“The M&A culture is behind the business. It’s all about being customer-first at the end of the day.”
GTT Communications has halved its implementation times for customers amid its initiative to streamline operations, according to Jim Delis.
Delis officially started work as the service provider’s president of the Americas on Jan. 3. He said GTT has been enhancing its organizational structures and processes to improve its operations. The company will ultimately fine-tune its systems as well, but he said the process began with getting people on the same page.
“It was about putting people in the right jobs with the right job descriptions and the right teams,” Delis said. “And then having everybody follow the same globally built process. That sounds pretty foundational, yet didn’t look like that at all. ”
He pointed to the plethora of mergers and acquisitions GTT has completed over the last 15 years. The company has acquired more than 40 companies, including Transbeam, Hibernia Networks and Interoute. These deals, combined with organic growth, have helped GTT build one of the world’s largest internet backbones. However, M&A also left GTT leadership with a lot to integrate. Delis said GTT previously ran 11 different network operations centers that ran their own schedules with their own phone numbers.
“We’re a global company that ran a whole bunch of disparate types of operational methods. And [chief operating officer] Don McNeil brought that all into one global organization, ”Delis said.
Joining the Company
Delis said CEO Ernie Ortega approached him last year about joining the team. Delis said he joined because GTT’s identity as an “M&A company” was over and it was emphasizing operational excellence. Moreover, GTT needed his help with partners.
Delis’ job puts him in charge of all distribution, which includes the carrier, enterprise and channel practices. And channel is the smallest of those three, he said.
“[Ortega] said, ‘I need you to help me grow the channel.’ Channel is a strong team, but it’s third of three right now. It’s built for growth, ”he said.
Delis said he made a recommendation for GTT’s channel team before he even signed on: Ken Bisnoff, a former colleague at TPx Communications, who had been co-running the consultancy EagleTEQ Advisors in 2021. Bisnoff said Delis reached out to him about joining GTT.
“There aren’t many people I take that conversation with, because I’ve built up a brand like Jim has over 25 years. But Jim signed up and was there, and I know he was only going to pick spots where he could be in a position to be successful and make a difference, ”Bisnoff told Channel Futures.
Bisnoff said he ultimately came to the same positive conclusion Delis reached about the C-suite’s view of the channel. He also got the clarity he needed that GTT’s recent bankruptcy proceedings didn’t impact partner commissions. Convinced, he signed on as channel chief.
“The M&A culture is behind the business,” Bisnoff said. “It’s all about being customer-first at the end of the day.”
Bisnoff, who spoke to Channel Futures at last week’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo, said a long list of vendors are courting channel partners to do business with them. He said customer service will ultimately set the best providers apart.
“A lot of similar products and services and technology are wandering around these floors. Those who take care of the customer best is always the company that’s going to do the best, and that’s the focus at the C-suite, ”he said.
Partners have echoed the feeling that customers will ultimately judge them by the service the vendor provides, rather than by technological bells and whistles.
“My single and sole decision to do business with your firm is predicated on you being there when I need you. You as the vendor are willing to step into the ring with me – what do you do when it breaks, ”Bridlewood Consulting CEO Scott Levy said in a recent Q&A.
GTT brought the 11 disparate NOCs into a unified operations network with a “follow-the-sun mentality,” Delis said.
Delis and Bisnoff agreed that GTT had already laid a strong foundation in the channel. They said they are working on new agreements with a couple of technology solutions brokerages (formerly known as master agents), but the majority of contracts had already been signed.
“We have agreements with principally every significant [TSB] in the community and have great relationships with them. Jim brings relationships, and I bring relationships, but the team is very tenured. ”
In addition, the company offers a customer-facing portal that partners can access to manage the full life cycle. Bisnoff said GTT is looking to streamline the portal experience for partners by doing API pushes into the TSBs, due to the fact that partners work with too many suppliers to go into every single supplier portal. Nevertheless, he said partners appreciate using the GTT portal to give larger customers a high-touch experience.
Delis said the recent improvement on operations side stems in part from GTT’s increased emphasis on supporting the channel. GTT provides dedicated channel management and marketing resources as well as a dedicated implementation team. The company also provides a dedicated solution architect and technical support.
“In the channel, we now have dedicated resources in virtually every touchpoint in a partner life cycle,” Delis said.