Vodafone UK made three announcements today that could be a step up in its enterprise mobility capability. It announced it is to acquire Aspective, an IT service provider with core skills in mobilising enterprise applications; and it also acquired Isis Telecommunications Management, a provider of customer services, fleet management and managed services to the enterprise market.

It also signed an exclusive three-year agreement with Fiberlink, to provide secure remote access services to mobile workers in the UK. Pauline Trotter, principal analyst with Ovum commented on the deal, saying: “Vodafone announced earlier this year that its strategy was to become a total communications provider and to move away from its role as a mobile connectivity provider.”

Enterprises, particularly large ones, have been critical of the mobile service providers' slowness in responding to their needs and have been demanding much more support. In particular they want help with cost management including better billing & analysis tools, management of their device fleets, mobilising data applications and better interfaces to internal systems and functions.

“Vodafone has made more effort than most mobile operators to address these concerns and these announcements reinforce its message that it is serious about the move to drive deeper into enterprises,” said Trotter. Vodafone says the acquisitions bring added capability in three core areas: applications, service and access. Aspective is a UK-based consultancy that specialises in the mobilisation of CRM and salesforce applications, with core competencies in Microsoft and Seibel.

It is expected to drive Vodafone's channel strength and market reach and help it move deeper into organisations helping them with business process consulting, design and integration. Aspective has a number of 'blue chip' customers and its two biggest customers are also Vodafone customers. Isis adds service capability, particularly in fleet management and billing.

The company operates primarily in the financial services sector with business concentrated in The City. A Vodafone partner for several years, it should help Vodafone scale up its managed services capability. The deal with Fiberlink (which will come into force early next year) brings added access capabilities in corporate VPNs for remote workers.