Gert Jonk, Senior Vice President of EMEA, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise
2020 was, without doubt, a year of uncertainty; the fear of the unknown touched upon every aspect of life and was felt especially by business leaders. Faced with this fear, businesses engaged survival mode, adapting quickly, and using whatever means necessary to ensure business continuity.
Such circumstances hugely accelerated the digital transformation of many businesses. And now, as the world regains its composure, it is interesting to see which elements of crisis response have become integral aspects of business that will live on throughout the ‘new normal’, the next normal, and beyond.
Digital transformation is about using technology to improve the connected customer experience, increase employee efficiency, and accelerate decision making. But businesses are no longer transforming simply to survive; instead transformation is a means to future-proof operations and set businesses apart from their competition.
Taking your business to the cloud
One of the most immediate outcomes of the health crisis was the accelerated transition into the cloud for a large number of business applications and services. The flexibility offered by cloud-based solutions to adapt to the changing business environment makes cloud migration a valuable move for businesses. The cloud helps businesses to provide their employees with a comprehensive toolkit, enabling them to communicate and perform at their best wherever they are. Business leaders can leverage the cloud to create a full, cohesive, and consistent experience, whether employees are working from home, travelling across the globe, or collaborating in a more conventional office environment. Whatever challenges the market poses, cloud-based solutions enable businesses to scale, to ensure agile operations and, ultimately, to innovate.
Crafting your cloud
This having been said, it is important to ensure that the cloud services your business opts for are correct for its needs. Many businesses had to instantly switch to cloud solutions for team collaboration and conferencing purposes. With enterprise communications markets offering an unprecedented number of choices in terms of potential models for teams to use, what may have been a speedy crisis response now needs to be carefully considered to ensure your business is really gaining the agility and flexibility cloud promises.
It is key to remember that there is no one-size-fits all model for cloud that’s guaranteed to outperform the rest. Indeed, the beauty of cloud is that it can be tailored to suit your business requirements. The strategy that you originally selected for cloud adoption at the start of these unprecedented times may not be the one that you wish to maintain. Moving everything to the cloud too quickly could present security and compliance challenges for your business. Maybe, a hybrid model, combining on-premise with elements of public and private cloud, is more appropriate. However, if a hybrid strategy means that you’re struggling to master productivity and cost-efficiency, then moving completely to the cloud might be the best option for your business. Now that the storm has calmed, businesses can strategically craft their journey from on-premises environments into the cloud, and shift from CapEx to OpEx operations in a managed and controlled manner.
Staying ahead with automation
Aside from cloud migration, another business trend boosted by the health crisis is that of hyper automation. Automation improves user experience and efficiency, meaning businesses can shift their focus to business innovation rather than building and running their infrastructure. The demand for autonomous networks in companies with teams working remotely is on the rise, simplifying the deployment of the network by automatically and securely connecting people, processes, applications, and objects. Consider the possibilities in the customer service sector alone, such as the opportunity to evolve the basic call centre into a solution which harnesses self-service voice systems, video calls and instant alerts to create an enhanced customer experience. The need for this level of simple yet secure connectivity is only going to grow as businesses leverage new technology to streamline operations and increase productivity and revenue, all of which are, after all, basic fundamentals of business.
In summary, to undergo digital transformation, organisations need a clearly defined strategy which leverages new technology opportunities. Building a roadmap and engaging various stakeholders to take their objectives into account is key to that strategy’s success. Though this may not have been possible in the confusion of the pandemic, digital transformation is constantly evolving and is in no way complete for any business. Now is the time to reassess and make sure you have all the right resources in place for a long-term evolution. It is clear there will be no going back to the way things were and that, instead, businesses should embrace and take advantage of the new environment they find themselves in. This way they can ensure they have everything in place to support better productivity, efficiency, and performance. It’s time to stop surviving and begin thriving.