Atos’ Vertical Markets Strategy Helps Unify Deliver a Differentiated Value Proposition
Atos, Unify’s parent company, held its annual analyst event in Boston on April 2-4, 2019. As in previous years, it was refreshing to hear a story that goes far beyond business communications and encompasses broader IT trends. However, it was also interesting to receive an update on Unify’s evolving role in Atos’s solutions suite and go-to-market strategy. Here follow some thoughts on how Unify’s competitive unified communications (UC) solutions fit into Atos’s product and services portfolio.
Atos’s Strong Market Position Enables it to Focus on Long-Term Goals
With €12.3 billion in revenues, €1.3 billion in operating margin and 122,000 employees in 2018, Atos is a global IT services powerhouse with the ability to guide businesses on successful digital transformation journeys. At the foundation of the Atos digital value proposition are the following three tenets:
- Industry expertise and solutions
- Smart data platforms and services (e.g., virtual agent automation; augmented voice; exascale; neurotech; quantum)
- Ecosystem of multiple infrastructures (e.g., hybrid; Internet of things (IoT)/edge; digital twin; smart machines; nanotech)
Atos also reports success in fostering cross-community collaboration, as follows:
- 5,000 active patents with 200 new applications registered every year
- a scientific network of 150 members
- 18 R&D labs in 9 countries
- 300 client innovation workshops conducted in 2018
- Strategic partnerships with Google Cloud, Dell/EMC, SAP, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Siemens and others
- Expert community of 2,000 members in 13 technology domains
Unlike Unify’s brethren in the troubled telecom sector, Atos’s broader IT services portfolio has enabled it to remain on a steady growth trajectory. The company is committed to achieve a compound annual growth rate of approximately 5% by 2021 with growth being driven by advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, IoT, automation, customer experience, mobility and cloud. The IT services provider is preparing to compete more effectively in the post-cloud era with a much more vertical-oriented (rather than a division-led) approach. The company’s vision for the future is based on the need for more storage compute and analytics at the edge to address the proliferation of data. It also envisions deeper integration of UC into its digital workplace portfolio and strategy.
Unify is Positioned for Success in the Next-Generation UC Era
For some time now, we have been talking about the “new UC” or “next-gen UC” era, which is emerging with the rise of open application programming interfaces (APIs), communications platforms as a service (CPaaS) and programmable/embeddable communications. Voice, messaging and video communications features are becoming part of broader, workflow-based tools and thus creating “productivity UC”, “IoT UC” and “vertical UC” solutions. In addition to improving worker productivity, business agility, and customer engagement, these integrated solutions will create opportunities to leverage data analytics on a much greater scale.
The next-gen UC era will require a major mindset, portfolio and strategy transformation on the part of traditional UC vendors. Instead of leading with the UC functionality, their marketing and sales motions will need to be based on workflow-enhancement value propositions. Therefore, more holistic digital workplace solutions and vertical strategies, such as those pitched jointly by Atos and Unify, are likely to be more successful than those focused purely on the communications capabilities.
Atos’s increased focus on vertical use cases aligns well with market and technology trends and effectively capitalizes on the synergies between Atos and Unify to create a differentiated value proposition. With Circuit at the core of Unify’s portfolio, Atos’s digital workplace strategy also addresses several different shifts in how people communicate—from desktop to mobile connectivity, from desktop to web-based apps, from voice to messaging, from one-on-one communications to team collaboration. As frontline workers and vertical industries represent a mostly untapped space, Atos and Unify have an opportunity to leverage a first-mover advantage and secure a strong position while others still focus primarily on the knowledge-worker customer segment.
Atos already reports considerable traction in various verticals, as follows:
- Healthcare: 1,000 hospitals across Europe and North America served; 1,200 processor cores (genomics translation to clinical practice)
- Energy & Utilities: 15 million smart grid endpoints; 200 utility clients
- Telecom, Media & Technology: 50 clients; 30 years of proven delivery in carrier networks
- Retail, Transport & Logistics: 5 billion annual payment transactions processed; 15 million daily shipments processed
- Public Sector: 100 million identities managed daily
- Manufacturing: 20 million secured industrial connected objects
- Financial Services and Infrastructure: 13 of 20 leading banks serviced; 15 of top 30 insurance organization served
Unify brings important communications and collaboration capabilities to Atos’s digital workplace solutions suite to address new use cases, such as the ones shown below:
The following are key tenets of Atos’s new vertical strategy that aims to leverage Unify capabilities more effectively:
- Avoid a disruptive shift from a horizontal to a vertical approach while ensuring that Atos possesses the right capabilities and that they are well developed and well known in the market
- Engage with senior-level executives and participate in innovation processes with prospects
- Leverage two different sales motions—i.e., via Unify and Atos channels
- Partner with digital services providers and channels
- Embed Unify in sales targets and change the compensation model in North America to encourage Unify sales as part of digital workplace deals
- Leverage the new Atos Orchestration Platform to reposition Unify as the enabler of intelligent collaboration; enable custom app development, as well as Unify communications and collaboration services integration into third-party apps and devices
- Leverage Circuit Builder—a franchise model—to enable service providers to private-label Circuit
As businesses adjust to ever-changing market realities and aim to build for the unknown, they are looking to deploy technologies and solutions that enhance employee and customer experiences and help improve key performance metrics. While knowledge workers have been at the forefront of businesses communications innovation over the past two decades, there exist significant opportunities to deliver business value by creating solutions for frontline workers and vertical markets. Next-generation UC solutions leveraging embedded voice, messaging and video functionality into vertical apps, IoT devices and other third-party platforms and apps are often a better fit for these new use cases than standalone, full-fledged UC solutions. However, few UC and UCaaS vendors have yet found the right technology and go-to-market formulas to succeed in this space.
Unify’s UC acumen combined with Atos’s IT services expertise have the potential to make Atos’s digital workplace strategy a success as customers seek innovative ways to leverage advanced IT and communications for business transformation. However, Atos acknowledges that it will take time to change and it must avoid disrupting customers in the process. Execution over the next two to three years will be critical to determine if Atos and Unify will secure a strong position in the next-generation UC space.