A CIO’s tips for can’t-stop, won’t-stop innovation

Christopher Henry most recently spent his time as an IT executive bringing unified communications to Grant Thornton LLP. What he’s learned about effective service delivery


Innovation is the key to growth: a well-worn statement but one that nevertheless holds true within the networking communications space.

And to hear industry expert Christopher Henry say it, innovation is both defined as doing something in a different way, or achieving something new that hasn’t been done before.

Think innovation, personified, as a shark, where organizations have to keep moving along innovation wavelengths to survive. Notes Henry: “It’s about continuous improvement. Don’t stop improving.”

The former CIO of Grant Thornton LLP made the comments at the recent Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto. As the person most responsible for planning and installing the unified communications (UC) systems at Grant Thornton — which runs coast-to-coast from Corner Brook to Victoria — it was about ensuring communication was as seamless, accessible, and transparent as possible.

If technologies like UC represent key enabler of innovation, technology decision makers and CIOs need to be adaptive in achieving the company vision. Ultimately in the case of service providers, Henry argues, innovation is about connecting to clients in a streamlined manner.

“It’s called reachability,” said Henry. “The whole goal was to save everyone an hour per week to make it more reachable to clients.  This “reachability” included, Henry noted, multiple communications modalities: using soft clients, being connected to the UC platform, and a setup that facilitated video calls via Cisco technology. “Thinking about reachability was key in trying to help us capture that revenue and improve client service and satisfaction.”

Henry outlined a couple of tips to service providers in becoming a trusted partner:

It’s about clarity and collaboration: The key to innovation success, said Henry, is around sharing relevant insights and solutions based on industry, sector, and segment. “Perfect some of those back end solutions. Make it easier for customers.” This includes streamlining and simplifying quotes around invoicing practices and bundled services offerings. “Bundle and pool services based on industry, sector, and segment,” Henry said. “It’s about simplification and not getting charged over and over again just for access.”

It’s about people: Staff are among the key resources in achieving customer satisfaction; this includes ensuring that the company culture instills an understanding of both the business and technologies sides to deliver better solutions and better customer service, offers Henry.

At the same event, Allstream’s chief corporate officer Chris Peirce cited figures from the recent biennial Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) report revealing that Canada ranks 25th out of 45 nations in terms of “technology, innovation and research and development investment.” And if UC represents the next gen technology that enables clients to leverage presence features and seamlessly access all data and voice communications, Henry offered that innovation around delivery and client satisfaction represents the key competitive differentiator for service providers moving forward.

“Not that we’re not trusted partners already, but we can always do a better job,” said Henry.

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