Headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, Cloudist AB is on a mission to help managed service providers embrace the transformative potential of the cloud. But Robert Brink, the company’s cloud architect, notes there is a caveat.

“We want our customers to be able to provide their clients with high-performance cloud services from the Nordic region’s most secure data centers with one click,” says Brink. “We want them to take advantage of the peace of mind we offer – 100% predictable costs, no vendor lock-in, no commitment periods, and the scalability they need to remain nimble. But first and foremost, we want them to make a choice to create a positive change for the planet.”

This positive change is to address an issue that is more than a business imperative for Cloudist. It’s the very mission of the company: to decrease the carbon emissions generated by cloud services and the operation of the data centers that make them possible.

“Cloud-based digitalization is the future, but today’s cloud services are responsible for nearly 4% of all CO2 emissions,” adds Brink. “When you look at that in context – Climatiq for example estimates that commercial air travel is responsible for 2.4% – the importance of offering cloud services in a way that eliminates carbon emissions is readily apparent. We provide 100% green cloud services because we believe we have to, not just as a company, but collectively as providers of the IT services and solutions enterprises need to work smarter and more sustainably. Our mission is to be a pioneer and a driving force for positive change by offering green cloud solutions.”

All of Cloudist’s services use entirely renewable energy sources throughout the entire delivery chain. This includes facilities operated by Ecodatacenters in Falun and Piteå. Powered by 75% hydropower and 25% wind power, the data center Falun offers unparalleled security and is optimized for high-density applications. The data center in Piteå is powered completely by hydropower and in turn offers ironclad security and high availability.

Notably, Cloudist’s cloud services include Infrastructure-as-a-Service based on VMware Cloud Director and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service based on VMware Cloud Director Availability. Some of the company’s many additional offerings include Storage-as-a-Service for S3 Object Storage and Cloudist’s Microsoft 365 Backup, a secure and complete backup for Microsoft 365 services that lets enterprises quickly get back to business after everything from user errors to ransomware attacks.

“We have a long relationship with VMware and know firsthand that it is trusted and relied on by organizations across industries,” says Brink. “With our motto being ‘Green Clouds Ahead™’ it is only natural and fitting that we would wholeheartedly support and participate in the VMware Zero Carbon Committed initiative.”

Brink stresses that Cloudist’s services are particularly impactful for small- and medium-sized enterprises that are often using legacy hardware and on-premises systems installed with little or no thought given to sustainability. Needless to say, power savings and the efficient use of heat were not priorities.

“Our customers want to make a difference and adhere to the corporate sustainability policies and goals they put in place,” he says. “We can help almost any organization make a meaningful leap in the right direction given our 100% fossil fuel-free services and carbon positive footprint, but for organizations that are making the shift from legacy, on-premises data centers the sustainability gains are truly dramatic right out of the gate.”

To Brink, these gains are far more than good business. They are personal.

“There are seven natural wonders of the world. Only one of them is in the clouds, the Northern Lights. We are from the North. We live and work in the North, but with the growing levels of cloud cover driven by climate change, we face a very real possibility that the northern lights will be forever hidden from view,” says Brink. “For all of us here at Cloudist, those same lights and their beauty and magic are our inspiration to do everything we can not only to ensure there are ‘Green Clouds Ahead™,’ but also that we collectively make real gains in reducing carbon emissions quickly. We don’t have time to waste in our collective efforts to combat climate change.”

Learn more about Cloudist and its partnership with VMware here.

Cloud Management, Green IT

Salesforce previewed new capabilities for its Field Service application suite on Tuesday, giving an early look at a new mobile application powered by the company’s EinsteinGPT generative AI engine.

Salesforce Field Service, which is a part of the company’s Service Cloud, offers applications designed to boost productivity of companies’ frontline workers, lower operating costs, and enhance customer experience.

In addition to the EinsteinGPT-powered Field Service Mobile app, updates to to the suite include Asset Service Management and Contractor Management, said Taksina Eammano, executive vice president of Field Service at Salesforce.

EinsteinGPT, which was showcased by the company last month, is Salesforce’s generative AI engine, trained on large language foundation models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and open source-based Anthropic.

The company had said that it would offer EinsteinGPT via five products — for service, sales, marketing, developers, and for its Slack workplace chat and collaboration application.

EinsteinGPT for field service employees

The EinsteinGPT-powered Field Service Mobile application, according to Eammano, can help enterprises achieve three goals — support technicians trying to complete service work and summarize it easily, drive more insights about customer experience by collecting more data points, and scale up revenue by upselling or cross-selling.

The application can help frontline service workers complete their work by automatically generating step-by-step guides and how-to content to address specific customer issues, including troubleshooting error codes for an appliance, Salesforce said. AI-generated work summarization can include contextual information, images and text.

In addition, Field Service Mobile will allow teams to coordinate customer issues and work orders in Slack, use prebuilt capabilities from Salesforce’s Component Library for tasks like finding nearby spare parts and managing timesheets, and help onboard employees quickly, the company added.

The generative AI-powered Field Service Mobile application is expected to be available in beta by December.

Asset service and contractor management

Salesforce also unveiled Asset Service Management and Contractual Management updates to its Field Service suite.

