So, when Bell and Cisco asks you to be on a briefing at 8:30 the morning back after a long weekend, you gotta figure this is big news. In some ways it is, but I wouldn't say it's earth shattering, so I don't feel you've missed too much hearing about from me at this point in the day. Haven't seen anything about this from the bloggers, although to be fair, many of them are blogged out after last week's mega conference in Spain, MWC - Mobile World Congress.
Closer to home, today's news is somewhat interesting at face value, but I think it's more interesting for it may represent. At face value, Bell and Cisco have partnered to provide managed services to Bell's customers - high level details are in the press release. This is a win-win - more or less - in that Bell comes to market with a complete solution to leverage their nationwide network and deepen their customer relationships. Cisco wins by getting the upper hand into Bell's enterprise customer portfolio with managed services, deepening their existing relationships on the networking side. Two Tier 1 players working together makes for a very strong proposition. Fair enough - that's just the way the markets go these days - the big get bigger, and hopefully that's good for the customers. Time will tell.
The other interesting part of the story is the 'knowledge gap' they referred to a few times. IP is advancing quickly, and it's no surprise there is a shortage of well trained, qualified technical people to deploy, manage and maintain these wonderful technologies. To address this, Cisco and Bell are opening two 'Knowledge
Centres' - Montreal and Toronto. Makes sense. Not only will enterprises gain more Cisco-certified staffers, but these centres will become test labs where new features, applications, etc. can be trialed before being launched in their networks. Good idea, and a great way for Cisco to further embed itself in these networks.
All good, right? It is for these companies, but am not sure what this means for others. I can't imagine this is good news for Nortel, and maybe even Microsoft - two companies that have an alliance of their own. These companies are all vying for the Unified Communications vision, whereby they have a chance to control most if not all of the customer relationship. The stakes are high here, and I think Cisco has made a savvy move here to get the inside track with Bell, who has the lion's share of Canada's enterprise business. Let's not forget that the privatization track for Bell is a bit shaky these days, and they need all the good news stories they can get. I'm sure Cisco recognized they could help Bell's cause with such a move, as they need to do whatever it takes to hold on to their customers. It will be interesting to see what MTS Allstream and Telus do in response.
Cisco, Jon Arnold, Bell Canada