The buzzword ‘digital transformation’ is often banded around the enterprise space to describe operational and efficiency changes made in this new digital age. At Arkadin we define digital transformation as ‘the use of technology to rapidly improve commercial performance,’ and outline four key benefits: operational efficiencies, new revenue streams, better workplace environments and improved customer experience.

For the majority of these improvement areas, unified communications and collaboration tools (UC&C) can deliver huge benefits. Here is our guide to the key industry trends fuelling the growth of digital transformation.

Significant Acceleration Of UC&C Demand

We’ll see this in businesses of all sizes. Over the last 18 months, demand has come from very large enterprises and we will continue to see them demonstrating high demand. This is largely a result of businesses looking to consolidate tools and do more with less. It’s also matched with their knowledge that, in the long-term, they will gain cost savings and drive better internal and external collaboration.

The Demand For Cloud Versus On-Premise

Around 75% of UC deployments running today are on-premise vs. cloud, but over the coming years we’ll see a shift towards cloud dominating the space. This comes as companies’ long-harboured security concerns about storing data in the cloud are eased, allowing them to focus on the considerable financial savings it offers.

Major news stories about businesses being hacked remain commonplace, so when companies do decide to make the shift to the cloud they must look to a provider that has expertise in cloud, rather than rely on the internal IT department that will have a million other security considerations. That was one of the attractions around Applicable (Skype for business experts) when we acquired them this year. They boast six data centres around the world and are ISO 27001:2013 (International Organisation for Standardisation) compliant, which is vital.

There’s also the cost of overheads opex, capex, and most businesses don’t want to be tied to a solution for years, especially one that could potentially hold them back.

Enterprise Obstacles Blocking Digital Transformation

Whilst there is wide understanding of the benefits of digital transformation, businesses are still being restricted by certain barriers to effective implementation. IDC suggests that only 27% of today’s businesses have a coherent digital strategy that sets out how the firm will create customer value as a digital business. These three tips will help enterprise businesses to identify and overcome the obstacles that are stagnating their digital transformation efforts:

Human Factors

Before considering which new technology to invest in, you have to first understand your employees’ wants and needs and what could potentially make them more efficient. Only then can you go about successfully embedding your vision within your company culture.

Employees are wary of management fads, so if your vision is able to resolve a broadly recognised issue then it will be more likely to succeed. Find out what your employees’ work-based collaborative pain points currently are – these may relate to implementing collaborative tools to help them communicate better internally, externally or both, as well as collaboration with contacts overseas.

It’s important as part of the change management process with the introduction of any new application that staff feel informed at all points. Talk to your staff at all levels, meaning top to bottom and across the departments affected. How are employees invested in their current processes, and how can you capture elements of what they like about current ways of collaborating?

The Threat Of Shadow IT

As a business leader, you may notice staff are not using their desk phones as much as they once did for collaboration, conferencing and communication purposes. Many enterprises still rely on old PBX (private branch exchange) phone systems to communicate internally and externally. This could pose a problem.

While PBX systems are reliable and still serve a purpose, they are very limited for collaboration when compared to the disruptive communications solutions now available – such as web-based services, mobile broadband, cloud or hosted communication services and social media. These cost-effective solutions have been welcomed by employees and end users alike.

However, the disparate nature of employees communicating on various platforms which aren’t necessarily approved by the IT department potentially poses a security risk, otherwise referred to as ‘shadow IT.’ It’s your responsibility to make sure staff are not looking to other methods of communicating that could potentially compromise sensitive data.

Flexible Working

Once you’ve introduced UC&C tools to your organisation, employees from various locations can work together seamlessly and you can offer them flexible working capabilities. A Direct 365 study found that over one third of employees (35%) list flexible working as their top perk, so this has to be a key focus of any UC implementation. As your company grows and demands change, you must ensure that staff have collaboration tools that scale with their need to be accessible anywhere and at any time.

As well as enabling employees to securely, flexibly and easily communicate, UC tools also enable an improved work life balance. This can encourage a happier workforce and drive motivation within teams, which will help you deliver your vision for a digitally enabled workforce that has an operational advantage over the competition.

The Commercial Value Of UC In Digital Transformation

UC&C tools are a key driver in the digital transformation process. They can help improve operational efficiency and, with the right solution in place, rapidly improve commercial performance. The key benefit of UC-shaped digital transformation is that you can include flexibility, building in capabilities to house voice, video, large-scale web conferencing and much more under one solution.

Once you’ve assessed the needs of your workforce, you may well find that finding the right UC&C tool for your office is the next step in your digital journey. Many collaborative UC&C solutions allow staff to retain the convenience of their existing tools without the security threat that comes with Shadow IT. Users can benefit from the instant messaging, video call and voice call tools they‘re accustomed to and expect, all in one application.

This is also beneficial for staff that need to communicate directly with clients or customers. If your business bills based on time then a reliable and professional way to communicate could directly affect the operational efficiency – and ultimately impacts the bottom line of your business. This is another area where UC is able to showcase its monetary value.

Embracing digital transformation is a must to ensure you don’t fall behind your competitors. Whether it is human factors or otherwise, it’s imperative to quickly realise the potential blocks preventing you from embarking on the digital journey and tackle them head on.