When it comes to data centers, most enterprise IT decision makers first think of architecture, business continuity, connectivity, construction, cooling, disaster recovery, engineering, hosting, infrastructure, security, or power. But behind every data center colo firm is a company leader who builds enterprise value, develops data centers, develops new business, and sets the overall strategy of the firm.
In this post, we’ll look at how the CEO of a data center colo facility spends their day:
- Attracting capital from real estate investment trusts (REITs), banks, and investors – Data centers are pretty capital intensive businesses. Most CEOs are adept at, and spend considerable time on, financial issues. Within the data center industry, in recent years several operators have participated in mergers or acquisitions, especially with private equity firms. So the CEO needs to be able to work within the confines of capital market conditions – in most cases, to fund expansion.
- Designing and building mission critical IT facilities – It’s pretty rare to find a colo provider that’s content with just its current number of facilities and current amount of square footage. Nearly all data center colo companies are either in perpetual growth mode or planning for growth. So the CEO usually spends some time each day, or at least each week, working on facility-related projects such as data center design, space planning, site selection, construction management, cooling, power, and lease negotiations.
- Developing and improving processes – In order for a data center to operate efficiently and profitably, process is critical. So while most CEOs have strong leadership teams to help with developing and refining processes, the CEO usually wants to and needs to keep a pulse on various dashboards and key performance indicators at a high level – to at the minimum, ensure that all service level agreements are being adhered to. In most cases, the CEO has both board members and investors demanding accountability.
- Leading strategic initiatives – Most colo CEOs spend considerable time on high-level strategy for the company -- especially business strategy and go-to-market strategy. Within the same context, the CEO usually navigates regional, state, and federal regulations and incentives, strategic partnerships, recruiting and hiring key executives, and assessing how the company fits into the competitive landscape.
- Managing and developing staff – At a mid-sized data center colo firm, the CEO’s direct reports usually include a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and a VP of Sales.
- Managing major customer accounts – In any mid-sized IT company, it’s quite common for the CEO to be involved in the late stages of any major new client opportunity. For the CEO of a colo provider, significant time is also spent on customer relationship building, marketing strategy, and new business development – again complementing the VP of sales with primary responsibility for cultivating new accounts.
- Speaking at industry conferences – For many data center colo CEOs, there’s a strong desire to be perceived as a thought leader within the industry. As a result, many CEOs speak quite often at a variety of data center industry conferences and enterprise IT industry events including 7x24 Exchange, Datacenter Dynamics, Data Center Boom, Data Center Forums, Data Center Summits, and Data Center World (AFCOM).
While most IT decision makers that research data center service providers often spend their time pouring over features and benefits, there’s a whole other side of the data center that many rarely think about: the CEO – including building the bottom line, patents, providing excellent customer service, implementing green strategies, and offering robust connectivity options.
In this post, we looked at seven areas where most colo CEOs spend significant amounts of time.
Where do you see your CEO spending the majority of their time? Is there any one area that your CEO tends to focus on? Did I leave anything out? Let us know your take in the Comments section below.
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