Sprint unveils 'Workplace-as-a-Service' platform aimed at simplifying enterprise communications

Sprint (NYSE: S) is launching a new platform aimed at business customers that it says will meet all of their enterprise technology and communications needs without companies having to work with multiple  vendors. The carrier is aiming the solution at small and medium-sized businesses with the promise of cutting their expenses and simplifying their operations.

The new offering, which Sprint calls Workplace-as-a-Service (WaaS), will cost $200 per month per person, which the carrier says is about half the cost of comparable solutions. The WaaS platform includes multiple elements spanning both wireless and wireline communications. Sprint also points out that the solution gives companies a single point of contact in terms of customer care.

The platform includes Wide Area Network connectivity, enterprise-grade managed Wi-Fi, enterprise-grade voice along with local and long-distance voice, audio and video conferencing, online collaboration, instant messaging and presence tools, mobile device management support across multiple carriers as well as bring-your-own-device support. The offering also includes optional Sprint wireless plans for smartphones and tablets that Sprint will offer at discounted prices.

Mike Fitz, vice president of business solution commercialization at Sprint Business, said that the company has been working on the WaaS platform for close to a year and a half. He said that the platform is designed to help CIOs and business executives use technologies like wireless, social media and Big Data to expand their revenues.

Fitz said WaaS "has the capability to span the whole spectrum" of business communications needs and is a "complete employee enablement solution that includes all of the core elements employees need to be productive."

Sprint's main pitch is to outline companies' spending on Wi-Fi vendors, MPLS vendors, managed services vendors, mobile device management vendors and wireless providers, since Fitz said that CIOs and other executives often don't know how much per employee they spend per month on all of these services. Further, if a problem occurs, Fitz said, multiple vendors usually wind up blaming each other. Sprint's service unifies those services onto a single bill.

Sprint does partner with other vendors for certain elements of WaaS, Fitz said. For example, Velocity performs Wi-Fi installations in buildings, and Sprint manages the MDM solution but partners with AirWatch for the solution. However, many features of the platform are standalone capabilities Sprint has developed on its own. "What's truly unique is putting them all together on a single offer and offering them on a per-seat, per-month basis," he said.

Early customers that have embraced WaaS include Knoll Inc., an international designer, manufacturer and distributer of workplace and residential furniture and accessories, as well as SATO Global Solutions, a global barcode and RFID technology company.

If customers of WaaS do want Sprint wireless service, Sprint offers unlimited voice, texting and data plans for smartphones for $40 per month (a $20 discount on Sprint's unlimited plan for consumers) and a tablet plan with 5 GB of data for $5 per month (the most comparable plan for consumers is a $60 per month tablet plan for 6 GB). Fitz said Sprint can afford to do that because of the synergies it gets from offloading data onto Wi-Fi networks. At the same time, the WaaS platform fully supports employees who have other wireless carriers.

Of course, Sprint is not the only one playing in the enterprise market. For example, earlier this month AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) unveiled a partnership with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) called AT&T Mobile Office Suite that offers some Microsoft services coupled with AT&T devices. Separately, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is holding its latest "uncarrier" event later this week and there are indications that the company is aiming its sights on the lucrative business market.

Fitz said he is not worried about getting overshadowed. "It just validates that there is a lot of opportunity in the business space," he said.

For more:
- see this release

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