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Vodafone buys unified communication consultant Bluefish

The operator's enterprise unit is expanding beyond mobile, and the acquisition is part of that push, says analyst

Vodafone's Global Enterprise is strengthening its professional services arm by acquiring British consultant Bluefish Communications, which will form the basis of a new unified communication and collaboration practice, the operator said on Thursday.

The Global Enterprise unit serves Vodafone's largest multinational customers, and will use Bluefish's expertise to work with them on new collaboration services, such as video conferencing and presence awareness.

Vodafone didn't disclose how much it is paying for Bluefish. The company was founded in 2004 and is based in Reading, U.K.

Vodafone's strategy in the enterprise space is to move beyond just mobile telephony in order to make it a more valuable partner to its customers. The acquisition of Bluefish is another piece of that puzzle, according to Steve Blood, vice president at market research company Gartner.

Unified communication combines voice, instant messaging and video into one, along with the ability to see how colleagues want to communicate -- so-called presence.

It holds the promise of better collaboration between employees, business partners and clients, according to Vodafone.

Unified communication has been around for years, and for a long time vendors struggled to convince enterprises to start using it. But the growing availability and popularity of broadband has made it easier to implement, and more popular, Blood said.

Today, most organizations are comfortable in their basic understanding of unified communication and collaboration technologies, according to Rich Costello, senior research analyst at IDC. Many have already implemented IP telephony, instant messaging and presence, and are now increasingly considering mobility, video conferencing, and hosted unified communication services, in particular, he recently said.

Bluefish has know-how in other areas besides unified communication. For example, Vodafone also highlights its capabilities in networking and cloud services.

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