Market opportunities

The growing role of technology

At KCOM Group, we believe we have a significant opportunity to help people and organisations harness the power of technology. We create services to satisfy the requirements of the markets we serve by:

  • Monitoring future trends in technology and business
  • Listening to our customers’ plans and needs
  • Designing and shaping the services we can offer now, and in the future
 

Technology plays an increasing role in business and everyday life. We live in an always-on, 24/7 connected society. At home, activities such as internet shopping and online gaming are part of day-to-day life. At work, the way organisations and the people within them interact and collaborate has changed significantly. We are increasingly dependent on being able to harness the power of communications technologies.

Using the capabilities of our Group and its partners we can help people and organisations harness that technological power by creating services that satisfy the varied requirements of the markets we serve. By monitoring future trends in technology and business, and by listening to our customers’ plans and needs, we design and shape the services we can offer now and in the future.

Over the past five years, demand for faster broadband speeds and data usage has grown dramatically, and it’s easy to see why. With more and more households owning multiple devices – tablets, computers, games consoles and smart TVs – there is a constant stream of data flowing into and out of the home.

Alongside this, we have become used to accessing services like Netflix and YouTube, where the speed and download capacity of our internet connection is key. This is driving demand for faster and faster broadband services.

Looking to the future, with more devices and services set to join this online world – including telehealth for monitoring patients in their own homes and smart appliances which send data back to an external organisation, as with smart metering services – the thirst for bandwidth and superfast internet is set to continue.

Today connectivity is crucial for businesses of all sizes. The internet has made the world a much smaller place and businesses now have to contend not only with traditional bricks and mortar based operations but also lower cost, internet-based competition in the UK and abroad.

For the small enterprise owner, balancing the need to focus on growing business with being able to access a range of technologies can be a challenge. Much like consumers, they want bundled solutions that can deliver all their communications needs. Having access to customer and technical support is also vital, as small organisations typically have limited specialist in-house IT resource.

For larger organisations, the challenges become more complex, driven not only by new demands from customers but also the need to leverage talent across the organisation.

As the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, organisations are looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd. The ability to deliver consistent and high standards of customer service can be a challenge when there is also pressure to deliver more for less.

Organisations that can adapt to key trends in customer service will be able to deliver an experience that will empower customers and provide a competitive advantage.

The explosion in broadband, smartphone and social media adoption, and the pace of technological change present opportunities for personalisation, enhanced customer service and innovation to differentiate organisations against the background of a ‘more for less’ environment.

The economic environment has been very challenging for some time causing organisations to re-think their plans. Alongside cost reduction programmes, management teams are now looking to embrace innovation and IT to create a competitive advantage and find new ways to interact with their customers, deliver services and manage their operations and supply chain.

By integrating online channels into their contact strategy, organisations can build a single view of the customer, tailor their service to customer needs, and respond in the timeframe that today’s consumers expect. As some online channels are effectively self-service, there is an opportunity for organisations to become more efficient in the way they handle customer contact.

Research we’ve undertaken in partnership with the Contact Centre Association (CCA) has shown that 60 per cent of customers want to talk to a person, rather than an automated system – this is in stark contrast to figures that show up to 80 per cent of businesses want to increase self-service features for their customers. There are however certain transactions that customers prefer to handle via self-service or automated systems. There is an opportunity for organisations to find a balance between human interaction and automated services and take a multi-channel approach to delivering customer service which will increase both satisfaction and efficiency.

In just over 20 years, we’ve gone from a paper-driven society to one that is almost entirely digital - and we are now connected in ways that would have seemed like science fiction in the early 1990s.

Organisations that have been traditionally based upon hierarchical, pyramid, command and control models are now flattening their structures and evolving organisational design thinking from a ‘built to last’ approach to one that is ‘built to change’. Social software, collaborative technologies, workflow automation and task tracking are enabling organisations to become more flexible and agile. A key component of this new, agile structure is the application of tools and technologies that can create virtual networks and allow greater mobility of skills and knowledge.

At the same time, changes in workplace demographics, and a drive towards greater work/life flexibility have coincided with faster access speeds and the emergence of new technology such as 4G to create an expectation from an increasingly specialised workforce for collaboration and communications tools that enhance productivity and speed up innovation.

