Esolutions: a soft launch for a 'virtual entity'

Business solutions provider Esolutions is planning a soft launch in Australia this month, offering a five-layered host of packaged e-business, security and networking solutions for the enterprise.

Esolutions is a "virtual alliance" between Telecom New Zealand, Microsoft and EDS. It was formed in 1999 and is not a legal entity.

The organisation's core line of business is comprised of managed network services for network security and PKI, IT enablement and bridging services like broadcast facsimiles, ISP and ASP services for small business, and e-commerce solutions for e-procurement in B2B trading environments and for online cash transactions.

Esolutions will white-brand its packaged solutions here through each alliance partner and their reseller network, a company spokesperson said.

Telecom New Zealand subsidiary and AAPT-- Australia's third-largest telecommunications carrier -- as well as AAPT Internet spin-off, will be instrumental in Esolutions' Australian marketing push, said former Esolutions' New Zealand marketing director and head of Australian operations, Graeme Rowe. Esolutions will provide the "R&D shop" for the telco's products and services here. "Esolutions came out of Telecom New Zealand and Australia's (TCNZA) outsourcing decision to expand its offerings into e-commerce and applications through the Internet," Rowe said.

Under its Australian expansion, Esolutions will draw on the brain power of 60 consultants, mostly from TCNZA, then Microsoft and EDS. "Telecom NZ won't establish a full presence in Australia, but will be taking intellectual property and products to the market through its parent operations, in particular TCNZA, AAPT, AAPT subsidiary Connect, and EDS," Rowe told Computerworld NZ earlier this year.

Esolutions will not attempt to blow its own trumpet here this year, but keep its entry low-key, said Rowe, who qualified the approach by calling the Australian market a hard one to penetrate.

Rowe said he felt Australia was more than one year behind the US and Asia-Pacific in terms of Internet penetration among both companies and end users, citing as chief examples guerilla Internet advertising in the US compared with Australia's recent shying away from online banner advertising, and less aggressive online customer service spend here.

He added: "We [Esolutions] keep asking ourselves why the Australian and New Zealand markets are so different to the US, and I think an e-commerce revolution needs to happen here. We're not very well Internet-enabled and have bandwidth problems. Plus B2B is not as strong in Australia as a proportion of GDP. We have lots of reservations about the speed to market of our e-commerce solutions and the ability to be flexible enough to change in line with a customer's business."

Overall however, Rowe's local outlook for Esolutions remains strong. He maintained that the notion of a "virtual" service provider was attracting some scrutiny, but with solid interest from IT executives. "The idea of a virtual alliance is being received with a great deal of interest here. It's a very new construct globally - the virtual organisation - but it's about being able to create multiple solutions through our alliance. We haven't had any problems being taken seriously here or in New Zealand."

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