The drive towards digital transformation requires a definite change in skills and infrastructure


Today, the business as we know it has changed and it is all about collaboration, connectivity and mobility. Naturally, for these to work hand-in-hand there is a real need for organisations to move towards integrated technology solutions. It is about digitalising your business through solutions that are tailored to your organisational structure and needs, as well as those that meet the demands of your customer network.

The reality is that the customers’ world is already so complicated and, with digitalisation on the rise, it is certainly important that organisations are educated as to how digital solutions can change that - positively. We believe, however, that aligning machine and technology is what will drive digital transformation. Let’s take a closer look at what this means for business.

Digital transformation and the move to the cloud

Traditionally, companies have acquired and deployed their own communications infrastructures, and this was by far the most economical approach as companies could deploy their own PBX switches and avoid the cost of individual phonelines for each employee.

However, with the advent of IP and virtualisation of the data center, the economics have shifted back in favour of a service provider (SP) model. The SP invests in a virtualised data centre, negating the need for the enterprise to do so, and offers a more flexible consumption model. Hosted communications services and/or Cloud, as the market preferred term, are modernising the communications digital revolution. In fact, at a recent conference held in Paris (and hosted by Mitel Networks) one of the many poll sessions conducted revealed that the move to cloud communications is mainly motivated by
the following:

  • Technology (32%)
  • Costs (68%)

Cloud cannot, however, be viewed in the simplest forms as just a PBX hosted at some data centre. The technology should, in fact, be viewed as distributed computing and building integration, in a number of environments and instances, and in real time. Many mid-market and large corporates will not be taking the big leap to the cloud just yet, given current traditional on-premise model.
Ultimately, however, SMEs will lead and drive cloud technology as adoption is easier due to the size of the business and immediate business demands.

It is very evident, though, that not every business will move into cloud communications at once. We must move into an enabling environment whereby clients are aided to move at their own pace, within the constraints or opportunities of their own businesses and budgets.

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)

The market is quickly adopting unified communications as a service (UcaaS). Primary UcaaS allows a company to shift from a capital investment (CAPEX) to an operating cost model (OPEX). With a traditional communications model, companies must acquire capacity ahead of demand and they rarely get it totally correct, which means over-capacity – which is why a technology and ICT management partner becomes a business critical consideration. Secondly, the growing sophistication of enterprise unified communications has meant that companies must invest not only capital. Traditionally, they would need to invest more and more in their IT staff in order to be able to support this growing shift. In addition, adding new features and upgrades are vital to advancing UCaaS communications model. While communications are critical to the success of the business and productivity of its staff, the
maintenance of the infrastructure requires a high level of expertise that continues to grow. Companies are able to off-load most of this complexity to service providers with a UCaaS model, as well as ensuring that they always have the very latest versions and features.

Another major shift is that of traditional carriage companies, and their services are becoming a mere commodity and UC licensing
is becoming a premium. There is considered risk to moving to a service provider with a UCaaS offering. Security is one of the most
common reasons given – mid-market and large companies in particular are cautious about moving their telecommunications into the UCaaS-enabled cloud. Most reputable service providers, however, are better placed to mitigate this risk and are much more likely to have the discipline around redundancy. 

Similarly, an on-premise communications platform requires a high level of CAPEX investment and a very high skills base on the part of the company’s IT staff. This of course impedes rapid digitisation due to very limited skills pull. Without highly experienced staff, organisations can easily fall behind in the sophistication of their features and productivity of their communications tools. Therefore, the solution lies in the recruitment of a technology management company and partner that understands the business needs and is able to deliver on the company’s UC and related requirements —giving the organisation the room to focus on other aspects of the business that keeps the bottom line strong.

If you look at the benefits of on-premise platforms versus UCaaS, total cost of ownership
(TCO) is an area that will ultimately drive success of UCaaS. In fact, we believe the economics of UCaaS is so much more compelling and a key imperative to a business that wishes to experience true digitisation.

Simbo Ntshinka is current MD and partner at Itec Tiyende, having joined the company in June 2006. Simbo has a mechanical engineering and managerial finance background. Started his career at NECSA as an engineering trainee and technical trainer in fluid (water) mechanics. He pursued a career in document management and printing technologies, diversifying to enterprise
communication systems.

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