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COLUMN: NWN’s Secret Weapon

CRN's Steve Burke explains why a homegrown NWN experience management platform is a digital transformation game-changer.

When Jim Sullivan took the helm as CEO of CRN Solution Provider 500 powerhouse NWN earlier this year, he was surprised by what he found under the covers.

Sullivan, a force to be reckoned with in the IT industry for 30 years including eight years as CEO of Actifio, has a nose for hot technology. So when he looked at the services platform NWN was providing its top customers, he knew he had hit the jackpot. What Sullivan discovered is NWN had developed its own superior customer experience platform. Leveraging its highly priced technical talent, NWN had pulled together a collection of software tools to provide a customized data-driven view of a customer’s IT environment from the desktop to the data center. The platform includes business intelligence and analytics that are critical to business decision-making.

“The management layer was the most incredible thing to discover in the company,” said Sullivan. “It was full monitoring, provisioning and billing with an interactive knowledge database that provided any type of data analytics. This all existed. It’s amazing.”

Sullivan is now leveraging that breakthrough platform as the centerpiece of a new “solution-as-a-service” portfolio comprised of five integrated solution offerings: unified communications, security, contact center, Device as a Service and advanced technology solutions. “The killer differentiation with the Experience Management Platform is that everything is tied together,” he said. “And with our three data centers we are already providing fully cloud hosted, cloud-tested, public cloud or on-premises private cloud.”

The five integrated offerings represent a $180 billion global opportunity, said Sullivan, with the first target being NWN’s 1,300-plus customers who are buying individual solutions rather than the full integrated services experience. “Every customer has the management platform touching it but not everyone has every service, so there is a lot of upside with current customers,” he said.

What’s interesting about the NWN story is that its solutions prowess was going unrecognized as a digital transformation driver. My bet is there are many, many other solution providers who need to take a good look at the intellectual property they have created to service customers that they are not charging for or have not fully leveraged to drive digital transformation for customers.

NWN was not actively showcasing, marketing or even charging customers for the Experience Management Platform. “It is the biggest differentiator,” said Sullivan. “It’s unbelievable technology and it has been proven at scale. This is all about a full solutionas-a-service subscription model wrapped into one offer.”

Sullivan views NWN as a technology platform company rather than a value-added reseller. “Customers have business challenges and they need partners that can address those business challenges and deliver business outcomes,” he said. “We are delivering a solution as a service with a view on what is the business problem the customer is trying to solve and where do they want to take the business. Ultimately, the customer is looking for NWN to solve the problem. In order to solve the problem, you have to have the full breadth of the solution that requires the capabilities that are in the NWN Experience Management Platform.”

BACKTALK: Do you have a killer services platform that you’re not leveraging to drive business outcomes for customers? Let me know at

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