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Thursday, 24 April 2014

WCA Winner's Report: Virtela - Best Customer Care 2013

In the build up to the opening of this year's World Communication Awards. We've been speaking to last year's winners to get the inside track about their winning entry. Follow our series of 'Winner's Reports' over the next few weeks.

First up; Virtela - Best Customer Care 2013.

Please summarise your winning entry.

Virtela, the leading global cloud networking company, offers an extensive suite of services – including managed networks, security, application acceleration, mobile device management and IT infrastructure management. These managed services are enabled by Virtela’s multi-carrier overlay network and Enterprise Services Cloud (ESC) platform, with Local Cloud Centers (LCCs) around the world that dynamically deliver services closest to enterprise end-users for the highest performance and lowest cost of ownership.

As a company that is driving cloud IT innovation, Virtela’s number one priority has always been, and will continue to be, its customers, which is why this past year, it created the Customer Excellence Program, bolstering its already industry-leading Customer Care Program. Based on customer and internal feedback loops and policing the processes and systems, this new quality assurance program allows Virtela to accelerate continuous improvements in how it delivers customer care.

Year after year, Virtela’s support team creates new standards for itself as well as the industry. And, each year, Virtela dramatically outperforms these service guarantees, pushing the envelope for customer care and service excellence. For example, in 2012, Virtela's support team improved the speed to answer customer calls by nearly 50 percent, answering first calls within an average of 6.4 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2011. This is just one of many dramatic improvements Virtela has made in the past year.

Virtela has been recognized globally for its proactive Customer Care Program, which is driven by its world-class support team, who customers view as an extension of their own IT team.

How do you feel your product or service differentiates from its competitors?

Virtela maintains three Global Operations Centers staffed around the clock with IT experts who proactively monitor, inspect, detect and analyze customer networks and IT infrastructure to ensure global customers experience the highest levels of uptime.  Virtela asserts no other service provider will be as highly responsive to customers’ needs - be it service quotes, service delivery, change requests, billing, or service issues. For Virtela, it doesn't matter who, what, when, where or why there's an issue, the support team goes the extra mile to resolve it, and fast. In fact, 95 percent of customer survey respondents in 2012 said they were highly satisfied or satisfied with Virtela's resolution of their issues.

What further innovations do you see in the area of your entry in 2014 and beyond?

Virtela is committed to continuous improvement and innovation in customer care. In 2014, Virtela will challenge itself to continue to outperform its already industry-leading metrics -- such as 99% of trouble tickets opened proactively, 99% of issues resolved at first call, and 95% of potential issues identified and resolved before they impact network health -- through additional automation, predictive analytics technologies, and mobility features for further enhancement of proactive support.

Want to enter the awards this year? Entries open on May 7th. Keep an eye on the website for further information -

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

7 Factors that contribute to a great place to work #BPTWAsia

There is much written about what makes a great place to work, but almost universally they agree that the key factor is engaged workers. As the votes come in for the Best Place to Work category for the 2014 Asia Communication Awards, we've looked around at what creates an environment of engaged workers.

One of the best articles I've seen on this is published by Forbes in their article How the Best Places to Work are Nailing Employee Engagement which lists 7 factors common to the best places to work:
  • They understand what employees are thinking 
  • They create an intentional culture
  • They demonstrate appreciation for contributions big and small
  • They commit to open, honest communication
  • They support career path development
  • They engage in social interactions outside work
  • They know how to communicate the organization’s stories

These elements were certainly demonstrated by last years Best Place to Work in Asia winner, Idea Cellular and by the Highly Commended runner up, Smart Communications, so are they demonstrated by your employer?

If you want your employer to be in contention, all you need to do is complete the quick survey that Total Telecom have hosted and give us your views before the 2 May 2014. Ask your colleagues to take part too, as each company needs to generate 50 responses to be considered.

The winner will be revealed at the 4th annual Asia Communication Awards in Singapore on the 19th June 2014 - it's the last night of CommunicAsia, so come along and join the party!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Interview: Dan Pitt on Network Management

Ahead of the Network Management Show 2014, we've been interviewing our speakers to get their views on the hot topics.

This week we spoke to Dan Pitt, Executive Director, Open Networking Foundation, who will be discussing 'SDN: The key to consistent, unified management of diverse networks' on Day Two of the event.

Why is network management important in the telecom industry today?

For as long as the telecom industry has existed, the network has been its main investment and its main source of revenue. Network management is just the careful stewarding of this precious resource that represents the lifeblood of the business. When properly executed, network management enables the network operator to maximize revenue at minimal cost. In the Open Networking Foundation, we work to provide network operators with much more effective tools for network management and control. Our focus on software-defined networking (SDN) directly contributes to both the minimizing of costs and the maximizing of revenue.

