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Communications the surprising poor relation of business

Communications is critical to any successful business. Effective communication with your staff, customers and suppliers is what leads to effective outcomes, writes DANNY DREW, Managing Director, Avaya South Africa.

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Oddly though, business communications tends to be something of a forgotten child in the IT family. Often overlooked, communications get less attention than the rest of a business’s technological infrastructure and can go for years without an upgrade or review.

Communications today are far less about picking up the phone – and instead about a whole universe of data-based mediums including email, instant messaging, text messaging, bespoke apps, video and webchat. To communicate and collaborate effectively, a company needs to view its systems in a holistic sense, with desktops, mobiles and tablets all intrinsically linked and voice, video, multi-media messaging and team communications closely intertwined with business processes.

To provide a picture of the way in which communications are developing, simply take a look at contact centres. Staff are as likely to be live chatting on online messaging systems with clients as talking to them on the phone. A successful organisation should respond to its customers in the way they want to communicate – be it by text, email, live chat or voice – rather than dictating how they should get in touch.

For years, Avaya’s CS1000 system has been a mainstay of business communications. It’s been a fantastic and reliable solution which has proven its worth and more than repaid its investment. However in order to keep up with the pace of technological change, it is time to turn the page. Avaya’s  communication solutions – including Avaya Aura and IP Office –give businesses a seamless and flexible way of accessing different channels of communication, and serve as a foundation for the long-term digitalisation of industries.

Recent research commissioned by Avaya and conducted by IDC asked enterprises what drives their digital transformation efforts. Of the respondents, 62% said they wanted improved employee productivity – followed by 54% for enhanced customer experience. That long-term thinking is, of course, entirely rational – by making staff more productive, you can tick off the other boxes, reducing frustration for customers and ultimately saving money for the bottom line.

Avaya’s latest communications software offers far greater flexibility and compatibility than its predecessors, and helps businesses be nimble and to respond to market changes quickly. In fact, it’s remarkably easy to deploy – customers can opt to reuse existing Avaya handsets if they wish, data migration has been automated and it’s easy to integrate with other applications. On top of that, there are financial benefits – such as discounts on software, hardware and services as well as packages that allow customers to pay on a per usage basis, rather than through an upfront, capex based licensing fee.

There are many powerful positive reasons for giving due attention to your communications core. And similarly, there are risks if you don’t give it any focus. If you neglect it, you could miss out on a great opportunity to boost your business by interacting in a smoother, reliable and more effective way with key customers.

Which is why Avaya is making it as easy and cost effective as possible to upgrade to our Avaya Aura and IP Office platforms. With flexibility for deployment on cloud or on-premise and the option to upgrade at a pace that aligns with your business objectives, Avaya is enabling customer to simply put communications firmly at the core of their business, so they can truly keep track of what their customers want and need and help their staff meet those customer needs quickly and effectively every time.

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The future of the book… and of reading

Many fear that the days of the printed book are numbered. In truth, it is not so much the book that is evolving, but the very act of reading, argues ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Let’s talk about a revolutionary technology. One that has already changed the course of civilisation. It is also a dangerous technology, one that is spreading previously hidden knowledge among people who may misuse and abuse the technology in ways we cannot imagine.

Every one reading this is a link in a chain of this dangerous and subversive technology.

I’m talking, of course, about the printed book.

To understand how the book has changed society, though, we must also understand how the book has changed reading. That, in turn, will help us understand the future of the book.

Because the future of the book is in fact the future of reading.

Let’s go back to a time some may remember as their carefree youth. The year 400. 

(Go back in history with the links below.)

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Wearables enter enterprise

Regardless of whether wearables lack the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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The idea of integrating wearable technology into enterprise IT infrastructure is one which, while being mooted for several years now, has yet to take-off in earnest. The reasons behind previous false dawns vary. However, what is evident is that – regardless of whether wearables to date have lacked the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have. According to ABI Research, global wearable device shipments will reach 154 million by 2021 – a significant jump from approximately 34 million in 2016.

This projected increase demonstrates a confidence amongst CIOs which perhaps betrays the lack of success in the market to date, but at the same time reflects a ripening of conditions which could make 2018 the year in which wearables finally take off in the enterprise. A maturing IoT market, advances in the development of Augmented Reality (AR), and the impending arrival of 5G – which is estimated to have a subscription base of half a billion by 2022 – are contributing factors which will drive the capabilities of wearable devices.

Perhaps the most significant catalyst behind wearables is the rise of Edge Computing. As the IoT market continues to thrive, so too must IT managers be able to securely and efficiently address the vast amounts of data generated by it. Edge Computing helps organisations to resolve this challenge, while at the same time enabling new methods of gathering, analysing and redistributing data and derived intelligence. Processing data at the edge reduces strain on the cloud so users can be more selective of the data they send to the network core. Such an approach also makes it easier for cyber-attacks to be identified at an early stage and restricted to a device at the edge. Data can then be scanned and encrypted before it is sent to the core.

As more and more wearable devices and applications are developed with business efficiency and enablement in mind, Edge Computing’s role will become increasingly valuable – helping organisations to achieve $2 trillion in extra benefits over the next five years, according to Equinix and IDC research.

Photo by Kathryn Bacher.

Where will wearables have an impact?

At the same time as these technological developments are aiding the rise of wearables, so too are CIOs across various sectors recognising how they can best use these devices to enhance mobile productivity within their organisation – another factor which is helping to solidify the market. In particular it is industries with a heavy reliance on frontline and field workers – such as logistics, manufacturing, warehousing and healthcare – which are adopting solutions like AR smart glasses. The use case for each is specific to the sector, or even the organisation itself, but this flexibility is often what makes such devices so appealing. While wearables for the more traditional office worker may offer a different but no more efficient way for workers to conduct every day tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls, for frontline and field workers they are being tailored to meet their unique demands and enhance their ability to perform specific tasks.

Take for example boiler engineers conducting an annual service, who could potentially use AR smart glasses to overlay the schematics of the boiler to enable a hands-free view of service procedures – meaning that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert. Elsewhere, in the healthcare sector smart eyewear may support clinicians with hands-free identification of patient records, medical procedures and information on medicines and results.

Such examples demonstrate the immediate and diverse potential of wearables across different verticals. With enterprise IT infrastructure now in the position to embrace such technologies, it is this ability to deliver bespoke functionality to mobile workers which will be the catalyst for continued uptake throughout 2018 and beyond.

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