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A unified proposition

Feras Zeidan, VP MEA at Unify, an Atos company discusses how the UC vendor, now as part of Atos has a superior digital transformation proposition to offer in the SMB segment 


How has Unify kept pace with the shifts in the market away from traditional computing to an era of the cloud based infrastructure and digital channels?

As a company, we have spent more than 25 years building active and passive components of ICT, going back to the days of the Siemens legacy. These are essentially 30 sub-systems that range all the way from cabling infrastructure into the data centre and hyper converged infrastructure. These are classical products and largely commodity business today with price wars.

Voice and Video solutions play a major role as the glue between active and passive components. They can be in the contact centre that looks after surveillance for instance such as in BMS (Business Management Systems). Similarly, they play a role in active components as there is a need for secure voice and video communications in all interactions, whether in B2B or B2C transactions etc.

Beyond this, then there is the application layer, for enabling and enhancing customer experience. Finally, there is the digital transformation layer where we are handholding the customer in the OPEX model built around a hybrid cloud.  There are only a handful of companies who compete and are focused in this business and with capabilities  to wrap all of this with managed services. Atos is one of the leading vendors among this select group of companies.

Discuss your approach to helps the SMBs adopt digital transformation?

Five years ago, there were three layers namely the Passive layer, Active layer and the Application layer. In between the digital experience at the top and the Application layer, there is also the IoT layer now. While there are are two more additional layers, the budget remains the same which the Businesses need to split between five instead of three.

We now bundle all of these layers in one box for the SMB customer. The customer doesn't need to bother about the infrastructure part which we take care of. He doesn't need to be concerned about the myriad issues like software, maintenance, upgrades, application integration, middleware etc.

We create a virtual environment for the customer, offer infrastructure as a service with hosting  out of datacentres like e-Hosting Datafort, Gulf Data Hub, Etisalat etc in a secure way. We provide the customer with all the computing power, storage, security etc, all with the redundancy required to run his business.

The customer will have access to Voice and Video layers on an OPEX model, so he doesn't need to invest on that infrastructure. We will provide UC application, do the billing, routing, security, storage, application management etc all in the OPEX model, hosted in a secure way with SLAs and KPIs. This is the biggest challenge for the SMB segment in dealing with the challenge of how they can stay relevant in the digital era without the hassles of having to make overwhelming capital investments in infrastructure. The OPEX model offers the best option.

Discuss your proposition for enabling digital transformation and how is it unique?

Digital transformation allows to break the silos between the core applications of the different lines of business and interconnects them to create a seamless customer experience.

We are bringing the digital transformation services from Atos and are wrapping it around with the infrastructure solutions we know very well including passive and active layers as well as the application layer. Atos has a significant advantage as the only Video and Voice solutions manufacturer who has a digital transformation factory with the processes and consultancy.

How do you see the challenges in the shift towards adopting the digital model?

On one hand, the Millennial generation is already building businesses around mobile and applications and online models, and they are not considering classical infrastructure. On the other side, there are the businesses that have both an online presence and the traditional physical stores. What needs to be achieved in this case is to move them to the digital channels from the classical model. We are handholding the customers through their adoption of the digital channel via an OPEX model.

Discuss how your focus as a company has extended with the suite of solutions from Atos and across verticals?

We build solutions for different verticals including hospitality, security, healthcare etc. 

With the current geo political issues, there is a lot of security investments all around. So you need command control centers, either micro, medium, or large. These could be at the mall level, building level, city level etc. Atos has a application that allows us to build emergency services like 999, all the way to enabling an integrated deployment of a command centre for their CCTV installations of their multiple sites with a video wall. We connect BMS and other systems for alerting and conferencing and have done deployments for several customers. 

For hospitality, we now cover solutions from telephony to guest experience. From the minute the customer checks in until he checks out, he gets a 360 degree guest experience with our integrated infrastructure. 

We have solutions from telephony to safer cities, 360 degree guest experience to smart healthcare, and wrap all of these with our digital transformation services from Atop.

How do you see the split between the enterprise and SMB focus? 

Siemens Enterprise Communication from which Unify emerged, was traditionally strong and focused in the enterprise and did not really target the SMB segment. Unify has however built a SMB focus and as of present, we have 30% of our business coming from the SMB and by end of the year we could be looking at 40% of our business coming from the SMB segment. With the hybrid cloud OPEX model, we will have a better proposition for the SMB customers as we give the hardware for free. The customer can budget how much would the communication and connectivity will cost him for the full year , which in turn will give him peace of mind.