COVID-19: The Crisis Has Underlined the Need for Omnichannel Contact Centers

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Omnichannel delivers an enhanced and consistent customer experience.
  • Omnichannel should include social media, mobile apps, and video.

The COVID-19 crisis has set the contact center at the epicenter of the customer contact process. While the trend has been slowly moving away from interactions between businesses and clients at brick-and-mortar branches, the COVID crisis lockdown took away the in-person option for almost all circumstances in one move. The result is a widely varied mix of experiences, but for most organizations, it has been a disjointed one. This is understandable, as the first priority in the early stages of COVID-19 was just to make sure a minimum viable level of customer contact was achieved. But we are now moving gradually out of lockdown and GlobalData’s research makes clear that companies are now reassessing their IT strategies. For the contact center, this means that many organizations are looking to move away from legacy platforms. As they do so, the question becomes: What next? Continue reading “COVID-19: The Crisis Has Underlined the Need for Omnichannel Contact Centers”

COVID-19: Phase Two, Long-Term IT Strategies

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Digital transformation strategies will play a crucial role in how companies respond to and recover from the COVID19 crisis and all enterprises should be working on their strategy now

• The cloud has demonstrated that it is a resilient and flexible technology that will enable enterprises to respond to COVID-19 and other future emergencies

Most enterprises have considered and deployed their initial response to COVID-19 which has been to deliver at least a minimum viable IT solution to the sudden shift to remote working. Enterprises are now looking at phase two: how do businesses create IT infrastructure that will support the ‘new normal’ that emerges in a post COVID-19 world? Continue reading “COVID-19: Phase Two, Long-Term IT Strategies”

COVID-19: How to Keep Working When Offices Close

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Collaboration technologies offer a viable way to support home working during Covid-19 – and potential long-term cost saving and carbon reduction benefits.

• Enterprises should already be trialing collaboration and VPN platforms in anticipation of potential quarantine situations.

As airports come to a standstill and pictures of near-empty train stations dominate news feeds, it is clear that COVID-19 is already impacting the way many people are working. Even before the possibility of mandatory quarantining is considered, many employees are either being asked to work from home, choosing to do so, or are being forced to do so by circumstance (e.g., school closures). So how should businesses respond? Continue reading “COVID-19: How to Keep Working When Offices Close”

Edge Computing Will Underpin Long-Term Digital Transformation Strategies

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Edge computing can enable a wide range of technologies as part of a digital transformation program.
  • Edge computing supports low-latency services and offers new ‘branch in a box’ capabilities.

AT&T’s 2019 Business Summit had a big focus on edge computing. AT&T offers a convincing vision with use cases for both its multi-access edge compute (MEC) and network edge compute (NEC) platforms. However, the questions from the enterprises present at the event suggested that many are uncertain about what edge computing means and what it may offer their businesses. This is unsurprising, as the majority of service providers are still developing their own models for deploying edge compute capabilities, let alone offering fully formed go-to-market models. Continue reading “Edge Computing Will Underpin Long-Term Digital Transformation Strategies”

AI in the Contact Center: Why and How?

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Most enterprises agree that AI delivers benefits – but not necessarily the benefits they expected

• AI projects require clear goals and a dedicated project management team, as well as external advice

GlobalData’s research into AI includes talking to enterprises about how and why they are using AI-powered technologies in the contact center. This research has given light to a number of key trends, and also highlighted examples of best practice.

What Technologies Are Being Used?

GlobalData’s research shows that, perhaps unsurprisingly, AI-powered chatbots are the most prevalent use case for AI in the contact center. The use of text-based chatbots on websites is now common, but GlobalData’s research suggest that voice-based chatbots are more of a focus for enterprises. Cost reduction is a key reason for this, particularly for contact centers in North America and Europe. But chatbots also deliver the potential for increased customer service with the potential for quicker response times to more simple inquiries. Continue reading “AI in the Contact Center: Why and How?”

