Arc3® Gases has
500 employees and 52 retail locations in the Southeastern United States where it
sells a range of welding supplies and industrial gases to restaurant chains,
medical facilities and entertainment venues. By all measures, family-owned Arc3 Gases is thriving due in large part to
experienced leadership and a laser focus on customer service.
There are scores
of mid-sized entrepreneurial businesses like Arc3 that succeed due to the hard work
of their owners and employees. What often gets overlooked in these success
stories, however, is the technology that helped get them there. Conventional
wisdom says that small and mid-market companies are slow to adopt new
technologies due to lack of experienced personnel, limited capital, and resistance
to innovation. The perception is that smaller businesses tend to be years
behind large enterprises in adopting new technologies such as SD-WAN.
However, as Arc3 and others like them are
doesn’t always match reality. In many cases, we are finding that these small
and mid-sized companies, not massive enterprises, are the ones at the bleeding edge
of today’s telecom revolution.
Leading the telecom revolution
market adoption of major telecom shifts—say from Frame Relay to MPLS—was driven by enterprise-level companies that needed to create global, reliable connectivity, managed centrally at vast NOC-like hubs. As network-driven business processes like online commerce, ubiquitous e-mail, 24×7 customer communications and global supply chains became mission critical to enterprise functionality, connecting thousands of people was a convoluted task. Not to mention, one that drained resources through rising costs, increased complexity and skyrocketing customer expectations. Enterprises were demanding cheaper, simpler and more reliable network services just to ensure their massive businesses could function. Innovation ruled the day, and the faster an enterprise could adapt to the newer technology, the more agile and competitive
it become in the rapidly globalizing marketplace.
Navigating an app-driven world
technology was becoming tightly integrated into enterprise business functions,
a new generation of technology was coming online—mainly “app-driven”
technology. Spurred by their smartphones, consumers started using apps for
everything from managing a soccer team to tracking packages. Consumers became
accustomed and demanded the simplicity of an app to interact, manage and
conduct their “business.”
consumerization of technology easily translated into small and mid-sized
businesses, where smaller staffs quickly adopted intuitive, consumer‑like applications. For instance, it doesn’t take an experienced network manager to provision an email account and a phone extension for a new employee. Instead, any office manager can easily set one up through web-enabled interfaces. Likewise, it doesn’t take a full e‑commerce network to accept credit cards. Instead small business snap-up Square devices and, presto, they can expand their markets exponentially. Small businesses have been quick to adopt simple, manageable technology that improves business functions because of its ease-of-use and consumer-like interfaces.
Innovating with the times
Enterprises are now
wrestling with a telecom transition again. Rather than making the pivot to
innovative technologies like SD-WAN and unified communications, many are standing pat with their
technology investments from 15 years ago.
As I discuss in a
recent podcast with Light Reading, the value proposition for SD-WAN is
unquestionable, but it’s been slow to make inroads with enterprises and some
network service providers because they are concerned about abandoning legacy technology:
its certainty, its functionality, and its cost. This is understandable; enterprises
are usually risk-averse, and complex global network operations cannot be managed
by a simple smartphone app.
However, much like in the days when traditional landline phone providers resisted wireless phones as competition, we need to recognize the future when it’s staring us in the face. Just as mobile phones were driven by consumers, we can clearly see software-based telecommunications will eventually replace today’s legacy systems, and that’s one of the reasons Windstream Enterprise is not just committed to innovative technologies like SD-WAN but is leading the industry in their deployment. For all the benefits it brings in terms of simplicity, cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency, the consumerization of technology is a trend that businesses of all sizes should embrace.
Layne Levine is president of Windstream Enterprise & Wholesale. He is responsible for overseeing sales, financial performance, marketing, field technicians, service delivery and customer care and repair for the company’s enterprise, mid-market/commercial markets and wholesale segments. He also oversees the company’s channel program, including Value-Added Resellers (VARs), agents, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and system integrators.
Levine has worked in the telecom industry for more than 25 years, most recently as chief revenue officer at GTT, which provides cloud networking services to multinational customers. In that role, Levine led the company’s revenue growth initiatives worldwide, targeting global carriers and multinational enterprises and developing its emerging channel strategy. Previously he was the executive vice president for GTT’s Americas division, managing the sales and customer operations efforts for North and South America.
Prior to joining GTT, Levine was senior vice president of sales at Alpheus Communications. Before that he was senior vice president of retail sales for Deltacom/EarthLink. Levine also has held leadership positions at Airband Communications, Level 3 Communications and Broadwing Communications.
Levine has a Bachelor of Arts from Texas Tech University.
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