Asset Service Management, which is powered by the company’s Data Cloud, helps maintain enterprise equipment and machinery with real-time data collected from sensors and predictive maintenance based on usage, Eammano said. This minimizes preventable maintenance issues and extends the lifespan of expensive infrastructure. Asset Service Management is expected to available in beta by December 2023, the company said.

The Contractor Management feature, meanwhile, is designed to help enterprises manage their contractual workforce and has been added to the Flex Worker Management module inside Salesforce Field Service.

“Contractor Management with Flex Worker Management allows companies to easily scale their contractor workforce, and efficiently deploy them based on skills, distance, and available tools,” the company said in a statement, adding that the new capability is generally available now.

Enterprise Applications

Today’s digital era has triggered a mass modernization of corporate IT infrastructures. But in upgrading networks and security systems with technologies like SD-WAN and SASE, IT teams face a paradigm shift in managing a cacophony of new tools and service providers behind them.

SD-WAN and SASE: essential for secure innovation and remote work

Company leaders are feeling the pressure: Now is the time to modernize IT or risk losing the company’s competitive edge. Accelerated demands in digital transformation and remote work have forced companies to upgrade their legacy networks and security systems so they can adequately support online services, cloud innovation, and artificial intelligence.

Two technologies are key in making these foundational upgrades: Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). The SASE market will exceed $13B by 2026, a figure unscathed by economic pressures, according to Dell’Oro Group.

These interrelated tools make it faster, easier, and more affordable for businesses to securely connect offices and remote users to the applications and information they need to get work done. Moreover, SASE solutions package SD-WAN with four security capabilities for protection across the network, the public internet, and cloud applications.

While SD-WAN and SASE are praised for revolutionizing IT infrastructures, deployments trigger a wake of changes compounding complexity without the right management strategies in place.

Modernization requires smarter management while keeping an eye on costs

Knowing how to respond to the demands of SD-WAN and SASE can be the difference between a successful modernization project and a digital transformation disaster.

SD-WAN Requirements: In-depth Intelligence about Apps, Workloads, and Assets

One of the key advantages of SD-WAN is its ability to allocate network resources to the applications most important to the business. By prioritizing bandwidth, SD-WAN ensures the most critical tools are always up and running because they “get fed first.” This feature is known as application-based routing, and establishing traffic steering policies is a primary step in designing how any SD-WAN solution will function.

But here lies the critical prerequisite: You can’t establish traffic steering policies if you don’t first have a prioritized list of all your applications ranked from highly critical to discretionary. This is key for SD-WAN readiness because it serves as the blueprint for solution design. Technologies make asset inventories easy. Software used for network workload analysis, expense management, and Shadow IT discovery can help build network maps and a centralized catalog of applications, services, and connected devices and users.

The risk of unnecessary complexity: more IT services to manage

SD-WAN and SASE can spur unforeseen management headaches, and given today’s staffing challenges, companies may not be prepared to take on the vast administrative responsibilities of handling increasingly distributed IT environments with more providers. Here are the primary sources of provider sprawl:

ISPs: Trading MPLS connectivity for broadband connectivity comes with the challenge of more internet service providers (ISPs), particularly for services across a wide geographical area. This can mean switching from one carrier to tens if not hundreds of ISPs.

Security & SASE: Every SD-WAN project should spur a security conversation, and converged SASE solutions make it easy to address network security. But this isn’t enough. Multi-layered security for the entire IT environment requires more tools and providers. Consider endpoint security, threat detection and response services, and comprehensive Zero Trust tools.

IaaS: Ancillary SD-WAN services include direct interconnections to cloud service providers, which is why companies use SD-WAN to migrate to the cloud. But again, cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) saddles IT teams with yet more distributed providers.

What’s at risk? Costs can get out of control. IT modernization generates a sprawling landscape and when not well managed, both hard and soft costs go unchecked. Cloud service overspending can be as high as 70%, according to Gartner.

SD-WAN & SASE: managing it all

Successful modernization strategies give equal weight to building the IT infrastructure as they do to building the support systems and operations teams necessary to champion SD-WAN and SASE after implementation. Responsible management focuses on key areas of focus:

Tactical management:

Inventories need to be maintained for network services, SaaS apps, users, and their mobile devices, and data cleanliness is of utmost importance.Network service quality should be managed; troubleshooting can be time-consuming.Invoices need to be collected, validated, and paid on time to avoid service disruptions.Credits should be collected when providers fail to meet service level agreements.Contracts and renewals need attention at the end of every lifecycle.

Strategic management:

Centralization brings aggregate benefits:Visibility into all assets and services in one dashboard.Integrations with global providers and internal IT ticketing systems.Advanced analytics evaluating complex data across many data streams.The IT ecosystem means synthesizing insights: There are manylinks in the IT ecosystem (it’s more than just SASE connecting the network with security) – for example, SD-WAN telecom services and corporate mobile devices go together and should therefore be managed together.Converged tools create converged teams: When network, security, and financial data come together, leadership should also bring together, like operational teams.Cost optimization: most companies overestimate their SaaS and IaaS needs, and the ability to correlate usage data with asset ownership helps shed waste by identifying redundant applications and underutilized resources.

Worried about management? Technologies and services can help

Software and services can help alleviate the manual work of management. When teams aren’t prepared to take a do-it-yourself approach, outsourcing can take the workload off internal teams. IT expense and asset management solutions address network services and cloud infrastructure and SaaS applications, as well as mobile devices, delivering benefits across broad areas:

Management: Automating the administration of IT services, mobile device lifecycles, and invoices.Cost Savings: Evaluating IT spending to cut costs and identify inefficiencies as well as unused resources.Consulting: Assisting with service contract negotiation and IT investment strategies that transform the business—rather than just help run the business.

