options and to consider SIP, cloud, network, and unified communications innovations. These trends are strong in light of Vodafone’s overall positioning as the largest voice carrier in the world with over 60 billion minutes per month and the #2 mobile subscription provider in the world behind China Mobile.
The offering, itself, has become more flexible as Vodafone now supports quarterly offering updates and can deploy basic cloud-based Unified Communications projects over a weekend rather than the multi-month or multi-year staggered projects that have typically defined telecom. Vodafone also noted the increased interest in its contact center product, which now starts at 250+ agents rather than 500+ agents and that 80-90% of unified communications deals now include a contact center component.
As is now typical in the UC space, Vodafone sees interest in bringing voice, mobility, and collaboration together and emphasized its combination of support for a variety of collaboration tools and its use of APIs to support additional integration. The combined offerings of SIP, unified communications, contact center, and voice APIs provides a broad range of options for Vodafone customers and serves to reduce churn on the network as well. Vodafone describes its broader UC ecosystem in context of the diagram below to show how voice, network connectivity and integration, platform, applications, self-service, and third-party applications come together in its unified communications offering.
Interestingly, Vodafone’s sales Center of Excellence has led to a majority of opportunities, 79%, created with line-of-business leaders. This metric speaks to Vodafone’s sales force training focused on finding the right buyer in an organization, regardless of department. And this behavior aligns with an Amalgam-tracked trend of the increasing business focus associated with technology investments and the reduced need for IT to be the primary lead for acquiring telecom and network transformation solutions in a cloud-based world.
Vodafone also provided guidance on its roadmap plans in the upcoming year including improved self-service, analytics, greater collaboration integration, improved deployment for small and medium businesses, and geographic expansion. In these efforts, Amalgam warns that in the enterprise telecom world, self-service is best provided as a guided service for the majority of business users and that an overly open experience will not gain strong adoption.
In addition, Amalgam looks forward to seeing the approaches that Vodafone will take from an analytics and application integration perspective, as both areas have gone through sea changes in the last few years. Clean visualization, directional guidance, and a well-embedded experience are now status quo for enterprise technology experiences.
Overall, Amalgam believes that Vodafone’s Unified Communications offerings represent a strong converged option that should be considered for:
• Small, medium and large enterprises
• Medium and large enterprises with contact center needs; as well as
• Multi-national organizations seeking to upgrade capabilities and reduce total cost of ownership for telecom costs.