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The Axians Network – Stephen Lawrence – Enterprise Director – SEE Enterprise Telecoms – Cloud Expo Europe

The Axians Network – Stephen Lawrence – Enterprise Director – SEE Enterprise Telecoms – Cloud Expo Europe

[00:00:21] So welcome back to the Axians life here at Cloud, AIX said we were heading into a break. I know you got my apologies. So our second guest today is Steve Irwin’s enterprise director of Enterprise Telecoms. So SAAC, a very successful name and recognised brand name in the energy supply. And in fact, you’re number one, I believe, according to which use a. But I’m curious as to why you’re here at Cloud AIX, Steve.

[00:00:47] Well, thanks very much for having me today. I appreciate the invite. I think it’s important for us to highlight what we’re doing in enterprise telecoms. And you’re quite right. Why would enterprises know about us and why would they know that we keep a third of the national grid operational, how we keep planes in the sky and allow traders to trade in banks. And I thought was important just to set out a little bit about who see enterprise telecoms is and what they’re about.

[00:01:15] So we’re kind of broken into six sectors inside the enterprise, telecoms, three sectors, I would say are asset makers. So we’ve got an energy and utility sector that effectively put in fibre into the sewers. And we would have sort of published some of that new technology makes it a little bit more reliables. Difficult to dig into a sewer from the pavement. We’ve got network operators. So you would have seen our deal with three. And we’ve also got transport and they’re effectively looking at unbundling exchanges and enabling 5G and working with roads and rails to put assets in place. Then our other three sectors are probably thinker’s asset exploiters. So we’ve got our public sector business. So they would be looking at smart cities. They would be looking at rural broadband deployments as the backbone provider on those assets. We’ve created service providers. So we’ve got a number of big names across industry and service providers as well, ISPs and then my sector, the enterprise sector, a new sector where we’re looking at bringing new products to market into established industries. So that’s how we set up a growth focus. Yeah. So we’re going to bring new products into existing markets and hopefully in a more destructive way. So like I say, we kind of keep a third of the network running for the national grid, the lights on, planes in the sky, bankers trading. So we’re building on that of no heritage. That trust is in our DNA. Yes. Reliability to say actually we’re going to look at how we might do things in a different way, both commercially and and in a service way.

[00:02:52] I think there’s going to be people watching going, wow, I didn’t realise that you guys did that. So you’re quite the unsung service provider in that sense, that perhaps that’s why I understand there’s there’s intentions to change the product set within the enterprise telecoms to drive more value to your enterprise customers. And what’s driving that, Steve?

[00:03:13] So we’re kind of putting that into two places as well. So we’re looking at extending the network. We’ve already got 12000 kilometres worth of high quality fibre across the country. Significant, significant amount, as you might expect in a good figure of eight. We’ve also got then an approach to expanding the product sets. So we’ve got a what I call connectivity essentials that goods optical, that fibre Ethernet sort of services. What we’re looking to run on top of that is what I classed as communication services enabled by services like SD-Wan. And it’s quite handy actually having a very large retail customer like SASE, retail and enterprise contracting who would build blue water or Westfield, those types of contracting. And we’re seeing from them probably around about five things that’s driving this reason for new product, the digital economy. First, how consumers are buying differently. They don’t really want to speak as much unless it’s a relatively high emotion conversation, like moving house or fixing a boiler. The next one, then, is that technology currency. We’ve got our group, IT organisation that needs to say current moving to the Cloud combination of On-premise and On-premise. We’ve got that relentless cost cutting, having run my own operation, Vodafone said of enterprise care IoT to relentlessly bertke looking at introducing new technology to keep our costs down. Simplifying to then automate is another key driver that I’m hearing from our CIOs and colleagues in the enterprise business. And then ultimately all of that is about better engagement with customers, with that people and with regulators. So bring in these new products is effectively helping those five things.

[00:05:01] So you’ve got a kind of a set of boards of directors you can talk to who are enterprise customers in their own right and have the same challenges they would have and have given you some feedback into how to kind of to mould and steer your client portfolio. And they’re probably more demanding. Because they know us inside out.

[00:05:22] They know what our weaknesses are, but they also know what our strengths are. I’m being part of the same group. You almost feel like as part of a family, you don’t want to let any family member down. So you’re that kind of aspiration to do better than you might normally expect. Then there’s a nice splash effect into organisations outside the group that benefit from that as well.

[00:05:44] So it’s not just we turn up at no, no, no, quite the opposite.