Effective management avoids unnecessary complexity

Modernizing an IT infrastructure requires a constellation of tools and services—and the degree to which a company can effectively manage its assets, providers, and expenses—determines whether it can operationalize SD-WAN and SASE without adding unnecessary complexity.

Without effectively managing all that surrounds SD-WAN, it’s nearly impossible to understand the cost of, or guarantee the performance of—much less the security of—the business’s technology investment.

IT and procurement leaders find it helpful to take a centralized approach, administering all SD-WAN and SASE services and tools in one place with a keen eye on costs. With excellence in tactical and strategic management, it’s far easier to realize the full value of an IT modernization effort.

To learn more about network cost optimization, visit us here.  

Endpoint Protection, Master Data Management, Remote Access, Remote Access Security

In economic uncertainty, it’s natural for executives to explore where to reduce spending, trim the fat, so to speak, and cut enterprising investments as a matter of caution. But this thinking is also counter-productive for all the reasons that make uncertainty so predictable. We can expect that every company is going to react this way in times of uncertainty.  

In 2023, CIOs are guided to focus on enhancing workforce engagement, customer experience, and data and AI. These are identified as key areas where technology can drive business growth and increase customer satisfaction in the process. 

Yet, it’s not uncommon for executives to cut costs in areas that actually improve customer experiences and also double-down on investments that can minimize them. 

Where winning companies deviate from the norm is that they look for opportunities to attract and retain customers by making experience and service a signature competitive advantage. The key is to understand where investments can deliver returns, accelerated time to value, and success now. 

The importance of customer experience as a competitive advantage 

Customer service is overdue for its makeover, shifting its role in the organization from a cost-center to a growth engine. More so, making service something the customers enjoy and appreciate, instead of dreading the engagement. 

Think about it this way, if 94% of your customers said that the service you provide directly influences future buying decisions, would you solely focus on the 6% who are seemingly indifferent? What if nearly half said that they’d switch brands to get better service? Well, in the last year, 71% said that they had done just that.  

Research shows that almost nine-in-ten (88%) of customers say that the experience your company provides is as important as your products and services. Best-in-class, personalized customer service is more important than ever — especially when it’s in someone’s home or business. 

For those companies that invest in customer experiences and relationships, the economic upside is already there. According to Gallup research, fully engaged customers represent a 23% premium in share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth over the average customer. By increasing customer engagement, Gallup also promotes increases in customer service metrics, including: 

66% higher sales growth,  10% increase in net profit,  25% increase in customer loyalty, and  +20 percentile point increases in customer confidence.  

There’s much to be done. Only 26% of U.S. workers believe their organization delivers on the promises they make to customers. 

Field service is a sleeping giant waiting to deliver business value  

When I say the words, “field service,” what comes to mind?  

Working with service and sales leaders over the years, I can honestly say that it’s usually not “innovation” or “groundbreaking” or “growth driver.” Yet, field service is literally on the front line of the customer’s experience. And CX itself, is ranked by businesses around the world as the top priority emerging from 2020 disruption.  

Field service represents the front line of live customer service, a true human touch point. It also represents a critical, and arguably underestimated or even undervalued, customer touch point that can increase customer satisfaction, drive sales, and lead the charge for overhauling customer service as a growth engine

The time is now. 

In its State of Service report, Salesforce research learned that case volumes for 54% of service teams rose between 2021 and 2022. In response, organizations strengthened mobile workforces by increasing budgets (62%) and headcount (61%). And, the field service management market is expected to grow to an estimated $8.06 billion by 2028 as companies work to meet increasing customer demand while managing costs. 

As mobile representatives serving on a company’s front lines, field service teams have a unique opportunity to manage these expectations and grow customer relationships through interactions that drive repeat revenue.  

Field service drives revenue and cost savings 

If you think about luxury goods and retail, many employ a strategic service offering called “clienteling.” Clienteling is a personalized approach – cater to high value customers in stores. As its evolved, data, insights, mobile tech, AI help service professionals deliver real-time personalization, promote satisfaction, and increase customer lifetime value (CLV). 

In field service, mobile workers are gaining the ability to deliver clienteling-like experiences for every customer. By delivering enhanced customer experiences, field service can significantly contribute to growth. 

New Salesforce research found that 86% of decision makers at companies with field service teams believe these teams are critical to growing the business.  

Fifty-two percent of high-performing field service workers say that their company’s management views customer service as a revenue generator. Specifically, 69% of high-performing mobile workers say their organization tracks revenue generated by customer service. And 82% of strategic organizations depend on mobile workers to upsell products and services. 

With product expertise and knowledge of customer purchases, service history, and usage data in hand, field service teams can tailor recommendations to every customers’ unique needs. As a result, those mobile workers who convert meaningful engagement into upselling or cross-selling opportunities realize an average success rate of 65%. 

Field service management, powered by AI and automation, enhance productivity and employee experiences 

For 93% of mobile workers, there is a direct link between employee experience and the customer experience. After all, mobile workers are brand ambassadors, and they are the face of your company.  

