How this Rich Lister picks trends that can make or break his business

Tudehope, 54, deploys a process the company calls the Noah’s Ark formula. And it takes time. A lot of time. Tudehope packs up a small group of key experts from across the business, and they spend two weeks to “go deep” into understanding the trend.

“We’ve carved out time to look at trends that are emerging overseas, typically in the US or Europe, and try to discern which of those trends are going to make it to Australia, which ones are relevant to our customers, being business and government customers, and then investing the time to work out how we can play in that trend,” he says.

“The power of the Noah’s Ark is that we capture all the aspects to trends. We take one salesperson, one product person, one engineer, one marketer, one executive or two, and we go deep on one or two big trends.

“We talk to people, visit people in businesses like ours. We talk to some suppliers, we talk to end customers, we talk to consultants. We go for a couple of weeks.”

He says because there’s a diversity of perspective and an “intensity of focus” they are able to determine the trends that will hit Australian shores, and which ones to worry about and which ones to leave alone.

“Is it relevant to our customers, and whether there’s a place for us to play with that trend? That, for 28 years, has been the key for our success.”

Since it launched in 1992, initially to take on Telstra as a telecommunications provider that could deliver real customer service, Maquarie Telecom has grown to offer data centers, cloud and hosting services and, more recently, cybersecurity services.

David Tudehope: “The power of the Noah’s Ark is that we capture all the aspects to trends. James Brickwood.

Last month it revealed that it would deliver earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization at the higher end of its guidance for between $85 million to $88 million, marking eight consecutive years of earnings growth.

As well as playing the right trends, Tudehope tackles customer service differently. While some contact centers train by listening back to calls, Macquarie Telecom deploys a net promoter score. It gives his staff real-time feedback after customer interactions.

“Every time a customer scores us, the score is sent to that person in our business who dealt with the customer. They get, effectively, a score immediately, about two seconds after they hang up. What we’ve found is that staff constantly improve themselves based on that feedback,” Tudehope tells How I Made It.

“They start listening to the people working alongside them and they start reflecting. Self-improvement is far more powerful than what most call centers waste gazillions of dollars and time doing, which is playing back the calls, sitting down with a supervisor, asking ‘what do you think you could have done better?'”

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