SmartCIC: Working smarter

SmartCIC: Working smarter

30 September 2020 | Sponsored Q&A

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SmartCIC Managing Director, Toby Forman, on working smarter, how it is adapting to demands driven by the global pandemic, future trends and the company’s upcoming initiatives.

Q. How is SmartCIC coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Like everyone, the pandemic has presented us with several challenges, not least how we could open our new service centre in Barcelona during the tail end of the lockdown in Spain!  I have to say that fundamentally, the flexibility and agility we have built into our business has allowed us to successfully navigate the changing business landscape.  We began our detailed COVID contingency planning at the beginning of January and provided regular operational updates to customers, consequently when lock downs began to occur, we were prepared, and business continuity was unaffected.

We have focussed our efforts in supporting our customers through flexible solutions such as 4G circuits or on-site engineers to support critical industries throughout the pandemic and continue to do so.

What is clear is that we could not have done this without the support and dedication of our team including our partners.  Even through the tightest periods of lockdown their collective commitment to customer service meant that we continued to deliver for our customers.

Q. What do you believe makes SmartCIC different?

Simply we believe we work smarter.  Working smarter for us means being truly customer centric.  I do not come from a traditional telecoms background and neither have most of my senior team.  I have deliberately used that different experience and diversity to build an agile vehicle that allows us to focus on our customers’ needs and react in real time.  All our teams can change direction and realign resources to focus on changing circumstances to ensure we deliver for our customers.  Some of that agility comes from non-standard or out of the box thinking, some from a flexible supply chain.

It is this strategy that has allowed us to successfully deliver large complex projects, whether connectivity or field services.  A good example would be a current project where we are delivering deployment and maintenance services for a large European discount retailer on behalf of Telefonica.  The feedback we have received from the team at Telefonica is that we are consistently outperforming other partners and, in some cases, setting the benchmarks.  We also have used this approach to our advantage when we were faced with the challenge of delivering a large SD-WAN project for EuroGarages during the lock-down.  We managed to deliver circuits and provide demarcation extensions during its tightest phases.

Q. What are your views on the latest trends in telecoms?

As a non-core provider, perhaps our perspective is somewhat skewed, but we certainly see an accelerated move away from costly legacy networks many of which extensively use MPLS.  Whilst this was certainly the case prior to COVID it is increasing more as a direct result of the pandemic.  We see a broad base of customers across several sectors looking for more flexible solutions that can be deployed quickly and can also be terminated or moved if necessary. 

A lot of this demand is focused on internet or mobile circuits and we see our SmartCloud connect platform as being a key enabler of this evolution.  SmartCloud Connect is a middle mile solution that allows customers to benefit from any internet-based tail, whether fixed or mobile, and then removes the unpredictability of international internet transit and peering via our flexible managed backbone. 

The increased reliance of mobile internet due to the pandemic I believe will continue to spill over into the mainstream as customers begin to see that these solutions can support complex requirements.  For example, we have already extensively tested voice over 4G in an enterprise environment with a major telecoms operator with positive results.

Q. What is your vision of SmartCIC into 2021?

Clearly the pandemic and its effects will be with us for some time.  I think we are only just beginning to see the economic impact on sectors such as retail which have already been subject to substantial change even before COVID-19.  Essentially, we will continue to work smarter to support our customers and exploit opportunities that others may not be able to through our agility and flexibility.

Products such as rapid 4G services to support mobile workers and popup locations and our SmartCloud technology platform, I believe, will become increasingly key to supporting our customers’ needs in the future.

From a corporate perspective our development strategy is based on two core strands.  Firstly, we’ve identified a need to expand our corporate structure in key markets to take advantage of regulatory restrictions to gain access to better services and we are looking at the US and Asia in particular to add to our presences in Europe.

The second strand relates around the development and support of our core technology platforms.  Our objective is to continue to open PoPs in the US and Asia to provide our customers access to our SmartCloud Connect platform.  We believe that the internet will continue to play a significant role in corporate WAN solutions.  Our approach harnesses that flexibility and cost benefit and combines it with a quality assured backbone to deliver truly robust enterprise internet solutions for our customers.

All in all, 2021 will be a challenging year, in some respects perhaps more challenging than 2020, but I firmly believe that we have the people, partners, approach and dedication to adapt to rapidly evolving situations.