Salesforce research found that 65% of field service representatives feel the weight of customer expectations, more than any other type of service worker. As such, in addition to customer experience, employee experience is also key.  

An overwhelming majority (94%) of service professionals in high-performing organizations cite productivity as a major or moderate benefit of field service management. This should serve as an important consideration as executives look for ways to cut operational costs without compromising customer satisfaction. 

To better support their field service teams, organizations are improving operational efficiency and customer satisfaction with field service management tools. Of the 96% of high-performing field service organizations that use field service management, 90% report increased agility, 55% report higher productivity, and 53% report improved job satisfaction. More so, 98% of mobile workers credit it with productivity benefits. 

Automation and AI are also further unlocking efficiency and productivity opportunities. 

Research shows that 78% of high-performing field service organizations use AI, and 83% use workflow automation.  

For example, with AI-powered tools, like thoughtfully designed chatbots, mobile workers can efficiently schedule appointments, get real-time updates, and quickly find answers to questions.  

With conversational AI, service agents can transcribe conversations in real-time, gain insights, personalize engagement, save time, and the need for customers to repeat themselves.  

Additionally, automation-enabled workflows simplify the ability for mobile workers to create new accounts, place equipment orders, schedule appointments, and automate time-consuming, mundane tasks out of their day-to-day routines.  

Added up, agents get time back to be more creative, spend time engaging customers, and cultivate customer relationships. More so, AI reduces response times and accelerates first time fix rates, enabling mobile workers to serve more customers faster while boosting customer satisfaction. 

In summary 

Research makes a compelling case for businesses to invest in the areas that can drive business growth, improve employee experiences, and foster more loyal customers. As such, field service, and customer service, are no longer cost centers, but instead strategic areas for investment, to deliver a new kind of ROI for these times, return on innovation. 

Business, CIO, Employee Experience

Bill Moses, Chief Digital Officer at Te Kawa Mataaho/Public Service Commission, on the organisation’s ‘spirit of service’, keeping up to date on emerging trends, why digital leaders don’t need to come from technology backgrounds, and the growth in ‘wiggly line’ career paths.

Watch the episode:

Listen to the episode:

CIO Leadership Live

By: Cathy Won, Consultant with eTeam, HPE Aruba Contributor.

The Future of Work and the Workplace is a 2023 Leesman survey report co-authored by HPE Aruba. The report explores the critical questions on the minds of business leaders coming out of the pandemic today. What is the future of work and the workplace? How must organizations adapt?

Unsurprisingly, the report revealed that 94% of corporate real estate leaders surveyed indicated that they are making changes, with 55% indicating that means making minor physical changes to the workplace and 39% indicating it means making a major change to the workplace.

Many of the physical changes to the workplace call for reconfiguring office space as hybrid work becomes the new normal. With a reduction in real estate footprint, today’s offices will change from permanent office space for individuals to shared spaces for individuals. New requirements for the configuration of offices and conference rooms are a part of an ever-changing landscape in the future of work and workplaces. Many organizations can take advantage of these changes to modernize their technologies and infrastructure. The opportunity is timely for organizations to re-evaluate their network infrastructure as the shift occurs to address a new work paradigm. 

The big shift to hybrid work was an instant change at the onset of the pandemic for many, dictated by new rules put in place to address the safety of employees. With hybrid work making such a significant impact on the future of work, it is no surprise that network infrastructure change is inevitable for today’s new reality. The shift to hybrid work created a major shift in ensuring the same kind of accessibility for workers whether they were in the office or working from home. The various factors of remote access come into play, where at the end of the day, the objective was to ensure an equivalent service level of accessibility, connectivity, and security to enable the most efficient ways for workers to accomplish their job regardless of their location. 

Technology advances in networking today are also occurring at a faster pace than ever before, sometimes leaving organizations bootstrapped with limited capital to adjust to the fast-changing landscape. So, redesigning for the future workplace is the perfect trigger to re-evaluate your current network infrastructure. Coupled with today’s business dynamics, most organizations find this time the most optimal to modernize their network to meet growing and evolving needs. An increasingly viable approach for keeping workplace network infrastructure aligned with the acceleration in changing workplace requirements is network as a service (NaaS). 

Why NaaS?

NaaS enables companies to implement a network infrastructure that will evolve with time, providing the flexibility to adapt to business needs as time evolves. With NaaS, companies can focus on business outcomes and service level objectives for their network and the accessibility required for their community of workers, partners, and customers. NaaS eliminates organizations having to worry about keeping up with the pace of technology change by relying on the strength and expertise of their implementation partner. NaaS eliminates large upfront capital expenditure investments that often go into new network infrastructure design, planning, and implementation with a monthly subscription-based or flexible consumption model, alleviating the financial impact on rebuilding a new workplace environment. NaaS enables more flexibility by not tying the organization down to specific hardware or capital investments that may eventually become obsolete. 

Additionally, NaaS enables the ability to flex down requirements should real estate space strategies change. If the services are completely outsourced, organizations can free themselves from keeping up with technology and training resources to support changes moving forward.

Given the many uncertainties and lessons learned from the pandemic, the one inevitable thing is change. One solution that is almost synonymous with change in network infrastructure is network as a service (NaaS), which enables organizations to maintain and revolutionize their network infrastructure to support their desired service level indefinitely without large capital investments.

