More than a century ago, the great scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favorsthe prepared mind.” By this, he meant that sudden flashes of insight and success don’t just happen but are the products of preparation. We’d like to share our story of how early adoption of digital, cloud, and a BSS as a Service (SaaS) way of working helped Qvantel successfully serve our customers through pandemic restrictions.
Digital Transformation Starts from Within Back in 2017, Qvantel went through our own digital transformation and moved all development to the cloud. We could see the imminent shift to SaaS and remote interaction, working, deliveries and operations, and we wanted to be prepared. Well, that “imminent shift” took a bit longer than we expected, but that did not stop us, nor did we shift back to traditional approaches even though some of our customers still wanted traditional interactions and ways of working. For us, it meant that we used the tools for a SaaS business even if we met the customer face-to-face every day.
During that time, we did try to get some of our customers to embrace more digital interactions, but that often resulted in an escalation complaining that someone was not attending a meeting in person. So for me, that meant that I needed to still be on the road six days a week. The seventh day was used in preparation for the next six days of travelling to be face-to-face with a global customer base – hardly efficient and with one constantly feeling torn between different fires.
Covid-19 Restrictions Impact Global Way of Working
But things changed for everyone at the beginning of 2020, when talk about a new virus began dominating the news. By February 2020, it was clear that Covid-19 would not be something that would blow over anytime soon and would have a lasting impact.
At the beginning of March 2020, we instructed all our staff who were having face-to-face meetings with customers in different countries to travel back to their respective home countries. Our customers were concerned about possible disruptions to the business, asking, “But how will we do this?”
We responded, “We will use the same tools we have been using all along. The only change is that our people will be meeting with you digitally instead of in person.” A week later, all Qvantel employees were working from home and interacting with customers digitally. I, for one, found myself home on a Monday for the first time in several years and, as usual, had a calendar full of meetings (minus the travel). I truly didn’t mind not having to travel and still be able to do the exact same tasks I have done before. And through digital meetings, I could be in Asia in the morning, Europe around midday, and in the Americas during the afternoon.
In the weeks that followed, Qvantel, together with our customers, adjusted to the new realities as pandemic-related restrictions were being introduced in most countries. People who initially resisted digital interaction technologies were forced to learn and adapt. But the adjustment was swift due to the necessity of continuing the work. And I was amazed that within only 1-2 weeks, everyone was working smoothly using only digital channels.
It was rewarding to see our customers really start recognizing the value of what digital transformation technology and process changes bring to the business.
Seeing the Benefits of Digital, Cloud, and SaaS Way of Working
By the end of March 2020, we started seeing the many benefits of working remotely and digitally. We were getting more effective and more efficient with our time. Travel time to another country or a 2-hour one-way commute disappeared. This extra time enabled us to get more things done and improve our focus on our customers and the business. This also resulted in improved long-distance collaborative work.
Since instructing all Qvantel employees to go home and stay home, we have delivered many major releases of our BSS stack to all of our customers without unnecessary travel. It is this preparedness for doing business digitally that we envisioned would be needed for a SaaS-based business that meant we could, without missing a beat, keep our commitments with customers.
The rate of digital transformation has accelerated in the last 14 months. Working digitally is now the norm. At Qvantel, our decision to re-invent ourselves and move all development to the cloud back in 2017 means that we were prepared and ready for a fully digital and SaaS way of working and could continue to successfully deliver to our customers regardless of pandemic restrictions.
Looking to the future, this same preparedness is what we have applied to the next generation of our BSS offering, Qvantel Flex BSS. With Qvantel Flex BSS, we have questioned the norms of how BSS is supposed to be managed, how it is supposed to enable a business to be effective and most importantly, what it should be empowering – the digital service provider business.
At Qvantel, we have worked with several leading operators remotely to implement our Digital BSS to support new greenfield operations such as digital second brands.