Recently I attended the VoiceCon Virtual Event powered by ON24 from my home office. What I find remarkable is how far virtualization has come in transforming how enterprises do business.
Gartner states that virtualization is the highest-impact issue changing infrastructure and operations through 2012. It first came on the scene via server consolidation. Initially, IT organizations were motivated to lower costs by optimizing power and space. Over time, enterprises realized the benefits extended beyond those of cost to faster server deployment, disaster recovery and business benefits. Today, through virtualization, IT can empower an entire organization.
First, consider the dimensions of virtualization within the IT environment: Hardware, Server, Desktop, Application, Storage, and Network.
Now consider the dimensions of virtualization within an enterprise and in particular how people interact, communicate and learn: Virtual classrooms, business meetings, customer events and tradeshows. This means that not only IT, but other internal organizations, such as marketing, operations, customer service and sales, all benefit.
Take for instance, my experience at the VoiceCon virtual event. I “attended” VoiceCon from my home office in Austin, “visited” sponsor booths and listened to a chat in the lobby. By attending VoiceCon, it became clear how business units can benefit from a virtual event. For example, marketing can gather feedback through surveys, online chats, and message boards. Additional intelligence can be acquired by tracking customer behavior such as which seminars were well-attended, which product guides were downloaded most frequently, and what topics generated the most discussion. Based on information gathered in the virtual environment, business units such as product development and operations can then focus their efforts on making product enhancements or making improvements to a service experience.
Virtualization is indeed an experience as much as it is a technology. With the Cisco TelePresence solution, people in different locations around the world are experiencing live, face-to-face meetings. With ON24, employees are participating in virtual enterprise events such as industry tradeshows. And, unified communications becomes integral to the virtual collaboration environment, as Forrester argues, making virtualization even more relevant to business.
Virtualization should be a key component of an enterprise’s IT strategy. It means more capabilities on demand. It means an increase in ROI as users only leverage what they need. It means the transformation of the user experience. What’s more, virtualization is a green technology. The benefits abound for the enterprise organization, or, might we say, the benefits are virtually unlimited.