The need to integrate and consolidate all of your communications is becoming a necessity as end users become armed with capable mobile devices and cloud tools that would allow them to work in an external environment. This is known as ‘Total Communications’ as Jan Geldmacher, CEO of Vodafone Global Enterprise, writes.
Managing business communications used to mean monitoring and maintaining back-office systems. Today connected technologies play a far more pivotal role, supporting business ambitions to achieve efficiency and growth despite ongoing economic uncertainty. The more strategic that communications becomes to the business, the greater the need to consolidate these into one place, otherwise known as “Total Communications”.
But this isn’t the whole story. The need for consolidation is being driven as much by the business as it is by the people who work within it. Growing numbers of digital natives are now entering the workforce, armed with a solid knowledge of social and mobile technologies and an agnostic approach towards platforms; they simply want the best tools to do their jobs. As a result a cornucopia of communications technologies, including laptops, smartphones, tablets, cloud computing and, to some extent, wearables has entered the workplace and 90 per cent of IT industry growth is expected to be driven by mobility, cloud, big data and social technologies over the next six years. As more technologies enter the enterprise the web of wired, wireless and cloud providers supplying them becomes just as vast.
That web keeps getting ever more tangled. Every time a new office or store opens or a new market foothold is gained, additional suppliers, contracts and bills are often negotiated — and with businesses increasingly looking to scale-up in emerging economies, this can mean navigating unknown regulations, languages and cultures.
In the past IT departments were the ones to screen those potential suppliers. Today the IT team is still responsible for managing and securing the company’s communications framework; but it isn’t just the IT team making the buying decisions. Gartner estimates that by next year 40 per cent of the IT budget will be controlled outside of the IT department, with the figure likely to rise to 90 per cent in 2020.
Between these buyers who know what they want, but may have no clue how to buy it, and the growth of shadow IT budgets, all of these factors combined make for one big headache for the CIO and CFO. The CIO is less able to gain real insights into critical resources such as the network, which could ultimately lead to missed business opportunities. The CFO can’t easily monitor usage and expenditure to see precisely where savings can be made, impacting planning and budgeting.
Untangling the web
Having fragmented communications is far from ideal, but for many multi-national organisations it has been an inevitability of international expansion. Eager to get the best service, businesses have sought out the best-in-country suppliers. But things are changing. Businesses now have the option to work with Total Communications service providers whose networks have the global reach and in-country depth to support total supplier and network consolidation.
If a business wants to keep expanding into new markets, but needs to keep the cost of its network and ICT spend down, it can establish one single Wide Area Network across all of the countries it operates in. By doing this the business can consolidate the management of its network, providing greater visibility of cost for the CIO and CFO. This also enables the business to establish a standardised operating model to support faster, more efficient deployment of vital business applications.
By streamlining communications infrastructure into one strategy, a business that wants to meet employee demand for flexibility without impacting team collaboration can integrate fixed and mobile communications into a single, intelligent and completely complementary service. This ensures calls and messages can always be routed to reach employees and it enables teams to use a range of collaborative tools such as instant messenger, video conferencing and enterprise social media apps on any device, through the same unified application. This might explain why integrating fixed and mobile is now one of the three biggest priorities for 69 per cent of IT decision makers.
By bringing all communications together a business looking to improve internal processes or create new and original customer-facing products and services can deploy technologies such as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) using one global SIM card and one single supply chain across markets.
Keeping people connected
Businesses will never be able to fully pre-empt the economy, nor will they be able to foresee the changing attitudes that new generations will bring into the workplace. But they can avoid a fragmented communications landscape by adopting the Total Communications strategy of consolidating suppliers and embracing unified communications. And by doing this they will have the control to drive efficiencies, the infrastructure to support growth no matter which way the market goes and the technology to help their people find new and smarter ways of working in tomorrow’s uncertain world.