For more data-driven insights derived from 75,000 workers on what the future of the workplace holds, read the eBook, Powering Hybrid Work 2023, and the full Aruba/Leesman report as listed above, The Future of Work and the Workplace.


The Tour de France is many things. It’s the world’s largest cycling event, attracting 150 million TV viewers in Europe alone and 10 million fans across social media platforms. It’s also a huge logistical challenge, requiring a complex network of road closures as well as ensuring millions of spectators enjoy the race safely.

Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), the organizers of the Tour de France, also need to ensure they can tell the story of the race to a vast audience of fans, something that hasn’t been easy over the years. Race officials stationed in remote areas have long had to contend with poor connectivity, and an ever-growing legion of viewers has stretched external-facing applications to their limits. 

NTT, which has been the official technology partner of the Tour de France for the past eight years, has used its Edge as a Service offerings to help the Tour de France retain its status as the world’s premier cycling event. By embracing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital twins, A.S.O. have expanded the reach of the race to a new generation of fans and ensured they’re able to continually optimize race operations. 

“We started working on Tour de France in 2015 and, when we began, the digital capability of the event was very limited,” says Peter Gray, Senior Vice President, Advanced Technology Group (Sport) at NTT. “Lots of information was captured manually and communicated over race radio. There was limited information available on television and very limited available information available on digital.

“Today, you a see a television broadcast that’s full of live, rich data about rider speeds and time gaps, and you’ve got second screen apps like Race Center that allow you to follow every moment of the race.”

For example, by leveraging a digital fabric consisting of IoT sensors and real-time analytics, NTT created a digital twin of the Tour de France last year, turning the roads of France into the world’s largest connected stadium. This provides race organizers with an unprecedented view of the race, allowing them to deliver new and enhanced digital experiences to engage fans around the world.

NTT has also created a digital human, an interactive kiosk featuring a realistic AI-generated human avatar which functions as a digital Tour de France guide. The avatar was located at the Grand Depart in Copenhagen and in NTT’s Tech Truck, which follows the entire tour.

“It’s hooked into all of the knowledge that we have about the race and can talk with you authoritatively about what’s going on,” says Gray. 

NTT has partnered with other sports organizers to transform the digital experience of sporting events such as the Absa Cape Epic, the Open Championship and the iconic NTT INDYCAR SERIES, where digital twin and predictive analytics technologies help to put fans behind the wheel of race cars. 

However, beyond the sporting arena, there are lessons to be learned for all organizations looking to embrace technologies such as edge computing to digitally transform their businesses.  

“What we’re doing with the Tour de France is a microcosm of the digital transformation that many businesses are going through. When I described the race being highly manual in 2015, that’s analogous to a business that’s running on manual operating processes, and continuing to use lots of paper, and having disconnected processes.

“Organizations are looking to use things like IoT to capture and measure different parts of their business. They’re looking to use things like digital twins to give them holistic visibility across an entire landscape. 

“That landscape might be a race traveling across France, or that might be a factory or retail site.”

Learn more about the revolutionary fan experience in the world’s largest connected stadium.

Edge Computing

Sustainability is a major priority in business boardrooms already, and pressures from regulators, shareholders, board members and employees are likely to further drive this trend. 

Businesses need to do more than just track carbon output. They must reduce waste and increase efficiency. Going green makes good business sense.

While organizations know they need to mitigate environmental risks more effectively across the supply chain, often they struggle to translate that ambition into results. Due to the complexity and scale of the challenge, not all businesses have the resources to move toward net-zero at the necessary pace, and many are lagging.  

At the same time, companies are increasingly being held accountable for their environmental impact, with many countries legislating on emissions reductions. 

There is a clear company risk in not being sustainable, both to the planet and to the business. 

Today’s complex challenges require ambitious solutions that can scale and evolve over time.

NTT recognizes this and has launched the industry’s first full-stack Sustainability as a Service offering. This is designed to help manufacturing, transportation and other industries accelerate sustainability initiatives and make data-driven decisions to reduce their carbon footprint and become more efficient through the intelligent use of IoT connectivity. Rather than making huge investments in infrastructure to collect and process data, companies now have the option to get this as a secure, scalable, fully managed service that requires no large capital outlay.

The full-stack offering, which includes devices, network connectivity such as private 5G, edge computing, an analytics and insight platform, and systems integration, takes a human-centric approach to ensure that the right decision-makers receive relevant and timely information.  The technology stack is complemented by professional services from strategy through to execution to ensure that the data is actionable and that there is a clear ROI.

For example:

NTT is leveraging computer vision to reduce waste in a logistics warehouse. This solution recognizes items that are being picked and packed and provides verification that the quantity and products are correct. NTT is not only providing the technology but is also redesigning the pick-and-pack process and the pick stations to ensure the adoption and effectiveness of the technology.NTT provides a vast ecosystem of sensors that can be used to automate the collection of data on temperature/humidity, occupancy, soil moisture, air quality, water quality, etc. This data can then be combined to provide insights and information to lower energy usage and reduce impact on the environment – for example, by giving notifications of water leaks, chemical spills or exterior doors that are left open. Smart spaces can reduce energy use when unoccupied, while predictive/preventive maintenance can reduce wasteful downtime.As an ICT company with large assets such as undersea cables and data centers, NTT has made aggressive sustainability targets to become net-zero by 2030 and through their supply chain by 2040. NTT is sharing their experience with clients through Sustainability as a Service.

