Shifts in Buying Behavior: The New Hybrid Network Services Buyer and How Masergy Matches Up

Shifts in Buying Behavior: The New Hybrid Network Services Buyer and How Masergy Matches Up

If you haven’t read the Gartner Magic Quadrant report for Global Network Services, you should. Gartner’s research offers new insights into the hybrid network services investor and exposes this key fact:

There is a significant shift happening in buyer behavior. Enterprise network services buyers are shifting their decision-making criteria, elevating agility to the top of their needs list and placing it on par with leading criteria such as network performance and reliability.

Gartner analysts reveal detailed information about the sentiment and criteria of enterprise buyers, who are leaning now more than ever toward digital transformation and agility as they look to replace traditional, rigid networks with programmatic, software defined platforms. These findings are all new this year and demonstrate the analysts’ skills in reaching beyond business needs to drill into the buyer psyche, teasing out how enterprises are creating mindshare and making buying decisions. Let’s break down what’s changed.

From Traditional Services to Digital Transformation Enablement Platforms

The “What’s Changed” section in the report is particularly insightful, which states:

“In the past 12 months, Gartner has seen accelerated change in enterprise requirements and buying criteria for global networks. Enterprises are increasingly focusing on agility and their adoption of cloud services. . . ”

SOURCE: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global, Danellie Young, Katja Ruud, et al., 27 February 2018. G00346891

Let’s start with agility. Many of the large telco network providers are amalgamated companies with a patchwork of disparate network systems stitched together. With so many legacy systems, these companies struggle to deliver a seamless service that makes it easy to evaluate network activity and adjust on the fly. In comparison, tech companies like Masergy have a single, global software defined platform that spans the entire solution portfolio--applying agility not just by overlaying SD-WAN on MPLS or Internet transport but by infusing software defined benefits it into every network function and service component. Since our inception, we have been crafting our platform using a persistent design code hyperfocused on agility, meaning that our principles of agility, analytics, customization, visibility, and control thread throughout the fabric of our network and run deep into every offering.

Let’s talk about the buyers’ focus on cloud services. Back in 2009, Masergy was knocking on Amazon’s door requesting direct connectivity to Amazon Web Services. We were one of the first companies to approach Amazon for direct access, because we knew that the cloud was going to be a game changer for computing and storage, creating a more predictable user experience. Today, we offer Direct Cloud Connect with industry-leading service level agreements for a consistent application experience guaranteed.

From Legacy Telcos to “Smaller” Tech Partners

Gartner also reports:

“Enterprises are more willing to utilize smaller providers and innovative services consumed on an ‘as a service’ basis.”

SOURCE: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global, Danellie Young, Katja Ruud, et al., 27 February 2018. G00346891

Of course, here at Masergy, we celebrate this observation and trend in the market. Buyers are beginning to recognize that large telco providers are an anchor weight prohibiting their innovation. The systems and technologies underpinning their services are less nimble and agile in comparison. They’re known to have lower Net Promoter Scores (NPS) in comparison. I should also note that “smaller providers” may leave the wrong impression--they aren’t necessarily startups. To put things into perspective, large telcos have market capitalization figures in the $100-200B range. As a leading Visionary in the Magic Quadrant for two-years running, Masergy for example, is a financially smaller competitor but a proven player with solutions that scale.

From Rigid Customizations to Flexible Managed Services

Gartner also says:

“Global enterprise evaluation criteria are placing less emphasis on larger providers, network scale and the availability of large numbers of provider staff to deliver customized capabilities to address site- or application-specific requirements... There is also an increased emphasis on standard ‘off the shelf’ managed services, rather than customized solutions.”

SOURCE: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global, Danellie Young, Katja Ruud, et al., 27 February 2018. G00346891

Every business has unique needs and different systems, so we still firmly believe that an optimal network should be customized for the client’s environment. But let’s clarify how powerful off-the-shelf solutions can be these days.

Masergy’s approach to customization is different than you might think. Many assume we staff a platoon of IT experts to create highly customized solutions for all of our customers and their IT networks. Yes, of course, we have great network engineers, but it’s not just the people--it’s the platform. We don’t need armies of people to custom craft solutions, because our network is so modular and extensible that the work isn’t labor intensive. Our Software Defined Platform is programmatic, so we are proactively positioned to swiftly design environments by application, by location, and by end-user requirements. The platform allows us to customize at scale.

But the benefit is actually much larger. What makes Masergy’s Software Defined Platform a truly transformative technology is that even after the network architecture has been customized, the customer can make changes tomorrow, and it’s not a problem. It’s dynamic just like your business needs. Typically bespoke solutions do NOT provide a flexible network because they are designed for a single purpose. But our customizable-by-design ethos turns the idea of bespoke technology on its head. Masergy offers the best of both worlds--uniquely tailored networks with real-time flexibility. We remove the dichotomy between customization and agility. At the end of the day, our off-the-shelf platform empowers both our employees and our customers with rapid responsiveness. So, yes, a standard (software defined) solution is all you need.

Satisfaction is Not Equal: The Evolution of the Customer Experience

A final observation that should not be overlooked is the last sentence in the paragraph, which reads:

“Gartner also sees customer satisfaction continue to evolve and, as denoted through customer references, satisfaction is not equal. Both Masergy and Vodafone scored the highest through our research reference verification.”

SOURCE: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global, Danellie Young, Katja Ruud, et al., 27 February 2018. G00346891

When “smaller” providers can reliably deliver on the new hybrid network services buyer criteria (agility and cloud enablement) while also:

  • Delivering custom solutions that are still flexible
  • Guaranteeing performance, and
  • Offering real-time visibility, analytics, and remote-control capabilities, they can ensure a customer experience that is industry leading. Case in point, Masergy's NPS score that outperforms the competition.

In the end, this enterprise buyer movement is a tidal surge of recent rise. SD-WAN received enough hype that Gartner analysts are now tightly tracking hybrid network services buyers and the overall relationship between digital transformation and SD-WAN adoption. They recognize SD-WAN is cloud centric, agile, and a foundational enabler that is disrupting all industries. We learned from Gartner’s report that this hybrid network services buyer shift is part of the broader IT stack. It’s enveloped in cloud migration, and it’s the response to the increasing velocity of change. Ultimately, it’s an essential step toward the digital vortex that we call digital transformation. Thank you Gartner for shining this spotlight.

Learn how the new network services buyer has spawned a fresh set of buyer criteria--read the 2018 Hybrid Network Buyers Checklist.

About John Dumbleton

SVP, Business Development, Masergy
John Dumbleton has over 20 years experience in networking and IT solutions and has served as Senior Vice President, Business Development at Masergy since May 2008. He is responsible for strategic business development and oversees the marketing and demand generation efforts at Masergy. His experience ranges from strategic sales, channel development, and product development to business strategy and strategic acquisitions. John holds an MBA and bachelors of science in industrial engineering and operations research from Virginia Tech.