What does digital transformation mean for business telecoms?

In every conceivable industry, digital transformation is vital. It puts the customer experience at the heart of business, improves the functionality of the systems that each department depends on, and future-proofs technology, either through migration or maintenance.

However, digital transformation involves investment. And there’s a hierarchy of need that differs by sector. To realise the benefits of transformation – which can be anything from faster time to market for new products, to becoming 26% more profitable than competitors (according to the MIT Center for Digital Business) – it’s crucial to get it right from the start. That means identifying the business need, and using that as the foundation for everything that follows. A big part of which, for many customer-centric businesses, is understanding where telecommunications sits in the wider transformation picture.

Technology can – and should – improve business communications. For SMBs in particular, modern communications technology can enable you to compete on equal terms with much larger businesses and grow without having to invest heavily in new offices, hires, resources and equipment

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Is telephony a fundamental requirement?

Telecommunications is important. But it’s not top of the list for every digitally transforming organisation. Some might see more value in upgrading their back-end systems, such as core business applications and tools. While those with significant customer-facing operations, like retailers, may need to prioritise telephony in their digital transformation plans.

Either way, for every business the decision of where telecommunications sits in a wider plan should always be driven by a clear corporate objective. Essentially, the strategy has to come before the technology – not the other way around.

Forward-looking businesses understand this. For instance, when American Golf looked at what their customers experienced when dealing with them, they realised that everything was not as it should be.American Golf was reliant on a variety of systems from various providers, leading to a disjointed service and potentially lost revenue. Their business need was to provide exceptional, fast service to customers, particularly at peak periods. Naturally telecommunications had to be a core part of that.

They decided to implement advanced inbound cloud-based call handling and inbound call management. Combined, these mean that customers are able to get basic information (like opening times and store details) automatically. While more detailed calls are routed to a service operative, even when the store they are calling is busy. It’s a great example of digital transformation delivering on a wider corporate objective.

Old habits die hard

Of course, transformation is not always a straight A to B process. One of the biggest blockers that can easily derail a plan is the perception that there’s no need to change.

The best way to get around this is to use IT expertise to educate the business at senior management and board levels. And to be ready with answers when people ask what the ROI for upgrading strategy and infrastructure will be. For example, how integrated telecoms solutions can lead to competitive advantage through better management of inbound and outbound calls, protection against communication downtime and simplified reporting on call waiting times and workflow.

Put simply, it’s essential to get across the idea that loyalty to legacy systems and fear about disruption holds companies back. If some explanatory context is required, just ask the C-suite to remember what happened to Kodak when it resisted the rise of digital photography, or the state of old school record labels who failed to take streaming seriously.

The right decisions for the right reasons

Digital transformation is here and it’s happening. And it’s the businesses who push back against it and try to rely on their legacy tech that will lose out to innovative competitors in the long term.

Even so, there’s no sense in rushing into transformation, without first working out what the purpose of it is and where business-critical telecommunications solutions will sit. With that in mind, CIOs and IT leaders should base their transformation plans on clear corporate objectives, then showcase how new technologies like SIP and cloud hosting can help them come to fruition.

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25 April 2017 | Cem Ahmet

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.