O2 has revealed ambitious plans to grow its public sector business and challenge Vodafone’s dominance, claiming it will have ‘failed’ if it is not working with half of the UK’s local authorities within three years.
The operator recently launched Joined Up Public Sector, which aims to sell its digital services into the government, councils and local assemblies. Speaking to Mobile, Billy D’Arcy, MD of O2 Public Sector, said the public sector was an area that O2 had historically been unrepresented in. However, the recent government drive to reduce public sector spending and make local authorities more efficient presented O2 with an opportunity. He said: ‘From a central government perspective, we were just about mobile. That day has long gone. It was very much a stomping ground for Vodafone. Knowing that and the capabilities that we have, we felt we could be truly disruptive and challenge the market. We can make governments more efficient and use what we have to drive transformation.’
O2 Public Sector will focus on four main areas: local government, health, passenger services and criminal justice. D’Arcy said that while ‘mobile opens doors’, O2 is looking to provide more of a unified end to end offer, spanning everything from cloud services, handsets and smartphone plans to apps. He said: ‘We have had smartphones but the big thing is tablets and linking them with apps of real use. That’s going to be a real play for us. If you look at where we are operating there is an abundance of opportunities with the technology that we have. We need to educate authorities about how quickly we can deliver efficiencies.’
D’Arcy said his department can take advantage of products built by sister company Telefonica Digital and its Wayra academy for start-up companies. He said: ‘We can produce made to measure apps. One of the services we have seen is working with the police to reduce the considerable amount of paperwork around scene of crime work. A lot of the information that is produced is the same, so why can’t we automate that and feed back the report in real time to the local station, using ruggedised tablets and handsets?’
He added: ‘Another example is Qudini, which is a small start-up that develops solutions that could reduce queuing times within local authority offices through smartphones. Something like that could create a different use of space for a local authority and reduce its reliance on real estate.’
D’Arcy declined to say how much revenue O2 Public Sector could generate for its wider business, but said it has ambitious plans in place for growth. He said: ‘Over the next three years, I have already communicated to councils that Telefónica wants to be in no less than 50% of local authorities the length and breadth of the UK. While that is an aggressive target and I would rue the day if I was to say I’ve failed, I will find a way to do it.’
Author: Graeme Neill