Centre stage with Jonathan Sharp, Sales & Marketing Director at Britannic Technologies…
A topical Q&A with a leading light within the unified communications community.
Biography Born - I was born in Evesham, Worcestershire.
Studied / Education background - I studied Industrial Information Technology at Birmingham City University, a wide-ranging course that could not have been a better grounding for my future career. It included marketing, business, management, IT, programming, systems & process design, project management, law & accountancy.
Current role / bio – I have built a career as a communications visionary and established technology business leader with 20 years’ proven excellence in driving business innovation and transformation. I am Sales & Marketing Director at Britannic Technologies, and have a huge enthusiasm for technology adoption, helping businesses to connect with their customers and staff in the most efficient and intuitive ways.
I like to encourage technology and business leaders to think bigger and, working closely with key strategic partners and major customers alike, I regularly share ideas and strategies to leverage the many benefits of evolving technologies, applications and business models through customer workshops, seminars and conferences.
Throughout my tenure I have introduced a number of technology innovations and led large technology deployments for both private and public sector organisations.
Who do you work for and what does your role entail?
I work for Britannic Technologies, a very well established, independent and innovative systems integrator. Having been with Britannic since 1997 my role has evolved considerably over the years, from marketing manager to main board director, with responsibility for sales, marketing & presales. In addition to working with my colleagues in the senior management team running the business I have the pleasure of working closely with my team of account managers, our partners and customers to review business requirements, solution designs & change programmes.
I enjoy meeting customers and reviewing new opportunities for innovation and positive technology disruption, and development of our portfolio and capabilities. I also regularly chair and present at a range of events.
What made you choose a career in UC?
I have always been interested in business and technology. My father joined BT at the age of 16 working through engineering, sales and marketing and providing me with great insight into the industry – so I guess it was in my blood!
When I left university I joined a software company, specialising in electronic commerce, which gave me a good grounding in business software. I then moved to a management consultancy working closely with BT at the launch of ISDN, working with BT and equipment vendors to construct “joined up” solutions to market.
From here I joined Britannic, a telecoms and call centre solutions provider. Over the years, as the industry has continued to evolve, we have worked hard to keep pace with the changes and on many occasions we have been ahead of the curve with our innovations. We have achieved this by listening to customers, thinking outside of the box and working out how to solve problems and add value through technology best practice and innovation!
The possibilities with UC and new and emerging technology fascinate me. I enjoy working with my team and customers assessing where and how a unified approach to communication, applications and business processes can drive improvements in customer experience and business performance.
What do you think is required to be successful in the UC industry?
A passion for technology and business - the two must work hand in hand. It helps to have an inquisitive mind and a customer focused approach to problem solving and business enablement. It is important to be able to join the dots, see the opportunity of systems integration and consolidation and not be afraid of change!
We must not forget that unified communications is about improving the way in which people use technology in their everyday lives, how they service their customers and how businesses can embrace flexible working to gain the competitive edge. UC is not about speeds and feeds, it is about business enablement and delivering successful outcomes.
Strong communication and change management skills are important, as it is vital to look beyond technology alone. Some of the main reasons for project failure are lack of adoption of the new technology by end users and customers.
It is essential to work closely with key stakeholders to ensure the technology is aligned to how people work, how they want to work and the needs of the business. Seeking a win-win is essential to successful UC deployments. Consider how positive change can be achieved through the implementation of UC solutions, incorporating the needs of the users, the end customers and the customers’ business objectives! Once we get this right we benefit too!
By taking a medium to long term approach with customers we have been able to establish strong and long-standing mutually beneficial partnerships. It is always about adding value and working with customers to design appropriate solutions – not just providing a “vanilla” product and walking away leaving them to work it out themselves! It really is about partnership and a shared vision!
What’s been your biggest work achievement of the last 12 months?
We are currently going through a significant evolution in our industry and in the world of commerce as a whole, with the advent of Digital Transformation. Looking back over the last 12 months it has been a year of transformation for our business too. I was proud to be able to launch our new strategy and digital capabilities at our 15th annual Convergence Summit at Mercedes Benz World in November 2018.
Not only was this our biggest attendance ever, with over 250 delegates but also the richest blend of C-suite contacts we have ever had, spanning varied business functions, with a common goal of digitally transforming their businesses.
Our enhanced offerings, unveiled at the event, act as a fantastic complement to our core business and UC partners (Mitel and Avaya). They enable agile deployment and consumption of technology from the cloud, connected into a flexible and adaptive Orchestration architecture, incorporating IoT devices, with a new web portal for service consumption and management. Innovative “plug-in” applications such as AI, web chat, social media, video, co-browsing and applications consolidation, that change based upon context, with open APIs help underpin a new paradigm of UC solutions within the market, beyond communication. They blend AI and humans into an end-to-end Unified Communications & Business Application Platform to reduce costs and improve the customer experience.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I have always had an inquisitive mind and open ears! I have had the great fortune of meeting and working with many interesting, experienced and visionary people who have always been happy to share their advice. Some of my favourites include:
- Listen to your customers they will tell you where they want you to add value and where the opportunity is!
- There is no such word as can’t. If you don’t try, you won’t succeed. It is better to try and fail than not to try at all!
- Do not limit your imagination, question everything & accept nothing. Just because that’s the way we have always done it, doesn’t mean that should carry on infinitum! Evolution is about always seeking out improvement, innovation only happens when you change the norm!
- Always seek to add value and put yourself in the position of your customer. If you are not adding value, then question what you are doing and change fast!
What are your predictions for the UC industry for 2019/20 or beyond?
It is a really exciting time to be in our industry. All organisations, irrespective of industry or size, are going through change, brought on by Digital Transformation. What is going to be really important over the coming years is how technology aligns to business, operational needs and customer and user expectations.
The opportunity within the UC industry is to extend capabilities and value beyond the traditional view of UC&C into full joined up business applications, incorporating new technologies (such as AI & Machine Learning), effectively blending existing, new and emerging channels (omni-channel – voice, email, sms, chat, video, WhatsApp, iMessage, social) joining up the front and back office and mobile workers; simplifying the journey and interface for both customers and users alike.
People have talked about mapping the customer journey and as we move forward systems orchestration, open APIs and data insight will enable the right information and interfaces to be served up in the right way at the right time – improving efficiency and satisfaction for customers and users alike. We will see the emergence of the blended workforce where humans and machines will work in harmony to remove the mundane and repetitive through automation and free up people to add value with technology matching people, channels, information and systems to provide real time personalisation like never before! We will see greater opportunity to align technology to business needs and goals.
Join Jonathan at UC EXPO at ExCeL London, 15-16 May 2019
Learn how you can reduce your business costs, whilst still improving the customer experience. Through next generation unified communications solutions with the acceleration of digital transformation and process automation. Break your digital transformation down into bite-sized chunks that can be rapidly deployed as part of a structured strategy towards system consolidation and employee and customer empowerment. Find out how UC deployments can move beyond presence, availability and flexible communications to an enterprise wide unified communication and business enablement platform at UC EXPO.