- O2 UK turns sell-to relationships on store technology into commercial partnerships. Operator creates new suite of digital solutions to resolve social distancing challenges, using technology from two startups originally incubated by Wayra UK.
Telefónica UK (O2 UK) is setting its sights on the opportunities that lie ahead once the lifting of lockdown measures related to COVID‑19 allows people to return to work in sectors such as retail and healthcare.
Its O2 Business is making available a “suite of digital solutions” that have already been tried and tested at O2 UK stores and have proved effective at overcoming more recent challenges imposed by social distancing measures. The operator claimed that virtual queuing, staff scheduling, and appointment‑booking technologies have “proved so successful in allowing O2 to reopen its retail stores that these solutions are being offered to a range of O2 customers including retailers, supermarkets, stadia, and healthcare businesses”.
The two technology providers supporting the solutions are longstanding partners of Telefónica Group, and alumni of incubator Wayra UK.
- Retail technology specialist Qudini provides the cloud‑based digital queue and appointment management system, which was first rolled out by Telefónica UK in 2014. The system has subsequently been deployed by Telefónica España, and Qudini has gone on to become the operator’s preferred international supplier of queue management systems (Telefónicawatch, #99). Qudini first joined Wayra in 2012 and its software is said to be used in a total of 3,600 shops.
- Rotageek joined Wayra six years ago and provides workforce scheduling software to automate staff workflows. Rotageek first deployed its technology at 267 O2 UK stores in early‑2015.
O2 Business is also to offer access to O2 Motion, which is described as the business unit’s big data and insights arm and collects aggregated and anonymised data from O2 UK’s 25 million mobile customers. O2 Motion is said to be based on a “suite of solutions” including Smart Steps, Telefónica’s retail insights and analytics solution (Telefónicawatch, passim). It also features smart‑city solutions, presumably including the O2 City Data Platform, which offers access to more than seven billion anonymised daily data points, according to the O2 UK website.
O2 UK said that since the start of the COVID‑19 pandemic, O2 Motion has been supporting government agencies, transport bodies, train operating companies, and academic institutions by supplying daily insight on population movement, split by age bracket and gender. “This has helped us understand how COVID‑19 is spreading and can help businesses plan for the reopening of the economy”, the operator said.
O2 Business relaunch: a year on
O2 Business was relaunched in mid‑2019 in a bid to reorganise all business‑focused units into a single division. It comprises enterprise and wholesale commercial teams, product development functions in areas including 5G, big data, and the Internet of Things, and collaboration with Wayra (Telefónicawatch, #136). Jo Bertram is Managing Director of the division (Telefónicawatch, #137).
At the time of the division’s relaunch, Kester Mann, Director, Consumer and Connectivity at CCS Insight, said O2 UK recognised that it needed to improve its performance in the enterprise customer segment in the face of strong market competition from a combined BT/EE and Vodafone UK.
According to Mann, Mark Evans, Chief Executive of O2 UK, admitted that the operator was “great in consumer, but not so great in enterprise”, and clearly intended to change the situation with a stronger enterprise strategy. The proposed merger of O2 UK and Virgin Media should also create a more forthright challenger in the enterprise and public sector market in future.