SM: This is an interesting discussion. When people read this interview, can they gauge how to determine whether or not they would be a fit for you?
MT: Yes. It’s very broad. We play in multiple verticals. So, what we’re doing is alignment of value-add applications and bundling that with other necessary tools like collaboration services and traditional voice and Internet access services, professional services, IT support, security. If it’s a startup with something unique for the health care industry … maybe it does something to help with HIPAA compliance or customer billing for health care, which can be complex, we can bundle that with a lot of other services that are relevant for a regional hospital, for example.
SM: OK. You said that your customer base ranges from 5-employee organizations to 1,000-employee organizations, can you talk a little bit about the higher end of the spectrum? What kinds of things are happening on the higher end of the spectrum? My instinct would be to pick one or the other. That’s a really broad range. I’m curious to know why you made the decision to go for that broad a range.
MT: That’s a good question. I mentioned that retail is one of the strong verticals. When we talk about the higher end of the customer range and the customers that eclipse those 1,000 employees and beyond, they’re largely multi-location retail type organizations. We have a nationwide fiber network that is access agnostic. We have a multitude of companies that have thousands of small locations across the country. If a retail location has just one or two locations, the needs of those locations aren’t fundamentally different from an IT services or telephony perspective than somebody with 1,000 or 2,000 locations. They’re just multiplied across the country. So, we can provide an MPLS network that’s as competitive as any out there for those thousands of locations. And we still bring all of the IT services, all of the bundles, all of the professional services to those customers. That’s where they fit largely.
SM: So, it’s basically, the multi-location retail that largely behave like small businesses, and the architecture system is still the same.
MT: That’s right. Large customers, especially, large multi-location customers, are looking for simplification as much as the smaller players. The solutions resonate as much as they do for our small and mid-size customers.
SM: OK. What other thought leader point of view would you like to share with our audience?
MT: I would go back to mission here at EarthLink, to be an IT services company that provides simplification, ease of management, ease of use and allows our small business and mid-size business and, in some cases, large business customers to focus on what sets them apart and their competitive landscapes and allow us to take over the worries of security and the IT infrastructure – hardware, software – and everything that supports their businesses from an IT and telephony perspective.
SM: From a delivery point of view, what does it take for EarthLink to deliver this service? How much of it is technology? Where do you actually have staff to deliver the service?
MT: We have a strong back office. We automate all of the processes that we can and everything that makes sense. But we have people across the lower 48, which is where our customers sit, so we can provide in-field services and, of course, we have people where our network is. We have a lot of focus on our data center footprint, which is growing.
SM: For instance, let’s say you’re supporting a small-business account, and the business has 10 customers, how much of a human touch is required to service that account?
MT: We’ll have a human service executive available to them at all times, 24/7. But that customer often doesn’t need a lot of human touch. When it’s needed, we’re there with it. But with the MyLink control portal, the idea is that they can make changes if they need to. If they add employees or lose employees, if they want to change something on the website, all of those things will be available via the MyLink control panel.