Partnerships are essential for enterprises looking to make sense of an increasingly complex digital workspace – and most business leaders recognize that they need support if they are to deliver the desired benefits to the business. Most already have many of the individual components of a digital workspace, even if they see themselves at the early stage of transformation. The issue is often not about which tools to use, but about understanding how to integrate and optimize these tools to deliver maximum business value, and plan around what the impact of these tools will be on people and processes.
Currently, there is a very diverse supply situation with many enterprises juggling multiple partners across enterprise mobility/unified endpoint management (EMM/UEM), app management, mobile security, unified communications and collaboration, service desk, connectivity, analytics and reporting, professional services, and other areas. While communications service providers (CSPs) can provide many components of the digital workspace, they are the dominant partner for enterprises only in the management of connectivity and of the device fleet. While it is no surprise that systems integrators and large IT service providers are the partner of choice in areas such as professional services, what is perhaps more worrying for the CSPs is the increasingly strong position of the software platform providers. Over the past 18 months, many of these have invested strongly in their service capability and are being viewed as credible partners in a growing number of areas of digital workspace.
Many CSPs are still pursuing a connectivity-led approach in digital workplace. This will not work, as it will not bring the right conversations with the right people in businesses – most notably those in the C-suite. The platform vendors, cloud providers, and systems integrators are already having these conversations at the C-level. CSPs must focus on where they can bring value and recognize where they should partner with vendors with deeper and more specialized technical capabilities. A focus on mobility, service integration, and the frontline worker will play to the CSPs' strengths, as will their managed services capability, particularly around security. And, of course there is 5G, which many CSPs see as a means of raising the level of engagement with business customers with discussions around new use cases and business models, as it has been to some extent with IoT. The challenge for CSPs is to turn the undoubted enterprise interest in 5G into commercial opportunity.
Some CSPs are evolving a more professional and managed services-led (and vertical) approach to workspace and are taking steps toward building a more differentiated offer. NTT has brought together its capabilities in NTT Ltd, specifically formed to support the intelligent business. Other examples include Orange Business Services with its multiservice integration capabilities and Telefonica bringing its analytics capability into the workspace. We believe CSPs should also be developing workspace services for the midsize and small business market, where they have obvious strengths (and far less competition), and where requirements will be arguably more straightforward to meet. They will find willing partners here among the software platform vendors.
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