Hidden heroes – Rickard Hilmersson.
In the next edition of our series we meet Head of Nordic Sales, Rickard Hilmersson and discover his passion for hockey.
What’s your role at DigiPlex?
I head a team of six people across the Nordic region selling to and looking after our colocation customers. These include small and start-up businesses looking for single rack solutions, right up to large banks and international players looking for more extensive hosting and a footprint in the region. One of our big strengths is in looking after the managed service providers (MSPs) who in turn add their layer of services to SME and large corporations. We therefore ‘host the hosts’ behind the digital transformation of many enterprises in the Nordics. All our customers, MSPs in particular, want to be sure of both operational and physical security. Our track record in guaranteed uptime and high security facilities is a significant plus for them.
My team has deep experience and knowledge across the verticals and markets we cover. My role is to support them day to day, help them by encouraging them to test new ideas and removing obstacles in the sales process. Working together and sharing knowledge as a team we deliver excellent service to customers.
What’s your career background?
I sold my first colocation rack in 1999 – before I even knew what it really was. At the time I was working in the telecommunications industry, the original home of the colocation data center! My first role in the colocation industry in 2006 was with Telecity Group (now Equinix) where I worked my way up to Sales Director for Finland and Sweden. Having been in the data center industry for quite a time, I left Equinix with a plan to do something totally different but was attracted to DigiPlex by the opportunity to really put customers at the heart of all we did. Going ‘all in’ on customers to understand their requirements and create flexible solutions to meet them was the way I wanted to work. So, I joined DigiPlex in 2018.
What excites you about working for DigiPlex?
We are at a fascinating point in the development of the market with huge opportunities for those that can deliver what customers want in the era of digitalisation. The explosion in cloud usage is transforming the experience of IT for many businesses. As it becomes mainstream DigiPlex is perfectly placed to understand the needs of individual customers as well as how the cloud service providers operate. We can advise and educate businesses on the best ways to approach cloud, hybrid and colocation solutions to maximise their impact.
At the same time DigiPlex leads on the other growing issue of our time – sustainability. Many businesses still simply do not know how much power their data centers consume and waste, and therefore do not have the metrics to inform sustainability best practices. Even with the abundant sustainable electricity available in the Nordics, energy is a finite resource. Inefficient data centers waste power, cost money and have a knock-on impact on sustainability by consuming power that could be used for other purposes. DigiPlex provides its customers regular reports that they can use to help drive their own sustainability programmes. For me personally, it is important that I am part of the effort to inform, educate and hopefully change the behaviour of all businesses to cause less environmental damage.
How do you see the industry growing?
The IT industry is always changing, and cloud is not the end of the journey. New technologies approaches and platforms will come along and more change will result. It will never stop. In the short-term, increased use of big data, AI, IoT will all drive new requirements and demand for data centers and initiate conversations about what and where resources are needed. Digitalisation is moving fast, but not in a uniform direction; many are still in a trial and error phase and cannot with any certainty predict their data and computing requirements.
This all points to increasing demand for flexibility. Data center capacity, wherever it resides, will need to scale up (and potentially down) quickly. Creating infrastructure to support this amount of change is increasingly difficult and businesses that get it wrong risk becoming locked into inefficiency or being starved of capacity. Over the coming years we will see more businesses turn to colocation experts like DigiPlex which have the expertise, scale and capacity to deliver this flexible digital infrastructure.
What’s your soapbox issue?
Customers are faced with unprecedented change – as one CIO recently told me, there are no 5-year plans anymore. Even one-year plans are subject to change. We, as experts on the foundation of the digital infrastructure need to consult with clients to help them cope with this level of change. And we need to offer this counsel at all levels within our customers organisations. The decision on the right digital infrastructure is so important for companies. It’s a crucial decision more often than not made at board level. The Coronavirus pandemic has clearly illustrated the importance of having resilient, flexible and robust infrastructure able to meet whatever is thrown at it.
Building this understanding, creating the right opportunities to have these discussions at the right time, and highlighting the multiple different elements to those discussions is a responsibility for us in the industry. We’ve already seen how sustainability has become a significant issue, and DigiPlex has led the way on this. We are now seeing the importance of our role in underpinning so many of the services that are now acknowledged as essential. We are already regarded as a leader on these issues and I believe it is our responsibility to continue to help our customers and the wider community to understand their importance.
Outside the office?
Away from work my great passion is ice hockey. I quit playing after the juniors but never lost the interest for the sport. I now manage our local junior team and I am also a board member of the club. I previously coached the youth team for many years as well and love to see the young players develop. Personally, I’ve swapped my skates for skis and I enjoy slalom skiing during the winter months. When not on ice or snow you’ll often find me at the stables where my daughter rides and pursues her interest in horses – she seems to be very good at getting me to muck them out!