An interview with Hank Stokbroekx, Vice President, Enterprise Services, Huawei Enterprise Business Group. | October 2018Transcript
You’re listening to New Horizons, the podcast channel for Huawei’s ICT Insights Magazine. Join us as we talk to innovators and thought leaders from around the world.
New Horizons: Hi everyone. We’re back with Hank Stokbroekx, Vice President of Enterprise Services for Huawei Enterprise, and today we’re going to be talking about digital disruption and AI. So Hank, can you fill us in on what you’re working on?
Hank Stokbroekx: Glad to be back on the program. Digital disruption is something that is frequently being discussed in the media, also with the experts, of course, within businesses as well — particularly around AI, Artificial Intelligence, and the impact that might or will have on businesses. And obviously Huawei, being a technology company, one of the largest in the world, we’re also very much focused on looking at what AI, can do for businesses, for industries. How will it impact ourselves? How can we use it for our own benefit?
Digital disruption and Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, are all topics that are very much on the minds of executives these days. Businesses, governments, etc., and obviously Huawei is looking to play an active role in that.
New Horizons: How is AI going to affect digital disruption? What part does it play?
Hank Stokbroekx: Well, that’s a very good question. AI, Artificial Intelligence, actually the term is already maybe 50, 60 years old. If you look at what Turing did with his machine, that was already could be considered Artificial Intelligence. So Artificial Intelligence in itself is not really new, but for a long time, the technology just wasn’t capable of applying that theory in a massive scale.
Now, with the reduced cost of storage with the much better compute power that we have, with cloud computing, with big data analysis, with the availability of big data, now suddenly AI becomes much more realistic — and particularly machine learning, which is kind of like a subset of Artificial Intelligence.
Machine learning, in particular, is now much more available to businesses and governments and even people, which wasn’t the case before. So even though AI and ML, machine learning, had been around for a while, the tools just weren’t capable of doing what we wanted it to do, but now with the technology where it is today, that’s actually become much more realistic.
New Horizons: And which industries are you seeing that are being disrupted today by AI?
Hank Stokbroekx: Actually, every industry to be honest, seriously — also our own industry, the IT, I’m in the technical services. Also, services are being disrupted by digital technologies.
Take for instance, voice recognition. These days, when you call a help desk, 95 percent of the time you get a person on the phone. With the improvements being made in voice recognition, natural language processing, the ability of replacing these people with computers is actually very realistic.
Now you could wonder, Is that a good thing? Well that’s another discussion maybe, but the reality is that computer just has certain advantages over a person. A computer is much better at rapidly going through an enormous amount of data and coming up with an answer. So if you have a massive amount of data from previous reports or incidents that customers have reported to you, the computer can very quickly analyze, “Okay, you have this problem?” I can in a split-second search my database, and come up with a right answer, and show that to the customer in a natural language. For a human, that would actually take more time.
Plus, a computer obviously works 24/7, never gets tired, never gets bored, never gets angry. So there are these benefits to using a computer over a person. There are other many examples of where that’s not the case, but this is just one particular example, where a computer can complement what other humans are doing.
New Horizons: Right, there’s two aspects to that. The AI can be an assistant to somebody in their job, or potentially replace a job, but would that be creating potentially new and different types of jobs?
Hank Stokbroekx: Well exactly, I mean for instance if a helpdesk person would be replaced by computer, a helpdesk person could probably move on within the organization to do something more advanced that the computer cannot do. So, it actually would help that person to move up in their career and start doing maybe more interesting things than what they were doing today. So give them new opportunity to do more interesting things.
New Horizons: Right, so they’re not going to lose their attention span when they’re doing a boring, or mundane, or repetitive job.
Hank Stokbroekx: Exactly, yeah and actually I think that’s a key point if you look at AI and ML today is that it’s able to do repetitive work much better. And there is still a lot of repetitive work to be done everywhere in every industry. And AI is just able to do that more efficiently and allow people to do more interesting things rather than this repetitive work.