Making Money from AI: Use Cases and Experimentation

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises should be prepared to be ‘guinea pigs’ for large tech companies seeking to develop replicable AI solutions.
  • Off-the-shelf AI solutions for vertical and horizontal use cases are being offered by a growing number of providers.

One of the biggest challenges to adopting AI is knowing where to start. In theory, AI can be applied to any and all aspects of an organization’s day-to-day operations. Furthermore, even if AI enhances a particular part of a business’s operations, it does not necessarily mean that the value returned will be worth the investment. One of the biggest beasts in the telecoms technology world, Cisco, has acknowledged that it has not brought as many AI-enhanced solutions to the market as it anticipated because it is still developing the use cases for AI. Continue reading “Making Money from AI: Use Cases and Experimentation”

Humanizing AI: How to Automate in a Sympathetic Way

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Whilst AI can replace humans, it often works best when used to enhance what humans are doing.

• AI can deliver significant business benefits, but if implemented unsympathetically it can also cause disruption.

GlobalData’s research indicates that businesses understand that AI offers significant potential benefits in areas such as efficiency, R&D, and staff training, recruitment, and retention. The same research finds that enterprises also see potential pitfalls. Whilst the 5% of respondents in GlobalData’s survey who stated that AI is the ‘beginning of the end of the world’ may have had their tongues in their cheeks, a level of concern is not uncommon. Indeed, KPMG has referred to the concept of ‘Robocalypse Now’. It is also not unreasonable for employees to be worried that AI driven automation technologies will mean job losses because the adoption of those solutions usually does lead to headcount reductions. Continue reading “Humanizing AI: How to Automate in a Sympathetic Way”

When Thinking About UC, Don’t Lose Your Voice

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Despite the growing popularity of video and messaging, voice remains a key communication tool for colleagues and customers.
  • ‘Voice’ now covers multiple platforms and technologies – all of which need managing.

Lost Voice

It is understandable that companies such as Google and Facebook will promote marketing lines suggesting text- and video-based forms of communication are the future while traditional and cloud/IP voice-only services are old hat. And, to a certain extent, they are correct. There is no doubt that as the millennial generation enters the workplace, the preferred methods of communication and collaboration are changing. The change is also not confined to the youngest people in the workplace. RingCentral Glip and Microsoft Teams groups are a standard part of many peoples’ daily work routines. But, this doesn’t mean that the humble voice call is a thing of the past. Continue reading “When Thinking About UC, Don’t Lose Your Voice”

SD-WAN is Maturing – Should Enterprises Change Their Expectations?

Summary Bullets:

• Customers should approach SD-WAN with an open mind when it comes to costs and understand that savings may come from knock-on benefits.

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

• Customers should conduct their own trials into whether the internet is appropriate for a given application.

Cost Savings vs. Quality

Much of the initial hype about SD-WAN focused on cost saving. However, those looking to buy an SD-WAN solution should keep an open mind to cost and be aware that if savings are realized they may not come from the cost of their WAN solution. Indeed, initial experience suggests that SD-WAN solutions sometimes increase the cost of an enterprise’s overall spend on WAN. The complexity of managing SD-WAN means that it is not an inherently cheap technology. WAN savings may come over time as more and more MPLS is phased out of WAN architectures, but initial experience suggests that abandoning MPLS from day one is a risky approach and often results in unsatisfactory network performance. Continue reading “SD-WAN is Maturing – Should Enterprises Change Their Expectations?”

Be Smarter When Building Smart Cities

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises and communities should have clear aims when considering smart city projects.
  • Smart cities should be built on a per-project basis rather than looking at the city/community as a whole.

There have been successful ‘smart city’ projects.  Orange Business Services (OBS) has enjoyed success working with Saudi Arabia on large-scale projects in the kingdom.  OBS has also helped ski resorts identify where visitors are travelling from and how they can make it easier for them to visit their resort.  This later example is not strictly a smart city program, but both of these projects point to important aspects of why projects seeking to use technology to aid communities can succeed and fail. Continue reading “Be Smarter When Building Smart Cities”