Helping customers navigate the ‘unimaginable’ with speed and agility
Posted on August 04, 2020
As the COVID-19 health and economic crisis continues to intensify, Vocus has shown speed, agility and decisive leadership to be the most critical factors in supporting customers through the biggest change to business we’re likely to experience.
Vocus is a leading fibre and network solutions provider. It owns and operates networks spanning 30,000km, connecting all mainland capitals and most regional centres in Australia and New Zealand, to Asia and beyond.
Andrew Wildblood, Vocus Chief Executive, Enterprise and Government, said a different type of leadership is needed during a crisis like a pandemic.
“Being a leader means guiding people through uncertain times and providing focus. Strong leaders are able to help their people prioritise during ambiguous times and, at its core, get the best out of them,” Mr Wildblood said.
Vocus provides connectivity, data centres, cloud and collaboration solutions to more than 5,000 enterprise and government customers, including nearly two-thirds of the ASX 200 and more than 200 government agencies. It also connects some of Australia’s most remote regional areas to the rest of the country.
In a bid to meet increased demands and provide network resilience, reliability, and secure connectivity during the mammoth shift to remote working, the telco provider quickly pivoted and refocused efforts on helping customers through the immediate impact of the crisis.
Vocus delivered more than 340 upgrades for 230 customers during the initial week when businesses shifted to working from home, while also adding around 40% capacity to allow those working from home to access corporate services. It also accelerated a partnership with Zoom to bring video-first conferencing to customers.
“This is one of the largest, most rapid changes to business that we’ve seen in our lifetime, and really underscores the role of the network and ICT infrastructure in helping businesses cope with disruptions completely out of their control,” Mr Wildblood said.
Internally, Vocus also handled a large-scale move towards remote working. Before COVID, an average of 20% of staff worked remotely in some capacity. Under the new restrictions, it shifted to more than 2,000 staff across nine offices throughout Australia working entirely from home.
During this time, Vocus was able to support, respond, and manage staff, while also managing a high volume of customer orders and increased capacity demands on its networks thanks, in part, to its robust business continuity and scenario-based plans already in place.
“The nature of our business means that we had a solid plan in place that allowed us to move quickly and efficiently to serve customers and staff. We quickly formed teams focused on rapid customer order delivery and separate teams to move quickly on capacity to service customer demands.”
But not every business was as digitally resilient—some customers found it difficult to quickly scale up on a dime, Mr Wildblood acknowledged.
“Many businesses did this well and embraced the rapid technological adoption, but for others this was a huge learning curve during an already uncertain time."
“There was a massive demand for collaboration technology, and then increases in bandwidth to support it. We saw a split between customers: some already had the tools and tech required and just needed to scale up, but for others, it was about enabling them for the first time, setting up security measures and providing proper configuration,” he said.
To maintain resilience, Vocus continues to monitor its own network closely, prioritising work to maintain a reliable service, and adjusting network capacity as necessary to reduce the risk of performance impacts and ensure backup options are in place.
Mr Wildblood said these types of ‘resilience measures’ are essential to help customers maintain stability, thrive and survive, and rebound to the future, as COVID-19 is likely to leave lasting changes to the business and market landscape.
“COVID-19 has just made it crystal clear that businesses now need to prepare for the unimaginable,” Mr Wildblood said.
“It’s also highlighted the importance of reliable, secure connectivity and the importance of resilience, in your infrastructure, your leadership, your staff."
“Being a leader always requires you to be flexible and agile as the environment around you changes, and that’s never been truer than leading a team through a life-changing event like COVID,” he said.