Rebuilding Business Technology Strategy for a Post-Pandemic Workplace
With all we've learned during the pandemic, how can we build flexible, agile telecom and IT solutions for the unknowns that lie ahead?
The pandemic threw most companies’ telecom and IT infrastructure into a whirlwind, and most businesses are still trying to figure out exactly where they landed.
The immediate need for remote work forced most leaders to reach for the most readily available solutions in order to maintain productivity. These urgently-needed solutions revolved around three different themes:
Access to applications and data
The need for collaboration tools that can be reached by end users from anywhere
For example, on the collaboration front, Microsoft Teams saw explosive growth. It grew from 20 million users in November 2019 to 145 million in April of 2021. Teams was in the right place at the right time as a readily available solution, but that doesn’t mean it was the right answer for every workforce.
The Real Telecom and IT Casualty of 2020
While many business leaders won some heroic victories and found ways to keep moving forward, there was often a major casualty in the war – strategy.
For most businesses, there just wasn’t time to fully explore the ramifications of adding new tools and solutions into the mix.
So now, IT teams are trying to untangle complicated questions like:
How should employees access our systems? Or more importantly, what access should we allow?
How do we manage security with so many access points needed for remote workers?
How do we guarantee those remote workers a quality internet experience with adequate bandwidth and performance that matches what they had in the office?
While we keep unpacking the questions that the pandemic posed, this is still a time of opportunity, and a time where some critical strategic work can be done.
It’s time to ask:
After grabbing what was available, what did we end up with?
What do we need to build an infrastructure that’s agile and flexible enough to meet the demands for remote work at any scale?
At the end of the day, your task is to make sure we learn from the main telecom and IT lesson of the pandemic: how can we build the most flexible, agile system possible for the unknowns that lie ahead?
Every good strategy begins by asking the right questions. Below, we’ll help you identify the critical issues to address in building the roadmap forward for your business.
Forging a Strategy for Your Business Voice Solutions
Adoption of cloud-based voice solutions like UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) and CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) accelerated dramatically during the pandemic, as businesses rushed to equip employees to work at home.
Prior to this point, many businesses hadn’t prioritized the value of UCaaS or CCaaS, or they had prioritized other projects. Others were still leveraging recent investments in on-premise equipment before making the move.
Now, the ability to maintain a quality experience for employees, customers, or clients from anywhere and any device was no longer an option.
Overall, it’s a positive shift. Cloud-based voice solutions are:
More flexible and easier to scale, especially with today’s mobile work force.
Easier to integrate into modern communication strategies that merge tools such as chat and video with traditional voice functionality.
More cost effective overall as they reduce the need for staff support and investments in expensive equipment.
More stable and predictable in terms of cost as monthly fees replace large, often unexpected capital expenses for on-premise equipment and licensing.
The benefits are clear, and reasons for waiting to adopt the technology quickly evaporated.
However, the rush to adopt cloud-based voice caused new problems. Many businesses found that the system they were using wasn’t adequate for their new requirements. Others created a patchwork solution using a few different UCaaS solutions and now need to consolidate or migrate to a better fit.
Here are some of the critical questions to ask to define your strategy for UCaaS or CCaaS.
What vendors are equipped to handle an organization of your size?
What capabilities do you need?
MS Teams has become a huge concern for most businesses. Will you need your UCaaS system to integrate with Teams or run natively within it? Or, should it be exclusive of Teams altogether?
How can you leverage your existing licenses for on-premise equipment and map out a transition that makes sense?
Have you gathered the information needed to make the transition to a new provider? Do you have a complete inventory of your equipment and connectivity options at each location of your business?
What’s your strategy for contract negotiation?
Who will carry the burden of project management in deploying your new system? What will each site need in terms of circuits and connectivity to properly support a cloud solution?
Rethinking Your Strategy for Your Data Architecture
This brings us to the most wide-reaching, complex challenge: tracking your inventory.