[00:05:49] It was interesting you were talking about digital economy and we talking about the way the consumers choose and I guess also move from services. We were talking recently, Chris. You know, the changes in the technology and digital services acquisition is fundamentally driving a change in the approach, perhaps, of many service providers right now. Yeah. So with that in mind, what do you think the service provider of the future needs to happen is? We need to evolve in order to keep up with the changes in technology and requirements from the customers?

[00:06:23] Well, I think service providers have got a tough time coming, especially the well-established ones. So our network is still pretty young and put in for a purpose of connecting substations and windfarms and power stations and so on. Those established players, they’ve got a very expensive, extensive legacy and these massive networks that they’ve got to simplify and that is affecting their fixed line profitability. So that’s where their focus is. You’ve only got so much resource. So if you focus on fixing what you’ve got, how can you focus on customers and your people? Yes. So our approach is about making sure that we’ve got proud people and we’ve got a long heritage people there for 15, 20 years plus because of how we look after our people, how we invest in them and develop them, that then pleases our customers ultimately because consistency and you know what it’s like when you speak to a happy person, you’re kind of smiling a little bit more on the end of the phone as well. And we want our customers to be pleased when they’re paying their bill. And so then that helps us to be a little bit more profitable. We’re also probably quite humble. You know, I’ve seen industry leaders shout and cheer about getting into double figures on employees. Just got a net promoter score of 10 or 12, they say, and they tune in the market and work on a nearly 30. And that’s good. Right? But I mean, I still challenge them because it’s a score out of 100. Right. So I follow my children came home and said, I got 30, I have 100. And I was number one in the market or in my class. I mean, then you kind of my question a little bit. But joking aside, 30 is a very good result. And you need to compare that with a touchpoint NPS, which is for that particular interaction that might be 60, 70 plus, which we’re seeing on a regular basis as well. So to get that, I think we need to invest in the people. Happy customers come along and we make a profit on the way and the service providers are hunkered down in those old legacy networks that they’ve acquired in the past. I think they’re going to struggle.

[00:08:30] You’ve done some research recently. I got some notes here and some internal research of about 200 enterprise customers.

[00:08:39] So, again, varying from sort of quite small size enterprise to quite, quite large. Yeah. Some of the feedback that you got from that I got here that nearly 80 percent we’re talking about. If we talk about Iran specifically here. Yeah, 80 percent didn’t know what the business case was for that just yet.

[00:08:55] Yeah, they’ve been struggling. I think. I think just listening to to Simon Azure sort of last week about the challenges that Iran should should address. I’ve got to be a little provocative, actually. SD-Wan is a problem trying to a solution, trying to find a problem. And we had 54 percent kind of aware of SD-Wan, 30 percent considering it and only 16 percent that actually deployed it. Now, the U.K., I think, is not seeing the cost differential. The BRIC countries would, you know, North America as well. And so that almost temptation of seeing a cost driven reduction by introducing a SD-Wan hasn’t materialised. What we’re looking to do, having have a group IT customer and a retail customer that says prove it to me, Steve. Yes. We’re going to take a look at what visibility actually means from a monetary perspective. What does it mean to be resilient for a home work so that you could look at your property, what it means to make sure that you can deal with jitter and loss of voice without loss of interaction with your clients? That’s what I see when bringing not just to liberate the network, but if your visibility gives you reliability. That’s exactly right. And we need to make sure then that we can help monetise that so that you have benefited. Maybe not cashable, you know, how do you govern and go on user experience in a monetary way? And then we’ve got what we call economics so we don’t have to pay for that thousand pound eighty or so that’s five years old anymore. Actually, we’ve got cost avoidance. You don’t just have to throw bandwidth at a problem because the application might not be reacting, as we expected with the user. We’ve seen certainly in our contracting business, probably two or 300 sites across the UK. But we need to put in a Portakabin. There is no Adso, there is no fibre in getting that software defined networking work over a mobile network until the fixed line comes in. So speed of deployment, reduction in expensive, experienced expertise like Sakai’s and so on are the big drivers that we’re seeing in our own organisation.

[00:11:12] So I’ve seen you and heard you speak recently. I know you’re quite clear in this respect that you think that service provider attitudes needs to change in the market. So what what is the service provider of the future look like or act like? And do you think.

