THE BIG IN­TER­VIEW

Eric Ce­vis is pres­i­dent of Ver­i­zon Part­ner So­lu­tions and was an early Ver­i­zon em­ployee. He talks to Bill Boyle about prepa­ra­tion, ex­e­cu­tion and the fu­ture

Capacity - - Contents -

Eric Ce­vis, pres­i­dent of Ver­i­zon Part­ner So­lu­tions on trans­for­ma­tion

Eric Ce­vis is the ebul­lient pres­i­dent of Ver­i­zon Part­ner So­lu­tions. He is re­spon­si­ble for do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional whole­sale strat­egy, in­clud­ing mar­ket­ing, sales, cus­tomers and whole­sale busi­ness op­er­a­tions on be­half of the com­pany’s voice and data net­work. Prior to this role Ce­vis served as vice-pres­i­dent of sales for the Amer­i­can re­gion within Ver­i­zon Global Whole­sale, where his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­cluded sales and ac­count man­age­ment func­tions for a va­ri­ety of whole­sale cus­tomers in Canada, Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean and South Amer­i­can re­gions.

For a man who has been in the driv­ing seat for two years now he is still enor­mously en­thu­si­as­tic about what he is do­ing and what the out­look for the fu­ture looks like. And his for­mula for suc­cess is the same one he’s been en­thus­ing since the last time he spoke to us, shortly af­ter he took over – part­ner­ships and what he calls: “Bend­ing the curve of the sus­tain­able growth strat­egy. We must have sus­tain­able growth – in these days of slow­ing growth we have to find and build our busi­nesses on stable pil­lars that will help fu­ture growth.” Ce­vis is noth­ing not con­sis­tent. When we last talked to Ce­vis, he told us: “We in Ver­i­zon Global Whole­sale will need to be about sus­tain­able growth, so as cus­tomers grow we can grow with them.” White la­belling of ser­vices — not just cloud — will be an in­creas­ingly sig­nif­i­cant of­fer. “I be­lieve in op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence — de­liv­er­ing ser­vices to cus­tomers when they want them de­liv­ered.” So how far has he got with this strat­egy?

“The first pil­lar of ex­cel­lence we had to es­tab­lish was that we had to go af­ter ev­ery op­por­tu­ni­tiy for sus­tain­able growth,” Ce­vis made this his, and his staff’s, mantra as he knew he had to slow the rev­enues losses – and he has seen a great im­prove­ment. “Growth with­out sus­tain­abil­ity is just not worth it in the long-term. We must have a dis­tri­bu­tion strat­egy that has real prod­uct ca­pa­bil­ity and if we want to keep that sus­tain­able growth we need to get on board even more part­ners hence our change of name to Ver­i­zon plat­form so­lu­tions – these pro­cesses are not ones we can im­pose from the out­side. We have to work with our if cus­tomers on their road maps but we also want their opin­ions on ours.”

Ce­vis says: “I re­ally be­lieve that we have the best global IP net­work in the world and I’m very proud of that - but how do we add to the con­nec­tiv­ity layer – and im­prove the best IP net­work in the world?” The an­swer is to be as re­lent­less as Eric.

Where digi­ti­sa­tion is go­ing

Ce­vis says that the sec­ond pil­lar of ex­cel­lence is dis­tri­bu­tion strat­egy and prod­uct ca­pa­bil­ity. “We need to be con­stantly in a process of tech­nol­ogy re­fresh. For our clients and part­ners it im­por­tant to work with them on our ex­ist­ing projects ser­vices but also work­ing with them on our joint so­lu­tions for trans­for­ma­tion – how do we fa­cil­i­tate the trans­for­ma­tion which is tak­ing place from TDM to IP? How should they be in­volved – how can we get their di­rect in­put?

“We want to be the fa­cil­i­ta­tor of the very best tech­ni­cal re­fresh and pro­vide an ap­pre­cia­ble level of qual­ity in the new ex­pe­ri­ence from the first sys­tem tri­alled to the best sys­tem used.” is

The third pil­lar of ex­cel­lence is tech­nol­ogy re­fresh. “We are work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with our part­ners on our road map as we move from net­work part of stack to the new soft­ware-driven model.”

Ce­vis adds: “I’ve formed a team which con­cen­trates on keep­ing us the best net­work in the world – the ques­tion is how do we add value to the con­nec­tiv­ity of that im­prov­ing net­work?

“The fourth pil­lar of our method­ol­ogy op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence,” Ce­vis ex­plains - “make sure we are giv­ing a great cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence whether that is mean time to re­pair or in­stal­la­tion in­ter­vals. A seem­ingly sim­ple ben­e­fit such as a de­crease in re­pair in­ter­vals can make a big dif­fer­ence to ma­jor cus­tomers. I’ve seen noth­ing but progress in the two years I’ve been in charge and be­lieve me, in my thirty years I’ve seen big tran­si­tions – from dial tone to lever­ag­ing the net­work as a value add – but the ex­cit­ing thing is that the best in­no­va­tions are still to come, down the line. That ex­cit­ing fu­ture keeps me mov­ing for­ward.

“When I started, ba­sic dial tone ser­vices were the ma­jor­ity of my work – that is not is the case now,” he adds. Ce­vis has been con­cen­trat­ing on stand­ing six or­gan­i­sa­tional cen­tres of ex­cel­lence atop his four foun­da­tion pil­lars us­ing the very bright­est minds in Ver­i­zon to head up these cen­tres of ex­cel­lence.

