Are business communications the forgotten child of IT?

Communications is critical to any successful business. Effective communication with your staff, customers and suppliers is what leads to effective outcomes, writes Mahmoud El-Ali, Regional Services Director - APAC, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Avaya

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Oddly though, business communications tend to be something of a forgotten child in the IT family. Often overlooked, communications get less attention than the rest of a business’s technological infrastructure and can go for years without an upgrade or review.

Communications today are far less about picking up the phone – and instead about a whole universe of data-based mediums including email, instant messaging, text messaging, bespoke apps, video and webchat. To communicate and collaborate effectively, a company needs to view its systems in a holistic sense, with desktops, mobiles and tablets all intrinsically linked and voice, video, multi-media messaging and team communications closely intertwined with business processes.

To provide a picture of the way in which communications are developing, simply take a look at contact centers. Staff are as likely to be live chatting on online messaging systems with clients as talking to them on the phone. A successful organisation should respond to its customers in the way they want to communicate – be it by text, email, live chat or voice – rather than dictating how they should get in touch.

Today, businesses want a seamless and flexible way of accessing different channels of communication, with platforms that serve as a foundation for the long-term digitalisation of their industry.

Recent research commissioned by Avaya and conducted by IDC asked enterprises what drives their digital transformation efforts. Of the respondents, 62% said they wanted improved employee productivity – followed by 54% for enhanced customer experience. That long-term thinking is, of course, entirely rational – by making staff more productive, you can tick off the other boxes, reducing frustration for customers and ultimately saving money for the bottom line.

Today’s communications software also offers far greater flexibility and compatibility than its predecessors. This helps businesses to be nimble and to respond to market changes quickly, in part because modern tools are remarkably easy to deploy. In Avaya’s situation, for example, business communications customers can opt to reuse existing Avaya handsets as their software evolves, with data migration automated and easy to integrate with other business applications.

On top of that, there are financial benefits. There are always discounts on software, hardware and services. Yet what is really changing the regional marketplace are cloud-based solutions that allow customers to pay for services on a per-usage basis, rather than through an upfront, CAPEX-based fee.

There are many compelling reasons for giving due attention to your communications core. Similarly, there are risks if you don’t give it any focus. If you neglect it, you could miss out on a great opportunity to boost your business by interacting in a smoother, reliable and more effective way with your customers.


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