Smart Cities Rely on Smart Enterprise Transformation

Ten thousand years ago, early agricultural techniques paved the way for the creation of villages. Once food supplies became plentiful, people began developing specialized trades, which led to the creation of cities. By the mid 1700s, the industrial revolution changed cities to the way they exist today. Cities’ infrastructure evolved and public services such as police, fire and sanitation departments were created. Road networks were built, electricity distribution became the norm, and other modern municipal services began to appear due to the rise in urbanization.

We are now part of the third major milestone in cities’ evolution with the creation of “smart cities.” During his last visit to India, Avaya President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Kennedy, discussed that country’s large-scale digital transformation during an address to India’s CXO community. He noted that ensuring last-mile connectivity in a country with more than 1.7 billion people is a humongous task that not only requires support from the government and various agencies but also from every individual and organization.

To earn the label “smart city” requires more than just upgrading the city’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure. Wise leaders also need to look at the bigger picture and set goals that drive economic growth and improve the efficiency of their city’s services, with the purpose of offering quality and equal lifestyles for all citizens.

But who owns the “smart city”? No one and everyone.

While governments develop the digital strategies for their smart city transformation, what role do the city’s enterprises play? Is a city “smart” if its citizens do not have capable smartphones? Or if service providers do not have the necessary citywide infrastructure?

What if private real estate firms can’t integrate technologies into their newly built buildings or retrofit existing buildings with sensors and smart, connected equipment? Or if no demand exists for smart and connected home appliances? What if private schools don’t adopt a digital educational platform? Or if banks, health care institutions, and safety and security departments don’t adopt smart technologies?

A smart city is like the Internet — every website, service provider and end user’s home network is responsible for building and maintaining it.

While the Internet of Things and social, mobility and cloud are tools to enable smart transformations, a Smart City primarily consists of three building blocks: Smart Governments, Smart Enterprises and Smart Citizens. If one of those is not ready, then the Smart City Transformation is incomplete.

To transform, enterprise leaders must first develop their company’s digital strategy. A key initial step is to identify the main stakeholders in the Smart Enterprise Transformation process: employees and customers. The slow adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and mechanisms have inevitably led to increased shadow IT, in which enterprise employees obtain IT solutions without the IT department’s consent.

An Infinite Convergence survey discovered that almost “70 percent of companies are concerned about employees using third-party messaging and chat apps to communicate and send documents internally” and that “59 percent believe that currently available third-party messaging tools are insecure for enterprise communication.”

On the other hand, a study by market research company IDC revealed that “enterprise mobility is the number one technology area of implementation for CIOs in 2015, while cloud has been at the center of CIO discussions for the past few years.” A solid digital strategy must include mobility, communications and collaboration platforms for employee-to-employee, enterprise-to-employee and employee-to-customer interaction.

While the first key stakeholder in the Smart Enterprise Transformation is the employee, the customer is equally important. If employees are not enjoying their work and engaging with customers in a friendly and efficient manner, customers will not have a good experience. Priorities must be set from the beginning.

Customers today are incredibly savvy about an enterprise’s products and services and expect service through multiple channels, including social, web, mobile, video and chat as well as legacy telephony platforms. Technologies that leverage mobile and wireless communications can bring customers closer to the enterprise. A company’s digital strategy should reinforce the customer’s journey in all of its digital channels to ensure a positive experience.

Adopting open–rather than proprietary–standards allows for agile integration between different solutions while retaining legacy technologies. Security must be managed and factored in well in advance to avoid disastrous consequences. Above all, the belief that the enterprise is a major building block in the smart city vision will help drive the Smart Enterprise Transformation.

However, simply enabling new technologies alone, no matter how sophisticated or solid, will never transform an enterprise into becoming smart. ‘Smart’ is a cultural capability, adopted by enterprise leaders, whose main responsibility is to eliminate silos. Smart Enterprise Transformation must be built on the concept of adapting to agility, serendipity and employee’s sociability. Smart cities can provide benefits to all, but only if created by all.

For more information about the Smart Enterprise Transformation, please visit Avaya at the IOTX exhibition in Dubai June 8 and 9, booth #IoT16. Also, follow us on @avaya_MEA and follow the hashtag #IOTXDubai.

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