Aptum Technologies: helping customers maximise technologies
Susan Bowen, CEO and President of Aptum discusses technology trends and her predictions for the year ahead.
Could you tell me a little bit about your company and your role at the company?
Headquartered in Toronto, Aptum Technologies is a global B2B company with 14 data centers and customers in 43 countries. Aptum means ‘adaptability’, an essential business trait that’s key to success in our rapidly evolving market. With a 20-year heritage helping customers maximize technologies to store, manage, move and secure their critical data, Aptum is one of a select group of companies able to offer true hybrid infrastructure solutions with secure Data Center, Cloud, Connectivity and Managed Services across North America, Latin America and Europe. Aptum is the first independent neutral host provider of small cell and 5G infrastructure in Canada, with 3,400km of metro fiber networks across Toronto and Montreal. Aptum has the fiber and data center assets to be a key partner for businesses and address what organizations need to know to be prepared.
I have been the CEO and President of Aptum Technologies since May 2019. Prior to this, I held the position of President at Cogeco Peer 1 and before that Vice President and General Manager of EMEA for three and a half years, based in the UK. As CEO and President of Aptum, my purpose is to guide and empower the Aptum organisation to drive growth for our customers and our business, enabling Data as Infrastructure globally.
What are the current trends within your industry?
One of the biggest trends we have seen this year is the growth of 5G. According to Gartner, 5G infrastructure revenue will hit $4.2 billion dollars in 2020, an eighty-nine percent increase from 2019. As 5G begins to roll out, existing sites are being modified to accommodate the new technology and new sites are being built to meet the requirements of localized areas. Companies will be able to take advantage of this wider infrastructural investment. Applications that use AI will be able to process data quicker and produce a real time response. The implications this will have on automation, particularly within manufacturing, will be revolutionary.
At Aptum, we recognized the need of our customers to adapt, and so we became Canada’s first neutral-host provider of 5G infrastructure. From this, customers can leverage our existing high-performance connectivity through our 3,400 km metro network to complete transactions, communicate and innovate.
What makes your company competitive?
Aptum does not merely provide advice to businesses, it accompanies them on their digital transformation journey. Our adaptable approach means we are consistently meeting the evolving needs of our clients and helping them maximize the value of their data. Whether that is recommending the best cloud model to adopt or assessing a company’s infrastructural needs, Aptum remains committed to assisting businesses achieve their key performance indicators (KPIs).
Our employees also differentiate us from other businesses. Our teams are dedicated to the needs of our customers, and really provide a personalized approach to meeting their demands, helping them reach their potential and adapt in an ever-changing business environment.
What innovations has your company been developing during 2019?
2019 was an exciting and innovative year for us at Aptum. This summer, the company undertook a rebrand. At the same time, we announced two new offerings to expand and enhance our customers’ hybrid cloud options. The first is Cloud Connect, which is an offering that provides users with a dedicated and secure connection to cloud services. The second is Managed Amazon Web Services (AWS) which complements our similar offering around Azure. Our services include consultation, design, solution build and configuration, migration, project management, ongoing service management and optimization as well as constant expert support. Our AWS offering is available in Canada, the U.S. and the UK.
What are your predictions for the industry in 2020?
Hyperscale adoption will continue to grow in 2020. Many companies feel their IT infrastructure cannot evolve quickly enough to meet future requirements. Hyperscale infrastructure provides an alternative and lifts the burden of significant investment in IT frameworks. Hyperscale data centers provide huge opportunities but not all businesses have the skill and expertise to be able to leverage them. As such, organizations must engage with strategic partners to help them capitalize on the benefits hyperscale infrastructure has to offer.
Fiber in 2020. The growth of companies setting up for 5G wireless services will result in increased demand for fiber-based bandwidth in 2020 and beyond. Much of the industry’s focus is on wireless innovation, but we must not forget that high-bandwidth and wireless services require dense fiber networks to support them. In 2020, service providers will need to work on business plans to understand where they should establish their own fiber and where they should rely on fiber from third parties.
Investment in cloud security. The rise in the number of devices used to access the cloud, along with the increased volumes of data, significantly reinforces the need for cloud security. Cloud security will be an important focus in 2020 because while cloud allows businesses to meet global mobility expectations, it creates a larger attack surface for cyber criminals. As a result, the sophistication of cloud security products and services will need to increase to eliminate these threats.
To achieve this, organizations must understand their data as infrastructure opportunities that can take full advantage of the best tailored response, recognising the option of a true hybrid, multi-cloud managed services solution that helps move workload between the clouds, on-prem and off-prem public and private environments.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.