Andrew Small, BT Vice President: Unified Communications and Contact Centres, writes on engaging with CIOs, who often talk about the challenges they have in their branches or stores with employee and customer experience – and how you can deliver a seamless customer experience.

With the dramatic increase in digital and mobile engagement, customers increasingly expect personalised experiences, and employees are increasingly more mobile, equipped with handheld devices to be able to offer advice, check stock and handle general enquiries.

For example, tablets used by staff in retail banks can show whether a customer is in the branch at an ATM, whether they have requested a meeting, how long they’ve been waiting to be served, and even their financial profile.

But CIOs don’t just have to manage these challenges. They also talk about how to make the most of technology investments they’ve already made, how to stay ahead of a changing threat landscape and how they can see and control in an automated way what’s happening on their network.

Any impact on their network, whether from the increasing numbers of applications or security services to defend against the growing number of threats, can disrupt applications used to support guest wireless, point of sale systems or inventory management systems, all disrupting that all important customer experience.

Technology to deliver a seamless experience

In reality, the technology is there to deliver a seamless experience, whether you are a customer, employee, CIO or CISO. Many of our customers are starting to design and run LAN, WAN and datacentre services together to get a better experience.

LANs have been around for a long time, but the capabilities of wireless LAN mean they are now more advanced. With customers expecting to be able to get online wherever they are, wireless LANs give organisations the ability to gain more insight from their network. For example, they can see heat maps of where users are in store and where you may have capacity issues, as well as more reporting and analytics, helping organisations monetise their wireless LANs.

The intelligent edge is the continually expanding set of connected systems and devices that provides the infrastructure to gather and analyse information close where data resides, for example, in-store, to deliver real-time insights.

With the boundaries between the edge, WAN and data centres starting to blur, the visibility of services across domains is improving. In a software defined world, you can control your LAN as you do your WAN, helping you control and prioritise your data.

While there may be situations when you don’t want to use the cloud – for sensitive applications, for example – your data centres may have end-of-life equipment or capacity issues. But you can now get cloud-based advantages from your fixed data centres, such as visibility of what is happening across your infrastructure and workload – and then the ability to control and make changes easily based on that information. And in all this, security is inherent, with next generation firewalls, user-based access and content filtering, for example.

Of course, none of this is possible without the experience and skills to design, build and more importantly manage in life the services.

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