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Plan for disruption by putting the platform first

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We live and work in the age of disruption, writes Danny Drew, Avaya’s MD for South Africa.
Disruption is not only about finding a unique commercial model or rethinking the way a particular industry operates, but can be simply about how the entire experience of interacting with a business or entity has been transformed.
This experience is what keeps a customer engaged, satisfied, and coming back for more. The only difference in this age is that the definition of the customer has been expanded to include anyone who expects a certain quality and standard of service, and in a business environment, includes employees as well. Think about this – while your sales teams are out there bringing in new customers and keeping the existing ones satisfied, the sales team is also a customer to the product team, who are in turn customers to the procurement and partner team, who want quick and efficient service from the finance team, and so on.
This internal disruption is what takes the business world by surprise most often. Spending all your effort and focus on making your customer happy, when your employees and partners are dissatisfied with systems and processes, is a recipe for disaster. This 360-degree vision for a transformed experience brings together all departments within the business to identify their areas of transformation and develop their offering and service mix.
We are seeing the relevance of connecting everything – people processes, things, and machines. This interactivity and connectivity brings data front-and-centre, and makes it much more refined and powerful. A multi-pronged approach such as this requires a strong platform, on which inward- and outward-facing success is built.
The trends that are driving this transformation of the experience within and outside the organisation can be distilled down to three, which will ultimately redefine how we interact with each other, machines, processes, and even data. At Avaya, we believe that these are already disrupting our technologies and roadmaps, with more disruption expected as the network and the networked grow.
The first one is the Internet of Things (IOT). Whether it’s smart cities or sensors, all of these today are getting connected to the Internet. Current estimates are that there will be 30 billion connected devices by 2020 – which means around 200,000 devices connecting to the Internet every day! Leaving aside whether current networks can handle the load and complexity, a clear focus needs to be on how this can impact the experience that our businesses provide internally and externally, and where we need to prepare to offer new experiences that may not even be evident today.
The next is artificial intelligence (AI). The year 2016 was an inflection point for AI and we are seeing it truly come of age. Human-to-human interaction like we said is topmost and is still the biggest interaction today, but when we look at growth paths, machine-to-machine to AI-to-machine and human-to-machine are interactions that are taking precedence over human-to-human. Automation and work flows delivering relevant vertical solutions where there is no human interaction are actually beginning to take precedence over normal human interactions, and we are already seeing the growth of AI in the banking sector. How do we prepare for a future with virtual assistants at work and AI in education, healthcare, Government, and so much more?
Finally, we have Bbockchain, which is the new distributed peer-to-peer delivery of monetary transactions. Anything of value will be transferred through this disruptive protocol, and it has the potential to completely transform the traditional transaction and contracting models.
Looking at these disruptive trends alone, the power that the platform needs to offer becomes evident. The most common mistake is thinking that the business can roll-out their plan to adopt and implement trends when it becomes a business necessity. The first step towards this is with a reliable and future-proof technology consultant who is able to guide the business from the ideating stage all the way through to the implementation and maintenance.
Start planning your platform now and ensure that it has the pliability to be moulded into a future version that truly serves your organization. If the foundation is laid right, the sky is the limit.