BT Ireland https://www.btireland.com Mon, 14 May 2018 11:54:35 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.11 The dot in the box – what’s in it for you? https://www.btireland.com/dot-box-whats-2/ Mon, 14 May 2018 11:51:03 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=7028 I’m often talking about the 2017 Magic Quadrant for Managed Hybrid Cloud Hosting, (Europe). Because of our continued investment and innovation in the Compute portfolio we’ve moved from challenger in 2012 to leader in 2017

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This is the second blog in a three part blog series where I discuss the Gartner Magic Quadrant and our position within the quadrant. Follow this link to read the first blog.

The blue dot and BT

I’m often talking about the 2017 Magic Quadrant for Managed Hybrid Cloud Hosting, (Europe). Because of our continued investment and innovation in the Compute portfolio we’ve moved from challenger in 2012 to leader in 2017 – ranking highest for ‘Ability to Execute’ in the leaders area of the Magic Quadrant for the second year in a row.

It’s been quite a journey. And we’ve improved every step of the way.

What’s in it for us?

Gartner defines leaders as vendors who “have proved they have staying power in this market, can frequently innovate on their existing products and can be relied on for enterprise-class needs. They have proved their technical competence and ability to deliver services to a wide range of customers. They address multiple use cases with stand-alone or integrated solutions. They also have a presence in multiple European locations to offer solutions around data sovereignty requirements.”

The report serves as a reference to our customers seeking trusted partners in deploying hybrid cloud as an integral part of their digital transformation journeys.

What’s in it for you?

Our clients can see who the leaders are and why they rank where they do – including what strengths and cautions to be aware off.

To read more on why we’ve been recognised as a leader for the fifth consecutive year, follow this link

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IT leaders make U-turn on cloud deployments https://www.btireland.com/leaders-make-u-turn-cloud-deployments/ Mon, 14 May 2018 09:25:12 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=7024 The use of the cloud, both public and private, has grown steadily across enterprise IT departments. As positive experiences grow, decision makers become more confident that the cloud is a viable alternative to their existing on-premises infrastructure

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The use of the cloud, both public and private, has grown steadily across enterprise IT departments. As positive experiences grow, decision makers become more confident that the cloud is a viable alternative to their existing on-premises infrastructure. The confidence comes as IT departments have realised and validated the benefits associated with the cloud.

Organisations who have successfully deployed cloud models are becoming more flexible and are responding quicker to their business needs. Technology spend is now more aligned to business trends, IT systems are more centralised and simplified. Costs are down, productivity is up. Employees and customers are happier now than they were before.

These benefits are impacting decisions across technology roadmaps. Cloud is now the most popular way of providing collaboration solutions. This is a complete turn-around when compared to two years ago. Over 80% of IT decision makers now believe cloud will be the accepted way for collaboration. The key benefit of the cloud is that it’s easier to keep up to date and current. Cloud systems have now become the number one priority for IT investments.

The biggest challenge is comparing cloud to traditional IT models. Take an existing communications platform for example. Gathering a thorough understanding of the total cost of ownership and comparing that to a cloud offering isn’t easy. Many aspects not directly associated with the existing platform include the cost of upkeep and maintenance, PSTN access charges, cost of software refresh, cost of hardware refresh, and much more. These need to be considered but rarely are.

Does your organisation currently use a cloud service model for any business critical applications? Have you got a decent collaboration strategy in place?

We’ve been recognised by Gartner for the last two years as leaders in supplying Unified Communications as a Service. We’re always improving our knowledge of the modern workplace, through our research. And we’d like to share our latest findings with you. Download your complimentary copy of ‘People, productivity and the digital workplace’.

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Digital customer care trends – part two: The chatbots are coming https://www.btireland.com/the-chatbots-coming/ Mon, 14 May 2018 09:17:03 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=7018 We’re all pretty familiar with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri by now. So when you think of chatbots, think of the power of these two and you’ll begin to understand the role bots can play in customer service

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We’re all pretty familiar with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri by now. So when you think of chatbots, think of the power of these two and you’ll begin to understand the role bots can play in customer service. Digital innovations have already reshaped the landscape of customer care, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. Chatbots are coming (in some cases they are already here!). It’s time to embrace them, experiment with them, and learn how best to apply them.

