I’ve been in Europe visiting some of the largest Telephone Companies in the world. I’ve found a common thread that’s drawn between these huge Service Providers and it’s the paradox they are facing regarding their livelihoods.

In most cases, they have tremendous brand recognition. Their reach is phenomenal (servicing millions of subscribers) and they have more network capacity than any business could imagine.

So, what is the dichotomy?

Believe it or not, it’s service. You see most of these huge service companies grew up around the simple premise that the network was the service. So long as their subscribers could “access” the network, they had relevance.

No longer.

Networking without Applications and Data can be seen as commodity services

The network is synonymous with commodity these days. Commodity services have only one value: price. And as the price falls on these services, so does the ability to achieve margin. This is prevalent in large service provider advertising. Get ‘X’ bandwidth for ‘Y’ price.

All over the world, this appears to be the value proposition. But while savvy business customers–especially the Small/Mid-sized Business (SMB) segment–are looking for applications and data services, networks (and bandwidth for less) are an afterthought.

SMBs want services that are relevant to their business. They want Service Providers to step up and deliver. To them, relevance isn’t just Access or Bandwidth, but real business applications.

I took this picture while I was in London. In the foreground is the Tower of London, which dates back several centuries. It was the center of the United Kingdom in its hay-day. Now, it houses the Crown Jewels and is mainly a tourist attraction. What was once relevant is now nothing more than a bit of antiquity; just a memory.

It reminded me that the world changes and, with it, the meaning of relevance. 

In the background, you see a structure climbing into the sky as if to shout out its relevance. It is the Shard, a 1,016 foot landmark in the middle of London, built for businesses of the 21st century, it is the tallest structure in the EU.

Businesses flock to have tenancy there because of its allure, its relevance. What a great reminder of change.

How do Service Providers provide more relevance?

We don’t have to look too far back in history to see what happens to companies who lack relevance.

Wang, DEC and Sun Microsystems are all examples of great technology companies that became mementos of antiquity. In the Service Provider market we have seen some of this consolidation as well. For instance, whatever happened to Pacific Bell or Bell South? Did they also become mementos of antiquity?

So, what is a Telephone company to do?

What about joining the hundreds of smaller Citrix Service Providers who include applications and data sharing solutions to hundreds of thousands of subscribers? Probably a good idea.

Take, for instance, Digicel , AT&T or TeliaSonera. They have taken the first step in the pushback toward relevance to the SMB. More than bandwidth or networking, they have chosen to provide services which are indeed relevant to their business subscribers. Who will be next? We will have to wait and see.

One thing is certain… Citrix is enabling these services and aiding our Citrix Service Providers to stay relevant. Want to know more? Why not learn more and gain value by joining the Citrix Service Provider Program today?

Stay looped in for news that benefits your business

Follow the Citrix Partner Network on LinkedInFacebook and @CitrixPartners on Twitter. Citrix Service Providers, join the Citrix Service Provider LinkedIn group and take your business to the next level.