Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Global telco service providers seizing opportunity in managed telepresence

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: A new report from global advisory and consulting firm Ovum, finds that managed telepresence services for multinational corporations will provide a significant stream of new revenues for global telecoms service providers in the next five years, even if operators are not all exploiting the opportunity yet.

According to the report, entitled, “Business video 2010-14: chasing revenues in managed telepresence”, only a handful of operators offer global managed telepresence services today. But the number will grow steadily as more global network operators, as well as regional operators, follow the lead taken by AT&T, BT and Orange Business Services.

“Managed telepresence is proving to be a value-add revenue stream for major telcos,” says David Molony, principal analyst at Ovum, and author of the report. “It really allows them to exploit their global services network assets as well as all their expertise in videoconferencing.”

Ovum estimates that managed service charges in the new installed base of telepresence videoconferencing systems for MNCs will add a modest $77.4 million to network operator revenues in 2009. But this figure will accelerate over the next five years, with cumulative revenues for global managed telepresence services totalling $1.7 billion from 2010 to 2014.

Add to that the receptiveness of MNCs towards telepresence, which many see as the new keystone for their unified communications programmes, and the industry has a standout service offering.

“Telepresence is at the apex of the unified communications opportunity for managed telecoms providers, and not just the equipment vendors,” says Molony.

In fact, if anything it is the service providers that stand to gain most through the rollout of telepresence services now reaching 100+ sites in the biggest single deployments at MNCs. So far there is no sign of a challenge from the major systems integrators that compete with telcos in so many areas of global services.

“Some operators will take a volume approach, like some vendors,” says Molony. “Others will try harder to maintain the longer-term value of managed sites.”

At some point, the value of the service ‘rentals’ becomes greater than the annual sales of equipment, and in managed telepresence, Ovum thinks that point could come as soon as 2012, because many of the biggest MNCs will have placed their orders by then. Service revenues of $359.5 million will outstrip the value of equipment sales at $272.5 million in 2012, and will grow to $450.3 million in 2014.

Inevitably there will be challenges for global telcos, particularly as telepresence technology shifts from hardware-based systems to software-based installation as part of integrated and centralized UC packages.

Telcos will respond by growing the range of features in the managed service, for example by adding user controls in session management, as well as realtime business tools such as RoI estimators for the cost-benefit analysis of a single telepresence meeting vs travel costs.

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