As ICT providers and resellers, we help our customers improve their businesses every day. We are the leaders they turn to for their digital strategies, communications infrastructures, workflow automation and system integration.
Ultimately we help them to be more efficient at what they do and improve the service they provide to their customers. But what about our own systems and processes? Do we practise what we preach, or do we suffer from the all-to-common problem of "cobbler's shoes?"
As time appears to slow down during the summer holiday period, now is a good time for inward reflection. If you were to map out your own customers' journeys, what inefficiencies would you find? What could you automate? What system could you kill in the pursuit of progress?
Ultimately the question is this: how many of your own systems are run inefficiently and what can you do to change them? Is a shift in direction, focus and behaviour what's needed?
We need to start by taking a fresh look at the different architectural building blocks available for the automation of business processes. Data interrogation, integration, platforms as a service, the Internet of Things, security, risk and governance, social and mobile. All of these building blocks should be considered by any forward thinking business.
Research shows that SMEs for example know they need to change focus on their internal systems and processes. Data management, Exchange and IT security top the bill in the coming years. And no doubt you have healthy pipelines for such services. There is so much to introduce to the market, each with its own key opportunities and challenges. But can you say, hand on heart, that you have embraced them all in your own business?
We have just completed this process at Bamboo, having gone through a two-year internal focus and investment in automation and optimisation of services. We have moved away from multiple manual processes, developing a central database application that feeds as many support functions and systems as possible. Minimising human interaction, cost (and likelihood of error), we have opened up our traditionally internal service actions to clients and partners.
No "swivel chair integration", here but a true integrated service proposition. Commands are directly implemented at network level. One action then feeds CRM, post provisioning task management and billing engine functions.
Here's another question to ask. How many of your applications still run because you simply haven't switched them off? What is the cost of continuing to run, manage and report on them when they aren't really needed? What else could you be doing with this budget?
For the past 20 years, the ICT industry has been categorised as fast moving and constantly changing - mainly due to the speed at which the mobile, social and data world is advancing. So it is all too easy to assume that internally we have all moved at that speed.
As ICT providers, we have a responsibility to lead, educate and champion integrity of proposition for our valued customers. Sometimes we need to help ourselves before we can help others. Let's make this the most productive summer yet by focusing inwards. We rarely get this chance.
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