AT&T CMO Mo Katibeh: Future of Enterprise Communications

With 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) about to explode in the enterprise, what does the future of communications hold for business? Learn more from Mo Katibeh, the President and Chief Marketing Officer of AT&T Business.


Apr 12, 2019

With 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) about to explode in the enterprise, what does the future of communications hold for business? Learn more from Mo Katibeh, the President and Chief Marketing Officer of AT&T Business. He discusses digital experiences, marketing strategy, customer experience, and more.

Mo Katibeh Biography

Mo Katibeh is the  President and Chief Marketing Officer of AT&T Business. He leads AT&T’s business marketing organization overseeing a P&L of nearly $37 billion with more than 3 million customers and growing. In this role, he’s responsible for marketing and product of both traditional telecom services as well as mobility and strategic services. He also oversees business solutions for cybersecurity and cloud connectivity.

He previously held the role of Senior Vice President, Advanced Solutions. He was responsible for business solutions for cybersecurity, cloud, digital, Wi-Fi and field services solutions. During his tenure, he positioned AT&T to be one of the fastest-growing managed security service providers, delivering multiple quarters of double-digit revenue growth. While overseeing digital, his team’s performance contributed to J.D. Power Awards in 2015 and 2016 for being No. 1 in Wireless Online Customer Care and Wireless Online Purchase Experience.

Prior he managed the Northeast Construction & Engineering organization where he built out the AT&T wireline and wireless network, led the deployment of LTE to over 90% of the population and led one of the fastest network recoveries in history after Super Storm Sandy. Other experiences include leading IT, National and Regional Project & Program Management, local Marketing in Houston, Customer Experience efforts and Center Operations.


Michael Krigsman: Today on CXOTalk, we are exploring the world of marketing at scale, customer experience, digital transformation, 5G and the Internet of Things, and we're talking with Mo Katibeh, who is the president and chief marketing officer of AT&T Business. Mo, how are you? Welcome to CXOTalk.

Mo Katibeh: Thank you for having me. It's great to be here.

Michael Krigsman: Mo, let's begin. Please tell us about AT&T Business.

Mo Katibeh: Very good. AT&T Business is a key part of AT&T Incorporated. We have about $37 billion of revenue each year. We're fortunate to serve, effectively, all of the Fortune 1000 and then we provide 3 million business customers with smart, edge-to-edge solutions.

About the CMO role at AT&T Business

Michael Krigsman: You are the chief marketing officer. What does that role encompass?

Mo Katibeh: Very good. Chief marketer at AT&T means the product teams work for me, so the people who are actually coming up with the products that we sell to our business customers, as well as what we call channel marketing, [meaning] how do we take those products and really craft them into solutions that work for each of our segments and each of our channels?

Many businesses out there, about 15 million in the United States, small, medium, large, call centers, direct sellers, et cetera, so really thinking through, how do we bring this to life? How do we create solutions for each one of those spaces? As well as then all of the traditional marketing functions like advertising and branding. In fact, this week, over the last couple of days, as part of the Masters, we launched our brand new advertising campaign.

Michael Krigsman: You are responsible for the product. That's pretty unusual. I find that fascinating because it means that customers are closely aligned to product development.

Mo Katibeh: That's exactly right. When we talk about the chief marketing officer at AT&T Business, it's really the old definition of CMO, the four Ps. It's the product, the place, promotion, and price. I'm very fortunate to be able to do all of those things.

Then, to your point, the customers are at the heart of it. We spend a lot of time each year really talking to customers across each one of our segments looking at what's happening across the different industries that we're serving to make sure that, as we're developing new products, as we're enhancing our existing products, we're really meeting the needs of our customers and our markets.

Changes in the Telecom Industry and Implications for AT&T

Michael Krigsman: Mo, the telecom industry has undergone such dramatic change. What are the implications of that change for how you think about marketing?

Mo Katibeh: Well, when you think about this over the course over the course of the last couple of years, it's become a little bit of a buzzword, digital transformation inside a business. Every single industry is in the middle of a digital transformation. It's a bit of a buzzword, but there is just amazing new technologies that are coming to bear that allow business customers to really think through, "How do I continue improving my operations? How do I drive new revenue? How do I create new experiences for my employees and my new customers?" blurring the physical and the digital. It's all driven by technology.

