Ericsson's Enterprise Leg

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s senior vice president for enterprise and new sales in North America, Brian Rosenberg is in charge of developing the company's strategy as Ericsson moves from a telecommunications equipment vendor to being a provider of comprehensive services to enterprises. (See Ericsson's Way Forward.)

A long-time AT&T sales manager and executive for wireless equipment and services, Rosenberg has been with Ericsson since 1995. Based at Ericsson's North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, he sat down with Unstrung at an Ericsson customer event in Baltimore -- held in conjunction with the Volvo Round the World Race -- to discuss his company's new communications platform, how enterprises have abdicated control over mobility, and how Ericsson resembles IBM.

Unstrung: You're rolling out the new MX-ONE communications platform for enterprises. Ericsson has a well-established position in the marketplace for big universities and governments. Do you think this new product will help broaden your customer base?

Rosenberg: For years we did a lot of selling to universities. The MD110 platform is great for large distributed environments; and, the fact is that, beyond universities, hospitals, and so on there's not that many of those environments out there.

The MX-ONE is more geared toward the mid- to large-tier market, so now we've got this product ready for sale we should be able to gain more traction there. We've got the small to medium-sized version coming out midyear, and that's where you can really gain breadth of market share.

Unstrung Do you think the spread of platforms like the MX-ONE will help enterprises mobilize more of their workforces?

Rosenberg: What's clear is that people are becoming more mobile, they're working in a much more mobile fashion, and among vendors and service providers everyone has a different way they think people will get there. A lot of our competitors don’t really have in their DNA the standards for mobility, like GSM, that we do. A lot of companies are going down the wireless LAN path. That's appealing to some businesses, but a lot of them look at cost of installing wireless LAN infrastructure and they shy away quickly, because it's not as cost-effective from a long-term maintenance perspective.

Our path has been to integrate tightly with the carriers, and to develop [customer-premises equipment] that's aware of the standard mobility technologies and the carriers, because we think that marriage will be most cost-effective for industry.

Unstrung Do you think the carriers have really gotten their minds, or the minds of their salespeople, around providing services for enterprises? It seems many are still focused on selling more minutes to consumers.

Rosenberg: Well it's a different mindset. Instead of looking at average revenue per user, now you've got to look at average revenue per enterprise. How can we come into a business and secure all of the customers? It's not about a 32 percent market share of 4000 employees. It's all 4000 employees, regardless of whether they're in the office, the conference room or half a world away.

We're seeing certain carriers make that shift already -- it's a totally different mindset perspective to sell enterprise productivity rather than minutes and a phone.

It's also a process of convergence, both in terms of technology and the business. Where the last five years we've had this clear distinction between the fixed network and the wireless network, those are now converging. We're also seeing a convergence from the standpoint of how the carriers sell. The salespeople from the fixed side are generally much more sophisticated about selling to enterprises than the wireless side -- they understand how to penetrate a business, and to really serve the model in terms of service-level agreements, quality-of-service, and so on. In wireless that's unheard of.

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