Park Place Technologies (PPT) has provided third party management of IT data center equipment since 1991, currently operating in 58,000 data centers in more than 150 countries. The company strives to simplify the management of complex hybrid environments to maximize uptime, improve operational speed and accelerate business transformation for its customers.
As companies pivot to remote work as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, their reliance on technology infrastructure is even greater. So too, though, are the challenges for PPT in providing its services. PPT has stepped up to the challenge and has relied on three key tactics to not only weather the COVID-19 storm, but to grow its business during the pandemic.
Nicola Buckley, Executive Vice President of Global Service Delivery at PPT, is responsible for the field engineering and remote technical support teams, and the research and development organization. She says of the challenges presented by the onset of the Coronavirus, “Our primary business is hardware maintenance. We fix machines when they break by delivering hardware and by sending field resources to data centers to resolve issues. So obviously, the restrictions and the lockdowns presented a huge physical challenge from that perspective. Our culture is built on people: team members and customers. So, our priority as COVID-19 was revealing its impact was first and foremost the safety of those people, followed by the ability to continue to serve in essential ways.”
A Proactive Business Continuity Plan Pays Off
Buckley attributes the success of how PPT has navigated this crisis to three critical components. The first is the fact that PPT had a strong business continuity plan in place before the crisis began, which enabled the company to be proactive and nimble in its response to evolving circumstances. “We were prepared for this,” Buckley says. “We have a business continuity plan in place that was developed a couple of years ago and did include the concept of a pandemic. I would say, personally, I’m shocked that we’re exercising the business continuity plan for a pandemic, but it was there, and we were ready.”
Simply having a business continuity plan documented, however, likely wouldn’t have assisted PPT to the degree it has – what made all the difference is how the plan was communicated and practiced throughout the company. “The plan was well socialized across the organization, including training and exercising the actions in testing mode. It wasn’t a strange process for anyone to follow because it was so well circulated and well socialized,” Buckley explains. “We observed the situation unfolding in early February, created an internal task force by the middle of February, and we were pretty much all working remotely by March 16th. For an organization that openly very much emphasizes working in the office, to pivot to 100% employees working remotely within a couple of weeks was proof of the strength of our business continuity plan.”
At the heart of the plan is clear, consistent communication. “We have executive leadership calls every morning. We have team meetings with all of our team members every single day. We are constantly checking in on the teams on the road, making sure they have the right levels of protective equipment, making sure that they have the right sense of safety and support from the leadership team,” Buckley says.
The Value of a Digital-First Approach
The second factor to which Buckley credits PPT’s ability to adapt to these new challenging circumstances is a strong technological foundation. “We’d standardized on Alliance as our global platform, which replaced an outdated homegrown solution. As PPT grew and scaled, we needed an industry-leading platform for service delivery. Alliance allows us to communicate with our customers, our field service engineers as well as our remote technical support teams cohesively and tied in with our back office,” Buckley says. “This enables our team to scale, optimize, and to be very efficient in workflow.”
“Alliance also served as the platform for us to launch our E-services program, which is focused on supporting our scale and growth by ensuring our customers globally have the same accessibility and agility to interact with our services organization,” adds Buckley. “We transact roughly 11,000 service events a month, and Alliance helps us manage that volume while presenting a seamless service experience to our customers.” Two of the E-services PPT has built on the Alliance platform have proven especially valuable as working conditions and customer preferences have evolved. The first is its customer mobile app, PPTechMobile, which provides access to Central Park, its customer portal. The second is ParkView™, a remote monitoring solution that provides proactive hardware fault detection and automatically initiates service tickets without human intervention. Since the pandemic began, PPT has seen a 30-percent increase in ticket volume through ParkView.
“In light of this pandemic, digital capability is more important now than ever. It’s been instrumental in our ability to make sure that our customers can safely work remotely, but at the same time know that their data centers, for example, are running healthy and they can support their end users, and their customers, and their essential services,” Buckley says.
Quick Pivots to Meet Evolving Customer Needs Spur Growth
The third and final key ingredient in PPT’s recipe for navigating this crisis is making quick pivots to meet customers’ evolving needs. “We’ve led with flexibility,” Buckley says. “We’ve worked with our customers to be able to deliver within their requirements. We quickly realized that capital spend will ultimately be restricted and IT budgets are going to be squeezed. This demanded our flexibility in terms of how our customers need to engage with us in this time.”
To address these evolving needs, PPT has emphasized how its E-services can help companies as remote work becomes the norm. The company has also introduced new contract terms with even greater flexibility than before, to make customers feel at ease in uncertain times. “We’ve introduced new terms where customers can have very short-term contracts based on budget or based on their inability to make a broader strategic decision,” Buckley says“Our willingness to be flexible increases the trust we have from our customers. We know they are restricted in capital spend and strategic decisions, but they also can’t afford outages or risk – it’s our job to simplify this challenge for them and help them be less overwhelmed.”
Giving customers choice in services, including remote monitoring, along with prioritizing the customer perspective and challenge when determining how best to be flexible and simplify complexity has put PPT in a strong position despite the challenging circumstances. Even under the pressure of the pandemic, the company has grown.