They are or­gan­ised end-to-end and cross-func­tion­ally – the top sales, top mar­ket­ing, top op­er­a­tions, so­lu­tion en­gi­neer tal­ent, all make up the staff of his new cen­tres of ex­cel­lence. Ce­vis says: “I moved all of my top peo­ple into this group and told them: ‘We’re go­ing to ma­jor on the ma­jors and be part of this in­dus­try trans­for­ma­tion which is tak­ing place so that we can out­per­form our com­peti­tors and peers in this whole­sale space’.

“We want to own the Eth­er­net IP space in­ter­na­tion­ally – its great to see.

Eth­er­net IP grow­ing so fast. We have a great net­work and I want us to be the first place they look when they want to ex­pand.” Ce­vis says: “I am very proud of the in­vest­ments we have made to the net­work. The ques­tion is how do we add to the con­nec­tiv­ity of that net­work for our part­ners, par­tic­u­lal­rly as den­si­fi­ca­tion con­tin­ues to be­come a prob­lem.”

Set up six cen­tres of ex­cel­lence

Ce­vis has set up cus­tomer ad­vi­sory boards which meet monthly and a chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer (CTO) fo­rum and top CTO Part­ner sum­mits which meet twice a year – with 200 to 300 cus­tomers present for up to three days, as he says: “…talk­ing, col­lab­o­rat­ing and learn­ing with them.”

Ce­vis says Ver­i­zon has to stay more pro­duc­tive in its de­liv­ery than the com­pe­ti­tion: “What got us here may not get us there – my re-or­gan­i­sa­tion into cen­tres of ex­cel­lence gives me twelve master black­belts who lead these units – we must trans­form our­selves as we at­tempt to change the in­dus­try.”

Con­tin­u­ous de­vel­op­ment and con­tin­u­ous learn­ing are drummed into the heads of the cen­tres of ex­cel­lence. I tell them, Ce­vis says, to be: “Re­lent­lessly cu­ri­ous and never stop learn­ing – and you have to take time to care for your peo­ple – that makes sure that the pro­cesses you de­velop are car­ried out. We put pro­grammes in place – we take peo­ple who we have trained and put them in spe­cial train­ing pro­grammes for up to two years to study GE’S six sigma pro­cesses and it works - peo­ple get ex­cited – peo­ple give us more of their ef­forts – re­turn on in­vest­ment is a great div­i­dend player –

Ev­ery­thing must be fo­cused on the four pil­lars method says Ce­vis: “I tell staff – if you’re not us­ing it stop do­ing it.” To­day, Ce­vis says, cus­tomers want more band­width, now and more Eth­er­net faster – the ques­tion we al­ways have to an­swer is ‘How fast can you de­liver it?’ More de­mand for band­width – quickly – puts even more pres­sure on den­si­fi­ca­tion so he says Ver­i­zon is shar­ing power and space in Cen­tral of­fices to help them move from macro cells to small cells to dark fi­bre den­si­fi­ca­tion us­ing soft­ware de­fined wide area net­work­ing (SD WAN) which is also push­ing op­ti­cal wave ser­vices.

Ce­vis is proud of the awards Ver­i­zon has won, some from At­lantic ACM – seven out of eight award ac­co­lades for net­work per­for­mance, cus­tomer ser­vice, ser­vice de­liv­ery and brand at a re­cent cer­e­mony. “It shows we are striv­ing to be top of the heap,” Ce­vis says.

Ce­vis was: “Re­ally pleased to win a Global Tele­coms Busi­ness award for op­ti­cal wave tech­nol­ogy – Se­cure Cloud In­ter­con­nect – in part­ner­ship with Ama­zon Web Ser­vices. Lever­ag­ing that great IP net­work us­ing op­ti­cal ex­ten­tions – wave ser­vices are sell­ing well and op­ti­cal is ex­pand­ing well be­yond the metro area – wide scale in­ter­con­nects are be­ing built with­out the tra­di­tional costs as­so­ci­ated with them. Get­ting rid of the big in­fra­struc­ture

I am very proud of the in­vest­ments which we have made in the net­work” Eric Ce­vis, Ver­i­zon

costs al­lows them to pro­vide large scale in­ter­con­nects with­out the costs of ex­pen­sive pri­vate cir­cuits. “Con­nect­ing peo­ple places and things sim­ply, se­curely and re­li­a­bil­ity.”

Ce­vis shares with me his Ver­i­zon ‘Vi­sion State­ment’: “Be the part­ner of choice to de­liver a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence, on a bet­ter net­work - con­nect­ing cus­tomers to the dig­i­tal world.”

Ce­vis has a mis­sion state­ment which he shares with staff, say­ing: “De­liver a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence on a bet­ter net­work, con­nect­ing peo­ple places and things, sim­ply, se­curely and re­li­ably - part­ner­ship mat­ters.” Ce­vis has am­bi­tion and vi­sion. He says: “I’m not big on in­cre­men­tal­ism – I’m al­ways ask­ing my team, what’s the next $100 mil­lion op­por­tu­nity and how are we go­ing to win it?”

What Ce­vis has been say­ing to us all along is that Ver­i­zon is look­ing ahead, plan­ning its net­works in con­junc­tion with its cus­tomers. Ce­vis says: “It used to be about sup­ply and de­mand now it’s about de­mand-sup­ply – we have to be in front of this huge de­mand curve – we can’t in­cre­men­talise this type of de­mand - with 5G we must be able to pro­vide so­lu­tions with the best net­work al­ready in place.”

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