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It’s always fun when you get two knowledgeable technology people together to talk substantively and in detail about issues that too often get discussed with the gloss of industry hype. I recently had such an opportunity, and I want to share some of the key takeaways.

We did an Enterprise Connect webinar this week that featured a conversation between Irwin Lazar, VP and service director at Nemertes Research, and Kevin Dunn, CIO/CISO at U.S. Retirement & Benefit Partners, an independent national financial services firm. USRBP embarked on a migration that featured adoption of both UC as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS), both delivered by 8x8 (who sponsored the webinar).

As you might expect, the discussion got into the details of the migration—what drove it; what USRBP defined as the core requirements of success; how the migration was designed to fit with USRBP’s larger digital transformation strategy (and why it was important to make it fit). USRBP is one of the more forward-looking companies I’ve heard discuss its cloud communications strategy, not just because integrating the CCaaS element was a critical early step, but because USRBP looked to integrate business applications with the new system.

Irwin and Kevin had a rich conversation around these issues and lots more, and I couldn’t begin to describe it all here – if you didn’t get a chance to attend, I definitely recommend you listen to the replay. One takeaway I did want to share was Kevin’s synopsis of what made USRBP successful:

1. Set Expectations Early

  • Set realistic timelines and follow best practices
  • Utilize testing tools to pre-quality remote workers
  • Expect the best, plan (and train) for the worst.

2. Identify the Key Business Drivers

  • Ability to integrate to applications
  • Support of existing remote workforce
  • Unique business requirements -- seamlessly integrate knowledge workers into the call center workflow

3. Strong Partnership and Support

  • 8x8 team worked from a “teach to fish” model in building LOB integration [i.e., empowering USRBP’s team]
  • Extensive training available for both administrators and end users

The whole discussion, as summarized in these points, revealed some important principles for enterprises as they plan their migration to the cloud. In many ways, the key points are no different than the best practices that held sway in previous-generation migrations, best practices around expectation-setting, planning, choosing your vendor wisely and knowing what you can expect from them. In other words, the basic blocking and tackling of technology management.

However, Kevin’s second point, while never entirely absent from earlier migrations, has taken on greater importance in the era of software-based communications. Fundamentally, the transition from TDM voice to IP voice was a technology migration, and it was about capturing savings and efficiencies as you moved to a technology that allowed for a better-engineered network. The IP migration opened the door to multimedia applications like IM and video, but it still relied primarily on hardware-based systems.

Enterprise IT/communications organizations now have to see the next generation of software-focused technology as inseparable from the wider environment. It might be technically possible to re-create the communications silo as it existed in previous generations, but that could be more dangerous than stepping into the unknown of business integration. Making choices that limit what you can do with communications may leave your users wondering why they can’t do things that other businesses can do, or that they can do in their consumer/personal life.

This sort of conversation with leading end users is going to be one of the highlights of Enterprise Connect Orlando 2019—starting with our just-announced keynote from Joe Park, Chief Digital Architect and VP, Associate Digital Experience for Walmart. We’ve got more end user panels on the agenda than ever before, and I’m looking forward to these enterprise leaders sharing their knowledge and experience with our audience.

And I’d love to have you in that audience. I hope you can join us in Orlando the week of March 18.

Eric Krapf
GM & Program Co-Chair Enterprise Connect & WorkSpace Connect
Publisher, No Jitter

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