The connectivity element of a systems integrator’s contract with their enterprise customer has never been more important, says Virgin Media Business’ Marcus Hill
It’s integral to the relationship between a systems integrator and their enterprise customer that they deliver added value directly linked to greater efficiency and improved profitability.
The added value represented by the network element of a contract has become crucial to the way in which such dividends are realized, argues Marcus Hill, head of the SI Channel for Virgin Media Business.
“The communications element of a contract has tended to represent no more than a fraction of its overall value,” says Marcus. “But in a world where capex expenditure is under pressure, and not set to grow any time soon, value needs to be found in new and more imaginative ways. This is why the value of the telecoms element of a contract has grown.”
Working smarter not harder
While the proportion of contract value represented by telecoms may be similar now to a few years ago, the ability of communication technology to unlock value within the enterprise is materially higher. Marcus argues that the flexibility offered by one particular network solution over another can play an important part in the cost base of plans to migrate data and applications to a cloud or software as a service (SaaS) model. “To make a move to the cloud work, having an appropriate solution backed by the right desktop-to-data-centre performance becomes critical,” he says.
The connectivity element of a contract directly affects the ability of enterprises’ employees to collaborate with each other, and to communicate with customers and suppliers, something that’s more important than ever in a time of tight budgets. It’s through better communications that the greatest productivity can be achieved and profits maximized without the necessity of fresh capital investment.
“For all organizations, extracting best value from human assets is crucial,” says Marcus. “Granted you can’t whip people to make them work harder, it’s about working smarter instead. Getting the best out of human capital has an important relationship with an organization’s ability to grow, and telecoms is needed to make this happen.”
Finding a partner that pulls its weight
Now more than ever, providers of ICT services should look at the quality of service and the value for money delivered by a network operator partner, says Marcus. “Firstly, if your network needs are more than just a local area issue, you need a wide area network that’s easily mapped at all points so you can manage the customer experience and ensure consistency. The solution needs to be optimized for both LAN and WAN and supported by continuity in the service level agreement. You also need a network solution provider who’s application-savvy, and doesn’t just see their network as an enabler in its own right. Thirdly, you need a partner who’s more than just a network provider – someone who shares some of the risk with you.”
A networking partner must be able to sell you either fully managed or unmanaged services, according to the needs of your customer, says Marcus. “Let’s say you’re delivering an SAP solution,” he says. “You’ll know a lot more about this area than a telecoms company, so you may want to take an unmanaged service and look after it yourself. In the case of an in-house app, all the more reason for the SI to be in control. This is why you need a network partner who’s consultancy-led, not product-led. And lastly you need a partner who’s focused on the network and network-centred applications, and not one who’s also a would-be SI on the side.”
How we can help
The Virgin Media Business network was built specifically for the distribution of content. It’s therefore optimised for a world of network-enabled applications. The company has a tradition of being flexible in its dealings with customers.
"We're more of a collaborative partner than simply a network provider,” says Marcus Hill, Head of the SI channel for Virgin Media Business. “We’ll provide managed services, or unmanaged according to individual requirements. A typical carrier will say ‘you can have six of these and a dozen of those’. We go to the heart of the customer problem and work back from there to what’s needed. Because of what we offer, SIs are now looking to partner with us and not do everything themselves. They want us to help them focus on delivering their value, and for us to focus on what we do best. The whole Virgin ethos is about delivering value through good service and partnership."