As a marketeer, the way that we've really thought about this, every industry is really in a different place, and so we need to make sure that we're able to come to the market, talk to our customers, using language and bringing them solutions that really matter to them. A couple of years ago, what we did is, we actually, fundamentally, reorganized both of our marketing teams, as well as our sales teams, to focus on key industries: retail, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, [and] the public space. Then what we were able to do was really train all of our folks on what was happening in each one of those industries and then bring our products and solution them in a way that met the digital transformation needs of each of those verticals of each one of those industries.

It really lets you have a little bit of a different conversation. Every single day, you can send out the news on what's happening inside of finance, what's happening inside of retail, et cetera, and really keep everyone up to date, as well as then be able to sit down with a customer, talk to them about what other companies inside of their industry are doing, what solutions they're using, and how it's driving outcomes that are specific to them.

The way I think about this is, simply, as I'm sure you do; I do. I get hundreds of emails a day from someone who is trying to sell me a product. A lot of times it's very broad and vague on what that product is going to do. It's not really tailored to my needs as a marketing professional. When someone comes and talks to me about a solution that truly meets a need that I have in my role, in my industry, then I'm much more likely to engage with them, to potentially try and buy that solution. That's really what we're trying to do as part of this digital transformation journey for our customers.

Digital Transformation

Michael Krigsman: When you talk about digital transformation, what's the linkage between that and this focus on customers? Why are these two linked so tightly?

Mo Katibeh: You have to become a trusted expert. You need to be someone as a salesperson, as a marketeer, that when a business customer is thinking about, "Hey, I'm thinking about this new technology," or, "I'm trying to solve this operational problem," or, "How do I create new experiences for my customers?" you have to have a relationship; you have to be seen as a trusted advisor, both for their company but also as an industry.

By making this pivot, this shift, and really thinking through, "How do we bring both our core products inside of AT&T Business, as well as best in breed third-party solutions in order to drive outcomes on behalf of those customers?" we're able to do very, very interesting things. A good example of that might be in retail. Our bread and butter has been core connectivity, whether that's IP broadband, dedicated Internet, Ethernet, MPLS.

Now, when we go and talk to a retail customer, not only are we bringing that connectivity solution, but we also talk to them about their unified communications needs. How are you promoting collaboration both with your customers as well as your employees internally? How are you thinking about getting your data into your cloud instances, secure connectivity into the cloud? How are you thinking about disaster recovery for your cloud? Are you in one cloud? Are you in multiple: public and private? How are you thinking about wrapping all of this in cyber security, your franchise locations, your network, your cloud? How are you thinking about IoT to bring new innovations and create new experiences for your customers, drive new revenue?

By taking this industry-specific approach, we're able to go to large, medium, and small retail customers, not just talk to them about one thing, but talk to them about an entire solution that can help them in their business, in their desire to stay competitive to drive for growth.

Customer Experience and Business Strategy

Michael Krigsman: Would it be fair to say that the core of this broad strategy is that ongoing relationship with the customer?

Mo Katibeh: It has to be. The customer experience, the relationships that you have with customers, are just paramount. They're core to what any business is doing in order to make sure that they're keeping their customers as well as growing it.

Another way that we've brought this to life is how we think about how we brand the AT&T Business. A couple of years ago, we were known as AT&T Business Solutions. We made a conscious choice to change that from ABS or AT&T Business Solutions, to simply AT&T Business.

AT&T Business Solutions really is about products, how you're serving the market versus how you're coming to the market to tell them about what you're capable of doing. We launched that with a campaign that we called The Power of And. You can have both efficiency and effectiveness. You can have speed and quality. You can have connectivity and voice. You can have IoT and security.

Then a year later, we moved to what we call Edge-to-Edge Intelligence, which is the way that we communicate to all of our business customers today. This is a campaign and the message that really brings to bear that AT&T Business is uniquely positioned to help every business out there, no matter what their size it, to make sure that they stay competitive and to drive growth, whether that is solutions that are needed at their branches, their premise locations, their wide area networking needs, their voice needs, their cloud, [or] cybersecurity. It really is a new way of talking to our customers and helping dispel this belief that we're just a communications company.

We have very much become a technology company. The solutions that we're bringing to market are unparalleled and, frankly, incredible, and can drive amazing benefits for our business customers.

Michael Krigsman: As you have been rethinking this relationship to the customer, it sounds like the tentacles, the implications of this are extending throughout every part of AT&T through the technology that you develop, the products that you define, the stores, and everything else as well.

