O2 Launches Unify For Outsourced Communications

O2 and 2e2 are targeting the enterprise market with their new IT outsourcing service, O2 Unify

Mobile operator O2 and services provider 2e2 have launched a joint venture, O2 Unify, which can outsource customers’ IT and communications needs to a single UK provider.

In addition to the services provided by traditional converged solutions, such as fixed and mobile voice and data communications, O2 Unify’s potfolio also includes managed wide area network connectivity, cloud data services and flexible working solutions.

The news is supported with research by O2, which found that IT and communications decision makers in the UK are spinning around, with over half using between three and eight suppliers, creating a great deal of complexity as well as increased costs. The company claims that using a single provider could drive efficiency savings of up to 30 percent.

“Our research highlights how UK businesses are often dealing with an extremely complex network of suppliers,” said Paul Osborne, managing director of O2 Unify. “But if they fail to implement efficiencies and manage costs, they are wasting money that could otherwise be better spent on priorities such as research and development and expanding into new markets.”

Delivering savings with UC

O2 Unify has already secured five contracts for the new offering, the most recent of which is with IT systems and business process services provider Civica.

Civica hopes to save hundreds of thousands of pounds in the coming year by implementing a real-time communications package, based on a Microsoft Lync 2010 platform and supported by O2 Unify. The package includes instant messaging, VoIP, real time collaboration, audio and video conferencing, and will deliver savings on travel, subsistence and conference calls.

Microsoft Lync emerged in November as a relaunch of Office Communications Server, and since then the company has tied it closely with the cloud version of the Office productivity suite, and incorporated other companies’ products such as LifeSize video conferencing.

The shift to a software-driven, UC platform “is probably the most important thing to happen for the office worker since the PC came along,” said former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at the launch. From now on, “when you see somebody’s desk in a movie, and a separate phone, you’ll think, ‘Wow, that was before this happened’.”

Better than today?

Analyst firm Forrester predicts that the market for unified communications within enterprises in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific will reach $14.5 billion (£8.9bn) by 2015. However, Henry Dewing, author of the report ‘Market Overview: Sizing Unified Communications’, warned that “the voyage to UC will be unique at each firm”.

This is largely due to cultural issues associated with unified communications. A survey of delegates registered for this year’s UC Expo revealed that, while 61 percent of technology-focused attendees believe remote- and home-working can be just as productive as being in the office, only 45 percent of business-focused attendees said the same.