Millar talks technology

Assessing the various ways to master and monetise new and emerging technologies must become routine among comms and IT resellers, says Paul Millar, Chief Innovation Officer at TeleWare. Here, he highlights the steps he is taking to address areas such as the public cloud, data analytics, nurturing innovation, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence.

One of the main threats to established comms and IT channels is the cloud and the ability for customers to self-serve what they need to run their business, according to Millar. Everything - email, storage, CRM, and now voice services - is becoming more widely available in the cloud, including PSTN connectivity, whether Skype for Business included inside Office 365 or from other suppliers utilising WebRTC and other Over-the-top (OTT) suppliers, such as Whatsapp, observed Millar. 'The expertise of established comms and IT channel businesses still plays a vital role in building the right cloud infrastructure and services, so they need to utilise their knowledge in a way that complements and enhances these cloud services to deliver what each business needs,' he said.

Public cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, IBM Watson and HP Havenondemand allow businesses to bring best of breed services together to create new and exciting products, streamline processes and make big improvements to how they deal with end customers and partners. 'They also benefit employees, giving them the best tools to do their job,' added Millar.

TeleWare is in the process of moving all of its internal services (email, CRM, Sharepoint, support system etc) up into the public cloud to allow 24/7 access to the things people need to do. 'It also means employees can work wherever they are, on any device they want, which enhances the customer's experience and facilitates a better work life balance,' explained Millar. 'From a business continuity point of view, these new advances enable businesses to offer higher levels of support and customer interaction, and makes them more resilient to challenges.'

Being dynamic, curious and collaborative are three of TeleWare's values. The company encourages colleagues to explore areas of interest outside of their 'business as usual' responsibilities and to find ways in which they can innovate within the business, whether that be in product, technology, business process or any other area of the company. 'We have Innovation Friday afternoons where everyone can investigate new technologies, build prototypes, map process change and form collaboration sessions,' said Millar. 'We want to encourage employees to do something a bit different.'

TeleWare is implementing a full end-to-end Innovation platform that allows ideas to be shared and collaborated on throughout the working week, which can then feed into Innovation sessions on Friday. 'The idea is that these will then feed into the product pipeline and business improvement process, which will undoubtedly benefit our channel partners and customers,' added Millar. 'TeleWare is also looking to build further connections with its channel partners by demonstrating and installing prototypes into their own innovation spaces to combine and enhance joint efforts.'

Data analytics and machine learning/AI are real emerging technologies that are going to have a major impact on how we work and live, according to Millar. 'People have been talking about Big Data but not necessarily always delivering the insight and learning that can help businesses grow and improve, as well as providing a far better service,' he added. 'We collect and store a huge amount of data and have been providing insights to clients for many years. But, as we start doing more specific data analysis and visualisation there are even more insights that we can find. We can then explore these with our customers and partners.

'The future opportunity is to leverage the data and insight from these emerging technologies to drive greater business benefits and then look to automate processes and communication channels. The customer can therefore receive the best possible customer experience, making the customer (and their supplier) stand out from the competition.'

TeleWare is building systems and processes in its own private cloud, but also integrating with public cloud services to deliver the best possible solutions that a hybrid model can bring. 'These new services do bring technical challenges which need to be overcome, but they are allowing us to very quickly try, test and confirm whether different technologies and services can bring the real benefits we envisage,' commented Millar. 'It also allows us to innovate and fail fast without the fear of costs spiralling and time being lost on projects that don't then deliver.'

TeleWare is also investigating how Bots can change the way in which it works and operates, again giving greater levels of information and data, at the right time, to customers, partners and employees. 'A lot of this can be built on the back of data analytics, machine learning and AI,' said Millar. 'The challenge is finding the best way to deliver this to the customer so they can have real-time interaction at the times they want and need it, rather than being limited to defined time windows.'