by Arnaud Taddei
Nigeria one week; Las Vegas the next. Two very contrasting trips spent talking to Service Providers, Communications Service Providers, and Telcos—but equally incisive in helping to understand what makes them tick. In fact, looking back over the 20 years I’ve been in the communications and technology business, I’ve met hundreds of CXOs from this industry and it’s given me privileged insight into what their pain is, what their problems are, and what keeps them up at night.
Let’s see if I’m right.
It’s clear that all three—Service Providers, Communications Service Providers, and Telcos (I’ll refer to Service Providers for brevity)—are driven to grow revenues. That’s a given, as is the demand to maximise customer ‘stickiness’. But they also know their brand reputation is at stake: one outage, one leak of confidential data, and they could be tomorrow’s Enron. Regulations are also driving up costs, while margins are thin.
This isn’t rocket science. However, feeling like Felix Baumgartner stepping out onto that platform in space, I’m going to be brave and suggest the real inhibitor to achieving these goals above isn’t the Service Providers’ technology, or their product portfolio. The real challenge to driving growth, increasing customer satisfaction, and protecting brand reputation lies elsewhere.
Let’s start with sales enablement. From my experience, the average closure rate for a new business opportunity for Service Providers is around 10 percent. Not earth-shattering, is it? Ten percent could easily be twenty, thirty or more with the right approach.
The problem here is a lack of sales market intelligence. The industry is used to selling networks, telco packages, and similar solutions—not virtualized public and private Clouds that the customers are crying out for. The sales people have great ideas and knowledge: it’s just not pointing in the right direction.
Symantec can be your compass. We are at the heart of the virtual, cloud, and mobile revolution, talking to thousands of customers every day—indeed in the enterprise space, we have some 20 consuming external clouds in production, from Amazon, Rackspace, DropBox and others. We can help enable your sales team: giving them the right sales training, sales enablement and—most importantly—the insight and intelligence they need to ask the right questions and close more deals. Remember, we’re on your side.
The second problem is protecting brand reputation. It’s great to see Service Providers innovating new customer-centric services. It positions them in front, accelerates revenue growth, and customer stickiness. However, those customers will be about as sticky as a dog on ice skates if there is a breach in the service. When an outage occurs, the first out the door are the customers. As I talk to Service Providers, be it in Nigeria, Las Vegas or elsewhere, one of the most common questions is, “How do I secure my Cloud platform?” They’re struggling because they’re relying on a simplistic and non-secure network operations centre to identify and tackle threats. Very few Service Providers I meet have a valid security operations centre.
We’re here to help. The Symantec Security Operations Centres (SOCs) around the world are the first line of defence against cyber threats for Service Providers and CSPs. The centres offer real-time, comprehensive protection from known and emerging threats, enabling organisations to minimise risk and strengthen their security posture. Symantec’s SOCs analyse more than 12 billion logs worldwide each day to provide enterprise-wide protection, help bolster defences, and respond to new threats as they emerge. Remember, we’re on your side.
Third challenge: a lack of agility. Too many of the Service Providers I see don’t have the right Cloud computing architectural framework. The typically don’t understand what the service delivery platform for Cloud should look like; they don’t have the platform orchestration, best practices for integration, nor the regulatory compliance framework. Historically, it’s all been too easy to take a rack of storage and call it Cloud storage—the market has changed, customer expectations have changed, and Service Provider attitudes need to change.
Step forward the Symantec Cube. Symantec has created a Service Provider Framework to support Service Providers in building their own customised data and security services for their target markets. Symantec is already using it to successfully partner with leading Service Providers to provide ‘clean pipes’ and Cloud such as backup, archiving, desktop, and Security as a Service to their residential and enterprise target markets.
Importantly, the Cube Framework sales effort focuses as much on the business decision makers as the IT ones. Business influencers and decision makers like the CSP sales team or the product managers; the solution architects and designers; and procurement who source the decision.
Remember, Symantec is on your side. We have a breath-taking security and information management product portfolio sharpened to suit Service Providers. We have the methods, the skills, and the experience to help your Service Provider business flourish. We understand the roadblocks you face—and can bring a bulldozer to them.
Learn more in the Profiting from the Cloud: New revenue streams with Security and Information Protection Services presentation.