Hidden heroes – Christoffer Hillbom.
In the first part of our “Introduction To” series, we meet Head of Sales Operations Christoffer Hillbom
What’s your role at DigiPlex?
As Head of Sales Operations it is my job to oversee the management of all of our new business bids. This means that I am responsible for pulling together teams and resources to quickly and effectively respond to procurement requests from potential customers. These customers range in size from smaller local businesses, looking to move from on premise data centers into colocation for the first time, through regional and international businesses looking to optimise, relocate or create hybrid data center solutions, right up to hyperscalers looking to build out cloud points of presence to support businesses in the region. Plus of course, existing customers looking to renew and expand their relationships with DigiPlex. All have very different needs, levels of understanding and expectations. But that’s what makes it such a fascinating role.
To my knowledge my role is rare in the industry. I have an end-to-end perspective on new customers from initial lead and request for information, right through to negotiating and signing a master services agreement and the provisions that sit under it. At many of our competitors these tasks are fragmented across several different roles. I think we can act faster, more flexibly and be closer to our customers requirements by having a single role managing the whole process.
What’s your career background?
Before joining DigiPlex, I sat on the other side of the fence, managing procurement in the med-tech industry. My role there was to collate, understand and distil the requirements of multiple internal customers in order to create requirements for suppliers to bid. I was working in laboratory technology procurement – everything from high-cost laboratory automation to high volumes of scientific samples. This taught me a vital lesson in understanding the customer’s need. Some were just buying a commodity; price and availability were the key factors – providing the product met basic technical requirements. Others were investing in critical infrastructure where guarantees of performance, accuracy and efficacy were more important than cost. Knowing what the prospect really wants, and importantly, knowing what questions to ask to find out, is incredibly important in my role today.
What excites you about working for DigiPlex?
I need to speak to almost everyone across the whole of the business to perform my role, and I love it. Working with customers to truly understand their needs and then working with experts across the business to translate these into the services and outcomes we can deliver for them is hugely rewarding. DigiPlex has some of the best thinkers on the future of sustainable data centers; some of the leading designers of facilities and technologies to support these; outstanding operations people that keep them running; and super experienced business, sales, marketing, finance and HR people that keep us growing. It is exciting and rewarding to speak and work with these people every day.
What’s your soapbox issue?
Digitalisation is happening rapidly now, and more and more organisations are recognising the fundamental importance of making the right decisions on the digital infrastructure which they will rely upon. The leaders, like the hyperscalers, are already asking very sophisticated questions and are thinking decades ahead. They get the importance of sustainability and understand that if they define the outcomes they want then we, as the infrastructure experts, can be trusted to specify the technology solutions to deliver them.
Smaller businesses benefit from this foresight too – they can move to the hyperscalers’ clouds and so focus on business rather than technology. It is the medium-to-large scale organisations which need to get better at building or buying the right digital infrastructure. There are still too many data center managers that either want to hang onto out-of-date on premise facilities that they control or try to reproduce them with a colocation provider. We, as DigiPlex and as an industry, need to work hard to educate these organisations so focus on solutions backed by a sound SLA rather than a fixed set of detailed technical requirements. This will help organisations of all kinds to realise the flexibility, cost effectiveness and environmental advantages of modern data center facilities.
Outside the Office
Sailing is a big part of my life outside of DigiPlex. I live in a rural area close to the sea and love to be out sailing. Even prior to lockdown I probably spent more nights on my boat than I did in hotels – maybe fifty of sixty nights a year at sea. When I’m not on the water, or training for marathons, I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and kids getting out and enjoying the wonderful natural scenery on our doorstep.