A new language: Danny Bottoms

Danny Bottoms was appointed president and CEO of GTS Central Europe in January. He explains the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The challenges in business around the world are more alike than they are dissimilar: it’s all about leadership and the ability to make decisions, to be clear and communicate. But these things are particularly important in a multicultural environment. Here at GTS, which operates across five different countries, each with its own language and culture, bringing that together into a pan-regional network is a challenge: but it’s the kind of challenge I enjoy.

Each country is different, but most surprising to me was the amount of competition I found here. Competition is very robust in virtually every one of these countries, especially between mobile and fixed-line providers. There are two, three or four mobile providers in each country, and because these are smaller markets and the penetration levels are high – 140% in some areas – these mobile operators have been taking shares from each other but they are struggling to grow. Mobile operators are bundling services in order to take share from fixed-line services: that’s a competitive dimension which I didn’t even know existed.

I think what makes GTS unique amongst many of its smaller competitors is that we have a very deep network: we have a lot of fibre and a collection of about a dozen data centres through the region. When we recently bought the Sitel Data Centre, we established and rebranded it as a separate company, CE Colo. What has really made it different was the fact that it was carrier neutral, which we think is missing on a pan-regional basis in the CEE region. We’re taking our existing data centres and in effect creating a business unit that will be neutral in focus. Traditionally, the data centre was ancillary to our telecoms business. Now, we’re putting data centre-associated products and services right out front. If you compare western Europe to central and eastern Europe, the supply of data centre space is in a ratio of about 10 to 1. There’s absolutely an undersupply of data centre services here, so it’s a real opportunity for our business to expand. It’s all about being able to move content and applications closer to their users.

When you take five different companies and try to create one, that understandably takes a lot of management bandwidth. You’re rolling out new systems; you’re doing a lot of things to make everyone sing from the same songsheet.

Right now, though, I’ve got an easy job to do and on the surface it sounds simple: we’ve got to focus on our customers. You hear that a lot in business, I know. But we’re big enough that we have scale, and sometimes it’s easy for companies of our size to forget what really matters, which is the folks that are paying for your services every month. My aim is to simplify, and get more people facing outward instead of inward.

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