The Entrepreneurial CEO: When Turning 10 Means Starting A New Chapter
Tomas Gorny has gone against the grain multiple times in his life, even when it’s meant considerable hardship for himself: leaving his native Poland for an uncertain future in America, making a fortune and then losing it all in the dotcom crash, making multiple fortunes again–but always rejecting the easy money of outside investment, so he could keep his companies private and control their fates, a lesson he learned in that crash.
The most prominent of Gorny’s later successes is Nextiva, the fast-growing Arizona-based communications company that is turning 10 this month. With Nextiva now boasting more than 1,000 employees and a reported $150 million in annual revenue, it would seem to be a good time for Gorny to look back and reflect. But while I did get him to reflect briefly on his journey, I found him wanting to talk more about his next against-the-grain innovation, an integrated communications solution that dramatically expands the scope of what Nextiva does, and what it means to its stable of clients.
So, although there have been multiple celebrations of the 10-year mark at Nextiva, this really isn’t where Gorny’s head is. What is on his mind? NextOS, the new integrated communications solution released to the public this week, that, he tells me, “truly changes the definition of Nextiva.” With the launch of NextOS, his company moves far beyond being a phone-centric company.[Disclosure: I’ve done related professional work, including for Nextiva, which is how I came across the NextOS story to share.] With NextOS, The company is now offering an integrated solution for its customers, and for their customers, NextOS is a unified family of products focused on improving the customer journey, combining CRM, communications management, and machine learning in one groundbreaking solution. And, says Gorny, it’s available now to companies of all sizes. (Nextiva’s client base is well over 150,000 companies, including some of the marquee brands of our time–Allstate, Delta, Netflix, and more. But it’s not just the big companies we care about, says Gorny. “It’s the tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses we support that the rest of the telecom industry has by and large taken for granted or ignored.”)
“Nextiva has always had our client companies’ backs, regardless of their size, providing solutions that are easy to use and well supported. And with NextOS, we expand, by an order of magnitude, what is suddenly available to these companies.”
What’s important to understand about the NextOS solution, says Gorny, is that it can empower everyone, at all levels, within those organizations: Because NextOS is an all-in-one platform, built on a single database/single-data model, you can tag each step in the customer journey and really understand the interactions and provide the data from that journey and those interactions to everyone in the organization. Everyone from the frontline employees to the CEO.
A large part of the value of NextOS, says Gorny, is the 360-degree panorama of the customer–every customer–that it provides, and the tools it offers to interact with these now-highly-visible customers, a toolkit that is informed by multi-channel integration and the latest advances in machine learning. The result is the ability to communicate to customers on all channels using just one tool (as opposed to the 10+tools that Gorny’s studies show are the cumbersome norm at most companies), the ability to allow a customer to stay on the customer’s desired channel, rather than requiring them to switch for your own convenience–because all channels are essentially equal on NextOS; the agent has access to everything (email, chat, social, and, of course, voice) on the very same screen, alongside the historical details and up-to-the-minute situational insights that allow you to avoid wasting either the customer’s time or your own.
Furthermore, with what Gorny calls NextOS’s “insight engine,” you have real-time indicators of customer sentiment, specific customer sentiment, for every single customer you interact with. “We were an early adopter of NPS, but what we have now [in NextOS] goes so far beyond NPS, which, when you think about it, is a lagging indicator. With our insight engine, you have actual, actionable insight into every customer, and you get these insights in time to save the customer, upsell the customer where appropriate, and, if you play your cards right, build the customer into a true brand ambassador.”
So, while the balloons are being floated, the glasses are being raised, and the confetti is in the air in celebration of Nextiva’s 10 years of growth, you’ll more likely find Gorny more zealously explaining the details of NextOS to yet another intrigued client. His enthusiasm is palpable; as he told me, “it doesn’t feel like 10 years, not anything like 10 years. It feels like a startup working here–a startup with the resources and talent that I have faith will carry us proudly through the next 10 years and beyond.”