Spinning a ‘Webb’ of Success

— Darren Webb, Managing Director, DCSG. (Second from the left)

Darren Webb is the Managing Director and SVP of DSCG Data Centres in Singapore. DCSG is a privately held data centre, providing software defined services to global enterprise clients, from the US, Europe and Asia. DCSG work with some of the largest users of data centre services, utilising the very latest in design and software technology. 

Today is a story about how Darren managed to spin his web of expertise and skills to turnaround a underperforming data centre to one of profitability.

Starting with DCSG Data Centres in June 2016 in a short timehe has managed to turn everything 180 degrees.

Darren tells us that for the first few years of DCSG’s operation in Singapore, the facility was utilising existing provided shared infrastructure. In 2016, they decided to take on a major capital investment programme which, when completed, delivered their own dedicated infrastructure, including diverse chiller plant and dedicated power supply resulting in a Tier 3 Data Centre design. Customers now enjoy a great deal of diversity, both from a power and chilled water perspective.

“We can provide up to 20MW of power, ensuring that we can serve the biggest users of power, including the hyperscale customers”

I asked Darren about the process of going from under achieving to profit making and infrastructure deficiencies. The DC has a competitive local market with 40+ DC’s in Singapore, but must also compete regionally/globally. 

When taking over this under performing asset, Darren set out to turnaround the business; 

  •  determined the dedicated infrastructure needed investment 
  •  drive operational cost efficiencies by reshaping organisational structure 
  • working with vendors to ensure they were maximising their return on operating spend
  •  whilst maintaining operational excellence. 

“In the last 2 quarters we have closed in excess of SGD $8m TCV dollars of new business, securing extensions and growth from existing customers and bringing in new logo customers from the FSI space” 

‘We compete on focussing on customer delivery excellence. We are clear that customers have plenty of options in Singapore so we like to focus with potential new customers on our service, what will it feel like to be a customer of DCSG, what does excellence look like to the customer. We don’t simply focus on SLA’s – in fact I believe SLA’s are important – but not where the sole focus should be’. 

Darren further stated that ‘we take the focus away from a piece of paper, and more on the ongoing relationship, constantly looking for ways of working with our customers to ensure we are always 

delivering excellence. We are confident our infrastructure is great, we are confident that our solution is great, but we are most proud of our ability to build strong and deep relationships with our customers’.

Continuing on, I enquired about physical and operational inadequacies and technological restraints. What did Darren identify that needed to be ‘fixed’ and what were the processes implemented to address these problems? 

It was clear to Darren when he joined the business that although there was good SLA provision, it was provided via shared infrastructure which wouldn’t suffice for many potential customers. ‘Customers wanted us to have more control, so we made the decision to invest in our own infrastructure. When we combined this infrastructure, with a great deal of diversity and enhanced control built in, with our modular solution we are confident that we can meet the most stringent of customer requirements’. 

DCSG is proud of its modular solution, believing it delivers much more flexibility and security to customers, recognising that some customers require other solutions, including traditional raised floor deployments all the way to the powered shell. To address this issue, Darren is looking to deploy traditional raised floor to sit alongside the modular solution, already offering a powered shell and white space. ‘This allows us to increase our addressable market, satisfy more customer demand, in different market verticals, and also allows us to better differentiate between the solutions offered at site. We believe this also becomes a differentiator in the market’.

Just what were the key identifiers needed to turnaround the business?

The key points are; 

  •  looking across your P&L 
  •  looking for operating efficiencies
  •  ensuring that there is no potential impact on customer service/delivery or in-life management.

‘But driving efficiencies isn’t enough – we needed to win new business so we focussed on our strengths’

  • building on great relationships with existing customers
  • renewing and increasing their contract values
  • winning new business
  • focussed on specific customers in specific verticals, knowing we could build a tailored value proposition

‘To be successful in a turnaround you also need the buy-in and support of a great team. A team that fully understands the vision, and takes the challenge head on’

Darren stated he had to take challenging decisions – ‘one’s that can keep you awake at night!’ and if you remained focussed on driving profitability, communicated openly and regularly, shared the good times and not so good times, he said, then the vision can be executed. ‘I may have set out the vision, but let’s be clear, the team delivered it. I am grateful to all of them’.

Just how did Darren and DCSG raise the revenue bar and start the big turnaround? And, have this DC as the ‘go to’ facility. 

‘We don’t spend a great deal on Marketing, which obviously makes it challenging to build brand awareness, certainly across domestic, regional and global markets. Yet our main customers are headquartered in the US and Europe. Our most recent new logo win was also European, so obviously we focus on building local relationships then using that as a springboard to work with the customers global teams. 

Having worked with some of the biggest global MNC’s we are very used to this model. Again we choose to build a few key relationships with customers where we believe our value proposition gives them something that we don’t think is readily available in the market’. 

‘For us, and our customers, flexibility is key’ 

‘We don’t go into a new opportunity telling the customer what we can do for them, instead listening to what is key to them, and building the proposition around this. You can’t do this for everyone. Differentiation in delivery can drive complexity if not managed effectively, hence why we focus on specific customer opportunities. And we are winning in that space, but want to win more!’ 

Having a look at the key essentials for running a standalone data centre, Darren said it was simple. ‘Deliver excellence every day’. 

Some customers prefer to work with regional or global players, however, in Darren’s view, those organisations sometimes struggle to provide a tailored solution that works for the customer organisation in the local Singapore market. DCSG sits comfortably between big global providers and pure Singaporean providers, with existing global customers proving that DCSG still wins against both of them. 

‘Flexibility, Focus and Execution. We don’t make any promises, instead we just deliver time and time again’

Looking at the state of the data centre today Darren advises that the P&L looks much improved

  • we have reduced costs to deliver per kw,
  • maintained SLA performance (but more importantly the softer measure of customer satisfaction)
  • drove revenue increases of 20% y-o-y for the last 2 years
  • increased the footprint of existing major customers
  • renewed other key contracts
  • won new major logos. 

‘The overall business is in much better shape, and the team are ready to take that to the next level. We have achieved stability, now we want to see the asset fully utilised’.