Communication matters – and the risk of getting it wrong affords a high cost for modern businesses.
This is especially true with the behaviours and expectations of consumers and employees alike both evolved and heightened by the pandemic. Every missed, misplaced or mischanneled email, bot conversation, social media message or unanswered voicemail - indeed any point of friction - creates waste across data, resources and time, and can negate the quality and flow of user experience and satisfaction.
This will ultimately impact levels of retention and the acquisition of new business opportunities, directly affecting your bottom line. The goal then is enabling omnichannel continuity in business communications, not bound by channel nor by location.
The pandemic gave us time to reflect, reframe, and in many cases to reimagine our ways and patterns of working. It also put at centre stage the role of business communications and collaboration, alongside a heightened appreciation of what business continuity and disaster recovery really means.
As I observe in the webinar: ‘Now you need to have that same treatment as a communicable event like COVID, as we would do with a natural disaster, and we have to ensure that collaboration and communication platforms are available, literally, anytime, any device, any place to counter this. So it's a whole new level of prioritisation’
Jamshid and I explore the nature of change in detail, from the overall acceleration in digital transformation and expanding role and integration of disruptive technologies especially AI, Cloud Computing, and 5G – but still underpinned by the foundation of Voice - to the advance of hybrid and omnichannel living, learning and working.
All of the above are coupled with the rise of adoption and acceptance of emergent technologies across broadened demographics and ‘great expectations’ from experience to mission, catalysed by both increasingly conscious consumers and purpose driven employees.
There is a growing imperative for organisational resilience and agility, the ability to react to change, and the capacity to scale up and down on demand. To realise this goal, there is an increasing focus on shared values and greater ecosystem collaboration. This will have impact and implications across Business: IT alignment, C-suite role scope, approach to change management and investment in culture and skills development, and probably the most critical currency of our time – trust.
In this new Age of the Consumer – and I would increasingly argue, Age of the Employee too - You're only as good as your last experience touch point!
‘Create a communication culture that offers as many as channels as possible - a platform that enables you to have all collaboration needs in an integrated form for your workspace, messaging, tasks, telephony, and video’ Jamshid Rezaei, EVP of IT & CIO, Mitel
Moving the focus onto technology more specifically, we explore the 6 Pillars that emerge as vital for the future of Business Communications:
We also unpack how the role and perception of technology has advanced from being not only a catalyst for business value but also to be a financial innovator too. In our increasingly hybrid world, cloud empowerment has been a critical enabler for change. This was true at the height of the pandemic and now in the transition beyond.
We also highlight research results on the global impacts so far, some of which have been surprising to many: for example, the effect of remote and hybrid work on productivity, efficiency, team cohesion and even happiness levels.
‘Don't let the technologies you use in an emergency that was meant to only last for a couple of weeks of lockdown become your long term Business Technology strategy. This is what we call short-term Band Aid technologies’ Jamshid Rezaei, EVP of IT & CIO, Mitel
Jamshid and I also explore the challenges encountered along the way to transformation. We particularly look at people, finance and time, with issues ranging from organisational drag to complexity of governance that can lead to “shadow IT” workaround practises.
It is critical to pause for thought and reflect on changes made quickly at the height of the pandemic – and again when the situation becomes prolonged. Are these still right for your business, employees and customers today? But equally, it is important to be pragmatic, too. Some challenges can actually be turned into opportunities. For example, the issue of data waste:
From the webinar: ‘Around 90% of data that's archived isn't touched after three months. And similarly, with AI and Machine Learning models, up to 90% don't actually make it into full production. There's a lot of wastage … as we're getting more and more data, more and more channels, more and more need for integration, we can do more with some of the data that we're not using, such as for a training purpose, and obviously doing so in a secure, safe way. I think we can do more with that data.’
It is clear that Digital Transformation is never ‘one and done’! A long term strategy for your communication and collaboration needs is key to being scalable and proactive to change, coupled with ensuring end-to-end solution integration across your entire IT landscape.
To help you develop this strategy, we look ahead at the trends that seem likely to last. This includes the acceleration of hybrid multi cloud, multi-platform unification and technology convergence more broadly, as well as a continued re-evaluation of the nature of space and rise in decentralised ways of working. In addition, we’re seeing the embedding of zero trust security, and a heightened focus on holistic skills development including data literacy at all levels of the organisation, not just technology facing roles.
Aligned with all the above is the continued re-prioritisation of business continuity and what that actually encompasses, with the rise of new roles such as Chief Business Continuity Officer to help drive that actualisation.
Dr. Sally Eaves is a highly experienced Chief Technology Officer, Professor in Advanced Technologies and a Global Strategic Advisor on Digital Transformation specialising in the application of emergent technologies, notably AI, FinTech, Blockchain & 5G disciplines, for business transformation and social impact at scale. An international Keynote Speaker and Author, Sally was an inaugural recipient of the Frontier Technology and Social Impact award, presented at the United Nations in 2018 and has been described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ founding Aspirational Futures to enhance inclusion, diversity and belonging in the technology space and beyond.