[caption id="attachment_135" align="alignleft" width="128"] Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing
The communications industry has seen its fair share of disruption. There are the players who are in a race to the bottom, labelling an increasing number of services provided by ISPs as utilities to be provided at lower cost and lower margin. Then there are those who are disruptive in their own ways by driving their businesses and the channel forward by adopting technologies and digital platforms to improve operational efficiencies, grow revenues and provide a first-class customer-experience. At Entanet, our focus throughout the disruption has been on providing the best possible service and transforming ourselves to firmly place our customers at the heart of our business. While this has meant adopting new and emerging technologies, what we’ve learned throughout our journey is that there’s more to transformation than just the digital element.
Where it all began...
In hindsight, our business transformation began in 2012. Importantly though, we didn’t wake up one day thinking “we’re going to undertake a digital transformation of Entanet”. Moreover, there was a consciousness within our business that we needed to improve how we operated internally
to be able to provide a better service externally
. To us this meant being more efficient, better controlling costs and making the right investments in the right areas in order to ultimately provide a better customer experience. From this starting place our transformation began with our bespoke implementation of the Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform and its deep integration with all of our processes. This helped us achieve a single view of our customers, whereby everyone throughout our company could see every interaction with each individual customer and have an up-to-date understanding of where they were in their journey with us - both strategically and transactionally. This was a massive undertaking but the impact it has had on our business has been phenomenal.
Adding tremendous value
Since then, we’ve undertaken a number of individual projects over the years to build on what we started with Salesforce including:
- Creating an online Ethernet Quoting Tool to enable qualifying partners to obtain instant pricing for Ethernet circuits; increasing the agility and speed at which partners can place business and provide value to their customers.
- Enabling partners to run their own virtual Network Operation Centres (NOCs) by providing access to live IP VPN / PWAN performance data through our Mirada portal.
- Adopting an easy-response online customer survey platform to enable partners to feedback on their experiences of working with Entanet. The platform directly integrates with Salesforce and keeps us apprised as to what we’re doing well and where we could do better.
- We were early adopters of inbound marketing practices and use a platform that fully integrates with our CRM to efficiently build and nurture relationships with existing and potential partners in order to drive business growth.
- Continuous investment into our network infrastructure is a critical part of our transformation as it enables us to meet experienced and forecast demand growth for bandwidth, while also providing improved flexibility and control over bandwidth usage to our wholesale customers.
- Most recently we’ve replaced an ageing partner interface with a comprehensive new portal that brings together critical data previously located in different platforms; enables full ordering, provisioning and account management from any mobile device and gives partners the ability to self-brand their service provision to customers.
The actions that we’ve taken across all of these projects has brought us to where we are now: all of our people are better informed, we can communicate with each other and prospective and existing customers more easily and we have access to information that helps us to make better decisions to progress our business and drive efficiencies, limit costs and ultimately serve our customers in the best possible way.
Success factors for DX
A key learning for us throughout our transformation is that adoption of DX needs to have strong leadership from the C-suite. In our case, our programme was sponsored by Elsa Chen - our General Manager at the time but now our Chief Executive. Importantly, while Elsa supported and spearheaded our plans, it was only by involving people at all levels in the organisation that we were able to ensure full adoption of the technologies that we’ve rolled out and/or adopted. We promoted dialogue and interaction between the project managers and programmers responsible for the development of the platforms and those at the coal face; feedback from customer facing staff and partners themselves has meant that the systems that we’ve implemented have been fit for purpose and work for every department that comes into contact with them.
Culture is as important as the technological element when it comes to DX and for us, it’s changed dramatically. Giving our people information and accountability as well as the applications has meant that they have wanted to step up and take responsibility for the part their team plays in our customers’ journeys with us. Overall everyone works better together - that’s not to say that we’re perfect, far from it, but we have a work in progress. Individual staff members have a much greater appreciation of their role and the importance of it to the organisation - as a benefit of DX, this shouldn’t be overlooked.
We also learned that it’s important to know how much risk is appropriate for your business and to work within those bounds. When it comes to risk we take a considered approach to what the potential consequences of our actions could be as part of our decision making process but we knew that by taking an off-the-shelf product like Salesforce and having our own programmers make it work specifically for our business, we’d achieve what we wanted to with parameters that we were comfortable with. To this end, we’re proof that it simply isn’t true that only those businesses who embrace risk are successful in adopting digital transformation.
The journey’s not over
It’s often said that in business if you’re not making progress, you’re going backwards - standing still isn’t an option. So our digital transformation doesn’t have a definitive end-date. As we continue to grow, we’ll continue to change and improve on those changes that we’ve already made. This is one of those areas of DX that is crucial to understand - it isn’t a quick fix. It takes time to understand what it is that you want to improve within your business, make changes, assess the impact and improve on it again. It’s a cumulative process that will continue as technology advances in order to help you build your goals. Look to the future, it’s an exciting place to be.
Have your say!
Have you transformed any area of your business by adopting new technology, or is it a journey you’re just starting? Do you need help getting going? Whatever your story, share it with us by leaving a comment below.