July 21, 2008

Telecom Fleshes Out SME Offer


But SaaS service is still in the discussion phase.


TELECOM is preparing to put some meat on the bones of its new business Internet service, but business marketing head Victoria Crone says it may be next year before it starts renting a wide range of business software applications over the Web.

The company replaced its business website in April ahead of the introduction of new services that aim to differentiate between its consumer and business broadband customers.

First off the ranks will be Computer Care, a service for small firms costing $20 per computer per month under which Telecom will use software tools to monitor customers' computers and servers to diagnose faults and provide remote support, with a guaranteed four- hour response time for site visits.

Also available in a "couple of weeks" will be Smart Call, which for a flat monthly fee will make people's calls ring through to both their deskphone and their mobile, providing a single voicemail box for both which can be checked and managed from either phone.

The system will not work if companies have their own PABX or use pre-pay mobiles.

Ms Crone says Telecom is finalising details of new pricing and support plans that will offer small businesses a dedicated broadband helpdesk and more capable modems.

These should be available in about a month, when Telecom will also revamp its website registration and web hosting services.

"We have a whole offer ready to go there and we are just trialling the modems." An online back-up service is still being trialled.

Telecom announced in March that it would make a fresh move into the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market, after earlier false starts. That will see it rent out business software that is likely to include Microsoft applications and locally-developed software such as online accounting package Xero Live.

There is speculation progress has been slower than anticipated, but Ms Crone says Telecom has broadened its focus.

"What we are doing is meeting application providers. There is a really large education job to be done with customers to pull SaaS off."

Telecom intends to launch a SaaS offering in the financial year that has just started.

"Our approach has always been to get the business broadband service in place, get the portal and some of the new communication services into place, and then branch out into applications. That seems to be the journey customers have told us they would be more comfortable with, as opposed to going out with a 'big bang' now."


(c) 2008 Dominion Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.