Creating work/life flexibility will be a priority for organisations seeking to attract and retain talent. Empowering employees to deliver the best results and an enhanced customer experience will make collaboration tools and off-site connectivity a key success factor. Technology has gone mobile, the use of video and gamification in business is growing, and employees are pushing for choice as consumer devices outpace corporate ones in terms of functionality and ease of use.

Business leaders and end users are already bringing their own tablets and smartphones into the workplace and using cloud applications such as Dropbox, Evernote and SkyDrive to store and transfer corporate data. While this presents an opportunity for employees to be more productive, it creates an information security risk to the organisation.

Being prepared for, and embracing, such opportunities is critical for both organisations and individuals. Organisations are increasingly becoming aware that people are a key strategic asset, so finding ways to foster innovation and productivity is key to success. Technology, particularly enterprise-grade communications and collaboration tools, can have a big impact on how employees interact and solve problems. Being ready to meet the challenges of security and device management will be critical to success.

Organisations are looking for trusted partners to help them navigate through the latest trends in business and IT, and identify and deliver new, compelling capabilities in the areas of collaboration, contact, mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) services that add demonstrable value.

In order to exploit these technologies in the workplace to the best effect, organisations are increasingly looking to pay for what they use, rather than owning technology assets outright. Connectivity will be key to delivering hybrid cloud solutions that allow organisations to accelerate innovation, explore new ideas and reduce the time to bring new products to market. These solutions will help them stay poised to take advantage of rapid technological advances, and give them the agility, flexibility and scalability to respond to opportunities, all for a predictable cost. To exploit these opportunities, organisations require much more from their networks than ever before and thinking of the network in a strategic way has never been more important. Networks will become intelligent, contextual and service-aware, and they will be judged on what they enable rather than what they are.

In an increasingly competitive world, successful organisations must look to embrace the opportunities and seek out innovative methods for facing everyday challenges.

It’s more than the possibility of using technology to avoid undesirable tasks through automation and the streamlining of processes. It’s about harnessing knowledge and information to provide a richer view of our customers and allowing technology to empower us by innovating and expanding our existing capabilities; ultimately being augmented rather than replaced by technology.

Because it is such a driver for change, understanding the potential that can be realised by technology is a must for organisations that want to create a high-performance workplace.

In the past, IT innovation took place in the workplace first and then, when commoditised, became available in the consumer space. Since 2009 this has been reversed. Consumer IT has delivered transformational innovation that is now being embraced in the enterprise.

End users want a consumer IT experience and the IT function wants secure, enterprise-grade IT services. The reality is that it’s possible for both. Cloud, social media, mobility and Big Data are a nexus of forces that is transforming the way businesses will function in the future.

Rapid innovation and the proliferation of technology have changed the way we live and work. Organisations want more from their IT networks, not just in terms of speed, but also functionality, connectivity and reliability.

This means that organisations must focus on IT now more than ever, finding new ways to integrate technology into the company strategy to enhance communication, streamline operations, increase revenue and transform the business.

In this context, IT becomes a strategic enabler for business, unlocking the potential of people across organisations through new collaboration, contact and mobility services and experiences to customers, employees and partner networks.

Not only are organisations becoming more tech savvy, so are their consumers and employees, and end users are seeking increased personalisation, integration and connectivity in all facets of technology.

Whatever the market segment, it’s clear that customers are looking for some key things from their technology partner: the skills and capability to create and integrate solutions; great customer service to anticipate and meet their needs, innovative thinking and access to the right products and services.

At KCOM Group, we bring all these elements together to create the right solutions for customers across our markets. We base our strategy on four strategic pillars:

  • our customer focus – through each of our brands we tailor our offer to the needs of a particular set of customers and deliver an experience to match their requirements;
  • our people – making sure we leverage their skills and capabilities and create the right environment for them to achieve their full potential;
  • our partners – who help us to deliver a wide breadth of services which we can bring together using our expertise and experience; and
  • our processes and systems – making sure they give us the flexibility and agility to serve our customers.

Find out more about our approach in the ‘Our business model’ section of this report.