The golden rule of technology and customer care is to allow the technology to enable great customer interactions, but not drive them. It’s no good sending customers to a new communications channel just because it’s new. , It should be whichever one is most relevant for dealing with the query.

In our latest research we gather some insights into the capabilities of chatbots and how consumers perceive them. Chatbots are more than capable of handling simple queries like checking train times as well as more complex interactions like paying a bill. Consumers are happy to use chatbots for simple tasks, they see an immediate benefit in the response times to their queries. But they do think there should be some human involvement with more complicated responses – either by having responses checked by someone before they’re sent, or passed over entirely. Because they’re new, it will take time and some good experiences to build trust.

Chatbots can grow the omni-channel experience, with customers moving between different services during their query. A chatbot can easily top and tail an interaction with a human agent to speed up answers, collecting initial information, routing to relevant and skilled agents, then finally collating some essential information before closing the call. The best bots will act as an IVR for digital, and quickly  route the customer to an advisor with the skills that are most likely to answer the query.

We’ve been running an extensive global research programme since 2010. We want to know what digital channels and devices customers are using to communicate with companies and if their expectations are being met. Our latest output from this research programme is ‘Chat, Tap, Talk. Eight key trends in Digital Customer Care’. Download your complimentary copy here.

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Don’t look into SD-WAN (until you’ve understood three things) https://www.btireland.com/dont-look-sd-wan-youve-understood-three-things/ Tue, 08 May 2018 13:15:32 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=7013 I pulled in to a roadside café to talk to Adrian Comley (general manager for our Dynamic Network Services) about the future of corporate networks. Despite a nearby over-sugared child’s best attempts to distract us, we had a really good discussion.

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I pulled in to a roadside café to talk to Adrian Comley (general manager for our Dynamic Network Services) about the future of corporate networks. Despite a nearby over-sugared child’s best attempts to distract us, we had a really good discussion. In fact, we covered so much ground that I have to break it into two parts. Here’s the first.

So when did you join and what do you do now?

I joined in 1999 as a financial controller and I’ve been in product management for 12 years now.

I’m responsible for our global investment programme we call Dynamic Network Services. This includes bringing new technologies including NFV (for virtualised network functions) and SDWAN (software defined wide area networks) into our global network services portfolio.

A big part of my role is about bringing IT leaders through our Dynamic Network Services roadmap and making it specific to what they need. The starting points vary: from exploratory commercial or network evolution conversations to a response to a specific RFP.

What do you hear most often when you meet IT leaders of global companies?

Most customers have started their hybrid network journey, improving their network with a mix of public and private connectivity. And they’ve made savings from that, so they’re then intrigued to find out more about SD-WAN.

Cutting through the hype is key. A lot of SD-WAN marketing is borne out of the US where organisations are still on private MPLS networks (in some cases with leased-line access). That means savings might be greater there. But the majority of our customers have taken the first step to their future network and are hybrid already.

Can you boil down for our readers how SD-WAN might benefit their business?

Its user-friendly portals give powerful control over network functions. It keeps your network flexible, allowing the business to react quickly to needs. It’s also a cost-cutter, helping you save by becoming more efficient and moving away from expensive MPLS networks – although that can impact service, security and performance.

Can you elaborate on the three areas impacted by SD-WAN?

Investing in SD-WAN can be a great choice for a business. But what’s important to remember is that there are pitfalls too. And you need to take these into account so that you can make the best decision to meet your unique business needs.

You need to understand three things before you get started with SD-WAN:

  1. Underlying network complexity
  2. The need for more bandwidth
  3. The security question

So on the first one: is it a case of ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’?

