It's been a busy week for Nokia. Fresh from announcing a €347 million ($369 million) takeover of Comptel, aimed at helping it to realize its software ambitions, the Finnish vendor is getting busy in the managed service provider sector with its launch of what it calls a "worldwide IoT [Internet of Things] network grid." (See Comptel Looks Like the Start of Nokia Software Spending Spree, Nokia's Buying Comptel: What the Analysts Say and Nokia Eyes Bigger Software Role With €347M Comptel Bid.)
Besides giving Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) another catchy acronym (WING), the big idea -- as the name suggests -- is to provide a managed service for customers that want to support IoT applications across numerous countries.
WING appears to bring together an assortment of Nokia's managed-service capabilities, as well as its recently ballyhooed IMPACT (acronym overload) software platform. But the big selling point, according to the company, is simply the lack of a global IoT operator. (See Nokia Aims for Big IMPACT in Enterprise IoT.)
"One thing we discovered in putting together uses cases is the inability for multinationals to offer IoT services because there is no multinational connectivity service that allows this," said Phil Twist, the vice president of portfolio marketing at Nokia Networks, during a press briefing with reporters in London earlier this week. "There are US and European solutions but no one has put something in place that federates all this together as a service."
One wonders what some of the mobile virtual network operator types specializing in IoT would make of that (we'll get back to you on this). The likes of Atlanta-based KORE Wireless Group Inc. would certainly claim to straddle the Atlantic, and support connectivity services in other parts of the world, through wholesale deals with network operators in those markets.
What's very clear is that Nokia wants to play a much bigger service provider role in the enterprise sector, having identified five key vertical markets it is targeting as part of a new growth strategy announced in November (to run through those again, they are -- deep breath -- energy, transportation, the public sector, "technological extra-large enterprises" and the web-scale players). (See Nokia to Create Standalone Software Biz, Target New Verticals.)
Arguably the more straightforward channel to market is through existing telco customers, which would provide WING as a white label service to enterprises. But Nokia obviously wants to appeal directly to these vertical markets.
The question is whether it can do that without treading on the toes of the telcos, many of which appear keen to play much bigger roles as providers of managed services (especially when it comes to IoT), and not simply be left with the connectivity scraps.
Twist does not see any kind of conflict. "We are trying to offer something that is a worldwide extension to what they do in a country," he says. "There is no worldwide operator and so this is a federation in cooperation with operators that allows them to extend outside their geographic remit."
But are there not instances where Nokia might be targeting a more limited geographical market and find itself in direct competition with the telcos? "I'd be surprised if we put ourselves in that position given that our bread and butter business of working with operators is not something we want to jeopardize," says Twist.
Next page: On a WING and a prayer?