Many companies profess "customers are our top priority.” Others insist that “we always look at things through our customers’ perspective.” But ever wonder how many actually mean it?
I know one that does: Ensono. In fact, Ensono, which ranks No. 4 on the 2018 Channel Futures MSP 501 list unveiled this month, takes the idea so seriously that it puts a “customer” in every conference room it has around the world. This includes offices in places such as the U.S., India, the U.K., Poland and Germany.
In each of these locales you’ll find, “Ernesto,” an 18-inch-tall stuffed bear that sits in one of the conference room chairs. Ernesto is a metaphorical “customer” that attends every internal and external meeting. His role? Remind meeting attendees that there is a “true north” when it comes to business, which is doing right by customers.
Sound silly? Perhaps. But it works at Ensono, which we are visiting this week in Downers Grove, Illinois, as part of our rollout of the 2018 Channel Futures MSP 501.
“Anytime you say something [at Ensono], you need to assume and bring the client forward,” says Brett Moss, senior vice president and general manager of hyperscale cloud technologies at Ensono. “’Client-first’ is the most important focus we have.”
For more on the company's customer-centric philosophy, check out this video of Moss in his own words:
If you don’t know Ensono, you should. Formerly known as Acxiom IT, Ensono is a fast-growing, privately held technology powerhouse that serves large insurance companies, financial services firms and educational customers, among others. For these and other organizations, Ensono promises to protect and manage critical applications, middleware and databases so they are available and secure 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. A close partner of AWS, Microsoft – Ensono was just named the Microsoft Datacenter Transformation Partner of the Year – and others, Ensono provides IT solutions that run on everything from public-cloud platforms to internally managed systems to mainframe computers. Backed by Charlesbank Capital Partners and M/C Partners, Ensono is one of the few channel companies that has such a wide scope. At Ensono, “Millennial Mainframers” are a real phenomenon.
“We’re one of the few companies that are trying to help the public-cloud guys think long-term when it comes to the mainframe,” says Moss.
In fact, many public-cloud providers turn to Ensono for help when it comes to migrating their enterprise customers’ apps, data and/or infrastructures from mainframe environments. While Ensono has helped many do just that, it has also advised others to stay put with their mainframe technologies where it makes the most sense.
That of course, goes back to the company’s emphasis on putting customers’ interests first. More than repeat business, the philosophy has translated into better business. Customer intimacy, in fact, has helped Ensono with hiring decisions, vendor partnerships and even acquisitions. The idea to buy Inframon, a U.K.-based Microsoft Gold Partner that specializes in helping legacy customers migrate to public cloud technologies? It came directly from Ensono’s customer advisory council.
As far as latest developments are concerned, the big news at Ensono is the company’s ongoing effort to absorb the Hosted Data Services Business of WiPro, a $400 million deal it closed on June 28. After it fully absorbs WiPro’s managed hosting business, Ensono’s revenue will double to more than $500 million. And that’s just from a few hundred clients. Ensono fully expects to add a few hundred more, which means it could expand into a $1 billion channel company with as few as 500 clients in a mere few years.
Ever pragmatic, the company fully anticipates having to make some shifts, even dramatic ones, to stay competitive in the years ahead as customer buying habits shift and technology trend change.
“Just because you’re being successful at making money at something, doesn’t mean it’s a business that is core at what you’re trying to become,” says Moss.
So what will ground Ensono and help guide it to where it needs to go next? Moss says the answer is enshrined on the back of each and every employee’s ID badge. There, Ensono’s values are spelled out in simple text. Ensono’s promise is to compete with:
- Honesty — We’re transparent and accountable.
- Reliability — We deliver on our promises.
- Collaboration — We thrive as a team.
- Curiosity — We relentlessly innovate on behalf of our clients.
- Passion — We love what we do and share our enthusiasm.
When pressed about what really sets Ensono apart, Moss says it’s “curiosity,” at least for him.
While there have been times that Ernesto has been turned around in a conference room while strategists have devised new deliverables, policies and more, he’s never been kicked to the curb, lied to or forgotten.
“What I love about this company most is that we are always looking ahead, pushing ourselves to ask ‘what comes next’ and thinking about how technology will transform people, process and organizations. Whether it’s via DevOps, containers, new business models or whatever, it’s who we are,” says Moss.
Ever curious, always-on and around the globe. That’s Ensono.