Zen challenge industry norms at partner event

This year’s Zen Partner event took a different approach to the usual industry-focused presentations with a healthy mix of entertainment, inspirational speakers and industry updates. Host for the day was stand-up comedian Gary Delaney who kept everyone entertained with his witty one liners and closed the event out with a 20-minute stand up session.

One of the highlights of the day was the inspirational story of five time Paralympian and motivational speaker Marc Woods. Marc delivered an uncompromisingly honest message to Zen’s Partner guests with some key learnings around team work and how really listening to and understanding people’s fears can make a huge difference to team performance.

Following a similar vein, Zen CEO Paul Stobart gave his take on what leadership is about, encouraging everyone to follow three key principles of good leadership – listening, appreciation and asking questions. Paul touched on how to deliver an excellent customer experience, and emphasised the importance of getting the basics right remembering back some fifteen years to a time when he had to buy four cot beds for his two sets of twin girls – on that occasion, he explained, his chosen retailer got everything right.

Back to industry

Bringing it back to industry, keynote of the day was from Openreach Single Order Product Lead, Gordon Cannon. Providing an overview of Openreach’s SOGEA progress, end of life for WLR and Openreach’s plans to enable UK to become a fully digital nation by 2020, Cannon called on all of industry to support their ambitions for a Full Fibre Britain.

Cannon pulled out some key figures around Openreach’s plans to build the fastest, most reliable and future proof connectivity across the UK, with some notable updates including:
•£59bn – potential boost to UK productivity by 2025 through nationwide Full Fibre.
•500k – nationwide Full Fibre could bring half a million people back into the workforce.
•270k – people could be free to live and work where they choose because of Full Fibre, including rural communities.

Similarly, Zen CTO, Justin Fielder gave a frank overview of where the channel and wholesale market is headed challenging Zen’s Partners to think differently in order to excel in the market. Analysing the trends highlighted by recent Ofcom research Justin looked at the rise and fall of voice as the telecoms industry experiences a notable shift in spending. He outlined what this could mean for businesses and where Zen’s focus now lies.

Fielder also produced compelling figures that posed questions around the future of Ethernet. Looking at the fall of leased lines and in leased line pricing, Fielder concluded that Ultrafast is rapidly gaining ground. He cited Zen’s own customer figures – while the current customer base is 97% FTTC, the trend is shifting with order intake of FTTP at 19% and steadily increasing.

Speaking about the event, Robert Speight, Chief Sales Officer from Cloud CoCo, said: “We’ve had a fantastic day. It has been really fun, it has been really light but also informative about Zen and what is happening in the future.”

A customer of Zen’s for over ten years, Paul Burns, CTO at TSG, commented on the event, “The experience at Zen’s Partner event today has been great. It has been one of the most interesting Partner conferences I think I’ve been to for a while with a good mix of product information and knowledge but also some motivational speaking.”

Zen Partner Excellence Awards

The event concluded with the annual Zen Partner Excellence Awards. This year’s winners:
-New Partner of the Year: CloudCoCo
-Connectivity Partner of the Year: Telesis
-Partner of the Year: Myson Pages
-New Wholesale Partner of the Year: Zone Broadband
-Wholesale Partner of the Year: 5G

Speaking about the new partner of the year award win, Mark Haplin, Managing Director, Cloud CoCo, said, “Absolutely delighted. We’ve only been in [the industry] for about 18 months so to win an award in our infancy…extremely pleased with that. We’ve got a great working relationship with Zen. We really appreciate the award, it’s a special day for us.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine