Claudio Castelli and Steve Hodgkinson/Ovum
05 Oct 2010
Telstra has announced Digital Business, an offering that combines traditional telco services with cloud computing elements in a simple proposition for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Digital Business presages a shift from face-to-face to online sales, which will usher in a wave of change to established channel partners.
Digital Business integrates UC and SaaS, as well as the shop/office and home
Telstra announced a new Digital Business offering last week that provides a bundled unified communications (UC) and IT offering for the SME market. Digital Business is a complete virtual office over fixed and mobile broadband, including integrated fixed and mobile voice services, video collaboration, support services, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications delivered through T-Suite.
T-Suite was launched last year as Telstra’s retail shop for SaaS applications for the SME market. It provides a range of apps for common business needs, such as office productivity/email, CRM, finance, HR, and IT security. Telstra claims that more than 700 customers have purchased apps from T-Suite, including Australia’s market-leading online real estate company Realestate.com.au, which recently signed up for 750 seats of Microsoft Exchange Online.
Digital Business will primarily target the "S" part of the SME market – a sector traditionally underserved by most providers. A key part of the offering is to bring together a bundle of services in a simplified, pre-configured offering that supports mobility and the home office as well as the shop or business-office location. This aligns well with the common situation where the back-office activities of SMEs are carried out from the home at the end of the working day or by a spouse or partner. Bringing together an offering that explicitly integrates the shop/office and the home is a sensible move on Telstra’s part.
SaaS will eventually force channel partners to rethink their role
Telstra’s distribution approach for Digital Business is two-pronged – online via T-Suite and face-to-face via its SME Telstra Business Centre channel partners. This reflects the experience to date with T-Suite, where most SMEs require some “handholding” to become comfortable with the SaaS model for applications, and even more so to decide on an integrated UC solution.