What can you learn from a cup of coffee? A single cup might seem trivial in terms of its impact on the overall business. But capture that cup with a smart camera, track it, apply analytics—and voilà! Suddenly, for the coffee shop, that beverage becomes an opportunity to gain insights to deliver better experiences for all of their customers. These high-quality experiences delight coffee aficionados, save them time, and sharpen the shop’s competitive edge.

How? Tracking each cup could reveal details like how long each beverage takes to make, how long it sits before it’s picked up, and if it hits any bottlenecks along the way. The result? Patrons get their beverages at just the right temperature, as fast as possible—every time—ensuring consistent quality that turns occasional customers into regulars. One global coffee retailer is already deploying these kinds of capabilities to 10,000 locations across North America, with more shops coming online all the time.

And it’s not just coffee retailers. Every day, technology offers organizations countless opportunities to improve their customers’ experiences—and reap the benefits that go with them, like deeper customer loyalty and better differentiation. Now is the time for IT leaders to seize these opportunities and lead the way to better business outcomes.

Customer experiences depend on IT

In the 2022 State of the CIO, 42% of CIO respondents said improving the customer experience was a top imperative. But for IT, improving customer experiences keeps getting harder. Today’s experiences aren’t confined to a single space. Far from it: they extend from locations, things, and applications to people, organizations, and communities. They depend on connections between everyone—and everything.

And the connections keep evolving and multiplying, making them harder to see, manage, and scale. As a result, the IT experience is suffering. This has ramifications beyond just IT. A poor IT experience can often mean a poor experience for end users, customers, and business partners.

How IT can be the hero

How can you empower your teams with the speed and agility they need to accelerate digital business? The answer is to simplify the solutions and platforms IT teams use, empowering them with the technology to work and innovate as one. This approach helps IT build secure bridges between different technologies, locations, organizations, teams, people, and things to deliver the unified experiences their customers, employees, and partners expect.

Providing unified experiences for your users requires a transformation that includes both network simplification and data intelligence. With a simplified, more data-driven approach, you can bring together the benefits of cloud-driven automation, network insights, and APIs to break down barriers and complexity.

Unlocking the transformation potential of IT

Transformation isn’t driven by advanced technology alone, but by innovative approaches like bringing a cloud operating model to the network. This enables IT leaders to expand the agility and scalability of cloud management across the entire infrastructure. It lets them apply automation to help siloed organizations work better together, using a common, consistent set of tools for more agile, frictionless collaboration. Armed with cloud agility, you can transform your operations from being reactive to more proactive and predictive.

Transformation also means not being satisfied with just simple integration that can add to tool sprawl, and instead, moving to the idea of convergence—like organically bringing together networking and security to sidestep manual, time-consuming integration steps. It lets you take advantage of automated provisioning, unified policies, and integrated workflows to manage risk—and work smarter, not harder.

We saw how a single customer touch point can lead to more consistently satisfied patrons, a smoother workplace for employees, and improved efficiency and revenue. As more businesses understand the competitive advantages that come with a fully empowered IT team, we’ll see a renewed focus on aligning IT and technology for better outcomes. With a simplified approach, CIOs can seize more of today’s opportunities to help their organizations unlock the full possibilities of every moment, and every experience.

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Digital Transformation

Private 5G is the next evolution of networking for mission-critical applications used in factories, logistics centers and hospitals. In fact,  any environment that needs the reliability, security and speed of a wired connection combined with the movement of people, things and data.

The element of movement is often a factor in Industry 4.0 digital transformation – and that’s where private 5G shines.

Private 5G is deployed as an extension of an organization’s WAN. It’s fast, secure, reliable and has low latency. You can rely on it to transmit data. But if you don’t have a computing resource at the edge where the data is collected to create actionable intelligence in real time, you’re missing out on revolutionary possibilities.

Edge computing brings out the real potential of private 5G

Bringing managed private 5G together with managed edge computing enables businesses to analyze situations in the now – no more waiting for data to be collected (often a slow process) and sent to a data center to be processed first.

In manufacturing, this combined-platform approach quickly delivers the right information to where decisions have to be made: the factory floor. This has implications for everything from an evolutionary increase in productivity and quality, to greater flexibility and customization.

Organizations also have to control data sovereignty, ownership and location. Private 5G can protect data by ensuring that all traffic remains on-premises.

While private 5G is a powerful tool, use cases make it exciting

If you switch to private 5G, it helps to avoid Wi-Fi access-point proliferation as well as blind spots in monitoring, as asset-based sensors can collect and transmit huge volumes of data quickly, and we can achieve indoor-positioning accuracy of less than one meter.

It’s also a much simpler exercise to reconfigure connectivity between devices and improve the timing and synchronization of data feeds from sensors.

Last year, Cisco’s Strategic Execution Office ran a study on private 5G in collaboration with Deloitte, titled “Vertical Use Cases Offer Development”, which delves into the main applications of private 5G through use cases.

