Digital transformation initiatives are showing results across industries, and while strong leadership and a clear vision of objectives are vital for success, so is a flexible communications infrastructure. This is the case no matter which sector an enterprise is in. Digital transformation is also business transformation, potentially a complete change in how an organisation connects to locations, suppliers and partners -- and this brings its communications infrastructure centre-stage.
Consider for example a logistics company. Whether it's operating globally or is a more localised specialist, any major logistics company is essential to its customers' supply chains. But the industry itself is undergoing significant change. Traditionally, logistics companies set up large warehouses close to transport links, and these may be in place for many years. As a result, the communications infrastructure could also stay in place without much requirement for dynamism or flexibility.
Increasingly however many companies are beginning to create smaller logistics hubs, including on-site with major customers. These hubs may only be in place for one to two years – a blink of an eye compared to established practices. Nevertheless, they require full communications support and a responsive, high-performance telecommunications infrastructure, both for standard voice and data, and for novel systems like machine-to-machine communications and real-time applications that improve the customer experience and shorten lead times.
The traditional telecoms network is the strong foundation that supports all of this: without it, the innovation essential to digital transformation cannot succeed.
Cost control alongside innovation
Of course, investment in digital transformation cannot be separated from the need to drive down costs, particularly in industries such as transport and logistics. Airports in particular have come under tremendous pressure to reduce costs, driven in part by carriers, but also by economic volatility and the decline in transport volumes due to current travel restrictions.
But even during business-as-usual, profit margins are constantly being squeezed. Many airports are responding by seeking opportunities to transform their businesses and introduce innovation that improves efficiency.
Again the underlying network is a vital starting point, for example upgrading from a traditional mobile network to private LTE for airfield communications. This not only provides faster speeds but also better stability, visibility and control for airports looking forward to next-generation cost reduction and efficiency initiatives, such as remote control vehicles and machines, and other automation.
New routes to market need enabling infrastructure
Companies wanting to innovate by opening up new direct channels to customers also require flexible and responsive infrastructure. In the pharmaceutical sector, for example, pressure on margins prompts many drugmakers to investigate how they can circumvent distributors and sell direct to pharmacies or end users, in the case of nonprescription drugs. The list of pertinent medicines which are available without prescription may change every few months, creating that need for the organisation to keep pace and react quickly when new opportunities arise.
Whatever their sector, most enterprises are united in their drive to transform their efficiency and their cost base through digital initiatives. And while other technologies like automation and IOT may seize the headlines, it's important not to underestimate the value of what is at the core: high-performance voice, data and mobile services that provide the stability that innovation demands.