Digital collaboration is a key ingredient of any business’ success; it nurtures innovation, helps to capture greater business value, and most importantly, delivers sincere experiences for both customers and employees alike. Taking this to the next level, many enterprises are now championing digitally-savvy collaboration services to help them create more connected workplaces and ultimately, deliver better profits.
Headed up in Paris, France Arkadin is a leader in the field, standing as one of the world’s largest collaboration service providers. By offering a range of unified communications services, virtual events, and cloud transformation services, it provides the helping hand many businesses need to start their digital transformation.
Yet, Arkadin doesn’t just provide products and part ways. Instead of leaving clients to undergo a mammoth transformation alone, the firm guides customers through every step with its unique professional services, ensuring the transformation is an end-to-end success.
“In the industry today, we’re seeing that providing a service isn’t enough anymore,” observes Charlie Doubek, Arkadin’s Vice President of Professional Services EMEA. “In my role, I primarily deal with professional services: this includes organisational change management, consultation and support. We found that by providing industry leading professional services, we have been able to accelerate our cloud communication revenues because we are providing more added-value than our competitors.
“We're more than just a cloud communication company; we are a leading professional services organisation that’s built around cloud communications,” he continues. “It’s more than providing a service, it's really changing the way businesses work. You have to be able to integrate that service and make it functional within the clients’ future business plan, cost and technical initiatives.”
A unique facet of Arkadin is the fact that it is part of the NTT Group, one of the largest telecommunication companies in the world. This means that if a client requires communication services, it doesn’t need to rely on an overwhelming number of vendors; instead, they can count on Arkadin and the variety of skills, vendors and services it has gained from its parent group.
“I would say Arkadin is uniquely positioned because it has been pulled into a network company that has the right type of products and services that we can offer to our own customers – this adds value. Many businesses rely on several vendors to contribute to their transformation but, as impressive as it is, it's very difficult to manage all of those vendors. What's unique about NTT is we have a lot of those companies in-house, so we can do a lot of the proposals and consultation services without having to balance too many contracts or service-level agreements (SLAs).”
When it comes to technology, one size doesn’t fit all. Describing itself as ‘technology-agnostic’, Arkadin has not only created its own solutions, but also works closely with some of the industry’s leading technology giants to deliver a solution that is bespoke and tailored to the company in mind. Working alongside Cisco, Microsoft, and more, Arkadin’s partners make for impressive reading. As a result, Doubek highlights that investing in partnerships is a critical part of its strategic plan.
“Being a cloud communications provider, there's a delicate balance between finding services that are best in the market and provided or building services internally,” notes Doubek. “We're creating products to fill gaps or creating partnerships to fill gaps.
“I would say two of our biggest partners are Microsoft and Cisco,” he adds. “Then we work with some smaller companies that have amazing products, but they need a large company like Arkadin to bring them to the fore like Zoom.ai, Workstreampeople, Kollective, Sennheiser, and Nuvias.”
Doubek has networked with thousands of business leaders from around the globe, most recently speaking at UC Expo, Europe’s largest unified communications and collaboration event. Leveraging this insight, he highlights the key trends that he thinks are making waves in the sector.
“Over the past few years I’ve met with 3,000 different IT leaders from all over the world and it seems like there are three trends that are happening in the sector: the diverse strategy of business leaders versus their IT departments; the movement of communications into one place; and the increasing consumption of video. These three things are really initiating a lot of our projects and I think Arkadin is positioned very well to tackle these trends.
“One of our key objectives is to accelerate our unified communications business, grow our professional services, and work more closely with fellow NTT group companies,” Doubek continues. “We're hiring talent, making partnerships, and getting more and more skilled professionals on board to add additional services from a consulting and delivery perspective. We’re also expanding our professional services because no matter what our partners launch or offer in the marketplace, there's always a need for these services. We offer the crucial consultation services that ensure our clients don’t make the same mistakes as their rivals. Technologies change, things are always in flux, but you’ll always need people to deploy these projects.”
Technology waits for no-one, and for Doubek, implementing collaboration services is only the beginning for the sector. As more companies shift to the cloud, these solutions can achieve more than just a reduction in IT infrastructure. If unified communications are integrated with cloud technology for example, businesses can generate reports on internal or external interactions, what files have been shared, and what topics are being discussed. This provides the perfect foundation for adding new technologies.
“It creates the perfect flowerbed for you to add new modules such as artificial intelligence (AI). This can tell you more about your business and help leaders make better solutions,” comments Doubek. “Therefore, Arkadin tries to look at what we do as more than a service; we’re laying the groundwork to make your enterprise more intelligent and this really requires consultants and experts to do that properly.”
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Over the coming years, predictions by Wainhouse Research suggest that we could see productivity increases of up to 40% due to AI technology alone. As AI, bots, and virtual assistants quickly become the norm in today’s workplaces, Doubek outlines how businesses could utilise the data generated from collaboration services.
“We're only at the tip of the iceberg,” he notes. “Businesses that recognise the role AI could play in their cloud computing strategy are going to move a lot faster than those that carry on with business as usual. You learn from experience and you make decisions based on your own experiences – AI is no different. This intelligent software can learn, give recommendations or make actions based on what it's learned from your communications data.
“A good example is where we have worked with Microsoft Teams to deliver AI that acts as a scheduling assistant in partnership with Zoom.ai. With this solution, management can open up the solution and it will say, ‘Okay, your team members are available for a meeting at 11:00.’ You don’t have to think about it and you don’t have to go into your calendar. That little gesture saves so much time and helps productivity.”
Additionally, Arkadin is also exploring the use of AI in contact centres. “We have implemented unified communications with contact centres which means an employee would use the same system like Skype for Business or Teams to talk to clients and do their day-to-day phone calling,” Doubek explains.
“By using that unification, everything from a client's perspective is recordable so if someone calls in with an angry complaint about an organisation, that can be measured. You could implement AI to find out how many customers were upset by analysing the patterns of their voice. You could then relay these complaints to senior leadership and say, ‘There's a lot of angry people calling in. I think you should change something about one of your products.’ The more you unify and the more that you make things more consistent within your organisation, the better the client experience will be.”
With a team of approximately 1,300 people, Arkadin has established itself as one of the sector’s leading collaboration and communication companies. Now, by tapping into emerging technologies such as AI, the company is helping businesses edge ahead of their rivals with next-generation collaboration services.
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