Mo Katibeh: That's exactly right. We work closely. AT&T is a very large company. We act as one family internally, whether it's from a development perspective. We talked a little bit earlier about [how] we actively communicate with our customers every year on what their needs are, where they see their businesses going, what key opportunities and challenges that they're working on.

That helps us steer what we think of as our capital development roadmap to make sure that we're continuing to invest in the right places. We do that across our technology organization and our product groups, the way that we market that to our sellers, and then the way that our sellers talk about that with our customers. That could be in call centers, in our regional direct sellers, as well as for larger customers where they may have dedicated account managers.

Michael Krigsman: The notion of customer experience, again, it sounds like you're defining very many of the activities, if not all the activities, of the company around that reference point.

Mo Katibeh: That's exactly right. When you think about the customer experience, it starts with, how was my initial interaction with the person who came to me to talk about a solution? We've been doing a lot of investment not just, in the end, customer experience, if you will, but the seller experience. The customer experience begins with the salesperson that they're interacting with. How do we make it very simple for our sales leaders, our seller community to be able to have conversations about the outcomes that we can drive for our customers?

Then all the way through to provisioning, right? How does it look? How long does it take? What's the cycle time to get that solution up and running, making it really seamless, being able to communicate with our customers along the way so they know what's happening?

Then, of course, ongoing lifecycle management, if you will, right? Once a customer is established, they're provisioned, they're up and running, they're enjoying the service. How do you make sure that you're making it really simple to be able to go in and digitally look at your bill, make changes to your service, order new things, get all the details that you need? We made some material investments in something that we call our on-demand services, which give our customers the ability to go in and remotely manage many locations, download services to power their premise locations like its software, to be able to scale up and down the amount of capacity that they're using.

A story that I love about this, being chief marketing officer, I get to visit with a lot of customers. One of the things that I love to talk to them about is, how are you using the services? Why did you buy this particular solution?

There was an HR company that, basically, what they did is, for small and medium-sized customers, they were their outsourced HR, payroll, et cetera, for companies that didn't want to do that in-house. They were subscribing to some of our on-demand services, including seamless, secure cloud connectivity. What they would do is, every other Friday, they would go in and scale up the amount of bandwidth that they needed. Basically, on payroll day, they would go in, and they would expand out the capacity that they had available to them. Then off-peak, on the other days of the weeks, they would scale it back down, so they only had to pay for the capacity that they needed.

This is a fundamentally different way of thinking about both networking and being able to move workloads into the cloud. They loved it. It worked for them. It was amazing, and I love that story. They do the same thing kind of once a year for a whole month when there was the enrollment process for benefits for the following year for their customers.

How to Drive Change Through a Large Organization

Michael Krigsman: Mo, as you are thinking about driving this kind of change through AT&T, how do you go about reorienting such a large organization to place the customer as that reference point, as you've been describing?

Mo Katibeh: It starts, I think, for any business, on, how are you structured organizationally? Then, what are the key metrics by why you measure those organizations? For us, it really came back to, a couple of years ago, fundamentally reshaping not just sales, but our marketing organization to really tightly couple together our marketing team with our sales organization to make sure the customer, based on the industry that they were in, was at the heart of that.

It also is about, how are we investing in digital tooling, both for our sellers to make the selling experience very simple for them, the provisioning process to take out cycle time, and then the digital tools by which our customers could come in and then engage? If they wanted to call someone, it was absolutely an option for them. If they wanted to engage with us digitally, they could do that as well. Just continuing to give more and more capabilities to our customers both for being able to buy online.

If you look over the course of the last year, we've taken products that customers could never buy online from any communications company have made those available, whether it's our DIRECTV TV services, whether it's premium business class dedicated Internet, whether it's cybersecurity solutions, whether it's voice solutions. These are things that, historically, no company was offering online. We're seeing really strong engagement from our customers on a desire when, "Hey, I don't want to call a call center. I don't want to talk to an account person. I just want to go in and manage these things themselves," is really understanding the ongoing dynamic of the change of the business buyer and in making sure that you're meeting those needs.

Actually, I mentioned a little bit ago, we just launched a new advertising campaign. That campaign really speaks to this as well, which is, the business decision maker, the technical decision maker, the buyer is getting younger every single year. About a third of millennials now tell us they are the sole business decision maker for their company. Over 40% say that they're actively involved as part of the decision-making.