Although evolving, the process to calculate an enterprise’s carbon footprint is still highly manual. Data lives in silos across the IT and OT environment.

Collecting data across the supply chain for scope 2 and 3 emissions creates more complexity.

Organizations can find themselves questioning the accuracy and reliability of their data.

NTT works with clients to understand their data blind spots and leverages the right solution building blocks to collect the data and aggregate it with other complementary data, such as weather and location, to provide actionable insights.

“One of the biggest challenges of IoT is proving ROI,” says Devin Yaung, SVP, Group Enterprise IoT Products and Services at NTT. “You can solve any problem given enough budget. The challenge is to solve the problem in the most efficient way possible. We leverage the right building blocks for the use case and environment and offer these as a service so that clients can start small and grow their sustainability program.”  

He adds: “What is more important is that the data needs to be trusted and actionable rather than just noise. That’s why we also take a user-centric approach to understand who needs to receive the data, how much data they need and at what frequency.”

This becomes more important as the workforce evolves from digital immigrants to digital natives who are accustomed to receiving near real-time data and updates on every aspect of their lives. Sustainability as a Service is not just technology but also considers people, process and the regulatory environment.

Sustainability is a journey that all companies will have to embark upon. NTT’s Sustainability as a Service allows clients to travel this journey at their own pace.

Not only do these solutions help businesses meet sustainability goals, but they also help them benefit from energy cost savings, advanced operational excellence, enhanced risk management, and better work enablement across the organization.

Find out more about NTT’s commitment to sustainability.

Edge Computing

There’s an old saying when something you value changes and no longer brings you the joy the way it used to, “it’s not like it used to be.” For those who remember the good old days, great service was an essential part of the customer experience. Nowadays, customer service is not what it used to be. For decades now, customer service has become a necessary cost center. The emphasis on scale, automation, speed, and margins have also come at the cost of customer experience. However, new research now shows that the role of service is shifting back to “service,” to unify the customer’s experience.  

Since the dawn of the contact center in the 1960s, customer service evolved into a transactional entity. Over the years, executives learned to think of service as a numbers game, cycling customers on and off the phone and closing-out tickets as fast as possible, regardless of whether or not customers had a positive impression of the company in each interaction. That mindset would serve as models for deploying next-gen technologies, including IVRs, knowledge centers, chatbots, automation/RPA, text/messaging, with each designed to scale transactional engagement vs. delivering the level of service customers hope to receive. 

Customer experience reflects all customer engagements; Service can no longer serve as the weakest link 

The customer experience — the sum of all engagements, beyond customer service, a customer has with a business — is core to business success today. A related study of customers and B2B buyers published by Salesforce, the “State of the Connected Customer,” showed that nearly nine-in-ten respondents consider experience to be as critical as the product, itself, in deciding whether or not to buy from a company. This means that the experience you deliver is also a product.  

Nearly all respondents to that survey said a positive service experience makes them more likely to make a repeat purchase (94%). The same study also found that 71% of customers had switched brands in the last year with 48% switching companies for better customer service. These are critical insights especially in the current economic environment, when budgets are tightening, and loyalty becomes more important to the bottom line.  

Every facet of that experience must contribute to the great whole of the brand experience you promise. If customer service is viewed as a cost center and metrics prioritize speed over quality and transactions over relationship, it will always take away from the customer’s experience instead of enhancing it.  

There’s good news to report for service professionals. In its fifth edition of the “State of Service,” Salesforce found that companies are increasing investments in employees and technology budgets to match case volume and customer expectations. Over half of service organizations (55%) report increased budgets — up from 32% in 2020. And 51% report increased headcount — up from 19% in 2020. 

Mindset: The value of service shines when it’s meant to enhance the customer experience 

As customers become increasingly connected and empowered, their expectations soar. Service as a cost center is no longer a viable strategy to stand out against competitors where everything either takes away from or adds to the experience. It comes down to a shift in mindset, from a cost center mentality to a revenue generator. When executives invest in customer services that enhances their experience, customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and stay loyal.  

That truth is increasingly penetrating the hallowed walls of C-Suites and the boardroom.  

More than 50% of respondents in Salesforce’s survey of customer service professionals say their management now views their department as a revenue generator, rather than the cost center it may have perceived to be. That’s a significant tipping point that makes service performance all the more important not just for companies as a whole, but for the people in charge of delivering customer service. 

If you need more proof of this phenomenon, consider that over one-third of customer service leaders are now in the C-level — an unprecedented level of representation at the highest reaches of business structures.  

The fact that these are sourced from customer service ranks speaks volumes. And there’s appetite for this trend to continue. Nearly nine-in-ten of customer service respondents who don’t have C-level representation see its value. 

With the rise of roles such as chief customer officers and chief experience officers, service becomes one, albeit critical, part of the overall customer experience. It no longer has to represent the weakest link in the customer journey. 

Connection is the heart of service 

Driving customer success starts with connection to engage customers to meet and eventually exceed customer expectations. 