New Horizons: Right, well your focus is on technical services and in providing support for our customers; so how is AI going to affect that industry?
Hank Stokbroekx: Okay, good question. For instance, AI, ML, relies on big data. You need to have an enormous amount of data, and then the algorithm can detect trends in that data, and start to do predictions. Most of company’s services, IT service companies, these days are still in a reactive mode. You have a problem, you call, we fix it, done.
What would be much better if we would call you, the customer, and say, “Well, Mr. Customer, there’s a 98 percent chance that within the next three weeks you’re going to have this and this problem.” And we can say that because we have analyzed the big data from other customers; and based upon that, if you have an environment that looks like this, then statistically the chances of something happening will be this and this and this. So we can actually call you and actually prevent that problem from occurring, because I can be proactive, just have a schedule that every three months, I’m going to come to your place, do some work in order to proactively prevent problems.
I still don’t know whether that problem is actually going to happen or not, but I’m going to do it anyway. That’s proactive.
Predictive is saying, well, I have pretty good information that something is going to happen, and I’m going to prevent it. That’s predictive, which is much more difficult. You need to have that big data analysis with the trend and the algorithm to actually learn from it, because that big data is so big, if you do it properly, that no human can do the analysis. You need to have the learning algorithm to understand what the trends are, and actually by constantly feeding it more data, it will get more and more accurate over time. So it will actually learn, which is a key part of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
Maybe sometimes, it will make a mistake. It should learn, the algorithm, from its mistakes and success as well. That’s the key part of the algorithm, which actually makes it intelligent. That will make a big change in the service industry, in the IT service industry, in no longer sitting by the phone waiting for customers to call with a problem, but actually reaching out to customers and saying, “Well, you know, I am aware, we’re going to do something about this. Otherwise, you will most likely have a problem in the next three weeks.”
New Horizons: Right, right.
Hank Stokbroekx: Which obviously for everybody, it’s much better.
New Horizons: I would think so, and now you’ve written a paper on this subject going a lot more in depth, because I’m sure you could wax poetic about this for several hours.
Hank Stokbroekx: Sure.
New Horizons: Where can people find the article?
Hank Stokbroekx: So the article is published on CIO.com.
New Horizons: Okay.
Hank Stokbroekx: So if you search for “digital disruption in the service industry” or look for my name, you will probably find it pretty easily.
New Horizons: Okay great. Well Hank, thanks again for joining us.
Hank Stokbroekx: You’re welcome.
New Horizons: And looking forward to the next interesting topic that you want to bring to us.
Hank Stokbroekx: Okay, for sure.
New Horizons: Again, we’ve been talking with Hank Stokbroekx, Vice President of Technical Services for Huawei Enterprise. And again, Hank, we’ll have you back again soon.
Hank Stokbroekx: Sounds good, thanks.
Thanks for listening to this episode of New Horizons. If you enjoyed it, please be sure and share it on social media. Once again, thanks for listening.
Hank Stokbroekx is the VP of Huawei Enterprise Services. Based in Shenzhen, he looks after the service marketing, leveraging his 25 years in the IT industry to build and deliver high-value services for partners and customers.CLOSE
An enlightening interview with Hank Stokbroekx, Huawei Professional Services VP. | July 2018Transcript
New Horizons: Hi everyone. Welcome to New Horizons, the podcast channel for Huawei’s ICT Insights magazine. And today on this industry expert segment, we’re talking with Hank Stokbroekx, Vice President of Global Enterprise Services about Huawei’s enterprise services. So Hank, what can you tell us about Huawei’s enterprise services?
Hank Stokbroekx: Well, a lot. So within the enterprise business, obviously we have a lot of great products, solutions, technology. But, as it goes with these technologies and solutions, they need to be implemented. And before they are being implemented into a customer’s environment, they need to be carefully planned and designed. Once it’s implemented, it needs to make sure that it does what we actually promised the customer it will do, and that it provides value to the customer’s business on an ongoing basis, as well as the necessity to continue to optimize that infrastructure. So that’s what our services organization does. We provide to maximize the value of the investment that the customer made in Huawei technology, and we do that by starting from the beginning, looking at the customer’s business. Based upon that, what are their objectives? How do we design the network, the infrastructure, the data center, the Safe City according to their requirements? And then once we’ve established that, we build an implementation plan and we do the implementation, and then once everything is up and running we provide services that actually keeps it up and running and even optimizes it, so that they can extend the lifetime of the equipment. Of course, we don’t do that all by ourselves. We have a very strong partner ecosystem that helps us establish or provide all these services over anywhere.
New Horizons: That being said, I guess we provide those services worldwide?
Hank Stokbroekx: Yes. Pretty much every country in the world, we have a presence with our services. We have three main service centers. We call them GSC’s, Global Service Centers, where TAC, the Technical Assistance Center, is part of that GSC. They are based in Chengdu in China, in Romania, and in Mexico. So those are the three main ones. But then we have satellite TAC organizations, twelve of those around the world, for which we provide also local language support. And then in many countries we have local engineers to provide local services. And of course, now currently we have three thousand partners certified who provide services on behalf of Huawei, and those partners are in those various countries around the world. So yes, we do offer all our services worldwide.
New Horizons: How long does it take a partner to become certified?
Hank Stokbroekx: Well, that kind of depends. I mean, we have different levels of certification. The basic level is three star, then there’s four star and five star. And depending on which level they hire to, they need to train a certain amount of engineers, train and certify. So, we have a good training and certification program. And let’s say if you want to be a five-star certified partner, you need to have two HCIEs (Huawei Certified Internetwork Experts), which is the highest level, a number of HCNPs (Huawei Certified Network Professionals), and a number of HCNAs (Huawei Certified Network Associates), which is the three different levels that we have. In addition, you need to have a lab and 24 by 7 support and some other requirements. Because in the end, the partners are an extension of Huawei, so we obviously put a lot of attention on customer satisfaction. So if partners are delivering a service on behalf of Huawei, we want to make sure they are able to provide the right quality, and we do that through the certification program. So typically, depending, it may be some partners already have engineers trained and certified by Huawei, so it can be a matter of weeks. The five-star partner that has no certified engineers might need six to nine months to get their engineers certified, which is going to take some time. But while they are certifying their engineers, we can already give them a grace period in that they can be calling themselves five-star CSB and get all the commercial benefits that go with that. So that’s kind of how it works.
New Horizons: And as a partner, what kind of investment can I expect to put into say equipment, facilities and people to be able to provide that different tier of service level?
Hank Stokbroekx: Sure. Good question. So first of all, there is the commercial model. So the way it works with a Certified Service Partner is that obviously these partners have their own brand of services and their own service products that they sell to their customers, right? They can incorporate our services in the services that they offer to their customers. Also, the support we provide normally to end customers, with the CSB we actually provide to the partners. So the partner is the face to the customer. If they get stuck in some problem, they can escalate to Huawei. So the whole Huawei organization, the TAC, other resources, are available to the partner 24 by 7. So that’s from a service point of view. In addition, if they need lab equipment for their lab from Huawei, we have a program with very big discounts where they can purchase that equipment at very big discounts provided it’s only used in their lab. And then there are other items they will receive from Huawei like training vouchers. We can offer the training. In many countries we offer training vouchers or rebates for the training costs, so in effect they don’t, in many cases they don’t even have to pay for the training or the certification. So that’s kind of in a nutshell what we offer partners as part of the CSB program.
New Horizons: And as one of these certified partners, do they have to go through yearly recertification or is there an audit program, some kind of feedback loop from customers, customer satisfaction, for example?
