|Issue:||Europe II 2007|
|Topic:||Enterprise convergence – communications on the move|
|Title:||CEO and Co-founder|
Lars-Michaël Paqvalén is the CEO and Co-founder of Telepo a software company developing convergence solutions for large and medium-sized enterprises and service providers. Mr Paqvalén was previously the CFO, and a member of the Board of Directors, of Hotsip, which was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2006. He has also held the position of CFO at Gambro Operations, a global medical technology company, and CEO and Co-founder of Hansa Business Solutions Inc, an enterprise software company. Lars-Michaël Paqvalén has a Masters degree from Helsinki School of Economics, Finland.
Supporting an increasingly mobile workforce in the field with all of the tools and information of the office is a top priority for many companies. How to bring this about is a matter of great strategic and economic importance. Few companies working with legacy PBX systems have any effective control over their mobile communications costs which, today, can far exceed their costs for fixed telephony. New software-based solutions, rather than network replacement, can provide a viable solution for fixed/mobile convergence.
Riding the wave of IP technology uptake as the backbone of business-critical networks, converged communications is fast establishing itself as a key issue on the boardroom agenda. Whereas last year largely saw companies investigating the business case, this year will see the decisions being made on how to best bring mobility and converged communications to life in the enterprise environment. With a visible impact on business processes and the all important ëbottom lineí, organisations are recognising the true pervasive impact of mobility and communications technology. Executives worldwide realise that it is no longer viable to differentiate between fixed-line and mobile, or even voice, data, broadcast or multimedia content. All kinds of services can now be delivered over a range of wireline and wireless networks, or even a patchwork of both with seamless handover delivering services in the most efficient, effective and economical way. Business users are also increasingly influenced by communication innovation in their personal lives and the lives of their employees. People want the most convenient device for their current needs. New, sophisticated mobile devices, laptops and converged services make people more willing to adopt mobile, always-on technologies, and this helps employers looking to take advantage of mobility and provide their workers with a full range of business facilities outside the office environment. Conventional wisdom and traditional business models have had to be re-defined to deal with mobility. The vast opportunities that IP-based technologies bring, and the many mergers, partnerships and consolidations in the telecoms industry, have transformed the networking landscape and multiplied the innovations offered. The greatest impact, however, comes from fixed-mobile convergence, FMC. A user-centric FMC success Converged access to fixed, mobile and IP-based networks gives users the ability to select from a wide variety of devices for voice and data services, video, messaging and presence, all of which are available in any single session. FMC makes all services available on any device from any location, with simple single interface and consolidated user identity control. There is no need for users to adjust their habits, which is known to be a major hurdle for successful adoption of new technologies, or compromise on convenience. With two-fifths of the UKís workforce now considered ëmobileí, employees are abandoning their desks and embracing a more nomadic way of working, connecting to voice and data networks anywhere from cafÈs and customer offices, to the comfort of their homes. Along with this flexibility in working practices has come an increasing reliance on a wide range of devices as tools for communication. However, despite the proliferation of devices, users are essentially creatures of habit. They want a consistent look and feel across devices, along with seamless integration of enterprise applications and simple access to any services. The evolution in mobile services presents a challenge for enterprises. They want to get the most from their IT budgets and implement communications systems that will increase employee productivity, but they must also ensure that employees will actually use the technology. It is no good spending vast sums of money upgrading the network and deploying new mobile devices if employees wonít use them. Without a user-centric view, solutions fail to gain user acceptance and enable true mobility. Studies have shown that users faced with the need to change behaviour, to adopt new devices or services, are quite likely to choose to live without it! Cost control Communications costs – particularly mobile – are growing dramatically as a proportion of expenditure. Yet up to 80 per cent of enterprises do not know how much they spend on this aspect of their business operations. According to research by Yankee Group, 40 per cent of todayís enterprise telephony costs are attributed to mobile device usage – a figure that is set to rise with the growing trend towards mobile and remote working. Even when within easy reach of a landline, many people pick up their mobile phone to make a call. Communications spend is soaring as a consequence, and businesses increasingly need tools that help them to control costs and monitor usage. As with fixed and IP communications, businesses would benefit from centralised management tools that extend