The State of ESN in Europe: Mobile Telecoms

By BroadVision on July 16, 2010

Mobile Telecoms around the world are pressured by new big players like Google and Apple who have changed forever the business model in the mobile consumer market.

There is no doubt that charging consumer for data traffic, sms and minutes, is not going to be a sustainable business for years to come.

While Apple iTunes and App store (to name the most famous) have taken away a good chunk of profit from Mobile Telecoms, there is still a huge opportunity to service their enterprise customers and deliver new generation, mobile, social, agile applications to the business segment.

BroadVision has recently announced a partnership in this direction with Softbank Telecom, a large Japanese telco player and sole distributor of iPhone in Japan (press release)

Softbank understands  these challenges and is ready to tackle the Enterprise 2.0 market. Softbank realizes also that in order to do this, they need first to embrace the new business paradigm as a company and eat their own dog food.

Can other Mobile Telecoms, in Europe in particular, do the same?

I have done a small research on how the main mobile players in Europe are embracing Enterprise 2.0 to change the way the interact with customers and employees.

Here is a summary of what I have found out. I have limited this blog to 2 countries that I think can paint a picture that is not too far from the situation with the other large population European countries.


TIM: Tim Cafe This is probably the worst example. Here TIM has tried to create a Facebook like Consumer Social Networks by creating its own consumer community. The result is at least debatable. Last time I checked there where 400 users online. What is the value of that?

Vodafone: Vodafone Lab This community is the closest thing I have found to a Social CRM among the various Telco operators in Italy. It is a mix of fun and useful tips but it is far from having any real valuable impact for Vodafone’s customers. There is no real integration with the main support site where users can see their accounts and bills. It is a completely separate environment that shows that Vodafone is just playing for now with the idea of Social CRM.

Of these 2 operators, only Vodafone Italy has any meaningful presence on Social Media. The Vodafone Italy Facebook page has 500.000 fans. All others are negligible.

Twitter presence does not go beyond 3000 followers.


O2: O2 Forums This is a typical set of discussion forums aimed at allowing customers to exchange informations on a variety of technical issues. With 100.000 users it is barely a drop of the total O2 subscribers. Most of all, O2 has little involvement in moderating these forums, and the result is a long list of customers ranting about poor quality of customer service, like this example

It looks like they have a blog too. Once again an example of a very disjointed approach.

Orange:  Unless I missed something, Orange has no initiative worth mentioning in the Enterprise 2.0 area.

Vodafone: Vodafone’s eForum introduces some concepts that are typical of an Enterprise 2.0 approach: different types of members (administrators, advanced members, member, newbie), a personal profile page with your posts, highest area of activity and reputation. The only have apparently 2 different groups where users can belong to: administrators and members.

With 90.000 registered users and no more than 60 users online at a given time (half of which probably administrators), it is clearly not a strategic channel for Vodafone. The lack of integration with the CRM/call center, makes it an isolated place.

3: The 3Blog, is a shy attempt at communicating with a young generation of customers. It is a one way communication channel where 3 employees present new products and services as well as daily work impressions. You can really just leave a brief comment. Not impressive in any way.

Vodafone leads again the Social Media presence with a tiny 187000 fans on Facebook. Twitter presence does not go beyond 3000 followers.

This assessment is far from being exhaustive and has not been conducted with a scientific approach. Nevertheless the conclusion for these first two countries I have looked at is that there is still a long way to go before we can say that the Telecom market has finally turned the attention to the new way customers around the world demand to interact with their vendor.

This means that we are probably even further away for these players to be able to address the opportunity that is presented to them by an ever increasing move to cloud computing combined with mobile access.

Enterprises around the world will be moving faster and faster into the cloud. They will be hungrier for mobile cloud based services for their workforce and for their respective clients.

It will be interesting to see if the Telecom operators leave this field to the likes of Google and Apple without putting up a fight, while they remain worried with how much they should charge for data plans…