Telcos court big-name partners to capitalise on enterprise opportunities

Alex Romero, co-founder and COO of Constella Intelligence (left), and María Jesús Almazor, CEO of Cybersecurity and Cloud at Telefónica Tech (right)

Alex Romero, co-founder and COO of Constella Intelligence (left), and María Jesús Almazor, CEO of Cybersecurity and Cloud at Telefónica Tech (right)

  • Collaboration is critical if operators are to capture the business opportunities emerging in the enterprise services sector
  • Telecom Italia, Telefónica and AT&T have announced significant partnerships aimed at improving their cloud and security-oriented offerings
  • The importance of cybersecurity for operators and their business customers is growing as online threats surge
  • Providing scale to enterprises and having a global footprint are deemed significant for telcos and their partners when providing business-focused solutions, according to an industry analyst

After years of talking about the importance of collaboration, telcos are finally taking action and brokering important, relevant partnerships that can help them secure and retain lucrative enterprise business and not miss out on the business growth opportunities that are emerging in the enterprise services sector.

Last week, Telecom Italia (TIM) struck a deal with US-based company Salesforce, a provider of customer relationship management (CRM) services, in an effort to address the digital transformation needs of Italian companies and public administrations. The partnership, which was brokered by the telco’s cloud company Noovle, should (in theory) enable TIM to help enterprises and government institutions be more efficient and competitive. According to TIM’s statement, the tie-up is founded on three “key elements: the central role played by the customer; the value of data and information; and the importance of creating interconnected supply chains”.

Leveraging the combined expertise of Noovle and Salesforce, enterprise users can manage customer relationships with “greater simplicity” by making use of data sourced from different systems, including marketing, sales and service processes. And, according to the Italian telco, its digital infrastructure and “widespread presence” will allow enterprises and administrations to accelerate the adoption of useful solutions and services “by harnessing the benefits of cloud technologies”.

As well as teaming up with industry experts to help enterprises on their digital transformation journeys, telcos are seeking out key partners to help boost their security services capabilities.

For example, Telefónica’s digital business division, Telefónica Tech, has partnered with Constella, a US provider of digital-risk protection and identity-threat intelligence, to offer improved digital-threat protection for consumers, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The new offering will allow customers to dive deeper into personal data, protect their identity and operate securely in cyberspace.

According to Telefónica, Constella’s technology will enable “unmatched coverage, threat anticipation and protection” through its data lake, which is fed by “the most extensive curated breach data collection and social analytics reach on the planet”, comprising more than “131 billion attributes and 66 billion compromised identity records spanning 125 countries”.

Telefónica Tech will add to Constella’s capabilities by using its global reach and existing cybersecurity systems to develop solutions that can provide an early warning about data theft via the internet.

“At Telefónica Tech we are one step ahead by offering a unique cybersecurity and cloud value proposition because we understand that there is no digitalisation without cybersecurity. The alliance with Constella reinforces our security capabilities to offer the highest level of protection to companies, thanks to the knowledge that the integration of their data lake in our technologies will provide us”, commented María Jesús Almazor, CEO of cybersecurity and cloud at Telefónica Tech (pictured above, right, with Alex Romero, COO and co-founder of Constella, left).

The partnership comes as the volume and sophistication of cyberattacks and data breaches continues to grow. According to research by Constella, the price of fraudulent credentials sold on the dark market rose by 100% year on year in 2021, while a staggering 78% of executives working at companies listed in the Dow Jones index have suffered data breaches in the past year.

Security is also a critical area of service development for US operator AT&T. It recently announced a partnership with US-Israeli software provider Check Point Software focused on the development of a unified suite of managed cloud-delivered solutions that promise to deliver end-to-end security for employees in any location. 

Its new security platform, dubbed AT&T Secure Workforce with Check Point, allows US-based customers to protect their mailboxes and productivity applications from phishing attacks and malicious attachments; protect their online presence by inspecting all internet traffic in websites and web apps; connect employees to company resources using zero-trust principles; and have enhanced protection when browsing.

Emphasising the need for its new single managed security suite, AT&T cited data from Check Point Software’s 2022 security report, which estimated a 50% increase in cyberattacks against organisations worldwide in 2021. The research also noted that 57% of enterprises suffer from a shortage of in-house cybersecurity specialists that can help to counter such threats.

“Working outside the office shouldn’t mean a drop in security. Workspaces are no longer defined by four walls or a single mailing address, and if security strategies aren’t adapting similarly, risks can grow exponentially,” explained Danessa Lambdin, vice president at AT&T Cybersecurity.

The potential business opportunities for telcos in the managed security services sector is significant, especially if they can introduce automated processes and bundle their security services with their connectivity services, according to the team at Appledore Research, which expects the value of the managed security services market to grow sixfold over the next five years to be worth $17.6bn. (See CSPs well placed to benefit from massive managed security services sector growth: Report.)

The willingness of telcos to seal partnerships with specialists in sectors such as cloud management and security is far from surprising, as the industry has been repeatedly urged to embrace collaboration in order to combat increasing competition and capture new revenue opportunities. At the recent DSP Leaders World Forum, a greater openness to cooperation was highlighted by Diego Lopez, senior technology expert at Telefónica, as an important staple for the future of telcos, while executives from BT, Colt, DT and Verizon also stressed the importance of collaborative efforts in the emerging digital economy. (See Telefónica’s Lopez shares the recipe for telco service innovation at DSP Leaders World Forum.)

Answering business needs

The rush to broker meaningful partnerships to address enterprise customer needs is much needed, it seems. Waseem Haider, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics, told TelecomTV that most telcos have “never had a well-thought enterprise strategy,” with the exception of big-name players, such as AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Telefonica, KDDI, SK Telecom and some Chinese telcos.

“Most of the other operators are working on an opportunistic approach leveraging on their existing footprint in manufacturing, transportation, energy verticals, for example, acting as resellers and/or bundlers of services to them,” he stated.

To improve their business potential, Haider believes telcos need to form partnerships with the hyperscalers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, if they want to develop affordable and scalable end-to-end offerings that can meet the evolving needs of enterprise users.

To maximise their opportunities, telcos need to develop offerings that deliver scalability to businesses, have a global footprint, which include cloud- and edge-computing capabilities, and incorporate data analytics applications.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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