CIO Perspective – Driving Business Efficiency and Enabling Scale

Equinix CIO Milind Wagle looks at how digital transformation is helping CIOs grow and scale their businesses

In this era of rapid digital transformation, most CIOs are continuously exploring opportunities to enable revenue growth and optimize operating costs for their companies. Equinix has demonstrated a 20-year record of continuous growth. Even though we have had a great track record of success, we will continue to focus on driving top-line growth while finding innovative ways to leverage technological solutions to enable growth and scale.

While there are many ways that CIOs and their IT partners can achieve growth and scale, there are three approaches that I’ve seen work particularly well:

  • Transform and simplify business processes and policiesAn industry-accepted philosophy says that every time your company’s revenues double, it’s often time to refresh your internal business processes and systems. IT organizations typically have visibility into all corporate end-to-end processes, including touchpoints in all customer and employee life cycles. It’s critical for IT to develop effective partnerships with its business functions and co-lead business process and technology transformation programs. It’s equally important to filter all process and policy design transformation decisions through the lens of customer and employee experiences. Adopting a “put yourself in the customer’s shoes” mindset helps ensure a positive customer-centric outcome.

 

  • Drive technology standardization and automation – Our philosophy at Equinix has been to adopt a “best of platform” versus a “best of breed” approach when it comes to selecting technology. This approach enables IT practitioners to scale business and operational processes with speed, data quality, and the ability to standardize our business capabilities globally. Using the power of global standardization and platforms allows the IT organization to continuously enhance and automate processes, and deploy new capabilities rapidly to our global workforce. This means the IT organization is in a strategic position to implement business value faster and more effectively.

 

  • Develop a location and talent strategy for IT service deliveryWe live in a world that is undergoing massive technology shifts every day. Understanding these evolving trends in technology and the corresponding implications to the technology talent market is critical to prepare for future growth. A periodic review of your IT service-delivery model to assess IT talent needs and sourcing strategies are imperative to help you plan for the realities of the future. Once you understand your future requirements, it’s a good idea to develop a sourcing and location strategy to fulfill those talent needs. For some emerging skillsets, you may want to grow your own internal talent pool either through skillset retooling or investing in a new-to-career talent development program. By developing a multi-year workforce strategy for IT service delivery, you’ll be able to scale effectively to support the needs of your evolving business for years to come.

 

What Equinix is doing to drive greater efficiency and growth

By keeping these three approaches in mind, we’ve deployed some very successful initiatives across Equinix that have accelerated our efficiency and growth:
 

  • Business policy and process simplification – We have a Global Customer Process (GCP) organization that partners with Global IT to deliver continuous process transformation and policy improvements. Our Global Process Owners (GPOs) shepherd process transformation initiatives. Those that deliver a positive impact on both customer experience and operational efficiencies become our top priorities. For example, our teams have taken a holistic look at our end-to-end quoting, ordering and fulfillment processes and policies. The objective? Radical simplification. The result? Faster delivery of quotes and orders to our customers.

 

  • Global standardization – Driving global standardization of technologies and platforms is helping us reduce costs, work faster and become more efficient. Here are some examples of what we’ve achieved:
    • We’ve reduced the number of video-meeting collaboration platforms in our enterprise to one from as many as five. This has enabled us to interact and share information consistently as a global company. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve deployed our new platform to nearly 7,600 users and are seeing 98% customer satisfaction. This platform currently supports about 250,000 meeting minutes per day and recently exceeded six million total usage minutes in one month. The standardization of technology is not only changing the way people collaborate, it’s realized significant cost savings for us. In addition, going with one standard tool globally has helped improve our employee experience.
      • We now have globally standardized processes and supporting enterprise applications across 24 countries in which we do business. This standardization is accelerating our merger and acquisition (M&A) integrations. For example, when Equinix acquired 29 Verizon data centers in May 2017, we were able to integrate employees and business processes in six months, rather than the 18 to 24 months timeline which is an industry average.
      • Another example is our global enterprise network (GEN). We operate the GEN network across 200 data centers around the world. Standardizing on a common set of infrastructure standards for GEN has enabled us to support the infrastructure more efficiently. Now, we can monitor, support, secure, collect and report information on our global network more effectively, as well as deliver a more consistent employee experience, no matter where they are in the world.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) – Partnering with leaders from various business functions, we have launched a RPA program to eliminate manual effort and go after process automation opportunities. We have identified opportunities where RPA can help us automate processes that are largely repetitive. This translates to time given back to our employees allowing them to do higher-value work. In less than a year since launch, our RPA program has had some key accomplishments:
    • In the marketing space, we have automated the generation of customer-specific sales insights and executive presentations that were previously created from disparate data sources and manual processing. This collateral, which was originally only available upon request from the Marketing team and was produced through large amounts of manual effort, is now readily available on-demand for our sales team. This has enabled them to better engage their customers and prospects, providing real value for our business. Between the scale-enablement and time savings, the marketing team has eliminated more than 700 hours of manual processing per month.
    • For our finance teams, we have automated processes that were previously labor-intensive, such as generating reports and automating steps in the financial period end process and exchange rates processing, saving the finance team over 100 hours a month. Some of that time will be returned to the business users to focus on other critical month-end activities, thus helping to shorten our financial close processes. We have also enabled our finance team to self-serve and build simpler automation processes on their own. Expanding this approach with other business functions will allow us to scale RPA more effectively.
    • In the customer service area, we are exploring opportunities to support our customers faster and better. We are working on automating the processing of incoming customer email requests for simple tasks, such as data center visit requests and certain order types. We have developed solutions that use a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and RPA to eliminate several manual steps in the process. This also gives our service desk agents time to focus on higher-value customer interactions, while our RPA bots handle the higher-volume routine requests. Our current projections predict a savings of over 500 hours a month for the service desk team.

At Equinix, we will continue to explore areas where IT can add significant business value every day and, as a result, fuel more growth for the company. A strong partnership and close collaboration with our business stakeholders in exploring our opportunities for creating impact for our company has been very rewarding for the entire IT team. We strive to build a better future for our company and our customers through this strong partnership.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss another priority that is front and center for every CIO in every industry: making cybersecurity stronger. In the meantime, check out our Platform Equinix Vision paper.

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