‘Digital transformation involves more than technology’

9 Apr 2021

Image: © Chan2545/Stock.adobe.com

Mitel’s Jamshid Rezaei discusses developing trends in the telecoms sector and the importance of employee buy-in when it comes to digital transformation.

Jamshid Rezaei is the chief information officer of Mitel, a Canadian telecoms company that focuses primarily on voice over IP (VoIP) products.

Rezaei, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the tech industry, leads the company’s digital transformation strategy. Before Mitel, he worked for Aastra Technologies, which develops, manufactures and distributes telecommunications equipment.

‘As remote and hybrid working cement their permanency, we can expect communication solutions to become more immersive and engaging’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

As CIO at Mitel, I lead the company’s IT initiatives and develop and execute Mitel’s own digital transformation efforts. That encompasses everything from implementing cloud services and optimising networks, to migrating to SaaS applications.

My team also provides appropriate cybersecurity and we help unearth and leverage data to improve decision making. Two of my passions are driving innovation and change. In pursuit of those passions, I work closely with our other C-level leaders to maintain lockstep alignment of all IT initiatives with Mitel’s business strategy.

Currently, my IT team is focused on simplifying order processes, improving customer support and enhancing service functionality to make it as easy as possible for our partners and customers to do business with us.

A headshot of Jamshid Rezaei against a blue background.

Image: Jamshid Rezaei

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

The IT investments we’re prioritising at the moment tie in closely with the trend towards digitalisation, which is all about connecting people, tools and information to fuel productivity and provide incredible customer experiences.

The pandemic-induced shift to remote work really accelerated movement in this direction and led to a sharp rise in demand for our cloud services and unified communications tools. As this trend continues, we’ll be further transforming our business to help customers along their modernisation journeys.

One key project underway at our company involves the introduction of an advanced and modern subscription management platform. Today, almost everything is evolving to a subscription model. My team is now laying the groundwork internally to position Mitel for success in this new world.

How big is your team?

The Mitel team is made up of about 140 IT professionals supporting more than 3,200 employees globally. We outsource where and when needed, typically for niche projects to help alleviate team workload, but the majority of day-to-day and major projects are managed internally.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

In my view, it’s important to understand that whenever we talk about digital transformation, we recognise that digital transformation projects involve more than an organisation’s technology. Digital transformation is also about the organisation’s people, business processes and data.

When there’s employee buy-in on a deployment or an integration, along with a clear understanding of what and how to implement, there’s a much better chance of realising the best possible return on your investment. Businesses must empower their employees from the very start and make them active participants in the process, then keep them engaged by creating achievable goals that align with the company’s mission.

That’s a critical part of our digital transformation process. Just as important, before we undertake new IT services or integrations, we step back to consider whether the transformation will ultimately benefit our customers. If the answer is no, we reprioritise. Mitel’s digital transformation centres around enabling better customer experience – our ultimate goal – and driving operational efficiencies that make those experiences possible. We view digital transformation projects through those lenses and work to balance both.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and in the telecoms industry specifically?

The trends with the greatest impact right now are centred around addressing challenges related to Covid-19. We’re seeing a lot of interesting new healthcare applications and tools being developed to support things like telemedicine, contact tracing, and mental health and wellness.

I think as remote and hybrid working also cement their permanency, we can expect communication solutions to become more immersive and engaging with expanded capabilities like virtual reality video conferencing.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

In an age where we are constantly prone to security vulnerabilities, revisiting fundamental security hygiene best practices can boost the overall health of your business.

When it comes to security, however, there are always going to be surprises. What companies should critically be looking at right now is cloud security. Many organisations made a quick pivot to cloud in 2020, leaving room for gaps in data protection. In moving to the cloud, businesses need to assess a prospective vendor’s data protection and compliance capabilities.

More data and workloads in the cloud also means there are additional systems with additional data to secure. The same is true when using a private cloud. As organisations continue to make these shifts, it’s important that they have a dedicated security team who’s well versed in current standards and knows how to work within the current framework.

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