Again, smaller businesses, medium-sized businesses, larger, the larger you get the more decision makers and influencers are out there as part of the buying process, and so it's important for us, as you think about this generationally, you have an entire generation of business decision makers that have grown up with consumer experiences. Consumer experiences, over the last ten years, have just become so much simpler, digitally enabled and, from the way that we think about talking to them and investing to meet their needs, back to your point of putting the customer at the center of everything we do, it's really about optionality. Digital bi-flows, digital self-serve, the ability to call in, the ability to ask for more information online, and enabling all of those things for those customers.

Michael Krigsman: Mo, we have a question from Twitter. Sal Rasa asks, "Why do you think some organizations still consider communication to be a soft issue that's not connected to the bottom line and what kind of cultural shifts are needed to address that?"

Mo Katibeh: I'm going to interpret that question as meaning internal communications within an enterprise or a business. I can just tell you my approach to this and the way that I think about this, which is, most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else.

I've got a couple of small children. I have a wife that I love and adore. I realized a few months ago, driving into work, that I actually spend more time with my boss, my supervisor, than I do with my wife. It was an incredible realization for me, and I kind of laughed out loud. I called my wife; I talked to her about it.

As I was thinking about this and I was driving in, I realized it's so important for anyone who has the opportunity to be a leader inside of an organization to create a culture where people love coming to work. That's really been my approach within my organization of, how do you create a culture of flexibility, of leaders that are actively leaning in to understand what's happening inside of their organization? Whether it's small things or large things, really creating the culture that they want to be a part of. For me, communication becomes an absolutely key part of that every single day.

I used to have a mentor, a boss I used to work for. He's like, "If something is really important, you can't say it one time. You can't say it two times. People will start really paying attention after about the sixth time that you've said it."

Just continuing to communicate within your organization, to me, it's not just something that has to be soft. It's something that everyone has to actively think through. How do I create the culture I want to be a part of? How do I make sure that I'm creating the culture where people wake up every day and they're like, "I want to go to work. I love the mission that I'm a part of. I understand my contribution to that mission"?

You have to continue to stay in front of your teams, your peers, your supervisor. If you're fortunate enough to have people in your organization that work for you, them, and just continue to communicate the same message over and over again. Be visible every single day.

What is 5G and Why it is Important

Michael Krigsman: I want to again remind everybody; we're speaking with Mo Katibeh, who is the CMO at AT&T Business. Mo, we've been speaking about customer experience and how central that is to AT&T and to what you're trying to do. Let's talk about 5G. Why is that so important?

Mo Katibeh: I love 5G. At the heart of this question is, I fundamentally believe that 5G, coupled with technologies that are really coming to life at the same time as 5G like edge computing, like IoT, like machine learning and AI, will fundamentally transform our society over the next ten years.

Before I look forward, let me just take a minute and look back. I mentioned a few minutes, I've got two young kids. I've got an eight-year-old son.

A couple of months ago, I was chatting with him. He was playing on his smartphone. It was an iPhone, and he made a comment about how much he loved it and what an amazing device it was. I told him, "Hey, did you know that the first time that the iPhone came out was just 11 years ago?" All right, it was a few months ago.

He was all shocked. He looked at me, and he was like, "What did you watch your videos on? What did you play your games on when you were a kid if you didn't have an iPhone?"

It made me just step back and think [about] the things that have come out in the last ten years. LTE allowed for the mobilization of the American worker. It created the application ecosystem. It created the gig economy, all these things that we just kind of take for granted and they're part of our everyday lives. Arguably, most people wouldn't have been able to even imagine those things ten years ago.

When you kind of play that forward and you think about the next ten years, my crystal ball is as good as anyone. I wouldn't pretend to know every single innovation that's going to come out from this technology. But what I do know is it will be extraordinary.

Kind of playing forward this example, when you think about some of the fundamental differences of 5G relative to LTE, people understand, "Hey, this thing is going to get a lot faster," so just massive speed and, "Hey, I'm going to get a lot more throughput," so just extraordinary capacity. One gig plus speeds will be available mobily.

Then the third thing, which I don't think that that many people fundamentally understand yet, and it's really going to come to life over the course of the next year, is latency, like truly incredible, low latency.

I was having a conversation. They were like, "What is this latency thing?" When you think about, you're on a device, you go out, and you start streaming music, downloading a video, surfing the Web, or what have you, you're sending a signal out to a place where that video, that music, or that webpage is. Then it comes back and it starts loading on your mobile device. Latency is the amount of time that it takes for that signal to go, come back, and the thing to start. In today's world, that's kind of over 100 milliseconds.

