Vodafone Global Enterprise Report: Why You Should Care About Total Communications
By Deon Liebenberg, Executive Vice President of Africa, Vodafone Global Enterprise
Many multinational corporations have a patchwork of different wired, wireless and cloud service providers around the world. This patchwork can grow every time a new office is opened or an additional market foothold is gained, and new suppliers, contracts and bills are negotiated to support the communications needs of the growing enterprise. The result can be time, money and resource wasted on managing an unnecessarily complex infrastructure.
The complexity makes it tough for CIOs to gain insight into critical resources, such as the network, and harder for CFOs to monitor usage and expenditure to see precisely where savings can be made.
Unpredictable operational costs aren’t the only downside. Having a spread of communications service providers makes it difficult to break down the barriers between different devices and communications methods.
When these are united into a single, intelligent and completely configurable service, businesses can benefit from increased productivity and overall business process streamlining. When communications platforms aren’t united it can negatively impact the end user experience, turning what could be an intuitive and contextual experience into something altogether more disjointed.
Working with one single global service provider to provide total communications - fixed line, fixed data, mobile voice, mobile data and broadband, as well as cloud and managed services - across every office and in every market, means the simplicity of only ever dealing with one supplier, one bill, one single global contract and one global point of contact.
This not only takes away the pain of expensive, patchwork communications, but means that game-changing services and applications, such as CRM systems and cloud-based unified communications can be embraced to help provide a competitive advantage.
To avoid ending up with a fragmented and complex communications landscape, businesses should adopt a consolidated strategy that addresses the total communications needs of the enterprise.
Why have business communications become so fragmented?
New market footholds are certainly adding to the fragmentation of enterprise communications, but changes closer to home are making things just as complex. Hunger for cloud services and applications across departments such as marketing and human resources has meant that a growing number of people now have a say in procurement decisions.
This is creating a bigger patchwork of providers, less centralised visibility over the communications environment and more potential vulnerability for the business.
This is further confounded by needing to cope with the demands of four generations of people in the workplace. While the Baby Boomers and Generation X are generally more accommodating to the commands of the IT department, Generation Y and the Millennials are more fearless technology users and, consequently, less inclined to comply with tight corporate control over how they work, where they work and the devices they work on.
These are generations that want to use social media and cloud-based applications to communicate, collaborate and share. They expect to be able to bring personal consumer devices into the workplace. And with limited responsibility they are less concerned over the security implications of this for the business.
As a result enterprise communications have become a complex web of services and applications and a balancing act between the needs of the business and the needs of the people who work within it.
A roadmap to consolidation
Businesses can untangle this web and reconcile these competing demands by consolidating their connectivity and communications services.
Put into practice, this means that if a business wants to keep expanding into new markets, but needs to keep the cost of its network and ICT spend down, it can establish one single Wide Area Network across all of the countries it operates in.
By doing this the business can consolidate the management of its network, which provides greater visibility of cost. This also enables the business to establish a standardised operating model to support faster, more efficient deployment of critical business applications.
By streamlining communications infrastructure into one strategy a business that wants to meet demand for flexible working without impacting team collaboration, can integrate fixed and mobile communications into a single, intelligent and completely configurable service.
This ensures calls and messages can always be routed to reach employees and it enables teams to use a range of collaborative tools such as instant messenger, video conferencing and enterprise social media apps on any device, through the same unified application.
And by bringing all communications together a business seeking to improve internal processes or create better customer-facing products and services can deploy technologies such as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) using one global SIM card and one single supply chain across all markets.
Connected whenever, wherever, whatever to whoever
Enterprise communications needs aren’t going to get any less complicated. Economic uncertainty means businesses need to constantly evaluate the markets they operate in – and act quickly to expand operations and communications across the latest emerging economies.
Ever more tech-savvy generations armed with connected devices will continue joining the workforce, seeking better, more efficient ways of working. And the uses and applications of cloud, M2M and data analytics will only become broader as costs come down and understanding of the benefits goes up.
Only the businesses that are ready to meet these challenges with total connectivity will stay at the forefront of tomorrow’s uncertain world.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”