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Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
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Dave Michels | July 05, 2017 |

 
   

Digitally Transform... Or Else

Digitally Transform... Or Else The devil's in the details.

The devil's in the details.

If your organization is not embracing digital transformation, it won't be around much longer. There's simply nothing more important for organizational survival than digital transformation.

Those statements will not be subject to a lot of debate. The conclusions are shared by numerous vendors, consultants, analysts, and business leaders. That's the easy part. The devil is in the details.

The good news is that every IT professional is already familiar with the basic process because it's nothing new. Yes, the name of the song changes, but the dance doesn't. The routines were similar when organizations acquired mainframes, then minis, then PCs, and, yes, mobile devices. And a similar dance drove the adoption of MRP, ERP, HRIS, and CRM.

Winning in business often means jumping ahead on the technology curve, while survival is a matter of keeping up. Adopting technology isn't particularly new.

Digital transformation is the application of digital technologies to fundamentally impact all aspects of business. The newish part is the word "digital." Organizations don't get points any more for analog or physical technologies. The wheel had a great run, but it's time to virtualize it.

Digital transformation is less about digital and much more about transformation. Buying new technologies to do things more efficiently doesn't cut it any more. Digital transformation represents more about approach and philosophy than anything you can buy -- though that may not be evident in the sales pitch.

Unfortunately, there's no clear path to digital transformation. Unless, of course, you are in the ride-hailing business because most examples of digital transformation involve Uber. There are, however, a few consistent themes. Here are three:

First, shed the constraints of the physical world. Moving bits is much easier than moving real objects. Dematerialization is a critical component of digital transformation. It's why many businesses prefer electronic payments over cash. Not everything can be dematerialized, but even items like tractors now have as many virtual upgrades as physical accessories.

The second theme is automation and self-service. Thanks to the virtualization of everything, AI, IoT, and a completely connected world, we are seeing unprecedented opportunities for automation and self-service.

Virtualization unlocks self-service and automated capabilities. The airlines could not move to self-service reservations until they first eliminated the physical, proprietary ticket. Automation and self-service reduces the need for staff. Amazon.com doesn't pay cashiers. My local toll road doesn't have any toll booths. It's still a bit of a curiosity, but the implications are staggering: cars without drivers, trains without engineers, cartoons without animators, restaurants without chefs.

A third digital transformation theme is distributed architectures. The functions and services of the mainframe and PBX remain as valid today as they were before, but monolithic architectures are out. The software solutions from a previous revolution have become anchors of complexity. Updates frequently break more features than they fix or add.

The solution du jour is smaller pieces of interconnected software. Every modern digital transformation strategy involves things like APIs, microservices, and containers. There's no reason for the frosting function to be concerned with cake baking.

Digital Transformation Via Communications
Communications and collaboration can contribute to an organization's transformational journey by embracing the same three themes. For example, part of virtualizing everything is the conference room. Most teams no longer exist within a single physical location, so the room down the hall is only part of the solution.

Communications and collaboration must embrace the needs of the individual as well as small teams. There's a significant communications and collaboration opportunity to transform laptops, mobile devices, and smaller, informal rooms into functional tools for collaboration.

The world enjoys numerous methods of communication, so enterprise communications systems must evolve as well. This starts with the contact center, and it's why omnichannel communications are so important. But that's just the start. Customer engagement increasingly spans into a business's core products and services. For example, NCR has video-enabled its ATMs.

Communications involves more than customers and internal colleagues; it extends to partners and suppliers, too. Consumer messaging apps have worked their way into the enterprise because UC instant messaging solutions are often limited to internal users. Communications and collaboration solutions must facilitate external team members, especially regarding collaboration.

Modern communications can also play a role in automation. Chat bots are an emerging technology that can automate communications. Another opportunity for automation is systems that can react to events or triggers. For example, Mitel's Mass Notification system can send text alerts and even initiate audio conferences based on specific events. Arrow SI built a powerful integration between Avaya Breeze and its Arrow Connect IoT platform that can respond to a broad range of events.

On a final note, digital technologies continue to rapidly evolve. Areas such as VR/AR, 3D printing, drones, and robotics will continue to radically change business. No solution can ensure long-term benefits and competitiveness, so ongoing review of technology and partnerships is necessary and solutions should be engineered for flexibility.

Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.

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COMMENTS



July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
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Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
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Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
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From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
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From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
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UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
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Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
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Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.