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AMS-IX accelerates its digital transformation with Salesforce
It’s easy to take connectivity for granted at the point of use – it feels automatic and omnipresent, almost like a natural phenomenon. But of course, the internet doesn’t just ‘happen’: it’s an incredibly complex network of networks, facilitated by companies like the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS IX) – one of the biggest Internet Exchanges in the world.
The company’s platform exchanges traffic between 875+ companies (like ISPs, cloud providers, telecom carriers, broadcasters and enterprises) while optimising the internet’s performance in the process. So when lockdown restrictions swept over Europe – and internet traffic surged by 20% overnight – it suddenly fell to AMS-IX to keep millions connected throughout months of quarantine.
CEO Peter Van Burgel has been leveraging Salesforce to help transform business operations since 2018. “As society becomes increasingly digital, every part of our operation needs to support a single, connected and fluid customer experience. And with Salesforce, we have a foundation that makes this possible.”
Why AMS-IX needed to transform – and where it had to start
The IX market is in a major moment of change. On one hand, enterprises are waking up to strategic connectivity management as they host more business critical and performance-intensive applications in the cloud. On the other, there’s intense competition from low-cost IP transit providers offering cheap, unmanaged traffic routing. Put simply, demand is rising, but so is price pressure. And to keep growing, AMS-IX needed to lay a foundation for innovation by optimising its operations.
“Users today might move between half a dozen hosted systems and services within a few seconds – from global video conferencing to business apps, to streaming media, to data sharing. More enterprises are interested in private, segregated lines, load balancing, traffic prioritisation, strategic peering, and more,” says Van Burgel. “We need to make elevated connectivity management as streamlined as possible.”
To adapt to these pressures and opportunities, Van Burgel turned to Salesforce to offer a simple, accelerated path towards strategic connectivity management for customers. Using a combination of Sales Cloud, CPQ, Einstein, and an innovative use of Salesforce Partner Community, Van Burgel has created a single, integrated platform on which to grow the business.
A digital future demands a digital platform
When Van Burgel arrived, AMS-IX was already in the process of replacing its legacy ERP system with another solution. But Van Burgel pushed for a different approach – opting for a single integrated digital platform that could connect all of AMS-IX’s business operations and provide a single place to manage customer relationships.
“Our business is hardware-driven, of course – we manage physical switches in exchange points worldwide. But when it comes to functionality and customer relationships, software is the future.”
Back in 2018, working with Salesforce partner Enxoo, AMS-IX embarked upon a two-phased project to implement the Salesforce platform, integrating the front- and back-ends of the business.
Zero-touch, zero-friction: serving a transformed sales experience
The back-end and front-end prepared AMS-IX for a much bigger change in the industry: the disruption of its traditional sales process. “The internet works because there are robust agreements between technical experts. And traditionally the best way to make that happen was through in-person networking at events,” says Van Burgel. “But since the pandemic, our customer relationships have become entirely digitally-driven.”
With Sales Cloud, AMS-IX leverages a 360-degree view of every customer to build relationships and engage with the international community remotely. And it’s just the start: AMS-IX intends to use Salesforce CPQ to closely integrate its CRM with its ERP. “Soon we’ll be able to give customers total self-service transparency between front-end commercial agreements and back-end infrastructure changes. We’ll have a fully-integrated and largely automated sales process, from lead management, to provisioning to invoicing,” says Van Burgel.
Customers will access these services via an evolved and enhanced version of AMS-IX’s customer portal – which currently offers a range of services, but requires teams to perform time-consuming manual processes. “Once everything is integrated, our customers will be able to self-serve without us having to intervene,” says Van Burgel. “Their transactions will automatically flow through our system, and the system will provision the service.”
This automation will eliminate all friction from the purchasing and service management processes – a key benefit for enterprises looking for ever-more efficient ways to strategically manage connectivity.
Einstein Analytics: helping AMS-IX make the most of its data
With its back-end integrated, AMS-IX has access to a wealth of valuable data accessible to business users – and it’s using Einstein to unlock that value. Einstein has enabled AMS-IX to produce error-free financial reports – at a fraction of the speed. Using Einstein, AMS-IX has reduced the time it takes to close the books from two weeks to just three days.
“The finance team now has 7-10 days to focus on other things, and we’re already seeing the difference that makes,” says Van Burgel. “They now have time to think up new ways to help our customers. They were reactive; now they’re proactive.”
AMS-IX also uses Einstein to analyse the company’s platform data, identifying trends to help optimise the platform and customer experiences. In the long term, Van Burgel hopes to combine this in-house data with external data, and use Einstein’s predictive capabilities to test business case scenarios that will help guide AMS-IX’s global strategy.
“Overall, Salesforce is helping us to get a much better grip on our data,” says Van Burgel. “The data becomes insights, those insights reveal opportunities, and those opportunities represent the future of our business – of better experiences and services for our customers.”
Salesforce is helping AMS-IX build a better digital society
“To serve the increasingly digital society we live in, AMS-IX has had to become more digital itself. Salesforce has made that possible. Our business now runs on Salesforce – and it’s running better than ever.”