Why services from big telcos aren't keeping up with business needs [Q&A]
The needs of enterprises have changed radically in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic and the move towards remote and hybrid workplaces, as well as a move towards more online commerce have all brought more dependence on the internet and communications.
Matt Carter, CEO of Aryaka, believes that the giants of the telecommunications industry, 'Big Telco', have failed to keep up with these trends. We spoke to him to find out why and what needs to change.
BN: Why is Big Telco no longer able to support the needs of modern enterprises?
MC: Big Telco, like Big Oil, Big Pharma, and even Big Tech, has been operating a certain way for many, many years, creating a system that makes it nearly impossible for it to change in a meaningful way -- at least in the near term. And, because its customers are stuck in rigid contracts and have become accustomed to the status quo of accepting a sub-optimal product and experience, change is highly unlikely. The only chance that this happens is if customers start leaving en masse to alternative options.
Today's modern enterprise requires a partner that is agile and can move at the speed of business, which has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. Big Telco simply can't keep up with this pace and has no interest in doing so. On top of that, with enterprises moving more data and information to the cloud, security has become a major issue they haven't effectively solved yet. Converging network and security is becoming a must for businesses and, if history tells us anything, we can expect the big players to drag their heels on this for as long as it possibly can. Ultimately, their goal is to maximize revenue by remaining the same, regardless of what customers want and need to succeed. With the customer voice growing in prominence in recent years, we do foresee a big industry shift happening soon.
BN: What's the number one lesson you learned from your time in the telco industry and how does it impact your current role?
MC: As someone who worked in the telco industry for several years, I learned a lot about what made it a successful industry, as well as where things could be improved. The biggest takeaway for me was that customers were consistently getting the short end of the straw, and there was a clear gap to be filled. This is why I joined Aryaka, and why I was so excited about the opportunity to take this company to the next level. It was clear to me that if we put customers at the center of everything we did, and they were the driving force behind our innovation and resources, we would have a product and service that directly attacked the area where Big Telco was weakest.
I understood that customers needed a true partner that evolved with their needs and provided the flexibility that others refused to offer. We're proud to say that our investment in our customers is paying off, as we've grown consistently over the last few years.
With recognition from Gartner as a Peer Insights Customers' Choice in 2020, 2021, and 2022, as well as an industry-leading Net Promoter Score that's nearly 5x the industry average, we also have confirmation from our customers that our efforts are positively impacting their businesses.
BN: What are the top three challenges modern enterprises are facing and how can these be addressed?
MC: The top three challenges we're seeing from our customers and prospects are related to digital transformation, an increase in cybersecurity threats, and a labor shortage and skills gap. CIOs and IT leaders are increasingly being tasked with transforming their organizations and facing several hurdles throughout the process, including keeping their businesses up and running during the migration. In many cases, enterprises are being asked to destroy their existing systems, which is a huge investment of time and money. From Aryaka's standpoint, we're addressing this issue by helping customers through their journeys one step at a time, so they can gradually move things forward and maintain business continuity.
When it comes to increasing cybersecurity threats, Aryaka is helping customers by converging network and security and applying Zero Trust principles to the WAN without sacrificing application performance. Over time, it’s become increasingly important to be able to control both connectivity and security, and several vendors lose sight of this by proposing only half of the SASE equation, typically SSE. True, Unified SASE continues to grow in demand as more enterprises move to hybrid work and need to be protected, no matter where employees are working from and which devices they're using to connect to the network.
As it relates to the labor shortage and skills gap, Aryaka becomes a real extension of the IT team with a co-managed SASE solution that allows IT leaders to focus on core responsibilities, enabling them to think more strategically about their businesses. We see this co-managed approach becoming even more popular over time as expectations for higher production continue to grow, despite shrinking teams and budgets.
BN: Why do modern enterprises ultimately stick with solutions that are ineffective?
MC: With the way business has changed so rapidly, enterprises sometimes fall into the trap of 'doing things the way they always have' because it seems like the safest choice. You also have the situation where a business is stuck in a long-term contract and the idea of making a change is too daunting to even consider, so they cross their fingers and hope for the best. For a while, enterprises could get away with conducting business this way, but that’s quickly shifting.
Today, the modern enterprise that treads water -- especially when things are going well -- is sure to drown when the next disruption, such as Covid, hits. Enterprises need to be in a constant state of evolution or transformation unless they want to go extinct. The flawed thinking we've seen from many CIOs and IT leaders is that Covid was the exception rather than the rule. The reality is that Covid was a wake-up call for businesses to defy convention now before it's too late. The ones that have taken this lesson to heart are set up for future success, while the ones that haven't will continue to struggle.
BN: How are you meeting customers to help them through their digital transformation journeys?
MC: One of the common complaints we were hearing from prospects was that they felt stuck in their current situations because they weren't willing to replace their existing systems to make way for something new. That was unfortunate to hear because we realized how many businesses were settling for a service that didn't actually serve their needs. At the same time, this provided an opportunity for us to help address this issue, so we developed a flexible architecture. This allows us to meet customers wherever they are in their digital transformation journeys and help them move from a legacy architecture to a modern SD-WAN built for the cloud, step-by-step. This offering provides many enterprises much-needed relief and an option to modernize their businesses in a way they didn’t think was possible.
All businesses find themselves in different parts of the digital transformation journey, so if you're only providing a one-size-fits-all approach, you're going to miss out on a large portion of the market, or you're going to find yourself with a lot of frustrated customers.