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Using the Cloud and other technologies in business

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With a stellar line-up of speakers during the free to attend forums at the heart of this year’s Smarter Business Tech LIVE (15th & 16th November Manchester Central) attendees will want to plan in advance not to miss the sessions addressing their interests and concerns. So, we’ll be interviewing a few keynote speakers in advance to give just a flavour of what they’ll be saying.

This meeting was with Cloud Thought Leader, Ian Moyse, Sales Director at Cloud Telephony Provider Natterbox. Ian has over 25 years of experience in the IT Sector, specialising in security and the Cloud and with over 20 years of channel experience. Ian was named #1 on the top 100 cloud influencers list in 2017 through 2015.  In 2015 he was named 46th most connected on LinkedIn Worldwide and awarded a LinkedIn Power Profile as a top 10 Influencer in the UK technology sector. So, what might attendees expect when he speaks?

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: What is the fundamental change that the Cloud has brought to business processes?

Ian Moyse: First, it’s necessary to take one step back. A lot of companies, when they look at Cloud based technology, don’t take the opportunity to revise and review their processes. All they want is to move what they do now onto the Cloud and that’s missing a trick. As well as the agility it offers; mobility, not having to run an infrastructure and so on are all good attributes. However, the move to the Cloud also provides an opportunity to review the business’s processes which might well have been designed around the limitations of a legacy system that might not be very flexible. What is needed is best practice enhanced with the additional flexibility of the Cloud: the technology should not drive change in process; rather, the process should do what the business wants to achieve and the technology should support that.”

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: What is Social Selling, what is its place in the Sales/Marketing mix and does it replace or enhance a traditional activity or is it a wholly new activity?

IM: In one sense, the term ‘Social Selling’ sends the wrong message and people think it means taking orders over social media which, if you’re not selling a consumer product, might not seem relevant to the business. It should really be called Social Sales Engagement. It doesn’t replace traditional sales methodology but complements or enhances another sales tool, driven around the fact that the buyer dynamic has changed. Traditionally, when a buyer and seller met, they first wanted to find out about each other but that isn’t necessary now, or, at least, not at that stage. With the World-wide Web, it’s possible to find out most of what you’d initially want to know about the other party before you meet which, for buyers, means they don’t have to engage with a sales person until later in the sales cycle. Social Selling is about how you get that initial engagement; a mix of ‘find’, ‘listen’, ‘share’ and ‘engage’ as a route into a real world engagement.”

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: What opportunities does the Cloud present and what must businesses do to be sure they are leveraging those opportunities?

IM: The Cloud has been over positioned as a saver of money because, while it will save money, it might or might not be cheaper than a legacy system that has already been paid for. What the Cloud does typically do is gives users options and greater agility. A typical user wants to access any system at anytime and anywhere but easily. The Cloud can meet those needs of today’s users and it can allow them to be more agile in their business. One good question to ask is ‘if we were starting out now, what would we do or get?’ That might not have been possible with a legacy system given the cost of equipment to do anything extra; but, with the Cloud, because the cost of the infrastructure is spread across multiple users the options for what can be done are increased. These days, the biggest barrier is often receptiveness (or lack of…) to do or even consider something different.

 

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: Are there any cautionary notes (pitfalls or risks) that businesses should heed before embracing the Cloud?

IM: Yes, and it relates back to the earlier caution to not assume that the Cloud is right for everybody in every instance. There might well be sound reasons not to move everything to the Cloud and, of course, as with any key business decision, you should undertake due diligence on any prospective providers – do not assume that all Cloud providers are equal: they’re not.

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: What do you think has been the most significant technological change for business in the past ten years?

IM: It has to be the availability of choice for technology and applications. Not just the Cloud but whether it’s big data, mobility, artificial intelligence (AI), drones or the Internet of Things (IoT), all have which have progressed hugely in terms of capability and affordability; and, rather as with Moore’s Law, we have to look at the power of what’s available at any given price point. Those prices of technology functionality and capabilities continue to fall which, for any user, means more choice. Just consider the power for the price of the mobile phone you have today compared with a similar device ten years ago. For a business, this means having access to more choice than ever before; users can choose to do clever things because they are affordable even to small businesses.

