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February 2007
Volume 10 / Number 2

Business Convergence: The Path to Enterprise Transformation

By Tony Rybczynski, Inside Networking


Gartner estimates that over the next 5 years, enterprises worldwide will waste $100B by taking the easy road and following outdated networking design practices, as opposed to focusing IT investments on transforming the business by spending money where it matters most. Just because you can do something, should you? What matters most? In their survey of 400 CIOs, the four top CIO business priorities for 2006 were: improving business processes, lowering operating costs, attracting and growing customer relations and supporting competitive advantage. In short, what matters most is ensuring that IT’s strategic plans align with the strategic plans of the business. Through Business Convergence, the enterprise is transformed by allowing the enterprise to accelerate decision-making and business processes, to rebalance operational expenses towards strategic initiatives, to enhance customer engagement, and to apply IT resources to strengthen competitive positioning.


Four Strategies for Business Convergence

There are four key strategies that can help CIOs execute on their priorities and move their enterprise towards business convergence.

Firstly, adopt Unified Communications. (news - alert) Your people are your key strength, but what percentage of the collective knowledge across your organization is being used? Your answer is very likely closer to 20% than to 80%. One of the major impediments is that communications has become ineffective across an increasingly mobile workforce, with multiple phone numbers, email addresses and inboxes. Unified Communications simplifies the end user experience by bringing these different communications modes together and enhancing them through presence and location services, multimedia conferencing and personalization. Unified Communications enhances customer service delivered through contact centers by allowing end customers to engage with the enterprise over their preferred self-serve or agentassisted channel (web, telephony, email, chat, and video). Unified Communications allows knowledge workers to collaborate more effectively anytime, anywhere over any device; information workers to reach out to subject matter experts to accelerate decision making; and service workers to address issues more quickly. Unified Communications also unifies the supporting communications infrastructure onto a common software-based platform, which is easier to engineer to meet security, compliance and disaster recovery and business continuity requirements. Working with end user communities of knowledge, information and service workers, and with lines of business will ensure that these Unified Communications capabilities are embraced by end users for maximum business advantage.

Secondly, communications enable your business processes. Are human delays slowing down your business processes, impacting customer service, ship dates, new product development, and problem resolution, and, in turn both top and bottom-lines? Communication-enabling your business processes is targeted at eliminating these delays. These processes can take the form of person and application-initiated interactions. In the first case, presence and directory information are embedded in the application allowing the user to initiate instant messaged, email, voice or multimedia session directly from the application. For example, a nurse using a clinical application could easily check the availability of a patient’s doctor and initiate communication, eliminating lost time associated with voicemail tag and missed calls. In the second case, the application can initiate alerts and notifications, or schedule conference calls based on presence and calendar information. For example, a supply chain application, on detecting a shortfall in supply, could send notifications and relevant data to key stakeholders and even schedule collaboration for faster resolution. Working with key stakeholders (lines of business and enterprise- wide application owners) for both customer and employee- facing applications and adopting Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) frameworks will provide the required agility in meeting business needs.

Thirdly, deploy an application-aware network. This strategic imperative addresses this challenge, while recognizing that the underlying IT infrastructure must meet the need of three key stakeholders. Firstly, it must meet the implicit or explicit service level agreements for end user Quality of Experience (QoE). Secondly, it must meet the needs of CXOs in areas such as security, regulatory compliance including privacy and financial control, business continuity and disaster recovery, and performance needs of enterprise-wide applications (finance, HR, ERP). Thirdly, it needs to meet the needs of IT to optimize network performance while reducing the total cost of ownership. Broadly speaking, the keys to achieving these objectives are appropriately distributed applicationawareness for consistent QoE and application performance optimization, and autonomic operation to dynamically adjust to changing traffic, threat and failure conditions. The result is overall simplification while meeting business needs, thus freeing up resources to address new strategic initiatives such as Unified Communications and communications-enabled business processes.

Fourthly, partner for success. Is your IT staff too busy maintaining your current network, server and storage environments to undertake new initiatives to move the business forward? Are you concerned about managing risk in your business? You are not alone. The above strategic imperatives require new skills that transcend voice, network and application skills. In addition, enterprises need to decide which areas are strategic and should be staffed internally and which could be out-sourced in the form of integration (design, deploy, support, evolve), managed and hosted services. Any risks associate with accelerating enterprise transformation to meet business needs can be minimized through judicious use of services from trusted partners. Partnering is a key strategic step towards business convergence.

Business convergence is a compelling vision, resulting in the alignment of IT and business priorities. These four strategic imperatives enable your enterprise to transform itself with low technology and business risk, to accelerate time to X across the enterprise- time to customer service, to problem solution, to revenue and more generally to meeting new business needs.

Tony Rybczynski is Director of Strategic Enterprise Technologies at Nortel. (quote - news - alert) He has over 20 years experience in the application of packet network technology. For more information, please visit

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or PDF format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at or contact a representative via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-290-5460.


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