With 5G, we're going to get into the sub-20 millisecond range and, in many cases, sub-10 millisecond. Why this matters is, the way that our brains work, scientists believe that we process reality at about eight, nine, ten milliseconds. Once you have a network that is able to deliver latency at that level, it's effectively at the same speed, at the same latency at which you're processing the world around you. The innovation that can come from that will be unparalleled.

The other key thing that will fundamentally change is, when you think about wi-fi today, you can connect hundreds of things to that. In LTE, you get into the thousands of things per square mile. With 5G, you get into the millions of things. Again, when we think about IoT going from millions of connections today, hundreds of millions of connections, most forecasters believe that will go into the billions. It will be driven by the advent and the deployment of the 5G networks.

Again, how will it fundamentally change society? These things come over time, but I'll give you one example. Today, on the AT&T network, we have, at the end of the fourth quarter of '18, 51 million connected devices. By far the most connected devices on any network in the United States and, for the last couple of quarters before the end of the year, we were averaging about one million new connected things every single month. It's extraordinary. Already, we're seeing amazing use cases come out of that.

As an example, the first connected prosthetic limb is on the AT&T network. What does this mean? This means that medical professionals can now, with appropriate consent from people with prosthetic limbs that are using this technology, collect data. Instead of just being able to see how someone is using it in the clinical environment, they can get significantly more data on how it's being used in everyday life. Learn from that, which will then help create the next generation of prosthetic limbs.

Connected assets: We made an announcement. Red Bull is connecting up to one million coolers all around the world on the AT&T network using our IoT devices. This allows them to know, "Hey, where is my cooler? Did someone pick it up and walk off with it?" It lets them know when the door to the cooler is being opened so that they can improve their logistical supply chain on, "When do I need to go refill that cooler with Red Bull?" It allows them to monitor the temperature inside of it. It's very important to them that people are buying their drink at the right temperature, that it's kept constant.

Another one is a Samsung SmartThings. Basically, it's kind of like a one-inch white square. You can put it on anything, in anything, and it'll let you know where it is every 10 minutes, every 15 minutes, every hour, or kind of as you pull the data.

Well, back to 5G and IoT. My son, again, he's eight. He likes to ride his bicycle, but he's kind of nervous about going around the neighborhood, so I've been taking this connected SmartThings, and I give it to him to put in his pocket. Then he rides around the neighborhood. I can literally, in real time today, monitor him on my phone.

We're already working with bicycle manufacturers to literally put the same technology inside of the bicycle. Instead of needing a separate thing, the bicycle will be tracked.

Over the course of the coming years, we're already deploying smart cities, smart traffic lights, connectivity inside of vehicles. You will have this shift of autonomous vehicles that talk to the stoplights that talk to the bicycles and truly drive a connected society that will fundamentally change the way we live.

Pick a number of years, whether it's five years, eight years, or ten years from now. That will be the new norm. People will wonder, "Oh, how did I ever live without this in the past?" It's all being enabled by 5G. That's just one example.

Michael Krigsman: How does a company like AT&T position itself to take advantage, to envision the future? Obviously, you're developing technology.

Mo Katibeh: Right.

Innovation and Customer Outcomes

Michael Krigsman: Given that technology, you're, in a way, in the same boat as the rest of us trying to think of those applications and think about innovation and where it's going to be in the future so that you can take advantage of it.

Mo Katibeh: Exactly. Part of this goes back to talking to customers, business customers. What are they doing? Talking to consumers and looking at trends that are happening in the world and where that's going.

What I love about being CMO of AT&T Business is that, literally, every consumer outcome, every consumer benefit, product, is made by a business. And so, when we talk to businesses and we partner with businesses, we get to think through how to create that next generation of business-to-business-to-consumer outcomes. Frankly, if you go look at all the announcements that we've made around business and 5G, all of them, in some way, have tied some incredible consumer benefit into what we're doing with a business.

A great example of this is, we're working with one of the leading hospice providers, the leading hospice provider in America, a company called VITAS. We're doing some 5G trials with them starting in California. It started a little bit earlier this year.

What VITAS does is they help hospice patients, people who are approaching end of life. It's an incredibly human moment. It's something that all of us will go through with friends, with family, with ourselves. As you're approaching that point in your life, you really want to have the best possible experience you can.

