1.How has your IT operating model in Unified Communications changed during the last five years?
IT operating models have undergone a radical transformation over the last five years. The changes have been principally influenced by a consumer-first focus that has become front and center for every CIO. To put it simply, the need to have single sign-on access and a seamless customer experience, regardless of device and location, has emerged as the primary driver for continued innovation in this area. Anytime, anywhere and from any device is the new mantra.
Three technology areas have evolved to meet this challenge head on. Convergence of voice, video and data, or triple play services, have become essential to enable a seamless user experience. ITaaS is rapidly becoming dominant to allow users to pay for only what they consume. Lastly, device independence is now one of the most important priorities for a successful unified communications IT operating model. Further, for added flexibility and scalability, state-of-the-art unified communications platforms are transitioning to a cloud-based model.
2.What do you think are the biggest obstacles that Unified Communications technologists face in working in a more agile and outcomes based model?
The rapid advancement of technology continues to change the world—and the marketplace—faster than many businesses can keep up with, disrupting all their plans and threatening to render them obsolete. Businesses are being forced to become agile and innovative to keep up in the new year of digital disruption. The single-minded emphasis on driving business outcomes, rather than technology, has become the central focus of successful digital disruptors. This level of agility and innovation can only be achieved through effective collaboration among employees, business entities within the company and with their ecosystem partners.
The biggest hurdles for unified communications technologists while building effective collaboration solutions are threefold. The first is building “mobile-first” collaboration applications and tools, and consolidating them onto a single platform to ensure portability, scalability, and a seamless and rich user experience. The second is the need for a single cloud-based architecture with a set of common core components to deliver services like session management, voice and video converged communications, mobility and messaging. Lastly, the requirement of highly secure connectivity of diverse end point devices to the platform poses a significant challenge.
3.Moving from traditional IT to a service offering model requires a major mindset shift in Unified Communications. How did you make that happen?
The move from a traditional legacy IT model to a service offering model in Unified Communications requires a crystal-clear view of the business outcomes/objectives being pursued, meticulous planning and a relentless focus on execution. The lessons learned from both the transformation we drove within our company and at customers like the Department of Homeland Security highlighted a recipe with the same steps and governance model required to be successful.
One of the first critical steps is to assign a full-time program executive who is both an experienced change agent and good executioner to oversee the transformation. Key Stakeholders should be brought together to brainstorm the Future Mode of Operation (FMO) and the steps to get there from the Current Mode of Operation (CMO). Start small with one business unit or function, transition them over and make them the flagship reference site and ambassador to attract the rest over.
The requirement of highly secure connectivity of diverse end point devices to the platform poses a significant challenge
Further, three critical changes that should be implemented include making the shift from a CAPEX to an OPEX focus for more predictability in cost projections, reviewing and adapting business processes across all functional areas, and driving a phased transition from legacy to cloud-based collaboration systems.
4.Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?
I am really excited by the possibilities that Internet of things (IoT), big data analytics, and automation have in store for us. The IoT revolution extends the concept of connectivity to the Internet beyond computers, mobile devices and printers. Cars, home appliances and even health monitoring devices are joining a rapidly growing list of devices being connected to the Internet. It is opening up possibilities never imagined before.
Various market research firms peg the number of the devices forecast to be connected to the Internet to grow to between 20 and 25 billion by the year 2020. It is expected to draw $5-6 billion in new investments leading up to $19 trillion in new revenue opportunities and saved costs by 2025. Big data analytics will play a pivotal role in mining the terabytes of data generated and converting it into actionable information. Automation combined with big data analytics and the IoT will usher in a new era empowering businesses and consumers alike with intelligence, greater efficiency and a higher quality of life.
5.We are all dealing with technology every day. How does technology drive your life?
First, right at the outset, let me just say that the time to think linearly is over. You have to train yourself to think exponentially. The new digital age that is coming at us like a tsunami is about the connectivity to the Internet growing from a thousand devices to 500 billion. This is triggering a digital disruption that is changing everything radically about how we live, learn, work and play.
Perhaps the best example of the change this is bringing to our daily live s is exemplified by the smart corridor project to digitize the 20-mile stretch between Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area. Metal loops and sensors embedded in the ground on the road capture traffic patterns in real-time and feed them up to a central command center at Caltran. Caltran uses that data to flash live updates on traffic conditions on digital boards easing the commute for the 270,000 drivers that use that stretch every day.
Take the example of Uber: Uber is not about transportation but is a success story of how a technology company used IT to maximize the utilization of unused assets like cars and drivers to disrupt the taxi cab industry. Airbnb similarly revolutionized the hospitality industry by maximizing the utilization of unused living space. Uber has now expanded to launch UberEATS, an on-demand meal delivery service. Originally built as an extension of the Uber ride-sharing app, it is now a stand-alone service. My advice to all business and government leaders is to start thinking exponentially about how you will prepare your business to disrupt or else, prepare to be disrupted yourself.
Dushyant Sukhija, a former executive with Cisco Systems, is author of The Cisco Way: Leadership Lessons Learned from One of the World’s Greatest Technology Services Companies. He has an MBA from Santa Clara University in California and a Bachelor of Technology degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, India. As a Silicon Valley thought leader and insider, he now shares his insights as a speaker at forums around the world.