The Leading Lights Most Innovative Enterprise Service category addresses the space at which many innovations first appear -- the services market for the largest and most lucrative enterprise customers.
As noted earlier, service providers are designing services specifically for smaller businesses but it's still safe to say they want to bring out the best for their biggest clients, who have the biggest budgets and the most stringent requirements. (See 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Most Innovative SMB Service.)
Our three finalists represent three very different types of innovation in meeting the demands of the enterprise market, from three very different players: Reliance Communications Ltd. is a telecom giant in India, offering voice, data, and video services as well as global connections; tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC) is a competitive service provider targeting business services in the US, and already known for innovation; and Truphone Ltd. is a global wireless provider with a truly different way of letting businesses stay connected without expensive roaming charges. (See Light Reading Names 2012 Leading Lights Winners.)
You can see the full Leading Lights finalist list here.
Now for a closer look at our Innovative Enterprise Service finalists:
Reliance Communications Ltd. - Connect Prime To be fair, this new service isn't aimed exclusively at enterprises, but it meets a major enterprise requirement: the need for consistent, reliable, and secure connections to every business location, even those off the beaten track.
Based on its own market research, Reliance learned that many of its Indian business customers had high-quality networks serving their major locations and those in well-populated areas, but in their smaller or less populated areas, they found what they term as an "immature usage segment."
Businesses connecting small remote offices, distributed retail facilities or even ATMs were using slower or less reliable connections because that was what was available: Getting something better required weeks or even months before a service could be provisioned.
As more companies sought to grow their businesses into rural areas, they were too often unable to find networks that lived up to corporate expectations.
Reliance developed Connect Prime as a single plug-and-play service, delivered over wireline or licensed spectrum wireless networks, with a Service Level Agreement, centralized ordering and billing, and dedicated bandwidth of at least 256 Kbit/s symmetrical (no small achievement in India, still) over a secure MPLS connection. It also comes with the promise that remote sites can be turned up in seven days and there is assured up time of 99.4 percent. (That's a major achievement in India.)
By delivering MPLS over the air using its licensed spectrum bands on 3G and EVDO networks, Reliance is able to deliver a higher quality service than currently deployed on unlicensed spectrum, while activating much faster and at a lower cost than if fiber connections were deployed. Reliance's automated provisioning process and the prioritization of corporate data within the Connect Prime network, along with its network design assistance, make this service a real innovation for a rapidly growing market. (See Reliance Strives To Connect Large & Medium Enterprises.)
Truphone - Shared International Mobile Plans The wireless service provider that first delivered VoIP and low-cost roaming to global wireless this year launched the first shared international mobile service plans covering data, text and voice, thus letting businesses share their wireless resources among traveling or overseas employees.
The single bundle of minutes, messages, and megabytes only works in the Truphone Zone, where Truphone has wireless coverage agreements: That includes the US, the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. It's part of Truphone's strategy to make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to connect their employees via a wireless service, whether those employees are traveling or are simply communicating with each other from international sites.
Oh, and to add to the Truphone excitement, the company was earlier identified as one of the best-funded mobile startups of 2013, having landed a $118 million investment from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. (See The Best-Funded Mobile Startups of 2013.)
tw telecom - Alerts-Driven Dynamic Capacity tw telecom is no stranger to the Leading Lights, having won Best Public Company a year ago, and also bagging a finalist slot in this year's Most Innovative Ethernet/Optical Service. (See 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Most Innovative Ethernet/Optical Service.)
Its new enterprise offering is the latest evolution of the bandwidth-on-demand capabilities tw telecom launched in 2013, promising a smarter version of Ethernet. This offer allows enterprises to define set thresholds for their network services that, once past, trigger use of tw telecom's Dynamic Capacity capability. The operator alerts the customer to the change via email to confirm activation, and when bandwidth usage drops below the threshold, automatically deactivates Dynamic Capacity. (See Carrier Ethernet Heads to the Next Level.)
The idea is to let businesses choose to burst traffic above pre-set levels when applications require more bandwidth and do it in an automated fashion so that applications aren't disrupted, while at the same time making sure additional bandwidth is only in force so long as it's needed.
This is the last of our new service award categories, launched for 2013. What do you think of this diverse set of finalists? Feel free to weigh in on the message boards below and even suggest alternatives.
The Leading Lights winners and latest Hall of Fame inductees will be revealed at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held during the evening of Tuesday, October 1 at the screamingly hip The Out hotel in New York City. (For more details, see Leading Lights 2013.)
After we've celebrated the winners, we head over the next morning to the Ethernet & SDN Expo, which takes place at the Javits Center, NYC, on October 2–3. (Details and the agenda are on our show site, Ethernet & SDN Expo.)
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading