Q&A with Ljubica Draskic, new Head of Sales and Business Development at SmartCIC

19 January 2021 | Staff Writer

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Ljubica Draskic, new Head of Sales and Business Development at SmartCIC, talks to Capacity Media about her new role, what inspired her to move to a smaller more agile provider and her thoughts on the market in 2021.

Why did you decide to change from working for a big service provider to a successful, but much smaller, company?

Generally speaking, I have seen that big service providers do not adapt quickly to market changes, especially if they have a certain monopoly in the market.

Throughout my career, I have enjoyed the challenge of taking a company that is small, with potential, and helping it to grow for the benefit of the company and customers alike. I have done this in previous roles with Ascend before it was acquired by Lucent, with Huawei when it first came to Europe, Interoute before it was acquired by GTT, and my time with Linx Telecom before it was acquired by Citic Telecom.

Successful companies recognise that by enabling their customers to become more successful it is their own route to success.  Being part of that process is extremely satisfying and something I am looking forward to in my new role with SmartCIC.

What advantages do you see in working for a smaller company?

What attracted me to SmartCIC was the flexibility, agility, and eagerness to provide a good service and the creativity that comes with constantly thinking how services can be improved and how work can be done in a smarter way.

As a smaller business supporting larger customers, they can provide the agility and flexibility that they lack. SmartCIC deliver that through the way in which the company is structured, its focus on customer needs and teams’ ability to react in real-time to changing requirements. This element was particularly attractive to me, because it means I am able to take advantage of opportunities to deliver bespoke solutions for customers in a way I was not able to in my previous role.

What makes SmartCIC different from other solution providers?

What interested me was their “one-stop-shop” approach to providing services for enterprise MSPs and carriers. The combination of connectivity, field services and now cloud services allows them to offer a true ‘cookie cutter’ approach for customers as well as allowing them to cherry pick the services that they require to deliver a project. It is clear to me from their client list that this is an attractive proposition, and I will be looking to build on that.

What are SmartCIC’s aims and plans?

From a commercial perspective, our objective this year is to continue to build out and strengthen our capabilities to support customers in different regions. For example, we are already in discussions with customers to expand our smart cloud connect solution to the US. Our strategy is to see where we can add value through our agility and flexibility and leverage that with enterprise and carriers alike.

Corporately, we will continue our strategy of incorporating in jurisdictions that provide us with better access to markets to support customers and on this basis. We have plans to open an office in the US in our Q2 and Asia in Q4.

How are markets changing and how can the industry adapt to these changes?

In my opinion, there has been an increased demand in ICT services since the crisis began especially in relation to colocation, hosting, security, and unified communications. 

This accelerated take-up, which I believe will continue throughout 2021 and beyond is due to businesses adopting and becoming accustomed to new models of working and planning for improved business continuity in the future.  I believe that one of the best ways for the major players to react to these changes is to move away from in-house development and form dynamic and agile partnerships with trusted partners to drive those services.  By implementing this type of strategy carriers can move to market quicker and therefore take advantage of rapidly changing customer requirements. 

What sort of telecom services are enterprises looking for?

Enterprise customers are looking for partners that that will effectively manage their network and the multiple suppliers that are required now as hybridisation continues to develop in the market.

These needs can be best provided for by agile, One-stop-shop providers such as SmartCIC who will take care of their needs from purchasing to installation, delivery, support, making sure there are cost effective solutions and the required cost savings are achieved.

Do you believe there is synergy between service providers and system integrators?

I do believe that the potential for real synergy is there, however I think that currently there is a certain level of unnecessary competition between service providers and system integrators that inhibits this.

SmartCIC is a good example how synergy can exist by serving its carrier customers more effectively by complementing service providers services to their end users.  SmartCIC, by being smart in this way can provide services in the countries that carriers do not have coverage for their worldwide projects.

What is the future for the carrier business?

One of the major issues facing the carrier business, as I see it, is that customers are increasingly of the opinion that their core offerings have become commoditised.  Technologies such as SD-WAN and SDN are driving this perception.  I believe carriers need to work strategically to develop their managed services to demonstrate the value that they can add, if not, the risk is MSPs will increase their market share.