O2’s business director Ben Dowd (pictured) believes that B2B opportunities in the UK
have ‘never been greater’.
Dowd told Mobile that he thinks the actions of a number of key players were helping drive this market segment: ‘When you step back from it, the B2B opportunity in the UK has never been greater, in terms of the whole ICT space.
'When you look at what’s happening from a platform point of view – what iOS is now doing, in delivering business services, in apps and the device enrolment programme; you look at Google’s work and what it’s trying to do; you look at Samsung’s recent mantra, which is that the B2B agenda is very much on its top floor, and you look at what Microsoft is doing – and it’s very much that the opportunity is now in terms of delivering transformation.’
Strength in partners
O2 partner involvement has always been a key aspect of its B2B strategy. Dowd believes that a consistent approach has been vital to maintaining their trust and support: ‘We’ve always taken an approach of less is more. We’ve never been distracted by what others are doing and we’ve always focused on what we feel we can become famous for and how can we become impossible to ignore.
'We’ve got a number of focus points, which we call the ‘big bets’; the public sector, the whole area of digitising SMB, and in the enterprise space by creating a seamless experience through an O2 gateway.
‘With partners my approach has always been the same; that they do many things a lot better than us. We do some things better than them and actually if we can have a grown-up conversation about how we move the dial forward then that’s a very positive way to be.
'I’ve been running the B2B part of O2 for around 10 years so I’ve known some of those partners for many, many years. So I’d like to think that there’s a lot of trust and a lot of honesty in the relationship, that they understand our strategy.’
The urge to merge
Dowd explained that the B2B team took a very personal approach when it came to the takeover by Hutchison Whampoa’s owners Three, with many partners reacting positively to the prospect of such a deal: ‘On the day that the deal got agreed in principle, myself and my team took it upon ourselves to phone up all our major customers and partners and give them the news. Those partners included the government and the public sector.
‘The general feedback was quite positive, because I think the expectation is of continuity. There’s a transition service agreement, and certainly from a Telefónica perspective the expectation is that we will continue to collaborate with Telefónica on our multinational accounts as an absolute minimum.
'Clearly we’ve built up a relationship with it over the past nine years and therefore that continuity and access to its capabilities is important. By the same token there are a number of multinationals in the UK that are Telefónica customers and therefore as Telefónica is exiting the UK it still has a responsibility to look after those customers. It is in a good place to be able to do that
‘We’ve been going fairly well, as you can see from our results over the past few months, and therefore for our partners it is absolutely not a concern. It was only in 2006 that Telefónica took over what was O2, and four years before that it was O2 de-merging from BT. I’ve been through all of those changes as have many of our partners in the SMB space.
'It’s not the first time that this sort of thing has happened and actually when you look at the previous examples, what happened was the organisation went on to bigger and better things.’