[00:11:32] Yes. Well, I think I’d like to think they are going to simply do what they say they’re going to do. If you make a promise and this is what it’s like working in a family, if you make a promise. Are you sure you’ve worked in telecoms? Well, I mean, when you when you when you say you’re going to do something, you need to do it. Yes. And I think the larger organisations are probably too big almost to be able to do something with, you know, if you’ve got tens of thousands of customers that you’re looking after, how can you treat them the same? Know we’re big enough to deliver and still small enough to care, actually. And I think we are swift in our delivery. So we’re seeing 30 to 60 days in getting services in. I know other providers will be cheering at 90 if they say they can do it any quicker than I would question that in some detail when it’s operational. We’re seeing broadly, you know, between four lines and five nine reliability. I’ll keep a third of the network up and the lights on. So we’ve got to do that. And it’s secure. You know, having a Cassity network, which is CSG assured service for telecoms, is no mean feat. But I think we’ve got a. Change our attitudes. And like I say about the NPS score, we shouldn’t really be cheering up plus 30, we should be getting to the 60s and 70s on a regular basis.

[00:12:53] Yes, yeah. Maybe a pat on the head and a biscuit dog, but certainly not if you’re in the single figures and early double figures are definitely in the right direction.

[00:13:02] Yeah, that’s it. So we’re in the right direction. So I think from my perspective, we’re looking to make good on our promises. So having run an operation myself, you want them to be able to prove it. So if someone comes in and says, I can do this, I could make these efficiency savings if your agents or network will then prove it. And the second thing then is if you’re going to prove it, commit to it. So maybe let me try it. You know, in an ideal world, you know, a few months or something. And then if I don’t like it, I could I could give it back. It hasn’t worked out. And then throughout the periods, wouldn’t it be nice? Actually, in an ideal world if it hasn’t worked out that you’re not locked into a contract and you end up being a little toxic, that says you made a promise. It didn’t come good. You haven’t said what you said you would do. I to chase you. You told me something I know already. I just doesn’t feel nice. So why lock them in? So I think those are some of the changes we need to see in the industry to see.

[00:13:59] You’re seeing customer centricity out of flexibility and that whole drive to quality and experience. I mean, going back to, again, some of the previous to be one of the kind of core tenants that they’re seeing is a driver for their adoption is quality of experience. And that is becoming a much bigger piece in the boardrooms across the country.

[00:14:18] It is. And that’s that’s one of the reasons why we want to make a difference in the future. You know, I’m keen to come to market soon with something that’s quite different in the way that we sort of positioning. And I think it comes back to having that swift and sure and secure foundation. But then how do you differentiate or make sure you prove it? And if you can prove it, then commit to it. And if you haven’t been out to commit to it, then let me leave.

[00:14:47] You you’re a disruptive force in the market and to see enterprise telecom, as I said, you’re not new. You’ve been established, but you’re emerging onto the market with what seems like something that might be groundbreaking and different. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:15:05] So I want to give too much away just yet. I think I think what we need is an exclusive driving Kaizo. Yes. So it’s not exclusive today that it’s not exclusive today, but it’s certainly coming back. And like I say, we are actively implementing our services in our own customer, in our own family. So you’ve got to get that right, because I want them raving about just not ranting about this. Have a present from Danny at Christmas. That’s it. I want to start with that Christmas card list, and they will quite quickly write me off if we don’t come good.

[00:15:41] Because they’re making promises to our p.l.c., shareholders, customers, everything that is about is doing more and doing better for our customer, consumer, enterprise, our networks, overhead lines. It’s all there. So we need to come good on that. So when can we hear more about this then? Well, we’re certainly coming back in April, April. And I think then I can talk a lot more about how we would demonstrate what we’re going to promise. This is how we would prove it also. Then we commit to it in ways that I believe large organisations wouldn’t be able to govern. And the smaller ones we don’t have our balance sheet would be able to underwrite. And then having that experience of having done it in our family, the reference ability of that is going to be very, very powerful because no one is going to lie to are coming a prospect of a customer in coming if we haven’t done what we said we would do for our own family members.

[00:16:40] So sounds like you’re in a very unique position in that you are you’re not bound by a lot of legacy systems, as you mentioned. So you can be Disruptive Live. You have got the balance sheet behind you to support forays into new areas, and you’re using this as a disruptor for the future. So it sounds like it sounds like Axians. Most telecom is definitely wants not.

[00:17:04] Sounds like you need to keep our ears to the ground in April. I think I’ll be seeing you. And I would say, yeah, yeah, I’m pretty excited about it. Oh, yes. Yes.