|Issue:||North America 2005|
|Topic:||Integrating IT and telecom|
|Organisation:||Bell Canada Enterprise Market Group|
Isabelle Courville is the President of Bell Canada’s Enterprise group. Previously, Ms Courville was President and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Nordiq Group Inc. (Télébec-NorthernTel) where she successfully spearheaded the creation of the Bell Nordiq Income Fund, the first of its kind in Canada. Ms Courville also brought to fruition the integration of Télébec and NorthernTel. As Senior Vice President–Supply Chain and Capital Management, she administered Bell’s Capital programme and oversaw the planning and monitoring of Bell Canada’s investments. Mr Courville also led the team responsible for managing Stentor’s national and international alliances as Vice President–Alliances and Legal Services at the Stentor Resource Centre. For a second year, Ms Courville is serving as president of the Telecommunications division for the Centraide of Greater Montreal campaign. She is also co-chair of the Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur’s 2003 fundraising campaign. Isabelle Courville holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from the École Polytechnique de Montréal and a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Law from McGill University. She is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, the Barreau du Québec and the Canadian Bar Association.
Integrated communications is more than bringing voice and data together; it is a key driver of profitable growth and service differentiation. As more and more organisations implement adaptive IT infrastructures, there is a compelling need to blend traditional IT and telecom systems to implement creative solutions to everyday business problems. This, however, requires planning to encompass all affected devices, systems, applications and users in a single ecosystem. Planning for integrated communications must incorporate behaviour management, performance management and security management.
It may hold different meaning for people who earn their living in the marketing world, but ‘integrated communications’ is a term that is starting to gain prominence in technology circles. On the technology front, integrated communications signifies the long-awaited dismantling of artificial structural barriers between voice, video and data capture, management and sharing capabilities–in essence, the comprehensive and holistic merging of IT and telecom to deliver real-time applications in which users benefit from unprecedented flexibility, control, simplicity and greatly enriched interactions. Integrated communications–much more than just bringing voice and data together–holds enormous promise as a key driver of profitable growth and service differentiation for countless organisations. In fact, to say that the advent of integrated communications signals the dawn of a new era is not a mere act of hyperbole. The evidence surrounds us. As more and more organisations implement adaptive IT infrastructures to improve the customer experience, raise productivity and reduce costs, the need to blend traditional IT and telecom systems becomes all the more apparent and the desire to implement creative solutions for everyday business problems all the more compelling. However, to do so successfully requires a deliberate and disciplined approach to planning that encompasses all affected devices, systems, applications and users in a single ecosystem. There are many benefits to implementing an integrated communications strategy. To begin with, entirely new communication services can be delivered quickly, easily and cost-effectively to users–a key point in helping organisations achieve greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately increased profits. Beyond that, IT application troubleshooting systems will already exist; processes and system reviews will routinely address and forecast the demands required of the infrastructure; communication will travel through any medium based on individual user preferences; and information will be available whenever and wherever required, and in whatever form is needed. As with any well-executed planning process, clearly defining your objectives and measuring the progress you make toward meeting those objectives is an important part of developing an integrated communications plan. In the simplest terms, there are three pillars to integrated communications that must be addressed in the planning process: behaviour management, performance management and security management. The behaviour management imperative focuses on redefining the roles and responsibilities of technology personnel to enable them to become central players involved in key business decisions and organisational activities, while at the same time managing roles and expectations of others in the organisation who can have a direct impact on the outcome of the strategy. Performance management deals with the processes required to keep an integrated communications environment operating in a fault-resistant and virtually real-time capacity. Security management, mean time, is needed both to avoid system breaches and to minimize the impact when and if they do occur. As one might suspect, successfully managing behaviour can be the biggest challenge in implementing an integrated communications strategy. However, that is to be expected when you are talking about introducing an enabling technology that has the potential to change the way business operates. Indeed, integrated communications represents a paradigm shift that demands a new way of thinking about, planning and implementing communications. Traditionally, in the telecom world, when voice was carried over its own separate network, the potential for true system integration was limited by a litany of physical and technical constraints. Now, however, with voice and data sharing the same network infrastructure, those obstacles get stripped away and integrated communications becomes highly achievable. Voice, moreover, despite being the catalyst for change, represents only the first of an array of new real-time communications applications. In an integrated communications world, the role of IT must expand to include customer-focused drivers that will help the organisation win in the marketplace. This includes increased sales, improved customer retention and raised average selling prices. The underlying premise is that integrating voice and data enables companies to have richer interactions with customers. These enhanced communications create endless possibilities for service, channel or support differentiation, leading to a price premium in the marketplace. As clear as the benefits of integrated communications are, none of them stand a chance of coming to fruition unless a basic set of infrastructure, systems and processes are first put into place. Failing to do so will quickly lead to negative perceptions within the organisation and integrated communications will just get tossed onto the scrap heap of abandoned technology applications. In summary, integrated communications is a long-term, large, complex undertaking. Executed well, it will create an environment where applications can quickly be deployed with minimal disruption to systems, people and processes. Organisations can benefit from cost-saving applications, productivity-enhancing applications and–most importantly–applications that improve the customer experience to deliver true service differentiation and increased profitability. Integrated Communications–it’s not a matter of if, but when. Start planning now.