What VITAS does is really pain mitigation, pain management, whether that's in a hospital location or in a patient's home. They wanted to understand how could 5G be used to really help the people who are going through that time in their lives.

One of the interesting findings was, you can shift away from using opioids if you're able to use augmented reality and virtual reality as an alternative to the opioid. The trials we're doing with them is things like, can you use VR to help someone go back to the place that they grew up? Can you help them go on an experience that they never had, like go to Peru and Machu Picchu or go visit the Eiffel Tower?

Something as simple as virtually be having dinner with your family if you're in a location, in a bed, or at home and you're eating but, using VR, you're able to have dinner with your family who is hundreds or thousands of miles away, seeing your children and your grandchildren. This is a really amazing human outcome, but it's driven through 5G and businesses. Working with businesses every single day, part of what we do, what we love, and what we're humbled by is thinking through how the world will change by using the technology that we're bringing to the market.

Michael Krigsman: Again, I keep coming back to this, your reference point. You have a very disciplined way of thinking about the products and the services with 5G, all the other things that you've been describing through the lens of, how do we enable this better customer experience in whatever vertical domain it happens to be.

Mo Katibeh: I think all of us, at the end of the day, we don't buy products. We buy outcomes. I buy a car because I want to be able to get from my house to my work. I buy some trip or vacation because I want to be able to spend time with my family and do something amazing and give them a new experience.

Business customers are no different. They're not buying products. They want an outcome for their business. How will this help me better compete? How will this allow my employees to communicate in a new way and collaborate in a new way to drive some outcome, become more effective, enjoy coming to work more while, at the same time, enabling, creating new products that drive new revenue for me?

Any time, to your point, we're talking to a business customer, we're not talking about our products. We're talking about the outcomes that we can drive for them, whether that's helping them become more efficient, creating new revenues, creating new experiences, blurring what's happening in the world of digital and physical. I appreciate you recognizing that. I think it evolves past being a disciplined approach and it just becomes the culture that we've built internally in how we approach this.

Digital Transformation and Culture

Michael Krigsman: This notion of cultural mindset, in a way, you're getting right to the heart of the real challenge of digital transformation is getting everybody on the same page so it's not a playbook, but it's just how we operate, how we always think.

Mo Katibeh: Exactly right. As I mentioned, the way we really approach this is by industry because each industry and their customers, whether they are other businesses or consumers, really is at a different place relative to their digital transformation. One of the amazing things that we're doing in manufacturing is, and we haven't really talked about that as an industry, we're talking to them about 5G and a technology that I made a brief reference to earlier that's called Edge Compute.

Again, manufacturers are interested in, how do I ensure that I minimize defects? How do I make sure that I keep my production lines up? How do I ensure that I am keeping my workers as safe as possible?

One of the things that we're doing with the Samsung Austin Semiconductor, a global technology company, was really interested in how they could use 5G and Edge Compute to learn about the power of this technology. They're setting up a 5G innovation zone in Austin, Texas, to learn. We're doing it with them. We announced this some number of months ago in the fall.

First and foremost, it was about, "Hey, if I deploy 5G and I deploy Edge Compute, think of that as a local cloud instance that's at my business location. Can I drive new outcomes using sub-ten millisecond latency?"

It really started with, "How do I keep my workers safer? Can I deploy sensors that will detect things that perhaps even a human being can't detect with our five senses, do it in near real time, and then, as needed, direct employees to leave the premise? Is there a way for me to monitor the output use of my plant using cameras, videos where someone who is doing quality inspection literally wouldn't be able to look at that and detect that there's a defect? But by using cameras with sub-ten millisecond high capacity low latency takes a picture, compares that using machine learning and AI to what perfection should be and, if immediately a defect is spotted, we can shut down the production line and save significant amounts of money.

Really, again, it comes back to outcomes. How can you talk to business customers about what's important to them? Then the technology simply becomes a way of driving the outcome versus that you're trying to sell a product.

Michael Krigsman: You have a very deep, deep relationship with these customers where it sounds like you're combining an understanding taken from them, co-creating, coinventing, co-innovating their needs with your understanding of the technology and how the pieces of the technology can fit together in novel ways and where it's all going. It sounds like that's the game you're playing. I shouldn't call it a game. That's your focus.

Mo Katibeh: That's absolutely our focus. A few years ago, we actually, to the point you're making, set up what we call foundries or innovation labs. They're scattered across the United States, and they're scattered across the world.