SD-WAN is an overlay transported onto a complex network underlay. It’s a bit like an automatic car. The SD-WAN is the car’s controls. You can accelerate, brake, steer, indicate and play music — all easily. The network underlay is the inner workings. The engine, the computer, the gearbox, the air conditioning system. If something goes wrong there, then there’s very little the average person can do about it.

How does an IT person identify if an application performance issue is down to the SD-WAN ‘overlay’ or the transport network ‘underlay’? If ten alarms appear at a site, how do they identify the root cause and avoid fixing ten events?

And the need for more bandwidth?

A common problem that people sometimes forget is the packet overhead. Because SD-WAN creates secure tunnels (based on IPSEC) across the network, these tunnels create an overhead. This overhead means that packets are, on average, 20 per cent larger. As a result, the user can need 20 per cent more bandwidth in order to run the SD-WAN.

To achieve this, companies consider moving from MPLS to the public internet in order to increase their bandwidth. But this, too, has its pitfalls. Just like a firehose may not be the easiest way to get a drink of water; when moving to public broadband, you suddenly need to consider contention ratios, internet exchange points, peering policies and the fact it will often adversely impact application performance.

Is it the increased public internet usage that prompts the security question?

For me, it relates to combining network layers. Cyber attackers thrive on gaps in a system, and a poor connection between overlay and underlay can create holes in an organisation’s defences, making you susceptible to attack. This changes the dynamic of my meetings with IT leaders as now I’m usually accompanied by one of my security colleagues.

Also, historically customers would have had two distinct RFPs: one for network and one for security. Now, moving to cloud needs more control than ever before, with a uniform security policy, across an ever-expanding network security perimeter. You need to have a ‘sum of the parts’ discussion.

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The media’s impact on cyber security https://www.btireland.com/medias-impact-cyber-security/ Fri, 04 May 2018 12:38:01 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=7006 When it comes to cyber security, the media can be a friend or an enemy to an organisation that suffers an attack. Here’s how to make sure you don’t end up in the headlines.

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When it comes to cyber security, the media can be a friend or an enemy to an organisation that suffers an attack. Here’s how to make sure you don’t end up in the headlines.

The current state of affairs

In regards to cyber security, the media’s traditionally been most interested in stories of criminal activity. It’s often reported, for example, when there’s a huge amount of customer credit card data stolen.

A recent report, jointly authored by the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency, reinforces the fact that risks to businesses continue to grow, and reveals that criminals are launching more online attacks on UK businesses than ever before. It signposts emerging threats, too, such as theft from cloud storage and cryptojacking to generate crypto currencies such as Bitcoin — events that are bound to make their way into the headlines.

But we’re now seeing a shift in this focus on purely criminal activity. Sure, ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya are still making huge headlines, but other incidents are also featured as major news. Nation-state attacks and hacktivism are just two examples. Even the US election last year, with the planting and spreading of false media (fake news) through outlets like Facebook, could be seen as an example of a well-reported cyber scam.

Where to be wary

For the media, a story is a story, and it makes sense to always go after news that grabs the public’s attention. In some instances, the media does overplay the cyber threat — but that comes as no surprise; there’s still, after all, an unfamiliarity with cyber security. And when there’s a touch of espionage involved, it’s easy to sensationalise.

This means that you need to look at how attractive a story it would make to the media if you were to experience a breach. That way, you can plan for the eventuality and employ standard practices to make sure a breach is less likely.

If you don’t, and the media do pick up on your breach, the ramifications can be catastrophic. Just think about the attacks that happened years ago, that we still talk about today — Sony, Target, Mondelez. You don’t want that kind of negative connotation, and damage to your reputation.

Further risk

The media can also be used as an unwitting threat actor. Again, look at the US election — where we know that the media was fed bad news from a variety of sources. The precise impact of this on the end result will always be unclear. But we know for sure that manufactured news stories, designed to incite a particular reaction from the public and the media, did make a difference. And this was on a huge scale, affecting the most important democratic event in the world’s most powerful country.

This same tactic could be used in the corporate world. Imagine the impact if companies started weaponising the media as a tactic to damage rivals; leaking data or emails to create a negative image of another company, for example.

