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2022 MetTel Innovation Summit – Transforming the Customer (& Conference) Experience

Futurist and author of Technology vs. Humanity Gerd Leonard

Gerd Leonard, futurist, delivered the Innovation Summit keynote: “The Next 10 Years: Understanding the Exponential Transformation of Commerce, Business and Society.”

Where can you get major telecom carriers, enterprise IT providers, cybersecurity experts and even global PR/marcom firms who are direct competitors to sit side by side in complementary, thoughtful discussions about the most impactful trends and technologies? And where will you find some of the world’s largest enterprises in financial services, retail, healthcare and industry sharing their best practices and lessons learned with each other across verticals and functional roles? The award-winning MetTel Innovation Summit!

Recently we held our 2022 MetTel Innovation Summit at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. It was cathartic and downright joyous to get together in-person after two years of mostly virtual/remote contact with each other. I have the honor of developing the agenda and driving the overall content direction for the Summit with invaluable teamwork and support of our Director of Marketing, Anna Gehan. Of course, this is a companywide team effort led by SVP of Strategic Engagement & Transformation, Lori Thomas her right-hand man, John Franklin, Event Manager extraordinaire who ensured every detail was covered. In addition to orchestrating the event, Lori moderated customer and employee-focused panels, along with two of her outstanding business leader counterparts, Ed Fox, CTO and Max Silber, VP of Mobility & IoT, who are also strong contributors of content, presenters and hosts of our two main tracks.

In my 5+ years at MetTel, I’ve seen our nascent, conference room-level gathering blossom into a top-tier thought leadership conference for MetTel’s top commercial enterprise clients and ecosystem partners. Think intimate user conference meets a B2B version of CES for IT communications. The Innovation Summit has been keynoted by, among others, Adam Cheyer, inventor of Siri; the brilliant theoretical physicist Michio Kaku and this year, renowned futurist and author of Technology vs. Humanity Gerd Leonard. Gerd does a masterful job of weaving together the many different major technology and societal trends into an overarching narrative that explains where we are going as a human race and what we are racing toward. He raises legitimate questions about how far we should allow technology, particularly AI, to take over our lives while also recognizing the contributions and inevitability of these advances.

Panel: Delivering the Customer Experience with (L – R): Lori Thomas, MetTel; Bryan Whitley, Titan America; David Coulson, Signet; Monty Montgomery, LeDuff; John Pieratt, FIS; Ed Fox, MetTel

The MetTel Innovation Summit is designed to bring our top customers and partners together to share best practices, unveil new technologies and services to preview the future and help our clients build roadmaps to it. As you can imagine, we explore all the key pillars of transformation—artificial intelligence, automation, 5G, cyber security including its newest iteration Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), edge computing, SD-WAN, POTS Transformation, as well as mobile technology such as Mobile Device as a Service, IoT Single SIM, Internet of Things, real-time, fleet management and others.

Panel: Mobilizing the Anywhere, Anytime Enterprise with (L – R) Max Silber, MetTel; Ashley Denison, Caliber Collision; Jamie Jamison, Primo Global Water Corporation

Discussing how Everything as a Service (XaaS) via fully managed services has bridged skills IT gaps, Ashley Denison said Caliber Collision is growing 40% percent per year and requires a network such as MetTel’s that’s always on—“data now flows like electricity and supports major applications like our Nice inContact call center,” she said.

Also on the topic of XaaS, John Pieratt of FIS said his company is using MetTel’s SD-WAN and offering it to their global banking customer base. Through the SD-WAN customer portal, FIS plans to offer popular public cloud services to help banking clients meet their multi-cloud needs and offer integration assistance in this increasingly multi-cloud world.

