Vodacom Tanzania has launched a unit specifically to meet the needs of businesses, including large corporations, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small and home offices (SOHOs).
The operator noted that large entities such as banks and public-sector agencies need innovative solutions to simplify their operations, keep them competitive and offer asset security. For these purposes, the new unit offers products such as co-location, cloud computing, data MPLS (multiprotocol label-switching), toll-free lines and M-Pesa mobile money for business. Vodacom’s Managing Director, Hisham Hendi, stated that industrial growth in Tanzania has brought about a mushrooming of small and mid-sized businesses that have complex needs in terms of technology and support yet few or limited resources.
While targeted business offerings by mobile operators are nothing new, and while there has been a great deal of growth in offerings for SMEs as distinct from large enterprises, we find this initiative from Vodacom interesting for its acknowledgement of the small office/home office (so-called SOHO) sector.
More people than ever, in a variety of markets of varying levels of development, are working from home or operating their businesses from home. In fact, the very phenomenon of SOHO has been made possible by the internet and mobile technology. So it makes a great deal of sense for a telecom operator to tailor an offering specifically for SOHOs. While the SOHOs can be and of course have been served by solutions designed by SMEs, a more targeted offering will serve their needs better, given that those needs are specific to businesses operating in buildings that are not wired as an office building would be, that do not have the size to benefit from economies of scale and that likely do have budgets significantly smaller than even the smallest of SMEs.
So there are significant revenue opportunities for operators in the growing SOHO sector, and targeting them directly instead of just covering them indirectly as ordinary home service is the way to gain that revenue. Giving home-based businesses access to PBX-type solutions, cloud computing and toll-free lines, enabling them to emulate much larger businesses, is bound to be appealing, if the price is affordable. By filling a widening gap in the marketplace, Vodacom stands to benefit in terms of revenue and subscriber growth, and operators that follow this path with their business offerings—both mobile and fixed line—are likely to carve out a value-added niche for themselves.