You would always hope that companies wouldn’t act in this way. However, the reality is that in a globally competitive world, there is the potential for malicious conduct to take place.

How to stay secure — and out of the headlines

Today, the data most at risk could well be that which we don’t protect sufficiently. Think about that casual text from CIO to CEO about an upcoming merger. If data like this is used to manufacture negative media headlines, it would cause real damage to an organisation. So ask yourself: how do we go about securing data which, previously, we didn’t think we needed to secure, in light of the media’s power to create havoc for organisations?

It’s also important to note that there’s a dangerous line between assuring customers their data is safe publicly, and saying you’re following best practice. One company at RSA last year displayed a billboard image of its device, claiming: “we can keep you safe from anything”. In reality, there is no device in the world that secure, except one that isn’t connected to anything. Making a claim that you can keep customers 100 per cent secure, only to have their data stolen from underneath you, is a recipe for PR disaster.

A better way to reassure customers is to highlight the positive things you’re doing. For example: “we’re actively working with governments to stay secure”; or: “we’ve implemented standard security frameworks like NIST”. Only companies that are constantly evolving their approach to security will be able to reassure customers and the media that they are doing their utmost to protect people’s data.

Put simply, there’s a wide range of information that can be used against your company — and only by continuing on the never-ending cyber-security journey, can you give yourself the best chance of staying secure.

Download our report to start your journey to true cyber security.

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The dot in the box – what’s it about? https://www.btireland.com/dot-box-whats/ Wed, 02 May 2018 13:35:12 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=7002 Customers regularly ask about our capability and I tend to provide case study references supported by analyst’s reviews.

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In this three part blog series I discuss the Gartner Magic Quadrant and our position within the quadrant.

The story of the blue dot

Customers regularly ask about our capability and I tend to provide case study references supported by analyst’s reviews.

Obviously, given my role, I focus on hosting and hybrid infrastructure services including the required delivery, professional and inlife services.

Anyone familiar with Gartner, will be familiar with the Magic Quadrant – if you’re not familiar, download our report from the link below. This is analyst review I tend to use the most. Sometimes the story behind the positioning within the quadrant is not fully understood.

Typically, people look at the Magic Quadrant to see where their partner, or potential partner, is located. If you’re positioned in the ‘Leaders Quadrant’, the client is confident that they‘re exploring, planning and executing their strategy with a recognised leader.

The impact of the dot

So why do (and should) someone have so much confidence based on the position of a blue dot? Well, these dots indicate who the main players are in a particular technology market, their understanding of where the market is going, and their ability to deliver on their customer’s vision and/or market direction.

I have first-hand experience of people who know the story of the blue dot, and equally, those that don’t. For those that know the story, having a review of the MQ image for a few seconds has a massive impact on direction of the meeting. The impact can be a quick change in engagement from “show me, convince me” to a very open, trusting and strategic conversation.

To read more on our recognition as a Leader for 5th consecutive year, follow this link.

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People are the real disruptors: why training and adoption is the key to rolling out technology https://www.btireland.com/people-real-disruptors-training-adoption-key-rolling-technology/ Tue, 01 May 2018 12:05:23 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=6998 There was a current affairs show on the other night – the panellists were talking about digital disruption – and someone claimed people were the real disruptors over the last 20 years or so, not digital technology.

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There was a current affairs show on the other night – the panellists were talking about digital disruption – and someone claimed people were the real disruptors over the last 20 years or so, not digital technology.

This was thought provoking. We generally see technology as a threat to humans, not the other way around. The argument was that technology is redundant if no one uses it. How people adopt a new product or service can make or break the business case for these new innovations.

Take a certain marketing tech company. They work with lots of the big mobile companies, and when they first got up and running, everything went well. They successfully promoted, sold and deployed their technology to some key customers. But a few months later, they encountered something troubling. Their new customers were grumbling: marketing weren’t using the new technology (after multi-million euro investments in IT).