They found that the highest demand for private 5G is in the manufacturing, logistics and government industries. Their findings match our experience, as these are the sectors in which NTT’s Private 5G and Edge as a Service are most in demand.

Moving from broad themes to specific applications

The study identified four themes: enabling hybrid connectivity; activation and policy setup for varied sensor profiles; advanced intelligence with private 5G and the edge-computing stack; and integrated app and infrastructure to enable business outcomes.

NTT’s experience has taught us that these themes can be translated into five main areas of application:

Group wireless communications (push-to-talk) enable workers to communicate across locations, with real-time location tracking.Private 5G supports augmented reality and virtual reality, allowing for self-assist, work-assist, and remote-assist capabilities.Private 5G makes real-time connectivity and control possible for autonomous guided vehicles.Computer vision for automatic video surveillance, inspection and guidance is faster and more efficient on a private 5G network.Connected devices can remain reliably and securely connected to the enterprise network throughout the work shift without relying on Wi-Fi or portable hot spots.

Exploring the difference 5G will make in manufacturing

The study also explores how private 5G can optimize assets and processes in manufacturing, assembly, testing, and storage facilities. Private 5G allows for faster and more precise asset tracking, system monitoring, and real-time schedule and process optimization using location and event data from sensors and factory systems.

The research provides two examples of private 5G use cases in factories:

Factory asset intelligence: Traceability from parts to product, with increased sensor enablement across manufacturing, assembly and testing sitesDynamic factory scheduling: Closed-loop control and safety applications enabled by real-time actuation, sensor fusion and dynamic process schedules.

As we continue to explore the potential of private 5G, it is clear that this technology has the power to transform the manufacturing industry and pave the way for a more efficient and effective future.

To find out more about the use cases private 5G unlocks and how they can offer business benefits, download NTT’s white paper: Smart manufacturing: accelerating digital transformation with private 5G networks and edge computing.

Edge Computing, Manufacturing Industry, Manufacturing Systems, Private 5G

When it comes to IT resourcing during tough economic times, cutting costs in the wrong places can be dangerous. Short-term money-saving steps can be counter-productive – actually damaging the brand in the long term. Smart companies, however, are building powerful third-party Technology partnerships to maximise budgets and simplify their IT operations, so they can continue to grow and innovate.

Here are five key reasons why a third-party IT partnership makes sense:

Delivering a hybrid working environment

‘Work from anywhere’ is the new mantra for all forward-thinking organisations, but delivering a hybrid working environment in-house can be risky and expensive. Partnering with a trusted third-party, however, can help you deliver the following benefits safely and without breaking the bank: 

Hybrid working significantly reduces real-estate footprint and costs. Recent research by IWG suggests that firms can save up to £8,100 per employee annually.A recent study by PWC also suggests that hybrid working can boost productivity.Hybrid working models are also an investment in the future, providing resilience against future crises, such as a spike in covid-19 infections and public transport strikes.Retaining talent with slick hybrid cloud experiences

Collaboration, effortless productivity and user-friendly workplace tools are key to ensuring employee satisfaction in the ‘work from anywhere’ era. Get this wrong and your brightest talent is likely to vote with its feet.

Seamless hybrid-cloud experiences, however, ensure staff have the information and apps they need to get their job done with minimum fuss and from any location. Cloud-powered home working can also improve employee work/life balance, save staff as much as £300 a month on travel and ultimately boost employee retention.

Cutting costs and boosting innovation

Organisations with on-prem servers might think they can’t afford cloud migration with a recession on the horizon. The fact is they can’t afford not to. With guidance from a trusted third-party IT partner, organisations can find the most cost-effective mix of private/public/hybrid cloud, simplifying their complex IT systems, delivering significant long-term savings, while also boosting innovation.

That’s because the right cloud mix reduces capital expenditure on hardware as well as ongoing maintenance. It also increases enterprise agility and innovation, because cloud apps are faster and more cost effective to spin up and down, enabling businesses to experiment with new products and services.

Ensuring systems reliability and availability

Whether you’re providing IT services to external customers or internal stakeholders, systems reliability and availability are key to building your brand. Leading public cloud providers generally offer a 99.9% systems uptime guarantee, they maintain three copies of data at all times in different data centres, provide automatic access to backup servers to minimise downtime, and host apps on at least two servers in case of hardware failure. Few, if any on-premise data centres, can offer anywhere near these levels of reliability and availability without incurring huge cost.

Maintaining and increasing cybersecurity

Working with a trusted IT partner will enable you to audit your cyber security, ensure your resources (both in-house and out-sourced) are aligned to the real-world risks and your in-house cyber security team is focused on core risk-management activity.

With a recession looming and budgets being squeezed, IT leaders face a huge challenge, and they can’t do it alone. The answer is to reach out to a third-party IT provider and explore the benefits, cost efficiencies and opportunities that a sensitive mix of out-sourcing can deliver.

Contact Intercity now to find out how they can help your IT function prepare for the recession.

Education Industry, Hybrid Laptops, IT Management