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Enterprises seem to have a lot of forward momentum at the moment, driven by the need to transform themselves digitally. Indeed, digital transformation has become the foundation for success in today’s highly-competitive, fast-moving marketplace.

One thing has remained constant, however, and that is the importance of the network that underpins your operations. It’s been the case since the Eighties, when TCP/IP enabled PCs to connect together, and continued as ARPANET’s seminal 1969 network grew into the Internet as we know it.

Since then, countless enterprises have demonstrated that the network is the central platform for digital transformation, enabling them to communicate and collaborate, and move more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

But in order for digital transformation to succeed, O2 advises organisations to pursue a number of factors as part of their business IT strategy, all of which have the network firmly in mind.

  1. Seamless connectivity

The first factor is seamless connectivity - integrating mobile, Wi-Fi and fixed-line services,  to simplify, unify and secure communications across the business.

O2 Gateway is a connectivity capability that offers this, about which Rob Davies, Head of Products and Solutions at Telefónica UK, comments: “We’ve plugged mobile, fixed and wifi together in one end-to-end platform, so IT can just roll it out without worrying about stuff like quality of service, smooth handovers between networks, or maintaining connectivity between suppliers.”

One example of seamless connectivity is the secure 24/7 free Wi-Fi service that O2 operates for McDonald’s 1270+ restaurants across the UK, also providing the WAN and LAN management into those restaurants.

Another organisation with an innovative digital transformation programme is Van Elle, a leading UK geo-technical engineering company. The business has over 180 vehicles and more than 100 rigs across the UK working on different projects, and partnered with O2 in order to optimise its dispatch and allocation of equipment and people.

Van Elle implemented a network-centric solution called O2 Smart Vehicle, powered by Geotab, which monitors, records and analyses real-time data from the company’s vehicles, using diagnostics to keep their drivers, plant and vehicles safe and productive.

Thomas Lindup, Group MD at Van Elle, comments that the O2 solution gives the company the opportunity to maximise the efficiency of its drivers and vehicles.  End users find the solution easy to use because of its dashboard interface. It also helps the firm to generate payroll reports and ensure the drivers don’t exceed their working hours.

Lindup adds, “The O2 system provides us with an extra layer of visibility as to what’s going on on the ground, the whereabouts of our employees, and maximisation of plant and vehicles.”

  1. In-depth security

The second factor worth considering as part of any digital transformation programme is in-depth security, which O2 Gateway also offers.

Geoff Prowling: Head of Public Sector Business Operations, Telefónica UK explains that “receiving CAS(T) accreditation for O2 Gateway demonstrates the strength and security of our offering. It shows that our services are compliant with UK Government security requirements – which are of course also applicable to private sector organisations.”

  1. Hybrid IT

Hybrid IT is the third factor, and involves using cloud solutions whenever possible while exploiting existing on-premises assets to the full. Many organisations have successfully moved their communication and collaboration processes to the cloud, through services such as Skype for Business, and are benefiting from a combination of cloud and traditional IT.

This is something that global facilities and construction services firm Carillion did in partnership with O2.  Ignacio Llorden, Group CIO, explains that Skype for Business is “the key enabler underpinning our digital workplace, providing us with the primary audio and video conferencing solution, and replacing our existing fixed telephony entirely”.

  1. Simplified contracts

The fourth factor is to have simplified contracts in place, ones that can span multiple networking services and even multiple countries.

But whatever the technology you use, the best way to embed digital transformation successfully is to have a people-first approach – focusing on the end-user experience of customers and staff.

This may require cultural change, and certainly needs buy-in across the business and a willingness to re-imagine processes to suit the user’s needs, rather than just rely on adapting existing processes. But it’s worth the extra effort.

Andy Bell, Head of Public Sector Sales, Telefónica UK, says, “I believe that your people are the foundation of any successful change. There’s absolutely no value in digital for digital’s sake; it’s only valuable if it’s enabling your people to do their jobs better.”

One organisation that worked with O2 to pioneer this sort of people-first change is Network Rail. At the time, the infrastructure giant had over 35,000 staff, 22,000 of whom were involved in maintenance and operations.

Network Rail chose iPhone devices for its front-line staff, to support  a set of seven transformational business apps.

One of these programs allowed workers to inspect and verify assets out in the field, and provide information straight back to the central database. Another located where the worker was on the track, for safety and logistics purposes, and gave them the best route to get to their destination.

Talking about the programme, Patrick Bossert, director of asset information at Network Rail, commented that “We have already succeeded in bringing about a massive amount of change, and change that people like."

Industry innovation

Businesses - like the ones above - are looking for ways to gain new efficiencies and innovate their industry sectors. Many are finding that the network is the platform for digital transformation.

By working with a digital communications firm like O2, and looking to incorporate factors such as seamless connectivity, hybrid IT, in-depth security and a people-first focus, your digital transformation will gather momentum.

This article is brought to you in association with O2.