Think about the myriad of touchpoints that proliferate the path to purchase — and repurchase and loyalty — today. We often talk about this in terms of striving for omnichannel engagement. But beyond business buzzwords, a customer would never use the word omnichannel, it’s important to humanize the customer experience by considering the different, disconnected, departments that touch the customer journey. For example… 

Are service agents aware of marketing campaigns a given customer has received when they make contact? Do they have an informed sense of how a customer has navigated the company’s e-commerce touchpoints? Is the customer’s historical experience, preferences, previous purchases, available to service agents and all frontline executives responsible for customer engagement through their journey? Is integrated data and insights available to power AI in ways that present next best actions and experiences at a personal level, whether that’s an agent, chatbot, or self-guided path? If in a B2B company, are they aware of salesperson interactions?  

This is all critical context that service reps need to meet elevated customer expectations for efficient, tailored engagement. 

So, have companies met those customer expectations for connected engagement? According to the “State of the Connected Customer” survey, they have not.  

Three-in-five respondents say they generally feel like they are interacting with different departments rather than one company. And unfortunately, two-thirds say they often need to repeat information to different agents. When nearly all customers say a positive service experience makes them more likely to make a repeat purchase, is this status quo serving service’s elevated business mandate? 

This attests to a cost-center vs. growth mindset. In each case, the outcomes are very different. 

Compare high-performing service teams — those with the highest customer satisfaction levels — and their underperforming peers. The top teams are empowered to treat unique customers with unique engagement, think freedom from restrictive policies that don’t put all customer situations into a single category of service. Top teams are also more empowered with contextual information that details a customer’s entire journey, whether with service, or another team.  

In these cases, over three-fifths of service teams now share the same CRM software with their colleagues in other departments like ecommerce, sales, and marketing.  

Context matters in a digital-first world 

Let’s talk about the other critical element of meeting elevated customer expectations: digital channels and, more importantly, customer context. 

Even though the world is opening up, the use of digital channels, such as social media and customer portals, have not backtracked. In fact, customers say they are likely to spend more time online than before 2020. This is leading to the adoption of more digital-first touchpoints. Nearly three-in-five customers now prefer to engage through digital channels.  

Before you ask, yes, that preference skews higher among younger demographics. But still, channels such as phone and email are dropping, and digital-first touchpoints are rising across the board.  

Responses to this trend are represented in the increasing adoption among service organizations of channels like mobile apps, forums, and especially video. But a wholesale shift to digital channels ignores critical nuance…context. 

Key objectives are shifting to reflect a focus on efficiency, cost savings, and doing more with less 

Customers veer towards different channels depending on the circumstances. For instance, 59% of customers prefer self-service tools for simple issues while 81% of service professionals say the phone is a preferred channel for complex issues — up from 76% in 2020.  

Wherever they go, customers want their interaction to be easy, seamless, and fast. Let’s focus for a moment on the preference for self-service for simple issues. This is a great example of where customer and company priorities meet — in this case, in the pursuit of efficiency. 

Customer success excellence in today’s environment isn’t easy. Salesforce research found that 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately, and 83% expect to resolve complex problems through one person.  

Service professionals are feeling the pressure too, with 60% recognizing the increase in customer expectations since before the pandemic. 

Shifting KPIs reflect a focus on efficiency 

The preference for self-service for simple matters coincides with a heightened focus on efficiency for companies facing uncertain economic conditions. 

Organizations are being asked to do more with less and reduce costs. This is reflected in the rise of efficiency-related service KPIs, such as case deflection, customer effort, and first contact resolution.  

While self-service is a great foray into this pursuit, it can only go so far. How else can service organizations maximize customer satisfaction while using resources most efficiently? 

The answer lies at least in part in technology. Specifically, nearly three-fifths of service organizations now use at least one form of workflow or process automation — freeing up agents to focus on the higher value, more complex work that customers with more pressing or unique needs demand in exchange for repeat purchases.  

Users of automation reported significant benefits, such as time savings, better customer focus, and fewer errors in addressing customer needs. 

Three takeaways to transform service into a growth (and customer relationship) engine  

Service plays an important role in delivering a connected, efficient, and product customer experience. More importantly, service itself is shifting from a necessary cost center to a strategic growth engine. 

Service organizations are now at the forefront of strategic shifts across industries. Leaders are investing in continued momentum as well as future disruptions as customer expectations only continue to increase. 

1) Shift from a service mindset to an experience mindset 

Customers don’t see a “service department” — they see one company. As elevated, connected experiences become more commonplace, any instance of a disconnected, siloed experience across sales, service, marketing, and beyond will stand out and prompt customers to seek out better alternatives. Connecting service people, processes, and technology with their cross-functional counterparts helps mitigate this risk and elevate the overall customer experience. 

2) Empower employees as much as customers 

Scaling digital engagement offerings for customers has its merits, but we need to also think about what capabilities employees need to engage across these channels and provide the tailored, empathetic, and contextualized service customers deserve. Technology is a big part of this equation. But all the technology in the world won’t make much of a difference without the evolved policies and processes that transformation requires. 

3) Audit metrics for efficiency, scale, and experience 

Tried-and-true service metrics aren’t going anywhere, but a narrow focus on closing out as many tickets with as few agents as possible is a recipe for CX and service failure. Think about how KPIs can help identify areas of improvement as you scale across new channels, for instance. As resources get scarcer among economic uncertainty, look for ways to do more with less, without compromising the experiences customers have and take away from each engagement. 

Business Services

As enterprises seek advantage through digital transformation, they’ve looked to breakthrough IT architectures like hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to drive agility and simplify management. The ongoing expansion of IT from the traditional data center to the cloud and the edge has recently forced organizations to confront a level of hybrid management complexity that requires a more comprehensive solution — one that the relatively narrow simplicity of on-prem HCI can’t provide.

