Digital transformation within enterprise provides a huge opportunity for telcos

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Mike Zirkle, Verizon's executive director of transformation, says telcos must be responsive to the needs of major corporate customers as they adapt to a shifting geopolitical landscape

It’s not only telecoms operators that are facing the challenge of transformation. So are their corporate customers. And that transformation affects the services multinational companies want from the big telecoms service providers – or are likely to want in the future.

That’s why, when Mike Zirkle says his job title is executive director of transformation at Verizon, he’s quick to point out he’s not leading Verizon’s advance into the era of virtualisation, software-defined networks and 5G.

“What we mean when we talk about ‘transformation’ is the adaptive enterprise,” says Zirkle. “We’re not crossing boundaries with product and marketing, but we are concerned about how we think customers will want to contract and build their services in the future.”

He’s looking not at the next quarter or the next year, but he has “multiple time horizons”, he says, adding: “I’m focused on large national and regional customers. I’m really focused on the enterprise customer base. How is HSBC going to change?” He quickly adds the footnote that he’s not specifically talking about HSBC, but he’s using the global bank as an example of the sort of organisation he has to work with and think about.

“Multinational companies are shifting. The geopolitical landscape is forcing relocation. Some are pausing and re-evaluating.”

Changing needs

Enterprises are not like consumers, which churn from one provider to another after a year or two. The relationship between a multinational corporation and its telecoms partner goes on for years – but that means the telco has to adapt to the corporation’s changing needs.

“We have to be able to respond to how customers want to react to us,” says Zirkle. “We want to offer a single standard [or services] globally, but we need to be flexible according to what the customer wants.”

But many of the same needs apply in the world of enterprise telecoms as in consumer telecoms. “We’re starting from customer experience, looking at our processes first,” says Zirkle. A consumer-focused executive from Orange or Vodafone – or indeed Verizon Wireless – might use exactly the same expression.

The full interview with Verizon's Mike Zirkle will be published in 153 of Global Telecoms Business, which will be published on 30 July.