XSite Modular’s Amy Marks: There are Winners & Losers in Mission Critical …. and the Losers are Slowing Down Our Progress

LEESBURG, VA – CAPRE’s inaugural Women of Mission Critical Summit dove into some of the most critical issues facing the data center industry, but one panel sought to examine those same issues as they extend beyond our lens. Bridging the Digital Divide: Expanding Inclusivity Beyond the Workplace featured a quartet of leading ladies from the mission critical space talking about how our work could improve the lives of countless people around the world. About halfway through the panel, Moderator Ilissa Miller, Founder & CEO of iMiller Public Relations and President of NEDAS took a step back to take a look at some big-picture issues.

“We’re having some great conversations about two things. One is adoption and the second awareness. While women are 51% of the population, this is for everyone. It affects everyone,” remarked Miller. “And we have to consider two things as we market solutions to our targets. One is that adoption takes a long time, and enterprise business and end-users are not motivated to change their technology, because they just did. Or they’re in the process of doing so.”

In other words, a handful of various upgrades is a big sell for anyone going to an enterprise company. “Technology companies might be the collective for us in this room. Technology is your playground,” she related. “So when you’re deploying these solutions, whether that’s on the wireless side or it’s deploying modular data centers or even access to the Cloud, remember that we have to try this, test it, true it up, prove it, and be able to trickle it down to that ultimate end-user. And that adoption takes a long time – a lot longer than you might imagine.”

“When AWS first came out with their Cloud solution 10-12 years ago, it took about 9-12 years until that widespread adoption took hold,” recalled Miler. “That adoption timeframe for technology has decreased ever-so-slightly, maybe it’s down to 5-7 years. But it’s still that long. And we’re trying to change things, and well get into trouble if we expect our clients to keep up with us. Because remember, we’re at the top of that food chain, implementing all of these solutions. So how can we do better about creating & designing communications infrastructure solutions from the top down, and enable adoption along the way at each stage, and each step, to take hold?”

Amy Marks, Chief Executive Officer at XSite Modular then offered her take on this issue, and also offered a viewpoint that was in stark contrast to Miller’s. “For those of you who know me in this room, you know that I’m not very patient. So if you ask me how to be more patient, I don’t know. I’m not patient,” she began, with a chuckle, but little irony. “I’m very dissatisfied with the industry right now, and I’m very dissatisfied with construction in technology. And I think that’s the only way you can get change.”

Marks then asked how many people in the room were satisfied with the way the industry does business today, and saw surprisingly few people raise their hands. “That’s a lie! Because there are a lot of people in here who do the same thing every day,” she asserted. “There’s a lot of pale, male, and stale white men who are over 55. You’re not necessarily going to run out and change things – you’re going to retire. There are a lot of women in here who are dissatisfied with the way the industry is running today. They will be the ones making changes in the industry.”

“I will say a couple of things. First of all, hire all of the women that raised their hands,” she advised. “But we don’t really have to worry about how we’re going to have the patience because we have digital colonization on this planet happening at a rapid pace. It will shock us one day. When you have places like Google and Facebook pumping capacity into places like Africa, where they’ve basically given the golden to the parties of these cable landing stations, and said, Let’s get our capacity in here, and you can have this sliver of the pie because you’re taking the risk on the landing center.”

Amy Marks, CEO, XSite Modular

These countries, Marks shared, are going to allow these tech behemoths to construct a hyperscale data center, and the hyperscale are jumping on the opportunity, even though they don’t have the capacity or usage there. “They don’t have any fiber there, they don’t know if they’re going to scale,” she continued.

“We’re sitting here thinking about how do we educate people. Guess what, in Africa, they’re going to have up-take like that. They’re going to have innovations like we cannot imagine. So why do we need patience?” she asked the room, glancing around for input. “Because there are winners and losers going forward. The ones that have the most to lose are making us be patient. They have process entropy.”

XMarks then shared how she used to work for a construction company, which planted the seeds of frustration in her perspective. “They didn’t want pre-fabrication to happen. Why’s that?” she asked. “Because it takes away the whole mystique of, well, Why should you build a data center? It has to apparently be a big Hollywood production every time. I’m sorry, but most of the components are the same in very data center I’ve ever been to.”

“So we’re fooling ourselves if we think that we have time to remain on top, when you have places like Singapore and the UK and Australia, where they’re trying to figure out how to be more productive,” concluded Marks. “Singapore spent $500 Million Singaporean Dollars on that. And now you can’t get a permit to build a data center unless you’re doing pre-fab in Singapore. There is 7.7 billion people on the planet. You have 4.2 billion people not online right now. We’re talking about being patient – but those people are going to figure out how to get online.”

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