Samsung and EE have made significant efforts to focus on the UK b2b market, refreshing their strategies to do so.
EE has recently launched a new range of 4G-based devices designed to deliver targeted-use cases to companies, while Samsung introduced a new b2b service to drive solutions.
Both companies are targeting new verticals and making the most of their capabilities to provide business customers with technology that can boost productivity.
Samsung refreshed its b2b strategy in the spring, announcing a number of new programmes for b2b partners and reducing the number of distribution partners it worked with. The shift saw the manufacturer look to develop more in-depth relationships with businesses.
Samsung’s strategy within b2b has centred on offering a host of solutions from one mobile device. However, Graham Long, VP business, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, explained that the manufacturer’s role goes beyond that of a traditional hardware supplier, which requires collaboration with the businesses themselves.
He said: ‘It’s about having in-depth relationships rather than being a transactional supplier of hardware. We’re not arrogant enough to think we can do it all on our own – we need collaboration as well so we’ve got 20 partners we’re working with as they make our technology better.
‘Over 50% of police forces have adopted our technology, and in the vast majority of instances we’ve worked with one partner. We’re also working with third-party organisations where, when you put the two of us together, we provide something that adds a huge amount of value to an organisation. It’s a three-way conversation between the end user, us as a manufacturer and the channel partner, whether that be an operator or a tier 2 reseller.’
The focus on direct channels is one shared by EE, which has launched a range of 4G-based products to help businesses make the most of enhanced connectivity. CMO Gerry McQuade explained that maintaining a direct market approach is key to covering the b2b space. He said: ‘In the first instance we’ll stick with direct; we’ve got some good relationships within indirect and we’ll look at how they can work with us.
‘It’s just a question of finding the right way to make sure it enters the market in a way that is structured and doesn’t interrupt the quality of services. We’ve invested a lot in b2b to ensure we cover the market. It needs to be a face-to-face conversation to really get the message across – it’s a conversation. These are small worlds and there’s going to be a snowball effect – people have been coming to us so we don’t need to do anything different in terms of how we go to market.’
Finding real-life value
While both companies deliver products designed for a specific business use, it can be a challenge to communicate these capabilities to the end user, as well as helping companies recognise the value to their business. Samsung has used its expertise in hardware to deliver secure mobile devices that are specifically designed or ruggedised to suit different working environments, while EE has focused on using high-speed connectivity to better equip businesses. To introduce the b2b sector to the services both offer, the two mobile companies have used public sector case studies to market various b2b solutions.
EE currently works with NHS trusts, social housing projects and police forces across the country, McQuade explained that these areas have a strong marketing value. He said: ‘Things like the emergency services are really useful because businesses understand how the use cases they’re applying also fit very strongly with how they run their business (as opposed to retail or construction use cases) so they have additional value in terms of marketing.’
Samsung has recently launched its business service in the UK to cover retail, hospitality, transport, education, government, finance and healthcare, equipping these sectors with Samsung devices. Long explained: ‘Samsung Business is a powerful offering for businesses big and small across a wide range of industries. We want to help businesses become more efficient, and ultimately deliver a better experience for their own customers.
‘Our understanding of what consumers want when it comes to tech means we are in a fantastic, and very unique, position to support any business with their technology needs. We’ve taken the user experience people have embraced and learnt to expect in the consumer market, and we’re now harnessing this to enhance the business experience.’
Brand and 4G
EE has used its strong position in 4G to differentiate in the consumer market, using the same approach when it comes to driving b2b sales. EE has made significant investments when it comes to improving infrastructure and creating a strong LTE footprint. Its new range of products sees the network take advantage of its market-leading position, as well as the increase of data usage across the network.
To enable users to maximise the capabilities when using the network, the brand has launched a new range of 4G products. This includes a 4G Rapid Site setup, the Connected Vehicle, Connected Health and 4G Public WiFi In A Box. The network explained that these products will deliver a clear use case to customers, recognising that while 4G allows businesses to be more efficient, it is difficult to make the most out of 4G without products to bring it all together.
McQuade said: ‘We want to keep the use case really clear for customers, and the other part is monitoring and reliability. We started to do some of this when we first launched, but it was only when we went back round to customers that we started to see that connectivity is only part of the story and they didn’t have services to piece it all together.
‘There’s a lot of work on products and routers making sure it’s compatible with the network, and optimised for the network so the products are all geared towards specific work cases. Everyone talks very blithely about solution sales but actually we really want to make sure the products are solutions because the network in itself is not a solution, networks are a big enabler.’
For Samsung, the power of the brand is a key differentiator. Describing Samsung’s products as ‘credible technology’, Long explained that the manufacturer’s well-known position in developing consumer hardware gives it an advantage in the b2b space.
He said: ‘It’s about brand” people want to have credible technology. There is something there that people like. It’s such an integral part of the company. I’d like to think that because we built our enterprise sales force from the ground up, we didn’t inherit anything so we can go out into the market and recruit. We’re not trying to be anyone else.
'From a service perspective, our guys have built service organisations based on dealing with millions of consumers. We can now take what we’ve done with that and leverage that organisation in providing a best-in-class b2b service so we can get out there – we are working with the right partners to give us geographical coverage and provide 24/7 coverage.’
Moving into IoT
Samsung and EE have focused on using relationships within the b2b channel to show businesses how their technology can improve the day-to-day running of an organisation. EE’s CEO Olaf Swantee explained that the rapid uptake of 4G means connectivity plays a key role in how a business is run, claiming the network is helping companies to prepare for an IoT future of multiple connections. The network’s Connect platform was recently launched to meet the demand from the b2b space to have products that could be enabled via the network.
Samsung is also pushing into the market, having recently launched its consumer IoT proposition. Long believes that enterprise IoT will eclipse the consumer space. He believes connected devices will allow businesses to learn more about their company and clients, enabling them to offer tailored services or manage efficiency.
Long said: ‘The enterprise IoT is going to eclipse what we’re doing as consumers because enterprises understand how this is going to make them more efficient. One example is insurance. For insurers, one of the questions they’re wrestling with is how to get a better relationship with the user and they can do that by knowing more about you, by tracking what you do through wearables, vehicles and sensors in home. We’re in conversations with major organisations who are now saying “we need to embrace this technology”.