commentary When the nation's number two telco Optus bought local systems integrator Alphawest in mid-2005, convergence was clearly the name of the game. Enterprise telecommunications and information technologies are gradually becoming one and the same.
commentary When the nation's number two telco Optus bought local systems integrator Alphawest in mid-2005, convergence was clearly the name of the game.
Enterprise telecommunications and information technologies are gradually becoming one and the same. Like Telstra with its early 2004 purchase of Kaz, Optus would have been hoping the purchase would strengthen its position as an integrated ICT provider.
This could spur companies to put more of their eggs in the one basket -- the one held by the SingTel subsidiary.
"Telcos are struggling with maintaining relevance with their customers," Alphawest boss Garry Henley claimed at the time, highlighting IP telephony as the main factor behind the shift.
"Optus has a huge customer base, and convergence is coming. It's easier to acquire [in order] to leapfrog [this market]," he said. "They didn't buy us for our AU$150 million revenue, they bought us as a catalyst for their entry into the convergence space."
But are customers really keen to buy into such a vision?
Western Australia's Water Corporation is one keeping its options open. The group has recently given Alphawest the nod for a state-wide IP telephony fitout, covering 41 sites and 2,800 users.
However the deal hasn't given Optus a lever into Water's other telecommunications business.
"[Our] telecoms service provider is Telstra. This will not change," the group's manager of information services Dave Currell told ZDNet Australia last week.
Despite the deal with Alphawest as services integrator, Currell said he saw no benefits to be gained in changing from Telstra to Optus for his group's fixed, mobile and data services.
"Over time that could change...but from my perspective, that whole [telecoms] contract is different to IP telephony," he said.
Currell seems emblematic of a generation of IT managers who are pursuing multi-sourcing as a purchasing strategy rather than signing bigger contracts with a single provider.
There are certainly enough horror stories of so-called "big bang" outsourcing deals gone wrong to make anyone wary of handing over too much work to one provider.
Of course, this is just one example, and Optus' more integrated approach is likely to have garnered wins elsewhere.
How much work would you hand to any one provider? Was Optus' Alphawest buy wishful thinking or will it pay off in the long run? Post your thoughts below or drop me a line directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.