Many people have heard of Comcast and many readers of this blog might be customers of its television or Internet services. What many might not be familiar with is its growing business services group that works with thousands of small businesses. Recently at the GrowSmartBiz conference I got to meet Jason Welz, VP of Business Services, Comcast Beltway Region. In this role, Welz oversees sales and marketing operations efforts for Comcast Business Class services throughout the company’s footprint in Southern Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and parts of West Virginia. Welz joined Comcast from Knight Enterprises, where he served as president and CEO of the privately held cable and telecommunications construction and integration firm. Before Knight Enterprises, Welz spent more than 10 years in executive leadership positions throughout the cable industry, including positions at Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable where he focused his efforts on supporting the growth of high-speed data services, telephony and business services.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk about the increasing power and flexibility that small businesses have when it comes to putting in a communications infrastructure. Here is a transcript of that interview:
Steve: Jason, you have been working in the telecommunications and Internet fields for over a decade. Are we finally at a point where convergence of technologies and affordable bandwidth gives every small business the potential to compete with their larger respective competitors?
Jason: Absolutely. If you consider the rate of broadband adoption in the SMB arena over the course of the last decade, you can clearly see the way that the adoption curve, available broadband speeds and pricing have converged to make high capacity IP (Internet Protocol) services widely available and affordable to everyone. This availability and affordability allows small firms to do things from an IT and Communications perspective that were once limited to large firms with extensive human and technical resources.
Steve: What are the components, in your opinion, of a world-class communications infrastructure that all small business should have to compete in today’s world?
Jason: It starts with a solid and scalable physical infrastructure allowing a firm’s employee’s to communicate effectively both internally and externally. This includes reliable hardware and physical network equipment and a stable computing environment. From there, collaborative software applications and highly available, high capacity connectivity to the internet supported by a 24×7 service provider with feet on the street resources who can be onsite quickly should a problem arise. Lastly, security, reliability and Business Class support layered on top of that infrastructure, provide a sustainable environment for the SMB.
Steve: Businesses would expect to get Internet connectivity services from Comcast but one area that Comcast has been expanding into is its digital voice product. How does something like that take a small business to the next level?
Jason: The convergence of voice, video and data has become a given over the last 18-24 months and there is arguably not a single firm who understands these three applications and services better than Comcast. What Comcast has done is to take its leadership position in being a world class service provider of converged broadband services and created a Business Class offering combining these technologies into a highly affordable bundle of services while leveraging Comcast’s extensive and scalable network infrastructure to deliver them. In the coming months, Comcast will further combine these services and features to create an end user experience that’s second to none. These features, particularly in the voice arena, have only been available to very large enterprises with large IT and Telecom support organizations. The rapid evolution of these converged technologies has created an environment allowing SMB’s the same experience at a fraction of the cost.
Steve: Many small business customers have some sort of connectivity to the Internet and might be surprised the Comcast Business Services is available to them. What are some of the differentiators that they might not know about?
Jason: Three things come to mind. First, broadband and ultimately wideband over cable is one of the most cost effective and reliable methods of accessing the Internet for SMB’s. Secondly, Comcast bundles a fantastic suite of services including Hosted Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint and McAfee Security suite into every Business Class connection we provide. These products help our customer’s save in excess of $1200 annually in their IT expenditures and give our customer’s the advantages of a cloud computing and software as a service platform traditionally only available to larger firms. Lastly, and most importantly, Comcast focuses on the value of our local presence in the communities we serve. This local presence allows us to provide a level of service that’s unmatched in the industry, while making a direct and positive impact in the business community every day.
Steve: To wrap up I always like to ask a “five things” questions. So for you, when a small business owner is looking to evaluate a provider for a full services communications solution, what are the top five things they should absolutely have in a vendor?
- Great value
- A partner relationship with a provider they can trust
- Products and services that will grow as their business grows and needs change.
- Being assured that the partner they choose is committed to the long-term and has sustainability – Their there when you need them!