Helping Frustrated Customers
Like many of us who started out in telecommunications, I have spent most of my sales career in the fulfillment business. My teams would work with enterprises of all sizes to identify which solutions met their voice and data needs. Then in concert with our operations and engineering teams, we would deliver the goods to meet specified Service Level Agreements.
But over the last few years, I have seen this model radically change. Newer technologies, such as low latency edge compute solutions and adaptive networking, are driving growing acceptance of a subscription-based model that places greater control in the hands of our customers. With access to our newest digital assets, they can independently design and build their own infrastructure directly on the Lumen platform.
A New Age of Frustration
Fulfillment has been replaced with a new challenge—frustration. We have found CIOs and CTOs who see the potential of this new model, but don’t exactly understand how to apply its advantages to drive specific outcomes. They are struggling to align the promise of application performance with actual execution. They want network-savvy specialists who are comfortable participating in entirely new conversations, less about individual solution purchases and more around applying technology to meet specific business objectives.
In sum, welcome to the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
No one wants to see frustrated customers. At the same time, it may be one of the most correctable problems out there. And fortunately, Lumen has made investments to transform frustration into opportunity, primarily because we are quickly pivoting from being an infrastructure company to an infrastructure and platform solutions company.
How low can you go?
Let’s start with latency. Most networks are built with human beings in mind, which is why current latency levels seem to be sufficient. If you are in the 50 to 100 millisecond range, no one really notices a performance issue. In comparison, our expanding edge compute platform will be designed to deliver latency closer to 5 milliseconds or less to roughly 90 percent of North America’s key markets by the end of the year.
People ask me why we need latency that low. It’s a valid question, until you consider how latency is addressing new possibilities that didn’t seem realistic just a few years ago. It’s about CIOs managing growing workloads with less resources, who want to move data and applications into centralized cloud locations to improve efficiency. It’s about robots communicating on the factory floor, facial recognition programs providing real-time security, or remote work forces collaborating seamlessly, no matter how far they might be from traditional “big market” locations.
Low latency directly confronts frustration in several subtle ways. Consider a visit to a doctor’s office. Instead of handing out a clipboard filled with paper forms, receptionists now provide patients with mobile devices that allow them to enter medical data electronically. This system can be tremendously efficient, but not when the data has to travel to centralized cloud locations that might be thousands of miles away. Patients lose patience with what they perceive to be a slow connection and demand old-fashioned paper forms instead. Low latency directly fixes the problem, creating seamless experiences that allows everyone to benefit.
Lumen’s secret sauce
Edge Compute has become an important talking point among a wide range of solutions, including content delivery networks, managed security, SDN-based services and fiber infrastructure, just to name a few. Those talking points need to be delivered by trained people—experts dedicated to guide customers through their business transformation with unmatched expertise and superior listening skills.
Human interaction is our secret sauce, especially as we hear stories about our competitors pulling resources away from customers and pushing customers to call centers or resources in remote markets. While we align sales resources around the areas where we see the most growth, we have also established an infrastructure of local sales leadership so we can be physically there at the point when decisions are made.
Former NFL coach Chuck Noll once said that “a life of frustration is inevitable for any coach whose main enjoyment is winning.” Enterprises want to win, too. The Lumen approach is more than just deploying a highly trained workforce to deliver simplified solutions. It’s a guarantee that we can replace frustration with the benefits of partnership, because we make sure our customers don’t have to face their challenges alone.