O2 and IT service provider 2e2 are planning an assault on the £7bn ICT UK market after launching joint venture company O2 Unify last week.
The move will provide businesses with the opportunity to outsource their IT and communications needs to a single provider and could drive efficiency savings of up to 30%, the two companies said. The joint venture will launch on 2 April.
O2 Unify marks the first major tie-up between a mobile operator and an IT services provider. O2 business director Ben Dowd told Mobile: ‘I think it’s a natural evolution of our strategy to be comms integrator of choice and a statement of our ambition to address the £7bn ICT market.’
The joint O2 Unify team will be based in Slough, supported by a sales force of over 500 people. It will be headed up by Paul Osborne, who was previously O2 head of professional and managed services.
Osborne will be tasked with satisfying customers and growing the business with an initial staff of 30-plus – which will grow throughout the year. ‘It is a value play rather than a discounted play,’ Osborne told Mobile.
He said: ‘O2 Unify is designed to accelerate our access to the £7bn ICT market in the UK. 2e2 has been a key supplier of IT services to O2. As a result, O2 one of 2e2’s biggest customers.
He added: ‘Our differentiator is that we are both heavily focused on how we service customers. In 2009, O2 announced its “Joined Up” strategy to be the comms integrator of choice. The JV [joint venture] will operate under the O2 brand and will be embodied in a team funded by both organisations. The role of the team will be to support the 500-strong sales force.’
Osborne said that the team will focus initially on O2 customers and ‘then we will open up’.
‘Wi-Fi is not part of the initial proposition but there is certainly an opportunity for that,’ added Osborne.
The new company will provide traditional converged solutions, such as fixed, mobile, voice and data, as well as services including Managed WAN, cloud data and flexible working solutions. Customers will also have full access to 2e2’s extensive ICT service framework.
O2 Unify will initially focus its attention on ways that business can develop flexible working programmes and manage their networks more efficiently. Customers will have full access to O2 and 2e2’s portfolio under a single service model. There will be one help desk, unified reporting and billing as well as bespoke services designed to continue to provide the great experience that is expected by its customers.
O2 and 2e2 anticipate that the venture will deliver ‘significant revenues’ to both businesses in the coming years.
Dowd said: ‘It is a separate business and it has separate [profit and loss] responsibilities. It is a 50:50 joint venture and like any joint venture, it is answerable to [2e2 CEO] Terry [Burt] and myself. We aren’t launching anything into the market that won’t enhance customer satisfaction.’
The opportunity in the £7bn market is ‘in the hundreds of millions’, he added.
Burt said: ‘The important issue is we want to ensure quality. It’s very much a crawl, walk, run strategy and we will offer other stuff on top of that eventually. We think we have a very good offering.’