You need to innovate, but you need to stay true to your roots. You need to automate, but you need to keep close to your customers, even though they’re increasingly using a portal.
“We spend more face time with our customers than ever,” says Jerzy Szlosarek, CEO of Epsilon Telecommunications. That’s the case even though Epsilon has been busy for the past few years digitising its services and providing a portal so that customers can set up new services.
“Over the last few years we’ve been building a cloud-centric network, but simplifying the connectivity experience at the same time,” he adds. “We’re working with carriers and providers, software companies and others – and they’re all hungry for connectivity. We are integrating our networks on to a single platform, for efficiency. We call it Infiny and it provides a range of services all from a single portal interface.”
Epsilon, which is based in Singapore, is still essentially a connectivity company, he emphasises. “We are still a networking company. We still develop connectivity solutions,” he says. “We’ve got a passion for the business.”
But several years ago he saw that legacy network business was slowing down and that companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft were coming into the market. “We had to do a refresh of our business strategy two years ago.” That meant continuing to provide connectivity but at the same time become a company that connected customers to cloud services and data centres.
“We stayed true to our roots, and stayed carrier neutral,” he says. “It’s cloud that is driving the core transformation. It has opened up vast infrastructure and it can be scaled in line with customer expectations. Now we are a network company, integrated into Amazon, Google and the rest.”
Epsilon uses Juniper and Nokia technology to connect its customers, including more than 600 fixed and mobile providers with services, says Szlosarek. “There are software companies that live in the cloud and we offer them a simple way to connect. The portal is our user interface.”
But given that service provider customers are directed to a portal, Szlosarek and his colleagues are working hard to educate customers to work in this virtualised world.
“We are in year three of this transformation, and we need to help people be comfortable,” says Szlosarek, who joined Epsilon 14 years ago as CTO, and became COO in 2012 and then CEO in 2015.
“We have to translate everything to a simple experience for the customer.” And that benefits the relationship between Epsilon and its customers. “Once they are comfortable, they come to us for more services, for more connectivity,” he says. “It means we’ve moved to have more of a consultancy role, with a lot of educational possibilities.”
But he readily admits that “it’s a huge challenge”, and new issues arrive all the time. If a customer can change the services it gets via a portal, what is the legal basis of the agreement. “The legal team has to be comfortable with variable contracts and agile terms.”
The sales team has a new role, too, and “we have to be mindful of the need for an unparalleled level of support, right across the company in every department”, he adds.
Some customers worried that, with the transformation, Epsilon would start competing with them. “
One of the concerns that some customers once expressed is whether Epsilon will compete with them. No, says Szlosarek. “Now people are more comfortable. They understand that Epsilon provides a connectivity platform. But it’s been a huge challenge. We are still a networking company. We still develop connectivity solutions. We have not moved from our founding principles, but we are taking the company digital.”