It’s a challenge for any business to track the inventory of their gear and all telecom and IT circuits, contracts, and everything in between. It was even harder with the distractions of the past year and a half, but now is the time to regroup. Without it, it’s impossible to accurately gauge what’s needed and what waste can be eliminated.
We find this is one of the most basic areas where IT teams could use some backup. It’s not that they don’t have the intent or even the systems in place. It’s simply a matter of bandwidth in the day-to-day challenges that come up.
Once the full picture of what exists is clear from a financial, contractual, and technical perspective, it’s time to start asking the questions that help us reflect on what’s been learned in the recent past.
There’s a lot of ground to cover.
There are questions to ask about the locations your workforce will occupy.
Are you going back into your offices?
Will it be with the same regularity and amount of people?
Will you be closing certain locations? What impact does that have on your contracts? Who will be responsible for making sure those connections are shut down and that your billing with the vendor is adjusted?
Are you prepared to re-deploy for remote work quickly and efficiently?
There are urgent matters to resolve regarding security.
How will you tie in remote access solutions for secure connectivity? If you have a current solution like a VPN or App Gate, is it sufficient?
How will you segment your database to protect critical data? This was already a challenge with on-premise equipment. The need to wall off critical data is far more urgent in a world of endless, remote access points.
How will you manage equipment use? The fight to limit and manage personal device use requires clear strategy and crystal-clear policy.
Everyone’s balance of cloud-based applications vs on-premise has shifted.
What’s your plan moving forward? What now belongs in the cloud based on what you’ve learned in the recent past?
For the on-premise applications that remain, what’s your strategy for making a transition to the cloud? (That clock is ticking for everyone.)
Don’t get pulled into the trap that everything should move to the cloud. Virtually every client has applications that can’t or shouldn’t be transitioned, and a hybrid approach is likely solution.
Finally, every IT initiative demands intense focus and analysis, and we can easily be pulled away from the big picture.
So, how will your data network support your cloud-based voice and team collaboration tools? It’s all tied together.
Building a Strategy to Future-Proof Your Voice, Data, and Collaboration Tools Can Be Overwhelming
If you’ve made it this far, you may be taken aback by the sheer number of questions that need to be answered, and this is just a basic list.
Cloud solutions that empower remote work and flexibility for your business are incredibly powerful and effective. In many cases they even reduce your expenses. However, marketing teams are great at making them seem easy to deploy, and in any sizable business, there simply aren’t easy answers. One choice affects the next.
In the end, all of these three areas, voice, data, and collaboration, are deeply knit together, and telecom solutions are notorious for their complexity.
That’s one of the major ways in which we serve our clients. We have the experience to sort through the complexity quickly and efficiently, and we are also able to identify critical questions that might be missed.
We spend all day every day tackling the tasks needed here on behalf of clients:
Matching the best vendors to business requirements
Negotiating dense telecom contracts for maximum flexibility and agility
Project managing implementations of new tools and technology across incredibly complex systems
Escalating service issues or even using our industry network to reach executive-level contacts and get results
We come alongside your existing IT team as telecom specialists so you can have peace of mind about the strategy, access to unparalleled information and expertise, and leverage to get things done.
There are very few unbiased, neutral, expert resources available to businesses to build a comprehensive, strategic roadmap that meets their needs for voice, data, and collaboration tools for business telecom.
That’s why we put this service into place.
Contact Serviam at https://www.serviamco.com/contact
Serviam’s process is simple.
We listen and assess your unique telecom situation.
We guide you through a custom roadmap to better technological and contractual solutions.
We manage your transition so you have the best possible experience.
We stay with you to make sure your vendors continue to support your ever-changing business requirements.
Our Telecom and IT Vendor Management service goes far beyond managing costs or negotiating contracts. We guide you through a holistic, future-forward telecom strategy for your company and provide you with a long-term partner who manages your vendor relationships so you can focus on the road ahead.