The problem was simple, despite the training, the marketing teams didn’t really understand how to use the technology. So they didn’t. They kept working the way they were used to. Technology adoption wasn’t a KPI which they were measured by, so they weren’t impacted by their failure to adopt.

The answer to this particular problem came in the form of a managed service – a team of marketing experts who worked with the mobile operators. They showed the companies the importance of planning and adoption, areas that should be key to any technology roll out. The problem’s evident across many industries and many technologies; employees need adequate training to get the best out of the tools available to them.

To roll out transformational projects, organisations need to collaborate. But that can be complicated in big companies; 69% of executives say they waste time trying to get a hold of others, particularly when across countries. A lot of this is because they can’t use the tools in front of them. One in two executives say their colleagues have collaboration tools but don’t know how to use them properly, and 91% believe that CIOs need to spend more on training and adoption.

We’ve been researching the digital workplace since 2010. It helps us better understand the challenges organisations are facing when it comes to transformational projects. Our latest whitepaper to come from this study is ‘People, productivity and the digital workplace’. Click here to download it.  

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Digital Customer Care Trends – Part One: Messaging Mania https://www.btireland.com/digital-customer-care-trends-part-one-messaging-mania/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 12:57:59 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=6990 Hands up. Who’s muted the notifications of at least one or two threads on their WhatsApp? Our phones have been jumping out of our pockets as comments, pictures and videos fly in from friends and family

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Hands up. Who’s muted the notifications of at least one or two threads on their WhatsApp? Our phones have been jumping out of our pockets as comments, pictures and videos fly in from friends and family forums, sports teams or whatever WhatsApp groups we’re part of.

This explosion in messaging has been one of the most striking trends in communications over the last couple of years. Not only has WhatsApp usage soared, there’s been a considerable increase in people using Facebook Messenger, Google Talk and MSN too. Even texting has stayed a strong favourite, despite the array of messaging platforms available.

It’s all having a growing impact on customer care – mostly in the form of web chat. Despite web chat being a mature technology, it’s only recently become a popular choice for customers. Consumers are flocking towards the channel with questions about deliveries, product details, opening hours, return policies and a whole load more.

Customers love how quickly they can get a response with web chat. They find it quicker than email and the phone. And it wins hands down against traditional FAQs. Customers also have a handy history of their conversations with advisors too, which reassures them that their queries have been received and recorded.

If you’re a consumer organisation and you haven’t embraced web chat yet, you need to think about how prepared you are to interact with customers on messaging platforms. Web chat really is a must for any customer care department. But introducing chat isn’t just a tick in the box. It must be treated in the same way as any other channel – it’s a customer conversation which should be treated like any other call and dealt with by skilled agents.

We’ve been running a global research programme since 2010. We want to know:

– what digital channels and devices customers use to communicate with companies,

– what they expect from those communications,

– and are those expectations being met?

Our latest output from this research programme is ‘Chat, Tap, Talk. Eight key trends in Digital Customer Care’. Download your complimentary copy here.

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WhatsAppening in the workplace? https://www.btireland.com/whatsappening-in-the-workplace/ Tue, 10 Apr 2018 12:19:18 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=6977 The amount of people using WhatsApp has erupted in the last couple of years - more than two thirds of us now message for both personal and professional reasons

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Instant messaging is making big inroads in the office.

The amount of people using WhatsApp has erupted in the last couple of years – more than two thirds of us now message for both personal and professional reasons. Other platforms get a look in too – Facebook Messenger, Google Talk, Skype – they’re all seeing more people using them. And texting isn’t going away either over half of us still send texts to each another. We’ve seen this messaging momentum manifest itself into a surge of customers who prefer webchat when talking to companies. Webchat is nearly always faster than email and customers get a record of the conversation which makes them feel more reassured.  But it’s not just in the contact centres. instant messaging (IM)  is also shaping how we communicate in the back office.