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: What do you think looks likely to be the most significant technological change for business in next ten years?

IM: If I had to put a bet on one change which is already being talked about, it’s going to be artificial intelligence (AI). AI cuts across all the other things we’ve talked about and, if those technologies start being built in an affordable fashion, it touches on all of them… big data, Cloud, mobility. AI uses data in a smart way that the human mind can’t interpret quickly enough, it makes correlations such as ‘what can I know and learn from to predict outcomes?’ For instance, in telephony, we’re looking at what can be done right now to improve the customer’s journey; but what if we could apply artificial intelligence to previous interactions with that caller so that, when they call again, the response can be tailored to what is likely to be their need rather than putting them through a whole system of responses. The technology is there today and suddenly AI has become more affordable and will increasingly become embedded into other devices, such as those on the IoT or a drone or a mobile phone to present the user with what they want before they even ask for it.

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: Data protection is a growign business priority: what steps should a business be considering taking to comply with its data protection responsibilities and GDPR?

IM: Data security and protection need to be heightened. Consider how many well-publicised data leaks there have been, and security remains the number one concern in every survey that comes out about Cloud adoption; data security is certainly a main concern for those contemplating that step: a concern driven by news about leaks. As for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), it’s a good thing. For a start, it has stimulated a conversation about what to do to protect people’s data which businesses should have been doing anyway. That’s not a Cloud thing but about best practice, whether you’re on the Cloud or using an in-house legacy system. GDPR has brought about a much needed shake up because, as data has changed, so the law must change. In order to be able to properly meet their obligation under the terms of GDPR, businesses holding data have to understand what data they have, where it is located (i.e. what copies of that data exist and where) and why it’s being held.

 

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: What might businesses achieve using the new technologies?

IM: New technologies open the possibility for a business, fundamentally, to disrupt or be disrupted. If a customer can be offered a better way to achieve their goal, there is every chance they’ll take it. One great example is the case of Blockbuster which decided against moving to a new business model as against Netflix and Love Film (now part of Amazon) which embraced that new business model. Blockbuster went out of business because the new technologies offer the customer a different [and attractive] way to achieve their goal [watch a film]. In the same way, Uber is not a taxi business but a platform for moving stuff from A-B, that includes people but it won’t always be just people – there’s already UberRUSH and UberEATS for parcel and food deliveries. The challenge will be how to utilize the technology now available to disrupt your competitors before they disrupt you. It comes back to the question posed earlier: if you were starting out today, how would you do it? Bearing in mind that someone else might do that to you. So a business has to be constantly considering how to serve their customer, will technology enable them to change how they do it and will the customer want that?”

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: How might businesses go wrong using the new technologies?

IM: Over belief in or over reliance on the technology: believing that technology can fix problems in the process. Looking at something like Amazon and its on-line customer service model, believing that is just about cutting cost and thinking ‘we could cut our costs and our agent force simply by employing some of these new technologies and asking customers to self-serve themselves.’ However, to achieve the level of service that Amazon has achieved is not cheap and still needs people otherwise the customer experience will not be good, especially where there’s an exception to what the on-line service can do and either the customer cannot find a phone number or calls but ends up in a queue. You need to go into change in a planned manner and go through all the steps of that plan.

Smarter Business Tech LIVE: What will be the number one key business attribute for success in the new business world order?

IM: We’ve touched on this already but it’s receptiveness to change: not just now but again and again as technology changes at an accelerating rate. Businesses have to get into an agile state and accept that change will never be done because, in order to thrive, they’ll need to change and change again. Even some of those companies who have disrupted a market will get disrupted themselves if they simply stand still. Be alert to what you will need to do next in order to protect what you have and go to new places. Netflix, again, started as a ‘through the post’ model but quickly re-invented itself to online delivery and, today, it’s a broadcaster. The key attribute is a mind set: how do we get into an agile state; how do we become more relevant to the customer; how do we become more efficient.

While that was the end of our interview, we had only scratched the surface as far as Ian Moyse’s knowledge of the modern business environment was concerned. We’ll learn a lot more about how businesses can leverage the greatest value from the latest technology and processes when Ian talks at Smarter Business Tech LIVE – 15th & 16th November Manchester Central.

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