David ChavezFebruary 13, 2019

Innovation Outlook

At the heart of business transformation is innovation. Studies have found a clear advantage for organizations that are more innovative, resulting in stronger performance in revenue and growth. Yet to succeed with innovation, companies must get a lot of different things right.

At the top of this list is implementing the right technologies that drive sustainable organizational change and long-term value. Digital leaders understand the importance of new technology and are adept at scaling and integrating innovation to deliver experiences that matter. They also need to be prepared to walk away from some innovation attempts early (fail fast), so energy can be optimized for those efforts that will ultimately power the more transformative long term experiential innovation.

Here are some of my thoughts on key areas of innovation that can enable organizations to provide Experiences that Matter

  1. Uberization of the Contact Center

Virtual, cloud-hosted contact center platforms have enabled agents to work remotely from their homes for a few years now. New technology advances will make the “uberization of the contact center” viable in more business cases in 2019. Specifically, as organizations apply artificial intelligence to automate more basic contact center tasks so that humans can handle higher-skilled interactions. According to CCW Digital,

High-skilled employees are more in-demand and less in need of close supervision because they are truly more adept at creating positive experiences for customers. As such, they’ll expect flexibility in how they work. Companies will need to meet this demand with cloud-native contact center platforms that ensure the best performance in flexible environments as well as stepped-up security measures to protect user data. With so many proven benefits of flexible scheduling, it would be wise for organizations to make this a top contact center priority this year.       

  1. Shadow IT Coaxed Out of the Shadows

Progressive IT leaders will begin viewing so-called “shadow IT” less as a source of uncontrolled chaos and expense and more as a place where innovation can happen. Shadow IT—initiatives and applications that are run outside the budget and purview of the formal IT organization—has been directly enabled by public cloud platforms (PaaS, IaaS, SaaS, etc.) that in many cases require only a credit card to get started. While such initiatives may have presented security, reliability and performance risks in years past, the growing maturity of cloud computing means many of those risks have now been significantly reduced.

According to a new study from KPMG, 44% of CIOs have more than 10% of their IT spend managed outside their department. In 2019, forward-looking IT leaders will cheer on cloud-based experimentation by lines of business, giving them more control over their own IT spend, while being prepared to step in to scale successes to deliver true enterprise-level transformation.

  1. Voice-Based Virtual Personal Assistants Hit the Workplace

While virtual personal assistants like Alexa and Google Voice are already making our homes smarter, adoption of VPAs in the workplace has been much slower. That will begin to change. Essentially, this is the next chapter in the consumerization of IT, with employees expecting the same freedom and convenience at their desks as they do in their living rooms. According to Dimension Data,

Modern endpoint devices now provide Android application support throughout the workplace, enabling developers to think creatively about how to make meetings run smoother (e.g. voice-enabled room settings) and give knowledge workers partners throughout the day (e.g. “email me all invoices over 90 days from SE region accounts”). These VPAs serve as administrative and research assistants, as well as a way for organizations to attract and retain tools with the capabilities they’ve come to expect.

  1. Hybrid Cloud Will Make Bimodal IT Work for Large Enterprises

As IT has become more complex, there has been a tendency for too much attention on keeping legacy systems running at the expense of new initiatives. Gartner coined the concept of bimodal IT as a solution in which there are two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery: mode 1, focused on stability of existing systems, and mode 2, focused on agility and speed.

The challenge for large enterprises is that digital transformation requires them to be willing to truly disrupt core systems to do things differently. In practice, will that ever happen in a bimodal model? Hybrid cloud provides a path forward. Agility without cloud is simply impossible. Being able to move portions of on-prem systems to a cloud model dramatically reduces the risks and complexities of that move, providing a bridge to digital transformation. This is expected to be a key driver of hybrid cloud’s growth in the coming years (estimated 17% CAGR from 2018 to 2023).

  1. Communications Convergence as a Competitive Advantage

Workplaces have been evolving from giving employees more tools for communicating with each other and external audiences—chat, email, voice, video—to considering how to simplify and “defrag” communications so they aid productivity and collaboration. In 2019, the convergence of unified communications, contact center and collaboration platforms will give progressive enterprises a measurable competitive advantage. Specifically, softening the lines between these distinct technologies to enable every employee to impact the experiences a company delivers.  

This convergence happens when platforms are truly mobile-first (not just mobile-friendly), context-driven to tune out data noise and, of course, genuinely consumer friendly. The latest cloud-based and AI-informed platforms make this happen. The results?  More project timelines are met, employee turnover is reduced, and customers are better served. The unification of UC, CC and collaboration will be front and center this year for driving holistic and impactful customer and employee experiences. Avaya’s Chief Technologist for SDA and IoT, Jean Turgeon, recently explored how this communications convergence can be applied within the modern-day enterprise.

Successful innovation involves emerging new technologies for delivering transformational next-gen experiences, as well as changing outlooks amidst a rapidly changing IT landscape. What top innovation predictions do you have for 2019?

David Chavez

David Chavez is a Vice President in the Office of the CTO, responsible for Architecture and Consulting. Having 25 years of experience and holding 76 US patents, David is responsible for Avaya's award-winning and market-leading IP communications architecture and the creator of the Avaya Aura(R) architecture. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics from New Mexico State University and an M.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University, with some executive education from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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