Today, digital connectivity holds significant relevance. Our current environment is characterised by a digital landscape, where the majority of what we see, and how we communicate and interact, takes place in the digital realm. The coronavirus pandemic underscored the growing importance of digital connectivity in both business communication as well as social interactions.
The term digital connectivity is broad and encompasses many different ways in which people and systems can interact. For example, 5G networks are being rolled out across the UK to improve cellular connectivity, while superfast fibre provides internet access to over 95% of households, giving them fast, reliable access to movies, music, social media, and more.
In general, digital connectivity refers to how these technologies help people connect with one another, transforming our lives in many ways. This has also had a major impact on businesses and continues to grow and influence the economy. Today, organisations can benefit from a wide range of digital communication tools, such as superfast broadband, up-to-date computer hardware, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which can replace traditional landlines and help businesses increase productivity, sales, and efficiency.
Enjoyment and progress with every connection
VodafoneZiggo holds a strong belief that connectivity and communication are essential to society and the economy, with connectivity being so much more than just connecting networks or making contact. The company ultimately considers life to be about feeling connected to others, loved ones, friends, and family, and to the things that matter most.
Head of Cloud Infrastructure at VodafoneZiggo, Diana Geels de Koos, says: “Our mission is ‘Enjoyment and progress with every connection’, so we focus on the part where we connect and aim for exceptional customer experience.”
Upon joining VodafoneZiggo in 2021, Geels de Koos faced a crucial task: bringing the entire company's Cloud Infrastructure expertise into a unified framework. “I was hired at VodafoneZiggo to achieve this task. We were to create a new organisation because VodafoneZiggo had Cloud Infrastructure expertise within different departments and technology, and this needed to be consolidated into a new department.”
“So, I started preparations, created a task force, spoke to a lot of people, made an operating model and service and organisation design and after nine months, the Cloud Infrastructure Tribe was a fact. At the moment, I have in place an organisation of more than 70 people who deliver our infrastructure services.”
Investing in people and the digital future
In her role, Geels de Koos not only brings a huge amount of expertise but also a keen eye for people in her team. "I think it is important that people feel they're fulfilling the role that is right for them,” she explains. “And that they can grow and develop. In a sense, that can be more important than business results.”
Geels de Koos is a firm believer in the power of motivation and inspiration and thinks that when people are passionate about their work, they are more likely to push themselves beyond their perceived limitations and achieve exceptional results. In her view, fostering a culture of enthusiasm and encouragement is far more valuable to an organisation in the long run than simply focusing on meeting targets.
“I really believe in putting people into power and I believe in human beings. I am here to facilitate. I believe that if you give people the responsibility and space, and give them your trust, ask them to make their own good judgments because they are the experts, then together the outcome is much better. And it is my job to create an organisation where that can surface as much as possible.”
Geels de Koos studied Business Administration in Rotterdam. She started her career working for a company that at the time had only 30 employees but within two years grew into a company of 500. “I learned a lot from the quick growth of the company and what that did to the people, structure, products and services. After that, I moved to IBM,” she explains, “At IBM, I had my first management job and grew from role to role. At a certain moment in time, I felt the need to grow into a customer-facing role.”
Geels de Koos found that role in the technology company Oracle, staying there for more than 15 years and working in several roles. “I really liked it very much, learned a lot and saw several aspects of the company, technology and business. And then VodafoneZiggo came along and now here we are.”
Within her current role, Geels de Koos explains that one of the biggest challenges is getting the right people with the right skills. “The market is so tough,” she says. “It's just so competitive. You lose people because they get better offers somewhere else.”
The adoption of cloud technologies and implementation of security and compliance
As a trusted provider of connectivity solutions, VodafoneZiggo has an ongoing commitment to leveraging the power of technology to positively impact people's lives and strengthen society as a whole.
“We see cloud infrastructure as fundament; the basis layer of all the activities we want to do,” Geels de Koos discusses. “Cloud-native applications are the way forward. We are working with our stakeholders (internal departments) to make sure all the applications will transfer into cloud-native applications, which can then get the optimal benefit out of our Cloud Infra services.”
Making safeguarding a priority
According to Geels de Koos, security and compliance are the number one priority for her and her organisation, along with high standards of achieving both. “Security incidents in society are becoming a daily occurrence. As a telecommunications provider, we continuously monitor to detect suspicious activities and adapt our security measures when necessary.”
“So stability and security are priority number one. We have a very intense and high-quality internal requirement level which we must meet, and we must meet the Dutch regulation standards, so our standards are considered to be very high.”
Mobile operators are an attractive target due to the vast amount of sensitive data they possess. From personal information and financial details to communication records and corporate secrets, these networks harbour a wealth of information that hackers crave. If they gain access to these systems, they can wreak havoc, causing financial losses, disrupting services, and compromising the privacy of millions. Nowadays, VodafoneZiggo’s mobile network is used for B2B implementation as well as personal usage, which highlights just how important security is to the organisation.
Collaboration is key to business growth and success
User experience is crucial to VodafoneZiggo which can be achieved through secure and seamless connectivity. Partnerships are also vitally important if company growth and success are to be achieved. The company has strong relationships with Cognizant, a multinational information technology services and consulting company, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), the global edge-to-cloud company, and Red Hat, a software company that provides open-source software products and is a subsidiary of IBM.
“We have a long-term contract with our partner, Cognizant, and we work together very closely. We have good governance, we have a good relationship, and they really help us a lot. With regards to HPE, we use a lot of their products and services and we have a solid, long-term relationship with them. And finally, Red Hat. They have a platform called OpenShift, which is a container platform based on Kubernetes, which we have selected for our future networks.
“So we are now building container platforms with the OpenShift technology, we have a multi-year contract with them to support us in this project, and that's why Red Hat is important; it is strategic and it is our future platforms.”
The future of cloud services
In the ever-evolving digital landscape, VodafoneZiggo's approach reflects a commitment to both technological excellence and the human aspects of connectivity, believing that every connection should bring enjoyment and progress to individuals and society at large.
When looking to the future, Geels de Koos comments: “I would like to take the next step into automation and rationalisation; looking at the number of platforms, technologies, and skills we use, and focus on that.”
Regarding new technologies of the future, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), Geels de Koos concludes: “Of course, we look at these tools for optimisation but also for monitoring. I think it is great to have these tools and I think we can do much more with that, so we are definitely adapting these technologies and seeing where we can apply them.”
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