INTERVIEW: Francois Eloy, Head of Colt Communications Services

"Our customers don't care how it works, they just want it to work!"

When asked to talk about Colt's new Communications Services business, its Head, Francois Eloy, is a little reluctant; "Customers don't want to hear about internal arrangements," he says. But when pressed he does admit that, "it matters only from one perspective: how does it make their lives easier?"

We asked Francois to why he thinks Colt's decision to re-organise its internal structure matters; "We did it to focus our business directly on what the customers need. Many organisations in the technology sector can become too internally focused; they concentrate on technical excellence without thinking about the customer experience, and their very real needs out in the real world. We've avoided that trap."

Colt Communication Services was created to develop, manage and sell tools and solutions to small and medium sized organisations all over Europe, and to do so in a very human, business-orientated, and interactive way.

"When you ask what customers want you always get the same answer: the right tools and solutions, at the right price, that just... work. They don't want a technical pitch - they want to know how the solution helps them work smarter, do more faster, so that their business can go further. Simple."

But Colt's reputation for technical excellence, its wholly-owned and managed fibre network that spans Europe and delivers highly secure and scalable communications is the point, surely? "Yes, but it's the solutions which that network can deliver that make the difference for our customers. We have to sell the solutions not the technology. Let's face it: we all take the technology for granted now."

Francois says that 2011 is an important year for Colt, "We have to move from an engineering company to a marketing company." That means shifting the focus of Colt's offering to the benefits of, for instance, its tool that enable organisations of all sizes to make the most of Cloud Computing.

"Smart Office is important because it gives customers the chance to move away from a Capex model to one that's more focused on Opex: they buy what they need, when they need it. Saves time, money and delivers agility in a fast moving world."

Surely, everyone is claiming that they can deliver the promise of the Cloud? "They are, but we are different. We have the network; we have the applications at the heart of the network, and we have 20 data centres ready to deliver the computing power customers need NOW."

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