Transport infrastructure operator Ferrovial has outsourced its global ICT to Telefonica Multinational Solutions in a deal that confirms the ICT value-add for telcos.
Telcos should be careful before boasting that they can take on software and IT services giants in the new frontier of cloud computing, especially where that extends into complex datacenters. But they are increasingly confident in their own capability to offer the global network environment for hosted IT systems if their multinational customers want that.
Systems integrators (SIs) may have the extended project management templates and the track record in multi-billion dollar outsourcing deals, but telcos are adaptable, have large assets, and are in realtime operation from end to end.
Increasingly, telcos are able to offer value-added systems and applications management capabilities as part of this emerging ICT portfolio, which can help to clinch a deal with an MNC that wants the next level of service from its managed network provider.
Telefonica has done just that in its agreement with Ferrovial: the emergent global operator will take on the heavy lifting in the WAN and LANs around the world (Ferrovial has 100,000 employees across 1,500 sites in 49 countries), as well as desktops.
All these will be managed out of a single service centre in Madrid, hosting security and messaging tools. Telefonica will also be loading up communications applications including IP telephony; 30,000 mobile handsets and connections; and fleet and remote-site device controls. The service management centre will become a launch ramp onto a global ICT outsourcing platform. Further out in this multi-year contract, which Spanish press sources indicate is potentially a five-year deal, Telefonica will bring Ferrovial’s IT systems elements onto its network.
Telcos advance their ICT cause
Some telcos are talking of providing IT program management for MNCs, in other words advising and administering applications portfolios and, for example, helping plan how to simplify them.
That implies a deep familiarity with end-user requirements and productivity performance, as well as the vendor technologies. SIs already have these, because they have to make the technologies work in the first place.
Telcos might not want to go so far with systems software, but they have good visibility of applications traffic and usage on their networks. And often they have strategic IT expertise related to assets of their own – for example, in security solutions. Most telcos are parlaying these into professional services areas of expertise, and even into vertical niche products for industry sectors such as e-health and financial services (where Telefonica has also shown significant progress) or, as in the Ferrovial case, transportation, where traffic and ticketing data is also under continuous analysis.
While SIs and even IT vendors are considering whether they want to be identified with selling specific applications in an open source environment, telcos have an opportunity to develop these kinds of value-added services. They probably should not expect them to substitute for their major revenue streams of today, however. They should use the experience to reinforce their offer in hosting and management of IT systems and applications requirements, against their customers’ defined business priorities.
Telefonica’s recent deals show how telcos can engage with global enterprises at different levels of business operations criticality, starting with DP-DHL last year. There the telco is helping the customer understand and improve its return on local asset management. With Celesio, Telefonica is providing central cost management for managed mobility in Germany, Latin America, and China. With the Ferrovial agreement, it is now demonstrating the influence of an ICT-led approach.