Three Lessons You Can Learn from Your Customers
I feel lucky, because every day I have an opportunity to learn something new. I work with a lot of bright colleagues, who help me keep pace in a world run by new ideas. And that’s a good thing, too, because our customers rely upon us to help them thrive in changing conditions, especially in challenging times like these.
On one level, our global network provides a foundational platform for those transformative technologies that empower businesses and consumers. But I have also noticed something else. Our network serves as a platform for self-learning, too. Our customers are smart, and our partnerships succeed because we learn so much about their businesses and their competitive challenges.
One of those smart companies is The Walt Disney Company, which has spent its entire history redefining entertainment. We were honored to be selected as one of the networks to support the global launch of its streaming service, Disney+. They use our content delivery network (CDN) to deliver programming to subscribers in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The success of Disney+ has reinforced three important lessons for me that can be valuable to companies of all sizes.
Good things don’t always come to those who wait—Patience is the first casualty of a transformative age. During a recent Wall Street Journal-sponsored Tech forum, Robert Iger, former CEO and now executive chairman of The Walt Disney Company, shared the story about how the company’s stock plummeted after he told analysts on an earnings call that the traditional multi-channel model for TV was eroding with no end in sight. He saw the market’s response as a “clarion call” to motivate the company to take quick, dramatic action to position itself for future success. Disney+ was one of those responses. CenturyLink faces a similar challenge. Like many telecommunications companies, we must manage legacy products that have seen a decline in value, but at the same time, we must continue to invest in new solutions designed to help our customers get where they are headed. We focused heavily on bringing CDN capacity to the most critical parts of the world, using data to help define success, and smart, software-defined tools to effectively manage massive amounts of traffic.
Go where your customers are—In only a few months’ time, Disney+ has attracted over 50 million subscribers, not to mention the millions of other subscribers who have signed up for other Disney streaming services, such as Hulu and ESPN+. It serves as an eye-opening confirmation that you can reach your customers directly if you take the time to understand what they want. Our recent investments in edge computing follows a similar model. Enterprise customers have told us they want to bring their applications closer to their operations. Our product expansion into global edge computing, where we are able to locate compute resources at the edge of our global network and at the doorstep of customer locations, will enable enterprises to create new applications that depend on low latency in ways that traditional cloud and network service providers have been unable to satisfy.
Always look for ways to add value—As we noted above, The Walt Disney Company is very good at understanding the needs of their customers and uses that understanding to provide additional value. From Mickey Mouse to Marvel to the Mandalorian, Disney+ delivers content to fans of all ages, while giving them an easy introduction to something else they might also like. Disney+ is also available as part of a bundle offer that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. The bundle offers a great value proposition, given the quality and breadth of content consumers will have access to across the three industry-shaping streaming services. In a similar fashion, we are adding value to our network by expanding a powerful collection of existing products, such as CDN, with additional solutions that allow companies to drive transformation. Peer-to-peer content delivery and Edge Compute represents our latest examples of this trend, as we look to service our customers wherever they need it.
Technical expertise is naturally important, but I also believe that good business partnerships are built around attitude. In his book, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” Iger offers one piece of advice that rings true to me. He wrote that “one of the most important qualities of a good leader is optimism, a pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved.” You need an optimistic point of view to earn the trust of your customers. CenturyLink embraces that idea wholeheartedly. We offer the confidence that we can help digital leaders seize the opportunities in front of them and the commitment to never stop learning the best ways we can achieve that. Because ultimately, every business deserves a storybook ending.
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