We asked Avaya, Microsoft and Mitel as well as double award-winning CIO, Dan Fiehn of Markerstudy Group to share their views on transforming business for the Digital Age. They shared some priceless wisdom, including one of our favourites by Dan, “As a technology leader, you need to be prepared to go backwards before you go forwards.”

Dan, whose bold digital transformation programme at Markerstudy Group helped to grow the insurance business from 500 employees to 4,000 in just five years, believes that your focus should be on data-led innovation. After all, data insights hold the key to improving customer experience. Turning these insights into measurable improvements, however, inevitably requires innovating business processes.

1. Dan Fiehn: "Make space to innovate"

Your internal processes will prove a good starting point. Now, if your IT department is anything like that of many midsize businesses, you will have a massive change backlog and ‘business as usual’ threatens to keep your team busy for years to come, Dan reckons. How can you create the space to innovate?

Create small, autonomous teams that can move in a different direction from the BAU-riddled path. Give them their own infrastructure to help them move at a faster pace than your overall IT operation.

Test. Try out initiatives from your internal incubator within the IT department first before they are applied to the business at large. A successful pilot will help to build the business case for technology and process change.

Set yourself up for success.  Look for strong advocacy and build/test solutions for relevant business problems that will attract executive sponsorship. Once you’ve found a cheerleader, the Mexican Wave will follow.

Adopt wholeheartedly. Once you have developed a proven new capability or internal process, blow up the old capability! Saves you from old habits.

Be prepared to go backwards before you go forwards. Lots of IT problems are self-generated within the IT department. You need to become aware of these homemade issues to tackle them effectively and move forward. Then move forward in a fast but controlled way: create small teams, test, find advocates, change.

2. Terry McCabe: "Fast is as fast as is good for your business"

You’re not in a race to adopt every new technology as quickly as it emerges. Rather, adopt the technology that’s right for you fast enough to stay competitive in your sector, advises mobile technology insider Terry McCabe, who serves as CTO of Mitel’s Mobile Business Division. He cautions not to assume that every business is moving at the rapid rate of technology change because, in truth, businesses need to make considered investment decisions while using the best that’s available.

It comes down to choosing technology that;

a) is appropriate

b) that helps you keep up with your industry (rather than just technology for technology’s sake) and

c) that a mixed user base (think Millennials, traditionalists, mobile users and everyone in between) will actually use.

Mitel knows a thing or two about Digital Transformation. Its CIO @jamshidrezeai has made it onto Computerworld’s Premier 100 Technology Leader 2017 shortlist for driving the vendor’s own transformation.


Let’s not forget value is already built into your existing communications solution, too. Leverage this value by embedding your UC voice, messaging or video tools into specific workflow apps, especially mobile apps to allow your field-based employees to access enterprise facilities on the go. This goes hand in hand with reviewing your mobile strategy with the aim to improve governance, cost control and the quality of the user experience on mobile devices.

If you focus on creating the best possible user experience you will find the right blend of cloud/premise and mobile/fixed line technologies that will transform your processes and satisfy every user type.

3. Gregg Widdowson: "Make your network fit for personalised, mobile customer experiences with agile fabric"

Your networking layer is key to Digital Transformation. The traditional three-tier model, as we know it from the 90’s and early 2000’s, is too slow to support the rich applications and rapid data flows that enable real-time customer engagement. Today, it’s not so much about client servers as it is about quickly consuming multiple services, says Avaya Customer Engagement Strategist, Gregg Widdowson. This requires data to be pulled in from various sources and the ability to move information around swiftly.   

To accelerate service delivery over your network, consider making your fabric open and flexible, so it extends across the network, across to your edge, across to the different data centers on the WAN and into the cloud where necessary. Software-defined network management will help with fast configurations, service additions, resource optimisation and security.

4. Ian Woolner: "Embrace the cloud"

Skype for Business expert, Ian Woolner is convinced that your future is in the cloud. Application deployment and management, data storage, security and mobility all become a little easier to realise across your organisation when you move apps and services into the cloud. Here, they can be deployed and scaled up and down within minutes. Here, they can be managed and monitored within one secure platform. You really want to work towards building an intelligent cloud platform from which to deliver your business communications services.

It can become the engine of your business transformation by changing your work culture (involving the Millennial proportion of your workforce more!) and cutting out typical shadow IT issues (just check which SaaS applications your employees are already pulling from the internet for use on their mobiles and laptops regardless of authorisation).  

At the same time, embracing cloud technologies will make your IT operation leaner whilst giving you extra computing power to process and utilise data better – data that will point you towards new growth opportunities for your business.

Download our Deconstructing Digital Transformation White Paper