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Businesses have comprised the vast majority of revenues for service providers over the last 20 years, and service providers continue to release increasingly sophisticated means of connecting premises and linking businesses to their customers. They developed specialist services and networks for business customers, including higher and higher capacity leased lines and data-oriented services such as X.25, Frame Relay, ATM and ultimately IP/VPN.
These services were sold at a premium over and above any consumer service, but business demands today require that communications services are simplified down to broadband and VPNs. These are much more closely integrated with IT, unified communications suites, business applications and the contact center dealing with the multiple channels of inbound and outbound communications and campaigns.
Employee workstations are also changing. Walk through an office today and the desk phone, if still in existence, rarely rings whereas mobiles are continually pinging or buzzing. The cloud is also having a major impact on the CIO’s thinking about how business services are delivered internally and externally to the business. The infrastructure supporting the business is increasingly virtual and provided ‘as a service’ from applications, storage or service providers themselves.
The Shifting Business Demand for Communications Services
The CIO now has to embrace agility and the mix of IT and telecom services to map onto the dynamic business demands of a more mobile workforce and will need to become more proactive in supporting devices and applications employees want to use rather than imposing a particular laptop, mobile phone or even service provider. Similar to the consumer market, the drive is shifting away from a centralized, dictated model to one driven by the needs of the employees, suppliers and customers in their roles of creating value and driving the business.
As management focus more on business outcomes, purchasing separate communications and IT services will decrease. Depending on the bias of the CIO, the prime contractor could be more on the IT side or on the telecom side. This requires the service providers to have a more flexible business model in terms of channel to market.
Virtualization of functions for both the service providers and the business mean that a more standard IT infrastructure can be built around business needs rather than forcing them to fit into rigid IT- and telecom-defined conventions. And all of this often needs to happen on an ever-shrinking budget.
This results in the need for:
The emphasis moves away from connecting buildings to supporting business flows. This extends from employees all the way out to the most remote component in a pipeline, sensor on a vehicle or transaction in a marketplace. Underlying components may well be more commoditized and more virtualized, but the need to track, manage, analyze and improve information and business flows has never been more vital.
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