I just came back from the annual two day Vodafone Analyst event in Egham, United Kingdom. Erik Brenneis, now four months into his new role as CEO of Global Enterprise, and interim CEO Group Enterprise, gave account of the corporate strategy going forward. Presentations by the Group Enterprise leadership team on sales and marketing, portfolio strategy, regional sales and operations as well as customer presentations, indepth discussions and breakouts provided the frame for a very informative two days. Vodafone delivered a strong message, verified by an impressive array of customers, that it can play well on two fronts:
- Thriving through scale on core connectivity services which are being commoditized;
- Thriving through innovation transforming connectivity services into business relevant services.
Here are my take aways:
- Erik Brenneis led the IoT practice before and that has takencenter stage as a growth engine. The strong position in the connected car segment achieved through focused investments, sales and integration is just marking the beginning. Vodafone is set to be more actively engaged in segments including smart cities, retail, logistics and energy management. Whilst the broad church approach suits a network operator, care must be taken not to to loose focus in a highly competitive and increasingly specialized automotive segment.
- Vodafone delivers on earlier promises made to analysts, particularly on the execution concerning Cable & Wireless, acquired in 2012. The most impressive sign for a successful integration was a net promoter score for overall customer service which dipped until 2014 and went back to quite impressive levels compared to the industry. Keeping this growth up will be challenging during an active build out phase for its network backbone and service structure as Vodafone is rapidly moving towards.
- Vodafone got it right on the transformation from infrastructure ICT to business ICT. Five customers and one partner testified their use of Vodafone technology for business growth rather than IT or TC infrastructure optimization. The speakers from FedEx, Philips Lighting, gategroup and Ekso Bionics for example, outlined how Vodafone helped them in their business to deliver parcels with high continuity, lighten up streets in smart city projects, to connect their fleet of inflight trolleys, trucks, etc to streamline operations and empowered innovative technology helping disabled and injured people to walk again.
- Red is on the attack to scale on nearly fields. Vodafone executives are open about the fact that many of their core services will deliver less return with new technologies. Their approach is to go aggressive on classic telecom services transformation to increase usage and scale to offset declining ARPU. For cloud-based communication services, traditionally called IP Centrex, it helps that Vodafone has little legacy business on ISDN telephony. The argument for building out further scale is supported with strong regional growth in Middle East and Africa.
- One increasingly integrated service not covered – digital workspace. Vodafone talks about mobile workplace services referring to access and communication. But the company has no strategy as of yet, to cover the management services for integrated endpoints including all devices, software license management or integrated helpdesks. On this field, Vodafone faces the choice of either giving up on mobile device management, to build out a strategic portfolio or to partner.