The WebRTC opportunity for mobile sales dealers
So far in the ipcortex WebRTC week we’ve talked a lot about the impact that WebRTC will have on how we might communicate, as well as exploring some of the technical aspects of the technology. One thing that we’ve not really touched upon is the way that WebRTC will change the commercial comms ecosystem and, being browser based technology, how it will come to affect the mobile business market.
We invited Dave Stephens, Sales Manager at major O2 dealer Aerial Telephones to share his views on the current challenges in the business mobile market, diversification into unified communications and how WebRTC will impact the delivery of solutions that marry the two.
A changing market
The business mobile market is in a difficult space right now. Monthly prices are falling whilst handset costs are rising dramatically; a situation made worse in the UK where by and large we still expect to be able to get a free handset with a new contract. Of course we all know the handset is not really free, rather subsidised by the selected tariff, but the result is that many mobile providers only seeing a profit in month 18 onwards.
This differs from most other countries, where the norm is to select a tariff and then have to purchase the handset separately. While this alternative is beginning to creep into the UK market it’s proving to be a very difficult shift from the “free handset” culture that’s become so ingrained over the last fifteen years.
The business mobile world has also taken a few other hits recently. Non traditional mobile players are making real plans to infringe on the space. WhatsApp are now offering phone calls over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi, and Google have confirmed their intention to act as an MVNO (in the US at first). Their Project Fi will introduce pay-for-what-you-use data plans, where unused data allowance is credited at the end of the billing cycle. Add to this that within the last few months, Ofcom have proposed a dramatic cap on the price of mobile phone calls between different networks. This will reduce another revenue stream for most UK mobile providers.
For business mobile resellers, there is additional pressure in that many of them have seen their base being attacked by traditional IT or unified comms resellers. It is true that it is far easier for IT or UC resellers to move into the business mobile market than it for a mobile reseller to go the other way, which would take significant investment and upskilling.
Adapt or perish
This all contributes to an environment where companies in the mobile space must adapt or perish. This isn’t limited to resellers, either. It can even be seen at a mobile network operator level where even the big players are beginning to move into some very untraditional services such as hosted telephony, landline services and even hosted IT products.
For the opportunistic and imaginative reseller, however, moving into other areas of business comms like these can present significant benefits and is a challenge worth attempting. “Mobility” is a growing concern within the IT and Telecoms industry right now with many businesses striving to adopt a “work anywhere” approach. We are seeing a clear push to give employees the tools they need to be effective wherever they are. This is ideal for the savvy mobile reseller that has always had this as their core remit.
There are of course issues when looking after a truly mobile unified communications platform. Primarily this is related to the fact that there are 3 core mobile operating systems which are constantly being upgraded, not to mention the 1000s of different handsets that users can choose from, each with their own quirks and nuances. Standard native mobile apps delivered by PBXs produce all kinds of headaches for engineering teams. This is where the development of WebRTC is really exciting as it may negate the need to install, upgrade and manage these difficult situations.
That’s a long way off – not every mobile OS supports WebRTC – but we are watching the progression of the standard with a keen eye.
Previous posts from the ipcortex WebRTC week:
Check out all our WebRTC posts here