At the end of the day, the key to becoming a modern company is to communicate like one. After all, legacy equipment and antiquated technologies not only impede business processes and hamper customer service, but they also keep your company in the dark ages. And in addition to obstructing every day business functions, your outdated equipment most likely has your internal workers feeling a bit dejected.
As revealed in IBM’s “The Customer-activated Enterprise” study, first time CEOs expect technology to exert the strongest influence on their organizations and strategy, as opposed to market trends and forces. As such, Gartner predicts that the world-wide dollar-valued IT spending forecast will grow 3.1 percent in 2014, reaching $3.8 trillion. So how do you take your company from legacy to bleeding-edge? Let’s take a look.
Do a Deep Dive
You may feel ready to dive right in and team with the best service providers and hosting companies to catapult your business into the 21st century; however, instead of heading for the checkout line, head for the boardroom and really do an assessment into your technology needs.
To begin, take a look at your current infrastructure and technologies and figure out what can be salvaged or integrated and what deserves a total rip-and-replace. Wondering whether your technology is salvageable? Then ask yourself the following questions:
- Do my employees spend more time fighting with our corporate technology then using it to bolster productivity?
- Has our technology—and its limitations—ever been the cause of customer churn?
- Do our competitors offer best-in-class technology solutions that our internal and external stakeholders have taken note of?
Once you complete a thorough evaluation of your current inventory you will be in a good place to invest in new technology that will optimize your IT dollars this year.
Write Your Wish List
Once you have determined that you need to invest in industry-leading technology, it is time to settle on which solutions will best serve your key company stakeholders. Let’s take a look at three technologies that can dramatically ramp up your efficiencies:
- VoIP: Simply put, VoIP technology allows you to augment your phone service considerably—for both your internal employees and your customers and partners. To begin, VoIP allows your company to sever its ties with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)—which involves circuit-switched telephony, or dedicated channels between two points for the duration of a call—and say hello to Internet routing, which brings with it enhanced flexibility, noticeable costs savings and improved call quality. VoIP technology helps your company reduce its monthly phone bill (in fact, industry pundits state that VoIP can slash the cost of a monthly phone bill by as much as 60 percent); support emerging trends like the BYOD and remote workforce movements; and bring added functionality to your business thanks to features like Find Me/Follow Me, voicemail to email notification, and call screening.
- Cloud Communications: There is a reason that by the end of 2014, businesses in the United States will spend more than $13 billion on cloud computing and managed hosting services. It’s because embracing the right cloud communications solutions can help your company realize significant CAPEX and OPEX savings. Your business can benefit substantially from cloud services by gaining unprecedented insight and visibility into efforts; bringing collaboration to your business as cloud enables work to be accessed from anywhere across multiple devices paving the way for inter-departmental collaboration; and allowing for the rapid development of new products and services.
- Hosted PBX: At the end of the day, hosted PBX technology simplifies your voice communications.That’s because instead of having your IT team centered on maintaining your on-premise PBX phone system, it can focus on strategic initiatives and IT forecasting and estimating, as your PBX is outsourced to a third-party provider. Robust hosted PBX systems boast core phone system features like auto attendants, call transfer and Find Me/Follow Me; unified communications offerings like presence technology, collaboration and video conferencing; and contact center solutions such as prioritized skill routing, dashboards and reports, and full ACD control.
Find Your Vendors
Now that you have identified the technologies needed to bring you from legacy to bleeding-edge, it’s time to shop for the right vendor. Finding the right technology provider can feel a lot like speed dating—oftentimes you need to have multiple conversations with companies before you can decide on the right match. When selecting your vendor consider asking the following questions:
- Do you offer traditional, on-premise based technologies as well as managed, cloud models?
- Have you worked with other companies that are comparable in size and industry?
- Can I speak with previous clients about their experience working with you?
- How do you ensure uptime and 100 percent peak performance of your suite of solutions?
- Do you accept 100 percent responsibility for the technology and service that you provide customers?
If you choose correctly you can find yourself down a promising path with your vendor, one that will help you enjoy enhanced productivity, efficiency and cost savings. But if you choose poorly, you will find yourself just as constrained as you currently are with your legacy technology.
For many executives, their job ends after they secure a technology vendor. But in actuality, the job needs to continue just as you need to assess how the new technology is improving customer retention rates, amplifying your customer experience and augmenting internal business processes. Therefore, once you select your vendor be sure to keep tabs on the following to identify how impactful your technological investment truly is:
- Satisfaction Levels: This refers to how happy your employees and external stakeholders are with your technology. Send around an informal survey or schedule monthly meetings to find out how your new technology is helping your employees do their jobs better.
- Attrition/Retention Metrics: Your ability to retain customers is directly tied to your ability to offer an unparalleled customer experience. After all, 89 percent of consumers stop doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. If you see your retention rates go up and your attrition rates wan, it could be a clear indication that your technology is enabling your team to better service customers.
- Cost Savings: With the right technology in place, you should realize considerable savings from both a CAPEX/OPEX perspective. From getting more out of your employees to slashing costs associated with maintaining and updating outdated equipment, there is a wealth of cost savings to be had with the right technology.
Tired of legacy technology holding you back? Then assemble your A-team and get your budget in place to modernize your company?