Beyond technology - people, diversification, and resilience
Conversations with our customers, prospects, and partners often start with Ciena’s technology, giving us the opportunity to highlight the strengths of the portfolio, our technology performance, scalability, reliability, and so on. However, there is also a different set of criteria for successful business interactions today. Our wider business, our people, our strategy, and our scale and resilience are coming up more and more, and are having a greater influence on why we are selected.
I caught up with Gregg Lampf, Ciena’s Vice President of Investor Relations: to discuss why these topics are becoming so important.
Virginie Hollebecque: The way companies are working, buying, or selling is changing. Our customers, prospects, and partners are interested in our technology, sure, but what else makes Ciena stand out?
Gregg Lampf: The telecommunications industry is quite unique in that it has always gone through a lot of change, and a key measure of confidence in a vendor like Ciena comes from stability within that ever-changing landscape. A learning mindset is crucial for successfully adapting to change and Ciena is quite used to that.
The way our teams communicate and collaborate give us an edge. Gary Smith, our CEO, often says that Ciena is all about [our] people. Our culture fosters talent and builds strong teams. These teams work hard to establish unique customer engagements that are based on leading ideas, combined with determination to gather insights into each of our customers’ businesses and their challenges, and this builds trust and a level of collaboration that is truly unique in our industry.
On top of that, we have put a lot of resources into creating a resilient organization with a diversified portfolio. Plus, Ciena has always been committed to quality; we're not pretending to be everything to everybody. We have particular focus on networking systems, services, and software that means we can lead the industry by constantly executing on our technology and solutions roadmap.
Virginie: That resonates very well with what I see in EMEA, Gregg. You mentioned stability within our ever-changing landscape, how do we articulate that?
Gregg: In my role talking to Wall Street, it’s the stability created through Ciena’s history, diversification and our strategy that resonates the most. We have diversified our business across multiple dimensions– geographical, portfolio and use cases so that we can deliver consistently.
Geographically we work with a broad mix of customers from the world’s largest service providers, cable MSOs, and mobile network providers to content delivery networks across all regions, such as North America, APAC, EMEA, and CALA.
What makes us stand out on the portfolio is our technology leadership, but also that we have remained clear on our strategy, while some competitors have altered course. Some competitors have become niche, been acquired, and others are challenged with a broad portfolio compounded by multiple acquisitions resulting in competing investment priorities and needing to make radical adjustments to fund new priorities. Some are also challenged with internal organizational changes and restructuring. All these challenges, in an already fast-changing industry, impact a company’s strength and impede its ability to innovate, scale, or support customers.
In comparison, we articulate Ciena’s stability in terms of our market leading quality, commitment to our roadmap, continued investment in R&D, and always looking to push beyond what’s happening in networks today with our Adaptive NetworkTM vision.
Virginie: These points have come up, especially when a service provider finds itself with an over-dependence on a single vendor. It can lead to a need to diversify the vendor base. We get involved to enable connectivity with our industry-leading technology (best-in-breed optical portfolio, scalable routing and switching capabilities), ability to help customers advance their automation strategies (with comprehensive software for network orchestration, automation, and analytics), plus our collective team efforts and agile services delivery model. These are all backed with largest focused optical R&D investment capacity in the industry and, combined, gives us the ability to deliver leading innovation with the best time to market.
It's also incredibly important for our customers to have openness and choice. Transparency is a core part of Ciena’s culture and strategy, and part of our technology. As a complete network solutions vendor, our offerings are open, standards-driven, and interoperable to allow our customers to build best-in-breed networks for significant competitive advantage. These open networks are further enhanced by our Blue Planet Intelligent Automation software. From software to hardware to services, our customers are freed of vendor lock-in and in any deployment scenario.
Gregg: Exactly! We're open, and we are among the first vendors who embraced it. And we are proud of that. Our technology can be used in a variety of ways, whether it's protocol-based or more proprietary, we manage it in an open manner.
Virginie: Thanks so much Gregg. As operators make major investments to transform, scale, and diversify their networks, they need confidence in stable partners. Ciena’s people, diversity, technology, and openness are a very powerful combination.
This article is part of a series of posts, originally on LinkedIn, in which Virginie Hollebecque speaks to Ciena experts to address some common themes being raised by our customers. The other articles in the series are:
- Why now is the perfect time to revisit your data protection and GDPR-compliance strategy
- Network modernization’s role in making a digital transformation vision a reality