Customers are looking to service providers to give them an edge. They are looking for the secret sauce to help them stay ahead. It almost goes without saying nowadays, when we sit down with a large customer, they will typically say, “You provide the best service of all of our providers, you are the best, not just in Europe, in the world, we wish we had others like you …but now we want more… now we want to do this…”
Customer confidence stems from solid customer service and how you respond to your customers’ issues, closely coupled to how reliable the foundation of your business is – in our case, the network. It is always a combination of both that gives you the edge.
Is it about management and structure?
It’s not so much a structural issue, it’s a cultural issue. Look to your beginnings – look at what got you here in the first place – and revisit and revive that culture – it is still there.
For example, Colt was the new kid on the block 30 years ago and that start-up mentality became embedded into the culture. It still exists today and we certainly don’t want to change that as we move forward. And that start-up culture has that strong belief in being close to customers and delivering the best customer service. We knows that it’s a big differentiator when it comes to winning business and keeping business and it’s a great thing to ensure there is a culture that thinks that way.
Is it about technology?
We’ve seen waves of evolution of technology over the years. Many years ago it was the mainframe, and then ten or 15 years later it was the personal computer and the mini, and technology has continued to evolve to where it is today. And the IT world has evolved as well, especially in the last five or ten years.
Five or ten years ago IT was focused around the data centre and in customers putting their applications in data centres and then connectivity from those data centres and that’s been a model that’s been reasonably successful.
Things are now changing dramatically and we’re going to see this pace accelerate. Businesses are moving from the traditional model of big data centres, putting my applications there, and then fanning it out to my customer base, or my employee base or whatever it happens to be.
Is it about the cloud?
Businesses are now moving to cloud environments and a cloud way of working.
And they’re moving for two reasons:
1) They need applications that are more friendly to mobile devices and more customer focused. Certainly not to be locked into some of those applications that were developed ten or 15 years ago. Businesses want to bring those forward to exploit their speed and flexibility.
2) They need to get closer to customers, and their customers, at the same time.
So what we’re seeing is evolution from a data centre perspective, from big data centres to smaller data centres that are closer to the customer base.
We’ll see smaller data centres and we’ll see them in population centres that will drive less latency, faster response time to customers and the network obviously will be a big part of that.
Business need to get that network as close to those customers as possible. Why? Because those networks and their performance become key to their customers’ experience. That evolution is just beginning and with SDN we’re going to see it continue and accelerate.
So, every businesses’ secret sauce will be made up of focus on great customer experience, a start-up culture, tech know-how and the ability to change faster than the market ….
No-one has the recipe as yet – but we feel we have some of the key ingredients.