Where do you see most innovation happening in the network today?

The most innovative development in the network today is the value shift from hardware to software. We all agree that hardware is often the optimal solution for moving traffic through the network, but enlightened operators understand that software under their control and not running in the network hardware provides them the most flexibility for service innovation and for reduction of both opex and capex.

Is how you manage your network an opportunity for differentiation for telecom operators?

The main opportunity for differentiation for telecom operators is in the creation and offering of novel services that generate revenue and attract customers. Creative service velocity relies on a combination of capabilities: flexible but basically generic hardware in the network, operator-unique software under the control of the operator that defines customer-facing services, and network management and control technologies for directing the network hardware to behave in a manner that implements the desired services. These technologies include network monitoring to gauge the state and condition of the network, analysis and orchestration software to translate service definitions into network behaviors, and network control protocols to direct the network hardware appropriately. ONF helps define these protocols.

How do you guarantee the customer experience?

For decades, telecom service providers focused on the sole metric of network availability, often expressed as .99999 (referred to as “five nines”). That worked fine when the only telecom service was telephony. Now that telecom operators offer a wide range of services, quality of experience is an increasingly important measure of service effectiveness. Assurance of quality of experience depends on several factors. An often overlooked one involves human factors and psychology, which are tied to subscriber expectations and are highly application-specific. Probably the operator’s greatest weapon in assuring the desired customer experience is the advancement of computer science, in particular multicore computing, distributed-systems software, and virtualization, as a much greater component of the customer experience takes place in servers rather than in the network than in even the recent past. Finally, the unrelenting surge in network traffic impels the operator to do everything possible to have bandwidth available where and when an application or a service needs it. Operators can no longer afford to overprovision every link in their network or in their data centers. Among their most effective tools to avoid overprovisioning are network virtualization and SDN.

Can operators look at trends such as SDN, Big Data, and network sharing in isolation or must they consider the wider Network Management perspective?

Disruptive technologies typically take time for their deployers to learn enough about them to deploy them effectively. SDN (and probably the other technologies mentioned) represents such a dramatic change in how to even think about networks that its ultimate impact will span much more than network management. Therefore, we recommend that network operators experiment with SDN on a small scale and (as they gain expertise) apply it to their most pressing problems. Different parts of a network operator’s business will undoubtedly have different ideas of how to exploit the new technologies. For the network management team, SDN, Big Data, and network sharing will all be tools to leverage, often together, but only after they are better understood. We recommend that network operators get started right away to explore the potential benefits of SDN, as the two dozen operators who are members of SDN are already doing.

If you are interested in attending The Network Management Show you can find out more here.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Interview: Douglas Loewe on Network Management

Ahead of the Network Management Show 2014, we've been interviewing our speakers to get their views on the hot topics.
This week we spoke to Douglas Loewe, Managing Director, Interxion, who will be speaking on Day 1 of the conference on the topic of 'Connectivity and Managing Data Centres: Making Smart Cities a Reality'. Read his thoughts below.  

Why is network management important in the telecom industry today? 

As a carrier neutral data centre, we don’t operate our own network, but we do work with over 500 carriers, so we have a pretty good understanding of what works for them and their customers.
One of things our customers say they look for when picking a carrier is the ability to ensure their high value applications have excellent response times for their end users. To deliver good response times you need to have good network management, so in my view good network management is absolutely crucial for the telecom industry.    
Where do you see most innovation happening in the network today? 

I think the key innovation has to be around flexibility through things like better speed of provisioning and dynamic bandwidth. Also I think application aware networking is really interesting and something that is changing the networking landscape.    
Is how you manage your network an opportunity for differentiation for telecom operators? 

Definitely.  When enterprises come to our data centre they tend to already know which carriers they want to use and the carriers that we hear the most are usually the ones that are well managed, offer flexibility and most importantly can deliver good response times.
How do you guarantee the customer experience? 

From what I see when working with carriers, is those that offer extra layers of resilience with good capacity to handle rapid traffic growth are usually the ones that continuously deliver on customer experience.  
Can operators look at trends such as SDN, Big Data, and network sharing in isolation or must they consider the wider Network Management perspective?
I don’t think any of these can be looked at in isolation. What we are seeing is that carrier-neutral data centres are the place where operators are introducing their SDN and Big Data products first and enterprises are selecting the carriers that can support all of these services and have a integrated approach on them.   
If you are interested in attending The Network Management Show you can find out more here.