Over the past few years, enterprise services have emerged as a key focus area for telecom operators in India. Most of them now have independent business divisions that serve and manage their enterprise clientele, with enterprise mobility, cloud and data being the three pillars around which strategies are being formulated and implemented.
In terms of revenue, Bharti Airtel is leading the Indian enterprise services market, followed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Reliance Communications (RCOM) and Vodafone India. These operators have been fine-tuning their enterprise strategies over the past few years to keep pace with the growing and changing needs of customers.
The increased proliferation of low-cost smartphones and the large-scale adoption of next-generation technologies have given a boost to the uptake of enterprise mobility solutions. Businesses are now moving beyond mobile emails and are increasingly considering applications and solutions like enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, supply chain management, fleet and workforce management, and billing and unified communications. Cloud has emerged as a key requirement for both small and large businesses in India, thus opening up new opportunities for telecom operators in the country. As per research firm Gartner, India’s public cloud market is expected to reach Rs 124 billion by 2018.
The adoption of machine–to-machine (M2M) communication solutions and the internet of things (IoT) are emerging as defining trends for the enterprise segment. The increased uptake of M2M solutions can be currently seen in the automotive and utilities segments. The 14 smart grid projects and 130 million smart meters that are expected to be deployed in the country in the coming years will provide a fillip to the M2M market in the utility space. In the automotive industry, the need for fleet management, the emergence of telematics and the rising number of radio taxis will drive M2M growth. New government initiatives like the Smart Cities Mission and the increased IT spending across verticals will promote it further.
We take a look at the recent offerings, strategies and future plans for the enterprise business of operators…
Bharti Airtel was an early mover in the enterprise business. In 2012, it established Airtel Business; a separate arm for exclusively managing enterprise customers. Airtel Business offers a wide range of services that cater to the needs of businesses across verticals like IT, ITeS, the government, fast-moving consumer goods, banking, finance, insurance and media.
Over the years, the operator’s focus in the enterprise segment has shifted from large businesses to small and medium ones, and from core infrastructure products to high-value solutions. Airtel has launched security-based mobile applications for schools and business process outsourcing units, along with enterprise video solutions and M2M offerings. It currently provides M2M services across the power sector, the asset-tracking segment and point-of-sale transactions. As per industry estimates, about 35 per cent of India’s total M2M base uses Airtel Business. Airtel is also working with three electricity boards for smart metering, and is in discussions with IT companies to offer its GPS-based tracking solution, TrackMATE, for personal safety. It recently collaborated with the Odisha State Road Transport Corporation; dep loying a satellite-based vehicle tracking system and fuel monitoring system to help the company save on fuel costs.
The operator is planning significant investments in government infrastructure by becoming an active participant in the Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives. It already offers m-governance solutions as well as custom-made applications for government organisations; including video surveillance, city traffic systems, public distribution mobile applications, property tax collection, and financial inclusion solutions.
During the July-September quarter in 2015, Airtel invested Rs 730 million in its enterprise business for enhancing data capabilities. This led to a 20 per cent growth in its enterprise business during the quarter under consideration as compared to the corresponding quarter in 2014.
BSNL’s enterprise services are mostly availed by public sector banks, major private sector banks and rural banks. This is because it has a relatively wider network when compared to several other service providers, especially in semi-urban and rural areas. With the payments bank licence being given to India Post, BSNL is now involved in linking post offices across the country through internet connectivity.
BSNL also provides its customers with end-to-end managed services. Its internet data centres (IDCs), which are also available on a rental basis, are operational in six cities: Mumbai, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Jaipur, Ludhiana and Ahmedabad. BSNL’s cloud services are based on the Dimension Data Managed Cloud Platform and hosted on BSNL’s Tier III IDCs.
The enterprise segment currently accounts for 10 per cent of BSNL’s revenues, and the company expects this to reach 18-20 per cent in the next three years. It is betting big on the increased demand from banks and government projects like Smart Cities.
In 2014, RCOM revamped its enterprise offerings to cater to large and small enterprises, government bodies and PSUs in a better manner. The operator’s Global Cloud Xchange platform currently connects 3,210 Indian enterprises and 14,505 global enterprises. With 11 data centres, it is a leading cloud computing provider in India.
The company is betting big on cloud services and has recently announced plans for investing around $80 million in setting up four additional data centres over the next year. This will help RCOM increase its capacity by 40 per cent. In the next five years, 25 per cent of its business is expected to come from cloud services. Cloud offerings and IoT under the enterprise segment are expected to account for 20 per cent of its revenue.
The company is also testing the M2M solutions deployed across its sister companies in the power, cement distribution and healthcare verticals.
Vodafone Business Services
The enterprise services arm of Vodafone India, Vodafone Business Services (VBS), caters to around 70,000 businesses and contributes 12-15 per cent to Vodafone’s revenue. The operator recently partnered with construction equipment manufacturer JCB India to provide M2M solutions for powering JCB’s Live Link. It is a telematics system that allows the remote monitoring of JCB’s construction equipment and provides information on its services, operations and security. Live Link will help the users of JCB’s construction equipment manage its efficiency, maintenance and health in a more efficient manner.
VBS is also working with system integrators, device manufacturers and application service providers to offer new services like health monitoring, school bus tracking, and personal emergency systems. Going forward, the company aims to provide solutions to sectors like agriculture, healthcare, energy management and retail asset management.
Tata Teleservices Limited
The enterprise business of Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) accounts for about 30 per cent of its overall revenue. Its services can be categorised into voice, data and managed services. The operator currently serves 50,000 enterprise clients through direct and indirect relationships and over 100,000 enterprise customers through broadband services. Of these, 10-15 per cent of customers use managed services, including cloud. The operator offers a host of innovative solutions like hosted interactive voice response services, call register services, cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions and IoT/M2M services like fleet management, vehicle tracking, school bus tracking and automated meter reading.
TTSL is positive about the growth of the managed services industry. The operator’s managed services segment is currently growing at the rate of 40-45 per cent, which is better than the industry average of 30 per cent.
Operators are increasingly focusing on the enterprise business as its revenue potential is high. The emergence of new focus areas in the form of M2M and IoT as well as government initiatives like Digital India and Smart Cities are expected to create further opportunities for telecom operators in the segment.