across all types of communication. Unlike fixed-line costs that are typically easy to track, mobile costs are generally not accurately known until the monthly phone bill arrives. Without a firm handle on how much is being spent on mobile communications, companies have little control over more than two-thirds of their overall communications spending. If a similar lack of clarity existed in any other area of business expenditure, such as stock control or sales, the problem would have been prioritised and a solution quickly sought in todayís operational and capital expenditure, OPEX and CAPEX, control-driven organisation. However, communications expense has slipped under the radarÖ until now. FMC – just mobiles on a PBX? Communications crosses industries, geographies, company size and culture. It lies at the heart of every organisation. It dictates the means by which companies do business with customers, partners, suppliers and stakeholders, and even how the workforce cooperates. Despite the influence of communications at the very core of business life, few organisations have invested in an infrastructure that aligns communications with a defined set of current and future business requirements. In most cases, organisations invested many years ago in networks with reliable voice communication and have put little thought to it since. Having grown over the years, these networks are often now complicated and expensive to run. Some have been extended towards Voice over IP, VoIP, for a more sophisticated set of telephony services, such as conferencing, transfers and call management. However, only a very select group can boast an open standards-based and future-proof architecture that is strategically designed to support business processes and applications to empower a truly mobile workforce. Open standards-based Session Initiation Protocol, SIP, is a key enabling factor for FMC; it creates a simple and cost effective basis for voice, video, messaging, multimedia and business applications compatibility. FMC requires more than just integrating mobile phones and devices with the existing PBX and few existing communication systems are prepared for this evolution. There are a number of reasons for this lack of ability to evolve – some requirements such as single identity simply cannot be achieved using older technologies, the platforms tend to be built on proprietary standards, the development and conversion costs are prohibitively high, or the management and configuration of the older system is too complex requiring changes in user behaviours. However, these hurdles do not necessarily mean that the only option is to overhaul the existing communications infrastructure completely. New open standards solutions on the market can bring the benefits and opportunities of FMC to a wide range of businesses, using existing systems and without replacing existing, expensive, PBX architectures. A great many businesses would benefit from facing this challenge head on and reinvigorating their communications network. This way, they can reinvent the enterprise around mobility and enhanced user experience. A range of mobile technologies already exist and are delivering massive benefits to people and organisations worldwide. Unless companies gain control over the entire universe of their communications and what they spend for this essential part of their business – including for mobile devices – they will lose control over a significant, rising portion of their operational costs. By not keeping in step with the changes in communications technology, by not modernising and embracing FMC, they will fall behind in much the same way as if they had never replaced their typewriters with computers. Convergence and the enterprise Mobile convergence depends upon a common, open and secure architecture for all of an enterpriseís communications; its successful adoption depends upon accommodating and building on existing user habits and needs. However, businesses striving for convergence by extending the existing architecture to meet and integrate mobile services face more fundamental infrastructure challenges. The effort of managing networks, and the complex requirements for integrating multiple addresses and proprietary solutions into a centrally managed system, makes for a challenge that may seem insurmountable. It leaves many organisations struggling with a difficult and costly migration to converged business communications. Reinventing the existing systems infrastructure by using new software-based technologies and business models, rather than replacing entire network architectures, provides a viable solution for achieving FMC. Integrating mobility at the core of the network enables organisations to gain control of communications, measure costs and truly empower their workforce by giving it access to centralised applications and services at any time, through any device, wherever they are. This has proven to be a worthwhile investment, and one of increasing importance as businesses build their future using effective communication to ëleverageí the new virtual mobile workforce. To achieve true FMC, businesses must take a fresh approach to communications. By viewing technology as the enabler, not necessarily the solution, businesses can integrate with existing systems to achieve increased flexibility, centralised management and complete cost control. Importantly, the user can be at the heart of this evolution. By embracing mobility at its very core, communications convergence can reinvent the enterprise, provide a rapid return on investment, reduce cost of ownership by up to 30 per cent, and save up to 50 per cent in calling costs.