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A Look Ahead at ITEXPO with Fiber Mountain

January 04, 2017

It’s no secret that innovation is transforming much in the way of operations. From the contact center and conference room to the data center and server stack, software continues its quest to eat the world and we are all the better for it.

Fiber Mountain, the Glass Core Company, sits on the summit of this software-defined development and has its sights set on joining other industry thought leaders at the upcoming ITEXPO. At the event, the Founder and CEO H.M. Raza is taking part in the panel “Expect the Unexpected: What’s Next for Enterprise Networks,” where he and others will explore the next generation in network innovation.

In anticipation of ITEXPO, Bill Miller VP Marketing for Fiber Mountain sat down with TMC to talk shop. The complete interview is below:

How have technology changes over the past 12 months helped businesses grow?

Technology is affecting everyone, everywhere in so many different ways – from new smartphones and tablets, to in-home devices (IoT), to collaboration. Media is moving to an abundance of video. More and more data is being collected from all the “apps” emerging from technology further penetrating our lives. All of this leads us to corporate changes in networks and infrastructure to handle and manage all this data! There are significant investments in all this new technology on both supply and demand sides, which leads to growth for the most successful businesses.

What does the term Collaboration mean to your business?

As a strong supporter of both internal and external collaboration and a blogger about collaboration solutions and challenges, I have strong opinions. But I have learned that each business values and applies collaboration in company-specific ways. In our company, until this year, we have all been in a single location, single floor, with few office phones and two conference rooms. As we grow through 2017, we are evaluating our growth plans for office space, collaboration choices and what tools are the most efficient internal communications tools and separately the same for external communications. We believe in 1-1 human communications first - meaning during business hours, a human answers the phone, real-time connecting with people. This makes our company a mix of new and old techniques for collaboration. I’ll have a case study about a year from now to share as we are right at the growth point for these challenges.

What elements of Unified Communications are most useful for your company?

The most widely used UC capabilities at Fiber Mountain include texting, phone calls (yes, really), and IM. But it’s individual driven. Some people don’t text, others don’t use the phone and others don’t IM, so I communicate with people using their chosen method. We have looked at Slack, Trillian, Skype, and I used each for different teams, but we have yet to standardize and attempt to gain 100 percent adoption of any tools.

Are you using messaging technologies to communicate with your customers?  How, or why not?

At the moment, customer communications are handled mostly through conference and Web conferencing calls, texting with key contacts and email. As a hardware/software supplier, we adopt whatever our customer prefers to use.

Are you leveraging big data/analytics to operate more efficiently?

Even as a small company, we are very data and metrics-driven. Marketing and Sales are 100 percent driven by key performance indicators (KPIs) and we utilize HubSpot for both marketing automation and tracking activities as well as Google Analytics which when combined with HubSpot provides a good set of customer-prospect metrics for us. Our Transforming Network Infrastructure (TNI) community on TMCNet provides an abundance of metrics that we have tracked since day one, and we create a monthly report of results which in combination with meetings to discuss the metrics drives investment and decisions.

Our operations team is just getting new systems in place as we scale manufacturing of our hardware products whereby they will utilize big data and KPIs via select platforms currently under evaluation.

Content marketing has become a hot topic recently.  Have you defined a content marketing strategy and how has it helped you build your business?

We do have a content marketing strategy, which differs based on the company stage and what our goals are. We have consistently written blogs and grown our subscriber base as we build brand awareness; we have leveraged our TNI community for curating market content applicable to targeted markets and built a following of our content. We just started a 6-part series on Digital Transformation that runs weekly as we approach ITEXPO 2017, which in turn spawns several related content elements to utilize as we target specific personas. From day 1, we have done an excellent job at building our Glass Core, Fiber Mountain brand, generated leads passively and built a sound foundation for the company

How will augmented/virtual reality by used in business environments?

AR/VR will appear in data centers in the form of visualization, troubleshooting and DevOps but will also need infrastructure improvements to handle all the video and data traffic that will be added to today’s networks.

How have the growing number of high-visibility security breaches impacted your outlook on security?  Which breach is of greatest concern?

Everyone is security conscious from their smartphones, desktop computers, laptops and their passwords.  Our R&D and documentation processes at the company have security measures and policies and these evolve on an ongoing basis.  

To what extent are you leveraging APIs to enhance business opportunities?

Fiber Mountain’s Glass Core solution has a comprehensive API which enables customers and partners to integrate with other products in the data center. We utilize a RESTful API architecture and we do see this as an enabler to creating an ecosystem on a long term basis for business growth.

What percentage of your workforce would you consider mobile?  What technology decisions have you made as a result of your mobile workforce, to ensure they have the tools they need to remain productive?

Our small company has no full time remote workers at the moment but that will change this year. We also do not have desk phones for all employees so many of us use only mobile phones and our laptops use the typical VPN for server access to our shared directories. Some employees use webmail rather than VPN when server access is not required.

To what extent are you using cloud services in your daily business processes?

As mentioned earlier, we use HubSpot which is a SaaS service for marketing and sales automation. We use a cloud based solution for component management of our hardware systems and we have a cloud based phone system. We have been moving to Office 365 but our current employee base has a mix of premise based Exchange and Office 365.

Has your use of cloud-based resources increased over the past year?  Do you expect to make more use of cloud computing in the coming year?  Please elaborate.

We may add some services via the cloud in 2017, on an as needed basis if it makes business sense.

How are you handling shadow IT in your business?

This is a challenge in any tech firm that has many self-made IT-type of engineers. I see this will continue to impact IT departments everywhere in tech companies as the consumerization of IT continues to drive many decisions and enhances productivity.

What emerging technology has the potential to have a disruptive impact on businesses in the coming years?

For Fiber Mountain, all the newer technologies as discussed earlier drive the need for our solutions, so more video, bandwidth requirements, speed, virtualization and emergence of new apps will continue to create network and infrastructure problems that we solve.

How has your business’ product development evolved over the past year as a result of emerging technologies?

We love fiber growth. Data Centers are moving to all fiber, and we see this trend continuing. New solutions are driven by emerging technologies that solve age-old problems plus emerging bottlenecks and fiber is being used to carry all the new network traffic. We love this trend!

Are channel partners keeping up with the latest trends and developments?  Is more education needed and how can they better leverage the latest technologies to grow?

We are just beginning with our channel and the ideal channel partner is one who is always learning about new technology, new solutions, and is willing to invest time in integrating and training their technical and sales teams. We are excited about this growth opportunity, but there are many channel partners who have no interest until the back end of the technology life cycle regardless of margin opportunities.

What will you have on display at your booth and why should attendees make it a point to visit you at your booth?

Fiber Mountain always has its Glass Core layer 1 SDN data center solution at IT Expo and for 2017, we’ll add new Fiber Port Aggregator products as well as a new version of our AllPath Director Orchestration software which manages the Glass Core from a single pane of glass. We will also have our CrossCage Plus colocation solution being demonstrated in our booth, #207.

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO 2017?

People, Technology, Education and Networking: That’s what it’s all about!

Be a part of THE communications and business transformation event of the year, and rub shoulders with Raza, Miller, the Fiber Mountain team and more industry leaders. I’ll see you at ITEXPO.

Edited by Alicia Young

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