Cable & Wireless eyes large enterprises

Telco wants to shrink its overall customer base by ten times; heightens focus on corporate bigwigs.
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

Cable & Wireless is shifting its focus to large enterprise customers in a bid to build on its strength in the corporate space.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia last month, Stuart Dobbin, head of Cable & Wireless in Asia, said the company will target the biggest users of telecommunications services and scale back resources used to service smaller businesses.

"The consequence of that strategy has seen us make announcements six months ago about reducing the number of customers we're going to serve," Dobbin said. "We have 30,000 customers a year ago, and we're targeting to [reduce that] to about 3,000."

Dobbin said Cable & Wireless will stop targeting smaller businesses, which "take a lot of resources to serve, but don't generate a lot of revenue in the marketplace".

"We realized that we can't be all things to all people," he added. "Cable & Wireless's strength has traditionally been in the corporate space. And we need to be very single-minded about it."

With the shift in focus, the telco is also determined to provide better service to a select group of customers and build its reputation among large telecoms users.

"We don't believe that customers get good service from the telecoms industry…[because telcos] "think too much about their technology and networks," Dobbin said.

Furthermore, despite the existence of service level agreements inked between telcos and their customers, he noted that the penalty imposed on telcos for service lapses "is still small compared to the risks [customers] are facing".

"We're more interested in a service model that understands risks," he said. "To do that, we have to understand what the customer is looking for."

Instead of boasting about building new networks across geographies, Dobbin said Cable & Wireless will first seek to understand customer needs before building networks to support telecoms users.

For instance, he explained, the manufacturing industry will consume IP-VPN (Internet Protocol virtual private network) services differently from an outsourcing company, due to differences in business applications across industries.

"It's not so much about talking to the CIOs and the techies, but opening up conversations with our customers' end-users so we can understand the impact of our services…and build the right applications for them," he said.

Increasingly, by moving into industry-centric applications, telcos such as Cable & Wireless and SingTel might inevitably pit themselves against established SI (systems integration) players such as IBM and EDS.

Dobbin said: "We need to move up the value stack.

"Our expertise is in networking while those in systems integration are trying to pick up networking skills," he said. "It's really a fight for the middle ground, where we've got an edge in the IP network, and on top of that, managed services that will take us into the SI space."

However, Dobbin insisted that Cable & Wireless does not plan to compete head-on with the SIs. "The space for us is how we add value to our network, and a part of that [strategy] would be how we partner with those large SI players," he noted.

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