Interesting that British Telecom has entered into a partnership with Netsuite to provide Netsuite’s business management solution to BT’s 1.6million business customers.

BT is also partnering with SugarCRM to provide their CRM product to users.

Some might see these moves as being outside a Telco’s sphere of business, but even plain old telephone services are SaaS of a sort, providing more SaaS products to their existing customer base makes sense.

BT also has the opportunity to combine their own communication products into the SaaS offering so that a salesperson can, for example, click to call from within SugarCRM, or an accounts receivable clerk can send a debtor SMS reminder through Netsuite.

I understand that BT is not only on-selling, but also providing customisation and support services for the solutions they’re offering.

It’s a great model which will help replace some revenue BT is losing to telco competition, and build themselves into a services provider for the new century.

A great move and one to watch for in our own market.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • I’ll be interesting to see how the Telcos approach the SaaS model. Contrary to popular belief, SaaS is hard work and many players don’t have large margins – especially early stage SaaS players as they’re spending heavy in Marketing/Dev to get established. Even SalesForce is still working on improving margins…

    So how can a Telco partner with a tight margined SaaS player? It’ll be interesting to watch these Telco/SaaS M&A&P’s over time.

    Google/Salesforce is a good example of two different models coming together (Sales model vs Free model) – but would a similar deal be struck with a telco?

    Unsure… They could be a technology partner sure, but could they be a software partner? if sales or support (or custom dev) were moved from the SaaS business to the Telco, would the service to customers be lessened? I don’t know if the Telco would have the same product knowledge/passion/experience to deliver equivalent service to a SaaS’s current service?

    I mean, you can’t have a Telco support or sales worker working on Internet plans, or dialup packages, then switching to CRM product support…

    The Telco would need a specialist team for a ‘service’ partnership to be feasible. and then if they have a specialist team, what becomes of the SaaS company’s role? Does it revert to a simple R&D focus? If so, then there’s an issue that R&D & dev teams are removed from customer frontend, so the product development angle suffers…

    Telco and SaaS business in partnership. Whilst I like the idea of marketing a solution down the Telco’s channel, there are some questions:

    1. What’s in it for the Telco (Because the revenue won’t cover the cost for them)
    2. What’s in it for the SaaS (Because service and Product dev may suffer)

    Just my thoughts. I’m open to ideas on this.

  • There are some shared benefits to a Telco/SaaS partnership
    1) For SaaS companies they get brand, marketing spend and access to potential customers
    2) For telco’s in this environment of huge threats to their business viability they get some protection of core revenue plus some benefits around the power of the network and community effects

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