Digital organizations - Leadership, Culture, Skills

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digital organizations leadership, culture, skills

SUCCESS Move away from a culture of ‘me’ to a culture of ‘we’

digital organizations leadership, culture, skills George Szlosarek CEO, Epsilon


eorge Szlosarek, CEO at Epsilon, is one of the driving forces behind Epsilon’s digital transformation. Having co-founded one of the industry’s most nimble and disruptive network service providers 15 years ago, he is now leading his organization through the uncharted territories of the digital world. During the course of this interview, he shares his view on what is required to successfully transform service providers’ organizations into a lean and agile operation, which not only masters innovation, and business insight, but more importantly, which is obsessed with customer satisfaction. Prepare for the digital storm, as it is already here!



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Why do you think organizational transformation is so important in our industry at the moment? In the last 5 years, our society has changed considerably, partly due to the introduction of IP, mobile, OTTs, cloud and applications. As a result, our customers’ expectations are now all about on-demand, real-time consumable networks. The cloud has changed the way they view infrastructure spending and deployments, and they now want instant access to connectivity. Customers are also looking for new consumption models, which mirror scalability and agility of the cloud services they support. For example, they seek application and integrated usage models, which give them a seamless, automated and highly adaptable experience. To deliver this type of agile experience, we must re-imagine the way we not only interact with our customers, but more importantly, how we can deliver it. We must therefore re-invent the way we develop new ideas, innovate and create solutions. Additionally, the need to integrate the application and the network, into a common experience, creates the necessity for a very different type of organization. One that works more collaboratively and much more closely together. As a result, organization transformation is at the heart of our future success.

What does a successful organization

transformation journey look like? There is no magic formula for success. A company’s transformation program is a time intensive investment, as it entails the reeducation of all involved in the organization. It requires a complete re-rethink of the way we do business. To achieve this, the transformation must start at the top. Companies must be spearheaded by a focused and aligned leadership team that can drive innovation and foster a culture that allows failure. They must foster people to try new ideas that may not always succeed. Then, we must recognize that the customer is at the heart of our transformation. We must understand that the transformation we are going through and the innovative solutions we are launching are only there to enable us to better serve them. Consequently, each and every individual in the organization must own the customer and be assessed as such. In addition, to create a seamless end-to-end solution, many inter-dependencies must now exist across multiple teams, and this needs to be coordinated more tightly and smoothly than ever before. We must therefore move away from a culture of ‘me’ to a culture of ‘we’. Which means changing the culture of the organization towards collaboration and team success. Finally, the vision and plan needs to be communicated clearly across the organization and we must have the full commitment of all the employees towards this transformation journey. As all need to work towards the same direction, as such an all-encompassing



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transformation cannot be achieved in isolation by a small group of individuals. It requires the buy-in of the whole company. NEW SKILLS, NEW MENTALITY

Do you think it is realistic to achieve a successful digital transformation with the current skill and types of people we find in our industry? Of course, we will need to hire bright talents and get people in from new markets, with software and DevOps background from adjacent segments. So, yes we definitely need to grow our talent pool. Obviously, these people will not want or be able to work on our traditional business. They will want to focus on the more creative and innovative solutions. In addition, as we start selling solutions and less telecom circuits in a traditional way, the sales team will have to evolve considerably. It will be more a consultative sale, which will involve educating our customers in some instances. Not all sales people will feel comfortable to embrace this new type of selling, but it is an important shift that must happen to drive up the level of the overall service experience. Something similar applies to the engineering team. The engineers of tomorrow will need to configure APIs, deliver service orchestration and dive deeper into the analytics of the network. At Epsilon, we are in the midst of providing the necessary skills to our people to empower them to deal with this new virtualized, cloud, software environment.



Naturally, some will be outside of their comfort zone and will themselves move on to other companies who suite their capabilities better. That is a natural and necessary evolution. Not an easy one, but one that cannot be prevented, as the clock is ticking. THE EPSILON ORGANIZATION TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY

What have you achieved so far at Epsilon when it comes to organization transformation? We are in the execution phase at the moment. Three years ago, we were an interconnect company, with 100% of our revenue coming from wholesalers. A lot of our business was based on legacy services. We therefore spent the bulk of 2016 planning our transformation and that was very tough, but we are now in the second phase of our journey. We started by asking hard questions about not only what we were really good at, but more importantly, about what we needed to change. We had to be critical of ourselves and in some way, transparent, to really understand what had to be transformed. Then we considered the evolution of our customers, both in terms of their current and future needs. We also spent time on the road to determine the new breed of customers the company should seek in the longer term – who the future market will be, what they will require and how they will grow. To address these opportunities, while solving our issues, we had all sorts of challenges to

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deal with, from product portfolio, to processes and roadmap. We then spent most of 2017 developing the Infiny platform, which will empower us to address not only our current customers’ evolving needs, but also to address new markets. As the plan evolved, it also became clear that not all the right skills were in place in the company and so new recruits, in the network, systems

and sales teams became a key success factor. We also had to educate our channels to make sure our culture and processes were aligned. It is a huge challenge, as it involves the entire organization. It will also mean that we will often have to be strong and stay committed to our plan to ensure that we keep on track to move our business towards a digital, self-serve, realtime connectivity provider model. Not a small feat!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Isabelle Paradis President HOT TELECOM

Isabelle is President and Founder of HOT TELECOM, one of the most innovative and creative telecom research and consulting companies in the industry. More recently, Isabelle has been working with many of the world’s telecom service providers to help them define their transformation strategy. She has published several articles and reports on the subject and has spoken at numerous conferences around the world to share her views on the future of the international telecoms business.