In a bid to cut through the technical guff and talk straight to its executive-level customers, telco Marconi this week held what it hopes to become a bimonthly breakfast seminar program.
The meeting addressed the burgeoning management service provider (MSP) market and was designed to be a forum for those who have the purchasing power within an organisation to discuss key issues affecting the market.
"If these guys want technical information they can go to a trade show," Peter Jarvis, NSW State and sales manager for Marconi said. "There are heaps of those out there. What we're trying to do here is provide a venue once in every couple of months for people to find out about business issues. It's not going to be used as a place to push the Marconi line."
In a time when channel companies are all vying for the next value-add to differentiate them from their competition, Jarvis is conscious of how important customer support initiatives are, for the high-end networking integrator.
"I know when I was in that position [CIO] I used to treat the IT department like maintenance guys. I didn't want to know about it, I just wanted it to work. The important thing these days is knowing how to use an organisation's IT infrastructure to improve a businesses performance," he said.
The seminars will feature objective speakers from their respective fields on a range of issues, added Jarvis.
So, are MSP's adopting the telco model?
According to Joel Martin, research director Communications for IDC Australia, who keynoted the seminar believes the managed services provider (MSP) market is moving towards a telecommunications model. Whereby, like a phone company that provides a phone and connection service, MSPs will provide a part of, or an entire range of remote management functions.
While the models may be different between companies the driving factor behind the growth of MSPs is bandwidth. "2001 is the year for bandwidth in Australia. People will be inundated with bandwidth and new services," he said.
The complexity of mobile devices once added to the network will see a greater need for companies to hand over network management duties Martin said.
But perhaps a surprising market opportunity for networking integrators that is emerging is other IT companies. "Dot coms and ASPs will have to maintain growth and services, not their own IT infrastructure," describes Martin.
Martin also foresees the rise of e-marketplaces will require MSPs to keep them operating.
Martin claims that while the major consulting companies are in a strong position in the MSP market, vendors are quickly ramping up services offerings. However, according to Martin the unknown quantity will be telcos partnering with a number of channel or vendor companies to provide a whole packaged solution for enterprises. The telco in this example would brand the service, with the partners existing behind the scene.
MSP revenues in Asia Pacific will dominate with US$631.8 million, compared to the much-hyped ASP market of $103 million by 2002 according to IDC figures. While ASPs will show a higher growth rate, this is coming off a small base claims Martin. Furthermore, MSP figures have been based primarily on deregulated markets.