6 IT Investments to Improve Your Business in 2018

6 IT Investments To Improve Your Business in 2018

NextNet Partners’ National Practice Directors share their take on 6 IT technology investments that will help businesses achieve their goals in 2018

At NextNet Partners, one of the many values we bring to our clients are innovative and/or disruptive technologies and ideas that produce results our clients need. By staying abreast of industry trends, ground-breaking products, and emerging technologies, we are able to effectively recommend beneficial investments to benefit our clients’ unique business needs.

Our practice directors have identified several areas in IT that are worthy of your investment in 2018. Benefits of these various technologies include increased profitability, improved interactions, enhanced operational insight – and more – all unique to the people and processes they are meant to serve.

Implement Context-Aware Risk Management and Security Architecture

Business operations tend to challenge the basic principles of information risk and security management, and this won’t slow down as businesses adopt new and innovative digital technologies. For example, accessing or exchanging information can pose a great risk without the right strategy in place. Business leaders must understand the risks associated with their business operations in order to effectively balance innovation with the vital need to protect the enterprise.
Chad Chaffee, NextNet Partners’ National Practice Director of Infrastructure and Security recommends “IT leaders harness an adaptive, context-aware security architecture strategy.” This context-aware strategy relies upon protocol and policies to quickly automate decisions. Leaders should assess all departments: should that individual be able to access or export information from another department? This context-aware strategy will simultaneously increase the intelligence of your network while leveraging automation that can quickly make decisions to protect your business.

Employ a Cloud-Consumption Strategy

While Cloud is nearly ubiquitous as of 2018, the way in which organizations consume cloud services are unique to their environments, processes, and people. Cloud technologies affect every aspect of IT and the business, so it is imperative to invest in a high-level strategy to manage how the organization consumes and manages Cloud services as well the Cloud’s associated impacts on the business. According to Michael Phetteplace, NextNet Partners’ National Practice Director of Cloud, Data Center and InfoSec, “IT leaders shouldn’t necessarily be migrating everything toward the Cloud without consideration, nor should they wait for the Cloud market to stabilize; there is no better time than now to develop a Cloud strategy that encompasses all business considerations.”

Design a Customer Journey Strategy Inclusive of Contact Centers

While customer journey strategies are nothing new, many companies still neglect to track data across multiple channels as well as make them accessible to their contact center resources, leaving a gap that creates customer dissatisfaction, reduces agent productivity, and more.
“Certain data, including context and history, are critical components of delivering a consistent, quality customer experience,” explains Mike Garrity, National Practice Director of Customer Experience and Applications. These critical areas of consideration extend beyond the traditional contact center touchpoints, including ecommerce, in-store, and much more. Customers expect an Amazon-like experience, and it is possible to meet and exceed those expectations with a holistic, comprehensive customer journey strategy.

Leverage Artificial Intelligence and Bots

Similarly to the way IVR (Interactive Voice Response) improves efficiency while reducing costs, artificial intelligence (AI)  bots for messaging channels (such as SMS, chat, and social) can offer an opportunity to enhance business outcomes with technology. Garrity, NextNet Partners’ National Practice Director for Customer Experience, says, “in the same way that a successful IVR implementation does not have a one-size-fits-all strategy, AI and bots require unique strategies and integrations in order to reap the many possible benefits.” Included in the many benefits of AI bots are: improved customer experience and satisfaction, increased consistency and professionalism, increased service capacity, and operational flexibility.

 Consider Re-Convergence of Collaboration Tools and Systems

Traditional leading manufacturers like Cisco and Microsoft are playing catchup, and, in some cases, they are consuming collaboration market disrupters like Slack and Jive.
Ken Reeves, NextNet Partners’ National Practice Director for Collaboration and Managed Services sees “a trend of re-convergence of collaboration systems as companies consolidate their best-of-breed tools in favor of unification and simplification for their workforce.” Carefully planning, strategizing, and managing this IT investment in re-convergence is critical to ensure operational continuity.

Enhance Human Interactions in an Evolving Workforce Landscape

Many employers have launched efforts focusing on bringing employees back into the office with the hope of added productivity, yet there are still many employers focused on providing remote employment opportunities to reduce costs. Regardless of where your team members work and collaborate, consider all their interactions – how could enhancing them improve business outcomes?  From on-site to remote experiences, and everything in between, communication tools should be accessible, integrated, and streamline collaboration.
NextNet Partners’ Ken Reeves anticipates seeing “more offices with unassigned desks, manifesting as additional collaboration/breakout/hangout rooms, and enhanced interaction technologies like smart boards from Cisco Spark or Microsoft Hub.”

 We hope you found these insights about IT investments valuable, and we encourage you to reach out to our team to learn how these strategies can help you achieve your business goals in 2018.