As 2016 comes to a close, many IT research firms and industry analysts have published their opinions about which technologies will gain traction in the coming year. Several experts, including Gartner, IDC and Deloitte, are predicting that augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and 3-D printing will see significant uptake in 2017. Others are focused on the continued growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, and the implications of Blockchain in industries that process large numbers of transactions or have complex supply chains.

However, almost all analysts agree that digital transformation is the biggest IT trend for 2017. Generally speaking, digital transformation refers to the profound impact of technology on business models and processes, and IT’s ability to drive innovation and meet changing requirements. Digital transformation isn’t new, but it’s accelerating due to growing adoption of cloud services, mobility solutions and data analytics. These technologies enable organizations to deliver applications and data to virtually any device and gain new insights from information.

Organizations that are successfully leveraging the cloud, mobility and analytics are able to increase productivity, streamline business processes, generate new revenue streams and enhance the customer experience. However, it isn’t enough to simply implement these technologies. Digital transformation is about using them to change the way you do business and create competitive advantages.

In many cases, unified communications (UC) is the glue that brings these technologies together. After all, the ability to access information on a mobile device is of limited value unless you can also collaborate with colleagues and engage with customers. UC enables you to integrate voice, video instant messaging and other communication tools into core business processes, so that employees can respond more quickly, efficiently and appropriately to customer demands.

The term “communication-enabled business processes” (CEBP) is seeing a renaissance in the age of digital transformation. Like digital transformation, CEBP is an older concept that has gained new meaning amid accelerating technology change. Traditionally, CEBP simply referred to the addition of business data into UC interfaces to increase the speed, accuracy and effectiveness of communication. Today, CEBP is more about rethinking core business functions and better supporting an increasingly mobile workforce.

Advanced UC platforms such as ShoreTel Connect are enabling this new era of CEBP. ShoreTel supports open standards, including open APIs, so organizations have the flexibility to integrate ShoreTel Connect with customer relationship management (CRM) software, office productivity suites and other business applications. Communication and collaboration become a seamless part of workflows, and employees can access these tools from any location. The result is not only increased productivity but greater business agility and a greater ROI for both the communication infrastructure and business applications.

Cloud-based UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions are seen as key drivers of CEBP bsecause they minimize the capital cost of implementing UC and enable greater flexibility and interoperability across the enterprise. Built from a single software code base, ShoreTel Connect is unique in its ability to deliver a consistent user experience across cloud and on-premises deployment models.

Industry experts agree that digital transformation is a disruptive force that will bring success to those organizations that can respond and adapt. Contact IPC to discuss how ShoreTel Connect can support and enhance your digital transformation initiatives and help your organization become more agile and efficient.