French IT service provider Atos has reached an agreement to acquire Unify, a provider of integrated communication solutions, from The Gores Group and Siemens for an enterprise value of €590 million, of which €340 million is cash. Unify’s 5,600 employees generated an estimated €1.2 billion in revenue in 2014. Atos, 12% of which is owned by Siemens, hopes to finalize the deal in the first quarter of 2016.
Over the past few years, Unify has managed to transform its portfolio from traditional PBX products to robust, scalable, and carrier-grade solutions for IP voice, web collaboration, video conferencing, mobility, and advanced messaging; clients can add these to existing communication infrastructure to enhance business processes and productivity. However, this transformation wasn’t always easy for Unify’s customers, as it brought disruption and often meant integration and transition assistance. What can Unify’s customers expect should the Atos deal materialize? We believe that the deal will:
The enterprise network is the ugly duckling of enterprise technology landscape, looked at disparagingly by CIOs and often ignored by the business. The enterprise network is much less exciting than all the fancy projects like cloud, mobility, and big data.
Yet the enterprise network represents the vital underpinning for all these projects and increasingly evolves into a business-critical asset for companies looking to succeed in the age of the customer. It becomes the nervous system of the digital business. It facilitates deeper customer engagement by connecting manufacturers, sellers, and buyers of products in new ways, and it helps drive more operational efficiencies as it supports closer collaboration and connects previously disjointed assets. For most business leaders, the network infrastructure isn't much more than a utility, such as electricity or plumbing, while most CIOs don't know how to monetize it. This is a business challenge for the connected business as:
The enterprise network enables business success in the age of the customer. Customer engagement, internal collaboration, and the emergence of digital products and services all rely on a quality network infrastructure. Moreover, network data and business intelligence turn the network into an asset for monetization. As a result, the enterprise network no longer functions as a commodity but becomes a key function for success in the age of the customer.
Our Forum For Technology Management Leaders in London starts tomorrow and I'm very excited about the program that we have been able to put together across the two days. On day one, we will be hearing from Jeroen Tas, Chief Executive Officer, Informatics Solutions and Services, Philips Healthcare, about how he and his team have evolved IT to become a fundamental enabler of growth for Philips as a real-time, connected company. Jeroen has over 30 years of global experience as an entrepreneur and senior executive in the financial services, healthcare, and information technology industries. Before taking on his current position, Jeroen was the Group Chief Information Officer of Royal Philips, leading IT worldwide.
In the run-up to the Forum, I asked Jeroen to answer a number of questions on Philips Healthcare's digital business journey. Jeroen's answers are a must-read for healthcare- and other technology management leaders about to embark on the same journey, and provide great insight into the challenges of making connected healthcare a reality. I look forward to hearing Jeroen speak on the main stage tomorrow!
Q: You have been a driving force behind Philips Healthcare’s strategy to create a connected healthcare world. Can you explain your approach?
Over the past two decades, the Internet has triggered a tectonic shift in the concept of networking — one that has redefined how companies market and sell products. More recently, social media, mobile, and cloud have fundamentally changed the concept of collaboration, enabling businesses, employees, customers, and partners to continuously interact with each other to create innovative new products and services and enhance existing ones. Rising customer expectations and faster product life cycles are forcing companies to adapt to a new style of business: “the collaborative economy.” My new report outlines the core dynamics of the collaborative economy and the implications for CIOs and their business partners:
Collaboration is much more than unified communications. It’s not sufficient for the CIO to roll out a unified communications solution; technology solutions alone do not change business processes or support employees’ changing collaborative behavior — let alone alter business models. A modern collaboration strategy requires CIOs to make organizational adjustments in addition to technology planning.
Collaboration is becoming part of the corporate strategy. A modern collaboration platform is the foundation for better innovation, faster processes, and greater employee satisfaction, which lead to happier customers and new revenue opportunities. We believe that modern collaboration is part of competitive advantage — and leading CIOs must support it as part of their group strategy.
Macro trends in technology and shifting customer behavior are giving rise to the connected business — which is not defined by technology but is rather a new style of doing business. CIOs will be responsible for introducing technology solutions that help break down silos, boost cross-team collaboration, drive the end-to-end customer experience, and engage more deeply with customers. In order to succeed, CIOs must go beyond technology enablement and support organizational and cultural transformation.
With Jeroen Tas, one of the most renowned technology visionaries in Europe, as its CIO, Philips made a number of strategic decisions to transform itself into a connected business. Forrester believes that CIOs should familiarize themselves with Philips’ strategic, operational, and cultural transformation and learn from it, as Philips offers CIOs valuable lessons in planning the transition to a connected business:
Philips embraces digital propositions at the expense of standalone products. Philips maps out customer journeys and ensures that its products turn into plug-ins for broader digital propositions. The firm connects all of its propositions through data, communities, and collaboration, allowing it to understand who the customers are and how they use products. Philips decides how it needs to develop its portfolio based on these customer journey maps, opening up new business models.
Interdisciplinary teams help open up new revenue streams. The old model — all marketing people sitting together, all IT people sitting together, all supply-chain people sitting together — is outdated. Interdisciplinary teams force people to speak each other’s language. At Philips, interdisciplinary teams have also resulted in much higher job satisfaction.
AirWatch held its EMEA AirWatch Connect customer event in London recently. The event underlined that AirWatch, at the tender age of 10, has become one of the leading global providers of enterprise mobility services. My key takeaways from the event are that:
Secure collaboration forms the center of the connected business. Business productivity and innovation benefit significantly from a workforce that is empowered by mobility. AirWatch has one of the most comprehensive enterprise mobility portfolios in the market to support this drive. AirWatch can play a central role for any organization that is transforming into a connected business.
An integrated platform approach to enterprise mobility has a clear advantage. AirWatch pursues a Lego-block approach, bringing together solutions for email, browser, containerization, content locker, and, of course, device and app management. By building its solution as one platform, customers gain the flexibility of a Lego-style deployment — they can pick only those blocks that they require while ensuring the integration and flexibility of the overall solution.
Building a business case for enterprise mobility must include soft factors. Managers who build ROIs for enterprise mobility solutions usually focus on hard KPIs that support existing ways of doing business. However, this “hard ROI” approach really only compares the present with the past. In reality, it is often the soft KPIs, like new ways of doing business, that matter more. Ultimately, mobility is crucial for greater operational flexibility and business transformation. Both are at the heart of long-term business success.