Today the question is not ’if’ but rather ‘when and how’ digital age communications should be implemented in the global enterprise operational model.

For those of you old enough to remember, the early 1980’s brought us the third industrial revolution enabled by the development and adoption of mobile telephony and satellites, and boosted by growing user demand for a mobile experience.

Today, the rise of broadband and cloud services brings us communications that are fast, native, and omnichannel. As well, communications are no longer just between people, they’re also between applications and connected objects (Internet of Things (IoT)). Welcome to the fourth industrial revolution!

Pushing boundaries

A generation of digital natives, born into a connected world, is driving digital transformation. In particular, Generation Y, followed by the Millennials, have instigated many changes in the way tools are used and the way enterprises communicate. For example, “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) paved the path making it acceptable to bring devices such as smartphones into the enterprise, to gain mobility, nomadism, and the ability to work from anywhere and everywhere.

In the enterprise arena, the global health crisis accelerated digital transformation and the need to have the right information, at the right time, for the right person, regardless of the medium, while keeping a social connection.

The health crisis also forced enterprises to rethink the office, beyond just the flex-office — bringing the workplace into the era of Digital Age Communications. The new digital workplace offers an office (not necessarily a place) adapted to all forms of communications. It is more agile, more customisable, and also accessible from any place or device.

Untangling the tech

The advent of high-speed technologies such as 5G and fiber are making it easier to capture and transmit data in real-time, and to process and analyse it with the power and speed of the central network, while the cloud makes it available anywhere. However, the acceleration of these technologies is also creating challenges in how companies handle their digital transformation and how they effectively implement real-time communications throughout the digital IT ecosystem.

There is no single, right way to transition from an existing system to the digital age, since each company must adapt from an existing ecosystem. The good news is digital transformations are happening — first through the adoption of more flexible models to migrate to a digital workplace, then by rethinking communications to put them at the centre of business processes, for faster decision-making and increased employee empowerment.

A decade ago, Voice over IP (VoIP) was the first step towards unified communications. However, communications in the digital age means thinking beyond telephony. In addition to voice communication between people, it must also include collaborative tools, such as conference platforms, resource sharing, and online chat. As well objects and machines such as temperature or pressure sensors for predictive maintenance, or geolocation beacons for tracking operations, will communicate through Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transmit useful information to operators.

To optimise their digital communications, companies need to take control of their network infrastructures and the new possibilities offered by the cloud (hybrid or private). In the not-too-distant future, networks will be required to support 5G, LAN or Wireless LAN technology and integrate them into their digital ecosystem. A mix of network infrastructure and cloud need to be tailored to address the rapidly changing needs of the company. New services, available on demand or “as-a-service” are popping up all the time and this will only continue as the evolution of workplace unfolds.

The power of partnering

Many companies just don’t have the internal resources to develop new ecosystems on their own. That’s where the power of the partner comes in. A truly agnostic partner in terms of technologies, communications and network infrastructure, applications and connected objects, can help build a flexible model from the existing elements, based on the needs and demands of the industry.

The right partner can help enable elements to coexist with the “all-digital” solutions. The goal is to optimise the performance of the entire system to offer a real-time, collaborative and secure communications experience without latency, and to process the data or information needed at the right time.

For many companies, accelerating their digital transformation is an investment in their future performance and success, impacting the talent recruited and the customers retained. A recent study by Nature Human Behavior, indicates that teleworking — as productive as it is — is optimised only if real-time communications tools are interconnected, reliable, and the right size for the company and its employees.

If 18 months of health crisis have taught us anything, it is that real-time communications is the cornerstone of everything, because nothing is more efficient than people-to-people conversation. It has highlighted the need for companies to migrate to a digital environment that will enable them to communicate in real-time, with people and devices, no matter where they are. This is the future we are working towards and through digital transformation this is the goal we will achieve.