For any business, the market today is challenging and competition is fierce with customers demanding 24/7 service, instant responses and resolution. If businesses don’t devise a digital transformation strategy and deliver a good customer experience, then they will miss out.
Employees and customers want to communicate using the latest technology but more importantly they want to be offered a choice of communication methods. Businesses need to ensure that the customer journey is seamless at every touchpoint and employees have the tools and the functionality to increase their own productivity and improve business processes. Unified Communication (UC) environments built around multi-media communication and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Skype for Business or Avaya and Mitel solutions can improve knowledge exchange and operational efficiencies.
A Saturated Market
Businesses and IT departments are overwhelmed by the amount of technology on the market and often don’t know what they require and why. Thus, businesses may end up deploying technology for the sake of it; to keep up with the competition. However, they may not choose the technology that is right for their business, or utilise their new systems and applications effectively. Technology needs to be aligned to a business’s objectives and strategy to deliver the desired benefits and results.
Planning for Digital Transformation
One of the biggest challenges we are seeing at present is the setting of a digital transformation strategy. If this is not in place from the start, then the project is set to fail. It is not just a question of choosing ‘best of breed’ technologies and keeping up to date, it is essential that businesses have a plan on what they require and why. We are seeing a lot of “what you don’t know, you don’t know”. Business and IT leaders are often unaware of what is possible.
It is advisable to work with an experienced and trusted solutions provider, who will advise and guide you accordingly. They will take time to discover your business, what technology you have, who uses it and why, and what your employees and customers would like to use going forward. They will look further afield from the technology perspective and understand what the business’s objectives and strategies are to ensure your technology requirements are aligned with its goals.
Up in the Cloud or On the Ground
Before you deploy a UC solution it needs to be decided whether your solution will be hosted in the cloud or on-premise, or even hybrid a combination of the two. Cloud is increasingly becoming the winning choice due to the cost-savings it achieves and the flexible access it offers to the latest technology without having to invest in the hardware or skills. It also provides flexibility to scale up and down, and add on applications when desired.
Whatever the decision before embarking on a Unified Communications strategy, your network/infrastructure needs to be ready to take on rich UC tools such as IM, voice, messaging, presence, media collaboration tools, and contact centre. All servers, routers and data connections need to be robust and reliable to handle increased data traffic, especially if you want to take advantage of video technologies. A solutions provider will ensure that your UC environment is underpinned by scalable infrastructure and will help you remodel or update it, along with assessing your security , LAN/WAN and Wi-Fi requirements to ensure you have the best foundations for UC.
Solutions are becoming more complex and the days of the single vendor have gone. They now consist of technologies from multiple vendors, presenting more challenges to the IT department. A multi-vendor solution can be both costly and difficult to manage, and its different components need to be integrated seamlessly to deliver operational results. Solutions providers have the expertise in integration to ensure that the solution is blended together.
They will also advise you on how communications tools can be integrated into existing business processes such as CRM and other databases to support real-time business communications and increase productivity and efficiencies.
Different businesses have different requirements but if you work with an experienced, innovative solution provider you will be able to add flavour to a vanilla platform, developing a solution that is tailored to your requirements so your business can work the way it wants and get the most out of its communications solution.
Often the success of a technology rollout fails due to inadequate training and lack of use of the solution. Solution providers can encourage user adoption and train staff to get them up to speed with the technology so it is used and maximised on a daily basis. Also, if employees are trained up it ensures that the transition to your new environment is smooth with minimum disruption.
In as much as technology adoption is about training people, it is also often about embracing change and understanding how best to manage that change. Some staff may prefer to use traditional voice applications, others may prefer to communicate by IM, and some may not feel comfortable with new technology at all. The Solution provider will assist you with change management strategies to ensure that the solution is adopted and used with success in the business. Ensure that your solution provider has the correct accreditations for change management, such as ISO9001 and ISO27001 certified plus Prince 2. This provides the assurance that they are managing change and ongoing systems development in a way that mitigates risk and ensures a seamless transition and change.
A Strong Bond
For a UC solution to be a success it needs to be aligned with your business’s objectives and strategy, and embedded correctly in its operations and processes. It is advisable to work with a trusted and skilled solution provider that you regard as a strategic business partner who will work with you and not necessarily for you; they will become an extension of your IT team. They need to understand your business and how you work and how technology can improve the roles and services that you provide. The goalposts need to be set from the start and the aim is to build and develop a fruitful long-term strategic relationship that will deliver results for both parties.
Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies
Image Credit: Wichy / Shutterstock