Degrees of Digital Transformation

By David Raanan
Co-Founder & Partner
Starfish Associates

There’s a perception that digital transformation is a have or have-not thing, that companies either are or are not digitally transformed; and since it is promised by most current technologies, it should be just a few more years until every company has it under its belt.

Digital transformation is less a destination than a journey. It involves leveraging new technologies into workflows and then revolutionizing workflows to leverage technologies. Since workflows and technologies are continuously changing, digital transformation must be an ongoing process.

At Starfish we see the fruits of successful digital transformation regularly. Communication systems are at the heart of nearly every business process – and we unlock the potential of those systems. Our customers realize the benefits of digital transformation such as gains in productivity and increased agility.

We find that the digital transformation journey in communications consistently involves six phases:

 

  1. Digitization
  2. Automation
  3. Extending Capabilities
  4. Security
  5. Consistency
  6. Migration

 

The first phase is simple digitization. In communications, this usually equates to software-controlled VoIP, UC, and contact center solutions. Software-controlled solutions enable centralized administration and management, but software alone is just a start.

 

The second phase, where Starfish typically gets involved, is automating workflows associated with platforms including Cisco, Avaya, Genesys, Microsoft, and others. UC systems and contact center solutions require ongoing, manually-intensive administration. Possibly because communications systems evolved from stand-alone solutions, they generally are not on par with current management and administration capabilities of other mission-critical IT systems. We solve that problem.

The Starfish technology platform streamlines UC and contact center administration by connecting to related systems. As other systems update, or even when help desk tickets get created, Starfish can automatically trigger administrative actions. This simultaneously increases responsiveness and frees-up administrators for other tasks.

 

The third phase is when organizations want to overcome the limitations of their business applications. Starfish can securely extend and enhance the administrative capabilities of any supported communications solution. For example, one of our customers wanted to allow its UC end-users to select if they wanted a voicemail box. This customer had its end-users mixed on two separate UC systems, neither of which offered this particular feature within its provided, end-user portal.

Instead, they used the tools and capabilities of the Starfish self-service solution to create a portal that authenticated the user, determined his/her UC system, and executed the provisioning changes associated with his/her selection. Software limitations do not need to hold back IT organizations from satisfying or exceeding the needs of their customers.

 

The fourth phase that we see is when customers want to take similar actions with security. For example, when an employee terminates employment, Starfish can automatically de-provision all telecom resources that may involve separate systems and possibly backup messages or logs. Starfish can securely integrate with leading directory systems and automatically take appropriate actions.

Starfish also provides secure self-service capabilities such as password resets. Our software can even synchronize passwords across separate communications systems even when single-vendor solutions don’t.

 

The fifth phase we encounter is when organizations realize that inconsistent practices are limiting their transformational benefits. Often, policies are inconsistently applied across systems and locations. Our customers define specific roles and policies and let the Starfish tools implement them consistently, and proactively identify any deviations. Consistency drives digital transformation by reducing the need for exception handling.

 

The sixth phase, and an increasingly important activity, is migration across communications platforms. Many organizations are migrating from one UC or contact center solution to another. Since many customers view migration as a one-time activity, they may not realize there is an automation opportunity. Migration of systems may be one-time (though usually isn’t), but per user it is a repetitive process that must be performed hundreds or even thousands of times.

Migrating users require administrative rights and know-how and all the involved systems. Starfish offers administrators an intuitive user interface that abstracts-away the nuances of each solution. Our software performs all the necessary steps, consistently and quickly with full logging. In some cases, such as multi-vendor operations, migrations never end.

 

Too often the barriers to the benefits of digital transformation lie in the solutions themselves. Starfish provides the tools necessary to unlock the potential benefits of these solutions. The results are increased responsiveness and reclaimed time of IT staff. Our customers have the needed control over workflows to realize the transformational benefits of their digital applications.