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The channel are critical change agents for digitally transformation

The channel’s role goes beyond providing tech and systems integration services. It has a responsibility to consult on ways businesses can save money via improved efficiency and collaboration, argues Simon Skellon, vice president, Mitel, UK

The enterprise is moving rapidly towards a cloud-based, mobile-first environment. It’s all part of a wider business demand for technology solutions that digitally transform the enterprise. Yet the very tools originally developed to improve productivity, such as email, are holding businesses back.

This is where the channel can really add value; by highlighting how organisations can manage cultural change and implement collaborative tools to improve efficiencies. We believe the channel could save its customers up to £8,000 per employee per annum.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the business issues behind this estimate.

Inefficiencies cost the enterprise dear

At Mitel, we ran an independent study* recently, discovering that substandard communications and collaboration practices are causing UK businesses to fall short on productivity. We estimate that this costs businesses approximately £8,000 per employee every year. For a company of 500 employees, that’s £4million lost per annum, a huge impact to organisations’ bottom lines.

Our study analysed the ways in which people interact both inside and outside an organisation. According to the findings, UK workers spend on average 43 hours at work per week and more than two-thirds of their workday communicating and collaborating, yet waste nearly an entire day each week on inefficient working practices.

Look at the example of email. We found employees lose on average 20% of their workday writing and responding to emails, yet 80% believe it is still an efficient form of communications. In particular, workers over the age of 40 prefer to use email (44%) over other methods of communication, while 80% of respondents under 30 prefer to communicate by phone.

We also found that less than one in ten (9%) organisations use convenient chat and collaboration tools. These tools are now commonplace in consumer customer service, but low adoption in the workplace suggests enterprises are not offering a cohesive communications experience.

Simply by taking this sort of communication out of email and into a unified application it enables teams to realise the productivity benefits of real-time collaboration.

How the channel can drive business transformation

The channel is an essential trusted advisor, helping businesses make sensible choices, and enabling them to find a flexible and agile way forward.

Let’s use the cloud as an example of one key area of business transformation where the channel really can help drive change.

According to 2016 research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), there are three common roadblocks for the channel when selling cloud services. Top is cultural change (82%) - encouraging companies to adopt new thinking and evolve their business practices. Second was a shortage of staff (81%) and thirdly (80%) difficulties with cloud marketing and positioning.

The channel thus has a key role to play to educate customers on the benefits of migrating business processes to the cloud, such as unified communications and collaboration (UCC), and provide a framework for change.

Digital transformation efforts within the enterprise are often siloed into separate projects that do not talk to each other. Channel consultants have an opportunity to provide an external viewpoint, and demonstrate how disparate groups can work together for the greater good of the enterprise.

Whether organisations’ goals are to reduce costs, increase team productivity, improve customer satisfaction, transition to the cloud or fully embrace digital transformation, the channel can help them evolve efficiently and practically. This can be achieved via a balanced hybrid approach that combines the best of both on-premise and cloud-based communications.

As CIF’s recent data illustrates, many organisations are still resistant to change, and often that comes from the very top. Organisations need an overhaul in many areas of the business to increase efficiencies, but may not quite know where to begin, how to manage change over the long-term, and the technology options open to them.

Our survey results point to an over-reliance on traditional communications tools that appear to be costing modern businesses dearly. In today's enterprise, where flexible working and mobility are commonplace, IT decision-makers need to enable employees to seamlessly communicate and collaborate from any device, at any time, through a single interface, and the channel can help.

By combining voice, video, collaboration and chat into a unified application, employees can spend less time trying to connect and more time engaged in productive communications. This unified approach can save businesses money, improve productivity and provide a path to digital transformation.

When searching for a communications partner, it is key to join forces with reliable vendors who are recognised for their completeness of vision and ability to execute with longevity.

The channel should be a critical driver of change. The opportunity is out there and demand is clear. Will the channel step up and take advantage of this pivotal shift?


*Opinium Workplace Productivity and Communications Technology Report: Results and analysis are based on responses from over 250 business professionals across the UK.

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