Most of the time when you hear of a big company bringing in over a billion in revenues, you assume that it's completely focused on big companies and the enterprise. This was my assumption when I agreed to take a meeting with Phil Meeks, Senior Vice President of Cox Business. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this $1 billion division of a $15 billion company (Cox Enterprises) really does care about the "little guy".
If you're not familiar with Cox Business, it's a division of Cox Enterprises that started providing services more than 18 years ago. Today the company counts more than 85 percent of its customers as small businesses (19 or fewer employees), and offers a slew of products and services, including VoiceManager (a VOIP platform), hosted security, online storage, high-speed internet, business video, ethernet services, and more.
As I mentioned above, Cox Business is focused on the small business and differentiates itself by having its locally-based people focused on local businesses. For example, imagine that you're launching or running a small business. Instead of having to think about what solution is going to make the most sense for you, and then calling Verizon, AT&T or Cox and ordering that solution blindly, Cox has a local representative that will not only talk with you on the phone about all of the options, but will even come out and meet you. I honestly thought that this type of "what are your problems, and here's how I can help" service was something that only big companies enjoyed, especially in a bad economy.
So, how does a $1 billion division continue to grow in a competitive environment? According to Meeks, Cox Business will be focusing on "selling to customers in ways that they want to be sold". This includes more focus on partners with VARs and system integrators, offering more services (managed routers, managed applications), and focusing on what he's calling the "large locals" (hospitals, universities).
One other service that Meeks mentioned was Cox's 3G network. The company had recently been in the news for announcing that it plans to decommission its 3G network and Meeks was quick to point out that Cox customers were never on this network and that the company was continuing to offer its Cox wireless services over Sprint's network.
As for when wireless is coming to the masses, Meeks mentioned that the company is currently offering wireless / mobile to its consumer market, and will soon be rolling that out to its business customers.
One of my favorite things about blogging is reviewing a product or service. It just so happens that the company I work for is in the middle of an office move in Rhode Island. So that I can try out a "real world" scenario, I'm having someone else not affiliated with the company reach out to Cox Business to see if they truly do get the professional treatment. I'll be writing a follow-up article later this month, when installation is complete.
I really do believe that Cox Business has a winning strategy on its hands. In the words of Phil Meeks,
"small businesses want someone to simplify technology for them. It's a lot easier to do that sitting across the table from them, as opposed to sitting across the world from them."
I couldn't agree more. Even though I consider myself to be a "techie", I'd much rather have a conversation with someone like Cox Business, where I tell them my problems, and they recommend and implement the appropriate solutions.