I would like to thank our partners and sponsors in attendance this year including AT&T, Axicom, Dubber, DXC Technologies, Edelman, Fortinet, Gartner, Intelygenz, Ketchum, NETSCOUT, Qualcomm, Samsung, and VMware. This highly competitive and yet compatible ecosystem is able to overcome its differences across verticals and evolving technologies for one reason—the customer experience. Elevating and standardizing the “customer” experience—when customers can mean end users of all kinds including internal employees, partners either inside or outside the firewall or external customers—is the ultimate goal of all this innovation and investment. Regardless of how remarkable the advancement is, if it doesn’t improve the customer experience then it won’t be used and basically serves no purpose.

As John Pieratt of FIS said, “this is the year of the customer experience.” With Gartner’s strategic trend of Total Experience—a digital/multi-channel environment encompassing a brand’s customers, partners and employees—in mind, Lori Thomas and Ed Fox explored how leading enterprises are improving a consistent brand experience for both internal and external customers who consume or benefit from IT communications services. Sharing their best practices were David Coulson of Signet Jewelers, the world’s largest jewelry retailer, Monty Montgomery of Le Duff America, Bryan Whitley of Titan America, and John Pieratt of FIS, the world’s largest financial technology provider. The common themes: utilizing automation and standardizing on a high level of network bandwidth, resilience and agility to deliver the same quality of experience regardless of what mode or medium the client chooses to interact with their brands.

It’s exciting to see the conference expand and elevate year after year. This year, we were honored to hear from HJ Jung and Gary Blohm of Samsung, Jeff Monday of Qualcomm, Phillip Coleman of AT&T and Adrian Di Pietrantonio of Dubber on the accelerating progress of 5G and AI. Our strategic AI partner, Chris Brown of Intelygenz, co-presented with Ed Fox on “Making AI and Automation a Reality in the Enterprise” which included practical steps and a stealthy reveal that MetTel will begin offering AI services to clients with Intelygenz.

All that digitization needs protection as most CIOs agree and so cyber security was a major topic at the Summit as well. Despite their competitive positions, VMware and Fortinet delivered outstanding back-to-back presentations in a collegial spirit befitting fellow MetTel ecosystem partners. Thanks to Aamer Akhter and Muneyb Minhazuddin of VMware for enlightening presentations on SASE and Edge Computing and to Jonathan Nguyen-Duy of Fortinet for making Cyber Security Platform Strategies somehow serious, encouraging and entertaining, all at once. Gary Sockrider of NETSCOUT shared eye-opening war stories (literally from Ukraine) on our security panel along with Aamer, Jonathan, Ed Fox and Mustafa Baig of MetTel.

Caption: Panel: Tech as a Talent Tool with CHIEF members (L-R) Lori Thomas, MetTel, Amanda Kowal Kenyon of Ketchum; Alissa Schepisi of Edelman and Kristie Grinnell of DXC Technologies.

For the first time, MetTel hosted a panel discussion on “Tech as a Talent Tool,” during which moderator Lori Thomas drew compelling insights from Kristie Grinnell of DXC Technologies as well as Alissa Schepisi of Edelman and Amanda Kowal Kenyon of Ketchum, addressing both the technical and behavioral sides of using workforce technology as a tool to attract and retain talent in this exceptionally challenging labor market. All of whom happen to be Chief members, which is not a coincidence as MetTel believes in the mission of Chief and is actively planning further collaborations. 

With the pandemic as a backdrop, Max Silber conducted a panel with clients Jamie Jamieson of Primo Water and Ashley Denison of Caliber Collision to address how they mobilized their operations through the fully managed Mobile Device as a Service (MDaaS) solution to increase agility and deliver full operations capability for their work anywhere/anytime field teams. This year we also explored methods for innovating for greater business process (and cost) efficiency through IoT, with a special focus on vehicle fleets. Max Silber and Ryan Crandell were joined by Rob Stroud of Geotab, Brian Boychuk of BeWhere and Jeremy Mancini of Forward Thinking on the panel. Beyond the obvious benefits of getting together with highly valued customers, the Innovation Summit provides a forum to enable a whole ecosystem of peer IT executives and technology providers to bond over shared challenges and experiences to make each other better for today and tomorrow. It’s a best practice in itself and highly recommended for all enterprises.

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