For many of us, it can be difficult to imagine how people worked before the Internet was widely used. A time when the usage of desk phones, typewriters, telecopiers was the norm, keeping a phone address book was handy, using a fax machine was mainstream, and time was luxury.
The way businesses communicate has made enormous leaps to get to where it is today. The bulk of the change has happened in the last two decades with the shift from division multiplexing (TDM) to Internet Protocol (IP) and large enterprises especially multinationals represent the segment that has evolved most rapidly. The shift has certainly been a fertile base for technology-led changes in the enterprise communications space.
Today, we’re experiencing an explosion of tools and services that promise increased productivity and an enhanced user experience. However, the pace of change has made the landscape harder to navigate. Here’s a look at some of the key challenges that has defined the space.
Changes in Organisational Structure
Organisational structures and functions have changed drastically over the years, prompted by multifaceted waves of change in the business environment. As businesses adapt to these new developments, so must the way they communicate both internally and externally. More companies are realising the value of a flatter organisational structure, which provides the opportunity to leverage viewpoints of every employee in the company. However, in an environment where everyone is entitled to an opinion, communications can be challenging – there is a need for an enterprise communications solution that empowers employees to contribute, and at the same time, minimise the potential confusion that may ensue.
The world is growing smaller. Organisations must manage clients anywhere and collaborate with associates spread out all over the world. The more distant the associates are located, the more they need the right tools to communicate within the organization. Globalisation by-products like virtual teams and transnational partnerships are poised to grow. They demand a richer communications platform that allow for real-time exchanges as traditional modes of enterprise communications, like audio teleconferencing and emails, are less likely to be effective. The global market requires a new level of efficiency and the companies that rise to the challenge will be the winners.
The information age calls for individuals holding different information and having varying expertise to come together for success. Today, there’s a proliferation of B2B collaboration software. A properly executed enterprise collaboration strategy empowers employees and connects the customer experience ecosystem in new ways to create business value. However, it’s evolving so rapidly that many enterprises find themselves mired in a state of constant transition, tangled up in support issues and using multiple tools that are never fully adopted – or fully functional.
Most enterprises never manage to achieve a fully deployed, advanced collaboration experience. Instead, digital collaboration has become a proverbial “loose end” that is difficult to tie up. According to Wainhouse Research, 40 percent of enterprises have no unified communications (UC) provision at all, leaving employees to use unsanctioned, unsecured B2C platforms – or simply not collaborate at all. Shockingly, 40 percent of all licenses have not been deployed: a huge overspend caused by traditional, inflexible licensing models.
So, what are elements shaping the future to ensure that enterprise communications continue to evolve for better results?
- Software is rapidly rising to the very top of enterprises’ priority list – it’s becoming a facilitator for other business units as well as a growth driver.
- A hybrid strategy of connected platforms that combines the best of both enterprise platforms and the cloud is being increasingly recommended as they are reliable, robust and suited to enterprise tasks and processes.
- New business models that give room for trial and testing, for example; professional grade, on-demand as well as freemium models give you the flexibility to scale features, technologies and user groups as needed. New communications platform as a service (CPaaS) capabilities are creating a paradigm shift – integrating communication Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) directly into industry-specific applications and workflows. You can pay per user, per day, and per feature – however you like.
- A vertical approach to address industry-specific needs – take the hospitality sector for example, enterprise communications platforms can leverage on-site equipment in the hotel to deliver in-room automation services (including temperature and light control, television control, and voice on-demand lighting). Hybrid enterprise and cloud platforms can deliver sector-specific solutions with high added value to provide differentiated offers.
At the heart of the many changes that have shaped (or are currently shaping) enterprise communication is enhancing business value. At the core is a connected strategy encompassing digital collaboration, open standards, custom integration and new business models, that offer the most potential for growth, adoption and innovation.
Amit Bathla, VP & Head of Global Cloud Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise