During the past few years, business leaders experienced a crash course of invaluable lessons. While there was plenty to learn throughout the pandemic, perhaps the most important takeaway was the value of being agile and flexible in the face of fast-moving changes. The businesses with the resilience to roll with the punches have fared measurably better than those lacking a fast-acting ability to protect operations, technology, and employees from crisis and chaos. According to McKinsey, the most resilient companies were 11% more profitable in 2020 than in 2019, highlighting the importance of flexibility as a key driver of value-added growth.
As change continues to shape the future of business, flexibility remains essential for long-term success. In its World Business Telephony Forecast, MZA has gone as far as naming flexibility one of its key business communication trends in 2022 — specifically calling out the need for greater flexibility in working environments, technologies, and licensing and payment models.
Table stakes for survival
Why will flexibility remain a vital trait in the post-COVID era? It boils down to higher expectations. Whether a business is facing hardships or striving to increase competitiveness, consumers and employees now have higher expectations than ever before.
Today’s customers know what they want, and they expect that businesses will “get” them and deliver. They’re also increasingly paradoxical, wanting to be connected but left alone, and treated equally but served uniquely. They expect experiences to be fully featured, effortless, and consistent. Yet, they’re still delighted by the unexpected. Gartner has termed this the “Everything Customer” mindset, and it’s propelling us to want the services we use and the experiences we have to “be composed” around us.
This mindset has also spilled over into the workplace. The experiences that we now expect as consumers are driving similar aspirations for the way we work. Employees want to work for employers that maximize their potential to make a difference. This requires journeys to be consistent across personas, modalities, and touchpoints. In other words, business experiences must be effortless, exciting, and rewarding across all personas of both employees and customers.
Delivering the “Total Experience”
Supporting the “Everything Customer” means delivering a personalized user experience and multi-experience digital journey that’s contextual, intelligent, consistent, and connected. This “Total Experience” combines and elevates employee experience, customer experience, multi-experience, and user experience into a single, integrated, workstream collaboration experience. Yet, delivering this heightened level of experience requires the flexibility to serve narrow use cases that simply can’t be created by single, purpose-built applications. A cloud-based, platform approach is fundamental to overcoming silos between roles and personas and achieving the flexibility necessary to deliver a total experience.
Cloud as a toolset, not a destination
The cloud plays an essential role in achieving this heightened level of flexibility, but it requires more than “moving to the cloud.” Greater flexibility means leveraging the cloud as a set of tools to drive greater intimacy with customers and employees. And creating and delivering the Total Experience requires using cloud as a platform to modernize and reimagine business communications.
With a cloud-based experience platform, businesses are empowered with the exact tools they need to orchestrate the Total Experience and accelerate innovation. This is a giant leap forward from the old monolithic approach to business communications. With a single cloud-based architecture, businesses can quickly pivot to meet customer and employee needs and deliver personalized experiences that target very specific, granular use cases.
Faster time to value
A cloud-based platform allows unified communications as a service (UCaaS), contact center as a service (CCaaS), communications platform as a service, and workstream collaboration to act together to accelerate innovation — allowing projects that once took months or years to be completed in weeks or even days. Even AI applications, such as green screening, upscaling, translation, transcription, and noise cancellation, can be quickly added and updated across any endpoint or mode. This heightened level of flexibility and speed to value offers a distinct competitive advantage for businesses as they compete for customer time and attention.
Enhancing virtual learning with an experiential learning platform
Clearly, greater flexibility offers a host of benefits to businesses, but it is also an advantage for other organizations, including educational institutions.
In the case of Clemson University, the pandemic propelled the need for a rapid transition to online courses. For Dr. Alex Feltus, Professor of Genetics & Biochemistry, this meant a rapid conversion of a traditional face-to-face Bioinformatics course with labs into a unified, digital course. Leveraging the Avaya OneCloud™ platform, he soon discovered that his digital program resulted in more engaged students, improved performance, and an all-around better experience than traditional methods.
“I wanted to take my course outside the classroom to have a more experiential component,” says Professor Feltus. “I wanted something where I could do what I was doing in my lab and classroom and really scale up.”
Since Fall 2021, students and faculty have been required to physically return to the classroom. However, Professor Feltus will never go back to full-time face-to-face teaching because of the heightened level of collaboration and communication his class has gained with the OneCloud platform. And thanks to the inbuilt analytics capability, he is even benefitting from actionable insights that he can now access to see who has not been logging on often and may need additional help.
“It’s a much better experience, and I firmly believe it has made me a better teacher 50 times over.”
Businesses that were flexible and agile have survived the pandemic. Those that were not only able to quickly adapt to changes, but also reimagine the experiences with the right toolset, fared even better. Focusing on business resilience and increasing flexibility has and will continue to enable businesses to succeed in an expanding, shifting work environment, as well as to be better positioned for when the next unexpected disruption comes our way.
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