Enterprise hybrid cloud environments now commonly involve multiple data centers, cloud and edge estates, and a profusion of virtual machines (VMs) supporting mixed workloads spread across distributed resources. Inevitably, that’s led to management challenges: fragmented infrastructure, unwieldy and often manual processes, and ever-increasing data silos across environments. And that’s not all: data security, sovereignty, and cost considerations add additional layers of complexity to hybrid cloud operations.

In this context, deploying HCI in one portion of your hybrid cloud brings useful benefits, but it’s not enough to clear up environment-wide management challenges.

That’s why, in the marketplace today, you find forward-looking organizations seeking a new, resilient cloud-model hyperconverged solution — HCI as a service (HCIaaS) — that can accelerate projects with effortless scale, fully-automate data management and security from edge to cloud, and introduce an Opex, on-demand consumption model. HCIaaS radically streamlines hybrid cloud IT (in much the way it once simplified data centers) by leveraging the power of the cloud experience. Let’s look at how that drives IT transformation.

Time to streamline VM management everywhere

Virtual machines are an enormous aid in running businesses, but manually administering VMs across hybrid cloud via multiple consoles is a time-consuming, error-prone process. HCI as a service radically streamlines management by enabling you to provision, monitor, and update VMs across on-premises estates, colocation sites, public clouds, and the edge through a single console.

HCIaaS doesn’t just mitigate management complexity — it also automates the intricate analysis required to optimize hosting decisions for critical apps and datasets across hybrid cloud. The simple option used to be for companies to put 100% of their apps in the public cloud. However, recent research from IDC shows movement in the opposite direction: repatriation of workloads to on-prem resources is now on the rise. According to IDC, “organizations expect to continue moving workloads between IT environments to find an optimal balance of workload distribution; dedicated clouds will be a primary choice for workload migration off public cloud.”

Given the need for mobility across hybrid cloud, admins would normally have to perform complex evaluations of performance, security, total cost of ownership, and ease of management across distributed resources — and then execute the necessary migrations, both to the cloud and back to the data center. HCIaaS makes all that automatic.

HCIaaS is driven by the cloud experience

Organizations are increasingly aware of the manifold IT gains that the cloud operational experience offers — greater flexibility, faster scalability, and a shift to OpEx expenditures, to name just a few. In fact, 91% of IT leaders today identify mature cloud operations on-premises as the single most important step to eliminating complexity.[1] It’s no surprise then that those IT leaders are rapidly adopting a “cloud everywhere” approach and demanding the ability to deploy and operate workloads from edge to cloud without the traditional deployment delays, overprovisioning risk, and CapEx burdens.

While traditional HCI works well supporting standardized business processes, it lacks key benefits of the cloud experience that drive agility and digital transformation. HCIaaS, on the other hand, is cloud-native, so you avoid many of the limitations of traditional HCI. No more CapEx-based infrastructure procurement delays that can slow on-prem IT deployments to a crawl. No more hardware-based HCI that scales at the speed of hardware upgrades and requires cumbersome onsite management. And it eliminates the overprovisioning risk that often saddles organizations with resources they will not fully utilize for some time — if ever.

HCIaaS. It’s HCI built for hybrid cloud.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the benefits of an as-a-service hyperconverged infrastructure that’s built specifically to capitalize on hybrid cloud. HCIaaS architectures must be flexible, cloud-based solutions that enable customers to deploy and host virtual applications and VM workloads on-demand — either in the data center, in the cloud, or at the edge — depending on business needs.

An HCIaaS solution must also deliver a few crucial ingredients that drastically simplify IT operations:

App- and VM-centric management across hybrid cloudA single, cloud-based dashboard to monitor multiple systems and sites, including deployment and scaling of VMs across hybrid cloudGlobal health monitoring with a “hot spot” view of VMs and clustersBuilt-in policy automation to speed VM to infrastructure provisioningSimple, on-demand provisioning for any VM, including protection and QoSAutomated, non-disruptive, full-stack upgradesOn-demand deployment and management of VMs across hybrid cloudBuilt-in hybrid cloud protection and VM mobility

HPE leads the way

Among major vendors, HPE has been at the forefront in terms of delivering the cloud operational experience across hybrid cloud. HPE GreenLake for HCI is a radically simplified experience for data infrastructure, powered by a cloud-native control plane. It’s a flexible, HCIaaS solution that allows customers to effortlessly deploy and host VM-based apps and workloads exactly where they’re needed across on-prem, cloud, and edge. Even better, the HPE GreenLake for HCI management console enables self-service agility and seamless hybrid cloud VM management from a single console.

By simplifying the management of infrastructure and VMs across your hybrid cloud, HPE GreenLake for HCI helps companies power agility and maximize time to value as they drive their digital transformation journeys. It’s a key component of the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform.

[1] ESG Data Management Survey, April 2021, commissioned by HPE


About Charles Wood


Charles Wood is Senior Product Marketing Manager with HPE Storage. He has 20 years of product management and product marketing experience in virtualization, storage, and networking, and currently focuses on evangelizing HPE solutions for software-defined datacenters, edge computing, and cloud.  He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Brown University. 

Hybrid Cloud, IT Leadership