Hank Stokbroekx: Absolutely. We have seven KPI’s that we measure the success of the partner. Of course in the beginning of the relationship we make a plan on what they think they can accomplish, and then we measure whether they actually are able to accomplish these objectives that we mutually agreed over the year or the multiple years, depending on the plan. Then of course we measure customer satisfaction. We measure other KPI’s like the catch rate and renewal rate, etc. And based upon that, we look at, you know, is the partner doing well? If you’re doing well, then fine, we continue to support them. Some partners maybe don’t do so well, so we look at you know, is this really the right program for you, yes or no? But that’s all part of the discussion.
New Horizons: I’m assuming partners are stratified via verticals. Or, are they?
Hank Stokbroekx: In some places yes, in some places no. For instance, if you take the railway vertical, transportation, that’s a very specific industry and one of the partners we work with very intensively is Hexagon, but there’s other partners that we work with specifically for the railway solutions, because it’s such a specific set of skills and knowledge to work in that market. Other markets maybe not so necessary, but we certainly look for partners to complement our own capabilities in specific vertical segments like partners that have good contacts within government when we have government projects, or partners that have a lot of knowledge or a lot of expertise and already maybe relationships as a side of financial services industry. So yeah, we do look at whether partners can help us in specific verticals, but we also have partners that are more generic.
New Horizons: And as a customer, let’s say I’m a new customer, I just purchased a new solution from Huawei, do we recommend partners in their area, or do we kind of leave them on their own to find out who is best to service them?
Hank Stokbroekx: Both. Sometimes when we have a lead, a customer, an opportunity, we will, we try not to prioritize one partner over the other, but sometimes we feel that a specific partner might be a better fit for a customer. But in general, we leave it up to the partners to find the opportunities, and we will support them and we will support every partner the same way. But whenever a partner needs some specific support, we might be able to provide that as well.
New Horizons: And do we send out, for example, quality of service surveys to our customers to have them rate how the partners are doing, so that we have kind of a, I don’t know, give them almost an anonymous way to give feedback to the company?
Hank Stokbroekx: Yes. We measure customer satisfaction both for our direct customers as well as for our indirect customers, because in the end, it is the end customer that pays the bills, right? So we want to make sure that they are satisfied with the products, the technology, and solutions, but also with the services. Because a happy customer is a returning customer. And so it’s in the interests of both the partner as well as Huawei to make sure the customer is happy and that we measure that. So a lot of partners have their own customer satisfaction surveys. We don’t want to duplicate that because that annoys customers, too many surveys, right? So then we use the outcome of the partner’s surveys to measure how satisfied their customers are.
New Horizons: And what does the future look like?
Hank Stokbroekx: The future of Huawei Enterprise Services looks very good. As I mentioned, the investment we are making in the automation, which quite frankly many companies are doing these days, but if you look at the effort we are putting into it, I’m sure that in the foreseeable future we will take a leading position in service delivery. Because in the end, our objective is to become the preferred service partner for all our customers. And in order to do that, we need to still make some progress, but based upon comments from customers, partners, but also industry analysts, we’re progressing very, very fast. In some areas we’re already ahead of the competition, but we still need to make a lot of effort in the next several years, but if you look further down the future, I’m pretty confident that we will have that position of being the preferred partner for, service partner for our customers.
New Horizons: Hank, can you think of anything else you’d like to add?
Hank Stokbroekx: Well, I think we’ve pretty much covered most of the aspects of the services. Obviously I could talk about this for three days, but I think for now this is OK. Thank you very much.
New Horizons: Well, thank you so much for joining us, and I hope you certainly reach out to us when you have more and more interesting things to talk about. We hope you enjoyed the podcast. And, as always, thanks for listening.
Hank Stokbroekx is the VP of Huawei Enterprise Services. Based in Shenzhen, he looks after the service marketing, leveraging his 25 years in the IT industry to build and deliver high-value services for partners and customers.
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