Telecommunications

“Digital can be the great equalizer”

Marc Ganzi, president and CEO of a global digital infrastructure investment firm, touted the potential of the digital platform to create opportunity for all, at a talk for Miami Herbert Business School.



Marc Ganzi, chief executive of DigitalBridge, a company that enables, hosts and transports technology, shared his thoughts on leadership and detailed developments in digital transformation at his Distinguished Leaders conference on January 27 at the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School.

“The digital divide doesn’t have to exist,” Ganzi said during the virtual event. “Digital can be the great leveler to even out what’s happening in the world today. We can move the economy forward by getting everyone on this journey.

Dean John Quelch and Niam Yaraghi, assistant professor of business technology and nonresident scholar at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, moderated the session.

Ganzi has worked in the telecommunications and infrastructure industry for over two decades. He has launched and guided three startups since 2003, when he founded Global Tower Partners, which has become one of the largest private tower companies in the United States.

In his speech, he highlighted the five major themes or areas of investment that his company is pursuing: cloud migration, building 5G networks, data movement, Internet of Things (IOT) and development of software-defined networks (SDN).

He described the move towards cloud migration as a multi-decade movement that will continue into the next decade. DigitalBridge began building 5G networks in the United States a year ago, and Ganzi described the 4G to 5G migration paths as “one of the most complicated builds I’ve ever been involved in.”

The movement of data or data gravity to the edge was caused by the pandemic.

“COVID taught us that we needed to have data and storage capacity in secondary and tertiary markets that are moving to the suburbs, which flipped the thesis, so edge computing (bringing data storage closer to data sources, which improves response time and saves bandwidth) was born,” he explained.

He referred to IOT, or the development of technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems, as “digital transformation at its core” and cited corporate plans with an airport in New York, one with Ford Motor Company and another with the port. of Long Beach, in this area.

Ganzi, who sits on the board of directors of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), explained that he helped draft the legislation for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which has was enacted last November.

He noted that $45 billion of the package goes to states and called this appropriation “unfortunate” because states too often direct these funds to the same telecom partners and companies with legislative influence.

“We don’t need to invest in infrastructure in neighborhoods with $2 million worth of homes – it continues to widen the gap,” he said, suggesting funding should be directed to initiatives instead. such as the FCC’s E-rate program that helps make telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and public libraries.

“We have to hold states accountable for where that $45 billion goes,” he said.

The executive has described himself as a champion of downtown connectivity. “We need to make sure schools and school districts have access to the cloud so the technology works for students. It’s no good if a child comes home and doesn’t have internet access.

Ganzi reported that his company recently built a data center at Morehouse College, a historic college for black men, and supported a career program there to develop engineers.

From a data center perspective, the United States provides 10 times more total connectivity than any other country in the world, he said. And from a broadband perspective, and given the gaps in connectivity in rural areas, the United States provides infrastructure superior to anywhere else in the world except the Nordic countries and Japan. .

Yet the threat of digital terrorism looms large.

“We need to arm our economy for the next wave of digital terrorism – and we are hugely under-equipped and under-prepared,” Ganzi warned.

How does DigitalBridge address cybersecurity, Quelch asked.

Ganzi noted that cybersecurity is tough and there are more corporate thieves and corporate attacks than ever before in 2022.

“Data thieves and data ‘hostage’, as we call it, are on the massive increase,” Ganzi said. “Companies are fully absorbed, and rightly so, in the protection of their data. Data is not entirely safe and secure, and people need to realize that in the world we live in today, that is part of the risk of gambling.”

He pointed out that crypton miners have a “voracious appetite” for connectivity and power.

“But it’s not ESG, and the amount of energy we’re burning and consuming in these data centers is just insane and not particularly good for the planet,” he said, referring to Environmental, Social, and Governance, the practice of social responsibility. investment.

His company would continue to build and invest in the crypto space, Ganzi said. But he was doing it with new ideas, such as setting up crypto mines in the central United States, in areas of northern Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas where there is an abundance of wind power. and solar capable of powering mines.

DigitalBridge is currently scouting locations and investing in two regional utility companies to create “carbon-neutral crypto mines from day one,” he added.

When he became CEO of a public company, Ganzi acknowledged that he made the decision not to watch the stock price anymore.

“What I’ve figured out is that if you consistently beat your numbers and post clear advice – that your message is clear about how you’re going to grow and differentiate yourself from your peers – then you you can go back with data, that’s how your stock price moves,” he said.

His one major piece of advice for future leaders?

“Making tough decisions is hard. We all delay because we want to make the right choice. Yet part of great leadership is being uncomfortable,” he said.

“In this economy, you move or you’re dead, and you have to act fast,” Ganzi said. “Good leadership is about gathering great data and people around you, having a really good plan, and then building consensus around that plan – and once that’s done, you go.”