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An Interview with CenturyLink

by James Tate, Sourcing Focus

Sourcingfocus talks to Jamie Tyler, the Director of Digital Transformation and Innovation at CenturyLink about predictions for the industry.

“In 2017, we will see more demand for intelligent services and devices - this will be powered by more advanced algorithms, AI and advanced machine learning. These technologies will provide the ability for these services/devices to start to understand, learn, predict, adapt and operate autonomously. For example, retailers will provide more reliable online recommendation systems for customers, driverless cars will be smart enough to be rolled out to consumers, security architecture will be more adaptive and permeate all technology processes, etc.  Although culturally we, as humans, may not be ready to accept all these new advances.

At CenturyLink, we are seeing our customers move more towards digital outcomes, one of the challenges that businesses are facing is having a more traditional IT system based around 18 month contracts, working in a traditional way around project management and software development. When we move into the rapid development, digital culture, business and culture is struggling to adapt from months and years to days and weeks, it is a struggle to find the skills to adapt to a more agile system of design and implementation. Customers want to make this change but are struggling to do it at a pace as they move over whole operations, which takes time.

One of the key initiatives that CenturyLink has pursued over 2016 is around creating a security platform, what we have classed as a managed security service. And the key thing that makes that platform effective is the ability to predict, it’s using data science and analytics to digest data and predict the likely outcome and then look for strange behaviour, hence identifying a hack before it occurred. Even if it is a false positive initially, the platform learns the more data it has. This is the platform we have been driving with the federal services in the United States, and now it is becoming a more global offering.

In 2017, tackling the complexity challenge will become a top CIO priority as companies tackle ambitious and digital transformation projects (within finite budgets) that will help companies transform their propositions, ways of working and help keep them ahead of the competition.“

At CenturyLink we work with CEO’s to do some skills mapping to understand where their skills are today, because when we look at it from a digital perspective a lot of what is going on is around the modern tech, and new programming being developed, when you look at Big Data and analytics, it is about mapping those sectors in the business today.

The political climate has changed too. Starting with Brexit, because we have not done it yet, we don’t fully understand the outcomes that will emerge. At CenturyLink, we are driven by our customers’ demands so it is very much about supporting the customer globally. Whatever the President-elect does during his term at the White house, we will have the same attitude around meeting customer demand.

We are no longer in a transactional business, we are moving towards an agile, more responsive industry where we are as flexible as possible to the customers’ needs and demands, and the customer is at the centre of all we do. It’s no longer hearing what the customer wants and taking it to them. It’s about the customer telling us what the need to support their business initiatives and strategies.

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