IM is deemed the second most productive collaboration technology in the workplace and we’re seeing more and more of our people using it. It’s a powerful tool for quickly finding out who’s available and getting an answer or opinion on something. . And the ability to seamlessly move from IM to a voice call, video call or shared desktop, only reinforce its effectiveness.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. With the growing desire to use IM and other collaborative tools comes a growing frustration with our work devices. Employees aren’t happy with their mobile tools. Over two thirds of business executives claim their personal smartphone is better than the one they have for work.

With such powerful applications at our fingertips, it’s really important our devices let us maximise their potential. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop or smartphone that doesn’t support the newest capabilities. Nine out of ten executives say the CIO should focus on updating mobile devices.

How advanced is your collaboration technology? Can you easily track and review the instant messages you get? Can you make calls to people outside your organisation using your IM platform? Or how easy is it to even message people outside your organisation?

We’ve been recognised by Gartner for the last two years as leaders in supplying Unified Communications as a Service.

We’re always improving our knowledge of the modern workplace, through our research. And we’d like to share our latest findings with you. Download your complimentary copy of ‘People, productivity and the digital workplace’.

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IT – from cost centre to centre of innovation https://www.btireland.com/cost-centre-centre-innovation/ Thu, 05 Apr 2018 10:25:57 +0000 https://www.btireland.com/?p=6953 Traditionally, the IT department has been an ‘order taker’ entity which manages application SLAs and complex IT policies

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Traditionally, the IT department has been an ‘order taker’ entity which manages application SLAs and complex IT policies. It’s always filled a vital role, but hasn’t truly helped to grow a business. This is now changing. Bruno Fleisch explains why.

The reputation of IT

When you think of IT, what comes to mind? For many, IT refers to a support function — the people who fix your PC when it decides to stop working. Although the IT department obviously has a far more in-depth role than this, there is a nugget of truth in the thought.

It’s fair to say that IT’s role has traditionally been that of a cost centre. It’s the heart of almost every organisation in the digital age — it’s necessary for survival, but at the same time it doesn’t add much to the growth or innovation of a business.

As I said, that’s the traditional role of IT. And I use that phrase for a reason — because I don’t think it’s the case any longer.

The role of IT is changing to become a business enabler, an agent of innovation, growth and profit, rather than just a support function. And this change comes just in time, when you consider that IT is becoming increasingly commoditised due to the prevalence of shadow IT.

The goal for IT

To achieve this transformation, IT needs to do three things:

  1. Have a role in creating business strategy, and better understand the risks and opportunities faced by the company.
  2. Become more agile and able to respond effectively to a shifting digital landscape.
  3. Change the company’s perception of IT — so that budget holders and decision makers see it as a partner in transformation rather than simply a support function.

To achieve these three goals, IT needs to first demonstrate its capabilities. And to do this, it needs to be proactive. But what does this mean?

Well, here are a few examples of what IT can do to show off its credentials as an agent of business growth and digital transformation.

  • Embrace shadow IT across the organisation, by providing an IT ‘umbrella’ under each instance. Organisations should develop a user-centric approach to IT services, and ease the adoption of new services. This could be done, for example, with single sign-on (SSO). Services should be delivered in a timely and easy fashion, and provide the same user experience as can be found online.
  • Make key functions, such as email, more efficient by moving them to the cloud. Not only can this make the functions more effective, it also frees up more time for IT to work on adding true value to the business.
  • Talk to employees to get a better understanding of how they work, what they need and how they can increase productivity. Then decide whether new, digital, ways of working (e.g. unified communications) can improve the situation.
  • Work towards unlocking open innovation throughout the company. This means offering digital platforms that allow anyone in the business to develop innovation of their own.

What binds all these ideas together, is that they add value to the business. It’s not just more examples of IT keeping things running — it’s IT leading the way. And that’s exactly what companies need in this competitive, digital age.

Businesses now fully recognise the role of IT in their strategic developments and expect the IT department to be a centre of innovation, generating competitive advantage and new business opportunities.

To find out more about digital transformation, and how the cloud can enable it, make sure you take a look at our white paper, ‘Creating the right IT platform for digital transformation’, today.

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