Cutting Room: Voda steps up, at last

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Market leaders O2 and Vodafone are to intensify their battle for business market share. Or, at least, Vodafone is at last to step up its game, while O2’s aggressive reshaping of the market continues apace.

O2 has got a head start. No sooner does Vodafone announce its long-awaited unified communications offering, restricted to the corporate market, then O2 brings its own simplified version out for the SME channel, where it is making its biggest gains from Vodafone.

Vodafone’s major contract win from O2 with Lloyds Banking Group, should not really be considered to be indicative of a power shift. O2 will be able to dine out on its vast multinational DHL contract for some months yet, which already sets the tone for corporate unified communications also. The DHL deal sees O2 oversee a fully integrated communications service, and management of an array of disparate supply contracts. If that’s not unified communications in terms of technology, it is in terms of product delivery.

Vodafone has been unlucky in a sense, also. It should have handled the Yes Telecom/Tanny Price/Avenir fiasco much better, but it clearly did not see the difficulties it would encounter. It has cost Vodafone badly. Yes Telecom, once the gold standard for channel connections, is badly suffering. Vodafone management must be hands-on with Yes Telecom, and also free-thinking. The expert dealer channel can still show networks a lot. But its strategy appears suddenly sensible, self-aware and change-making. Which is not actually particularly common for unwieldy corporate institutions, particularly in mobile.

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