Each one of our innovation labs or foundries has a specific focus. There's a healthcare one in Houston today. There's an IoT one that's in a suburb of Dallas called Plano. We have one focused on automotive in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.

To your point, one of the amazing things that we can do is we'll invite business customers in to literally co-create, to think out loud. So many amazing innovations have come out of one or two or three-day sessions where people literally come in and we show them lots and lots of examples of what we've created before. A lot of these IoT innovations I talked about a little bit earlier have come through this process.

Then we can even fabricate examples, mock up what this could look like, so that they can go play with them operationally in real time after these sessions. I think one of my favorite examples of this was, a company came in and they had a lot of distributed assets across America. A lot of them were in rural areas. They wanted to be able to service them more effectively, as well as monitor these assets.

The way that they had approached it historically was, literally, someone had to go look at gauges on tanks, if you will. And so, they came into our foundry. In a couple of days, as we thought through the opportunity there, we were able to help them by saying, "Hey, look, there are off the shelf technology that, together, we can create something for you that we think will fundamentally change the way you operate."

Take a little bendy straw. You can attach that to a tank. You can put a cellphone type of camera at the end of this. We can power it with a small module that's connected to our cellular network. That camera looks at the gauge and, every X seconds it takes a picture of it. That picture is sent to a cloud instance.

We use optical character reading technology, OCR--it's been around for decades--to convert that picture into text. Now, all of a sudden, you can do this across thousands of instances across the country; on a regular basis, be sending this information into a cloud and, via a simple portal, be able to monitor all of your assets. This was a fundamental game-changer for them in terms of the operational efficiencies of their business and they loved it. To the point that you made, really, this co-creation process with businesses and then ensuring that we're able to understand each one of those by industry and continue to replicate them and talk about them is absolutely core.

Advice to Business Leaders

Michael Krigsman: Can you share advice for companies, folks in business who are listening and they want to adopt this kind of -- I'm not even sure of the word. Customer centricity doesn't quite capture it, customer focus, customer experience. What advice do you have for these folks?

Mo Katibeh: Well, I'll answer that two ways. I'll say, if anyone is interested in the things that I've referenced, in the short-term, one of the challenges, if you will, that I always give business customers when I visit with them is, you should really look at where cost pools exist within your company. What are you spending money on? Look at IoT as a technology that can help you with your cost.

IoT is here. As I mentioned, one million new connected devices on the AT&T network every single month for the last six months of 2018. The outcomes that are being driven through that across every industry, no matter where your company is, whether you're in healthcare. I talked about connected prosthetics. I can give you examples all day long of just amazing things, outcomes in the field that are being driven by connected medical devices. Whether you're in retail and you start thinking through digital signage. How do you compete with physical locations, with Web startups, et cetera?

IoT is a core technology that can help you take out costs and allow you to create entirely new experiences. If you do a simple Google search on AT&T Business IoT, you can go to our digital properties, learn more about this, and then engage us. We're happy to reach out to you.

When you think about, then, how do you engage and improve the customer experience inside of a business for your end customers, it really becomes a question of, how can you apply both the cultural things that we've talked about, engaging your employees to be part of that journey? Your employees have the best ideas on how to improve the customer experience.

As we've gone through this journey and something we do every single year, I talk to our frontline sellers on a regular basis. Every time I travel, I meet with our frontline sellers. I meet with our frontline operational people on where do you see are the opportunities for us to lean in and help you and then make investments to improve your experience and the end customer?

Then, create a culture where people love to come to work. Ask the questions, whether it's an anonymous survey. Create culture committees where people can gather up information from the teams that they work on. Then listen to them and then take action; communicate out the actions that you've taken to keep improving that culture. Your employees are priority number one who in turn drive the end customer experience. If your people are happy, all the studies show your revenue will be higher. Your end customers' experience and their satisfaction is going to be higher. IT's a no-brainer.

Michael Krigsman: Wow. You've just given us a college level course in about 30 seconds on digital transformation. Mo Katibeh, thank you so much for taking the time with us.

Mo Katibeh: I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Michael Krigsman: Everybody, you've been watching CXOTalk. We've been speaking with Mo Katibeh, who is the CMO of AT&T Business. Be sure to subscribe on YouTube and go to our website and subscribe to the mailing list. Thanks so much, everybody, and have a great day. We will see you soon. Bye-bye.

Published Date: Apr 12, 2019

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 590