August 23, 2023 – Duration 00:21:21

S4 Ep. 3 – How Unisys moved to cloud with speed and agility

Unisys is a global technology solutions company dedicated to helping organizations drive innovation and excel at customer experience. The company recently reimagined its own customer journey by moving to a cloud-based customer experience platform — to better address what matters most to its clients and their users. What might have been a complex implementation was simplified with extensive planning, collaboration and communication, as well as taking an agile, test-and-learn approach. In this episode, Aron Meyer, Digital Workplace Solutions Architect at Unisys, explains how the company was able to eliminate seven legacy platforms and move more than 100 client organizations from across 12 global locations to that cloud-based customer experience platform.


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Aron Meyer

Aron Meyer

Digital Workplace Solutions Architect at Unisys

Aron Meyer is a Digital Workplace Solutions Architect at Unisys, based in Tucson, Arizona. With more than 30 years’ experience helping businesses grow and overcome complex challenges through enterprise transformations, process optimization, and service automation, he designs and implements technology solutions to deliver effective, efficient, and frictionless customer experiences. When not achieving better outcomes for his clients, Aron can be found pursuing his passion for motorsports, traveling with his wife or playing with their dog. 

TTi20 S4E3 Conversation Highlights

Here are conversation highlights from this episode, edited and condensed. Go to the timestamps in the recording for the full comments.

Aaron, welcome to Tech Talks in 20. Please tell our audience who you are, what you do at Unisys, and a little bit about Unisys, as well.

Aron Meyer (01:44): 

I’m Aaron Meyer and I’ve been handling various contact center technology in some capacity or another for about 25 years. I’ve had many different contact center providers and solutions in my portfolio. Not just ACDs, but supporting systems like CRM, IT service management, knowledge management, etc. — mostly on-premises. We started virtualizing systems around 2016 and started moving fully cloud hosted around 2018. Currently, I work for Unisys in our Digital Workplace Solutions unit, where I design and implement systems that underpin our end user services offerings.  

Let’s talk about your journey to cloud. Unisys situation is different than many other organizations because you provide service and support for other businesses. Tell us more about that.

Aron Meyer (02:55): 

We empower our clients’ workforce with the tools and services they need to securely work from anywhere, anytime, and on any device. And in such a fast-moving marketplace, we’re always setting new goals for ourselves to raise the bar.

To achieve those goals, we started to reimagine our customer journey in a way that is enhancing our abilities to deliver faster user support services, but also with an emphasis on persona-driven user experiences, efficiency of our associates and automation.

Our next-generation service desk supports nearly 100 clients, across a diverse range of industries. Each of our clients are unique businesses that operate differently, and Unisys is a key partner in their technology ecosystems.

So, for us, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. We have to tailor our solutions to meet each of our client’s unique requirements. And those solutions not only have to be tightly integrated with our internal Unisys delivery infrastructure, but we must also integrate with client-owned systems operating within their networks and their security boundaries.

Moving to the cloud must have complex for you. What are some of the challenges you had and how did you overcome them?

Aron Meyer (04:33): 

It was a complex maneuver, particularly in such a short timeframe. On the surface, it appears to be just one cloud CX implementation, but really it was dozens of implementations and cutover waves that we had to thread together. We had to do about 20 integrations to our various clients’ systems, as well as our own backend AI and chatbot toolkits. That adds extra layers of complexity.

The other piece is, obviously, being a managed service provider, we have a mix of both leveraged and dedicated agents. It was critical that all the clients in a cutover group went together, so we didn’t end up splitting our support teams or stranding contacts.

And while many of the systems we integrated with are managed by Unisys, some are managed by the client or their other partners. That took a high degree of coordination and cooperation to establish a schedule.

It also took a complete commitment from our implementation and our service delivery teams to hit our target dates. Slippage from just one client or one system could have a complete domino effect on the whole schedule.

Talk about how you built that collaboration and kept it going throughout the process of moving to cloud.

Aron Meyer (06:16): 

There were a couple of components. First, we followed an agile methodology; we did things in sprints and cycles. We started with a couple of small bites that would be easy wins, and that gave us a chance to trial run our plans, trial run our communications, trial run our templates. We learned from that first iteration. And then we went back, we did another one that was a little bit bigger bite, a little bit more complex, and then we took a break to reflect on what we did, enhance the comms, enhance the training, all those things.  

Let’s take a step back. Why cloud?

Aron Meyer (07:32): 

Cloud gives us speed and flexibility. We can put workloads where we need them to be. We can direct the contacts where we need them to be. We’re not pinned down to physical equipment at specific locations and specific centers. Cloud also gives us the ability to scale up rapidly, to able to handle a hybrid workforce. We have agents that are inside our contact centers, that are working from home and that work from client locations. So, it’s quite a mix. And being in the cloud gives us the speed and flexibility we need to adapt to our operating environment, as well as to our clients’ ever-changing needs.  

What was the biggest operational change you saw moving from legacy systems to the cloud?

Aron Meyer (08:39): 

It unbound a lot of our projects from starting with, “What servers do I need? What applications do I need? Where is my infrastructure going to be?” We could just start with the process and with the outcomes we wanted to achieve, and then go pick the pieces and modules we needed to get those things done.  

Talk more about change management: the processes you changed versus kept, who was involved, how long things took — let’s get in the weeds a bit.

Aron Meyer (09:30): 

At the beginning of our journey we said, “We can take one of two paths. One path is to reevaluate all the processes and other things as we’re building them into the new environment and build directly for the future. There are pros and cons to doing it that way.

The other option was to do a like-for-like shift — move from point A to point B without trying to re-create and restructure everything. In past initiatives, we had done it the former way, where we took advantage of that motion to new tool sets to rethink processes and things like that as part of building into that new tool. It can make for a long and complicated project if you’re also layering change upon change.

So, we decided to do for this go round to get from point A to point B first. This way we could minimize the amount of change and disruption to our operations, to our agents, to our supervisors, and most importantly, to our clients.

And then, part of that process in going from A to B, is adapting to the things that are different. Taking that like-for-like approach allowed us to learn the new toolset viewed through our existing lens.

Then teams are looking at it, saying, “This is what I can do next,” or “Now that I understand how this works, let’s do it this way.” The overall schedule is similar. I think we’re going to get to that future state of where we want to be sooner, by not having to learn so many things the hard way.

What are some of the biggest successes you’ve had around the shift to cloud?

Aron Meyer (11:47): 

One of the things that’s been successful is our ability to create some standard templates and productized modules. That way, as we were building things to make it from point A to point B, it set us up to be able to deploy things and configure things more rapidly going forward. From a delivery standpoint, it helped align the delivery teams around how those standard modules work.

And it forced a secondary question on whether we’re deviating from a best practice or a best way to achieve the right kind of outcome. It forces you to rethink that and not just go forward on the easy path. It helps you stay aligned, because that’s what is setting you up for steps three, four, and five down the road.

What’s something that you took away from everything you learned that you would share person to help others make their journey to cloud smoother?

Aron Meyer (13:05): 

Start with organizational change management. Communication is crucial: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What role do you need to play in this? What’s the importance of doing your piece to ensure a successful outcome? And then, within that, definitely do not underestimate the amount of agent and supervisor training that needs to happen.

Often, our technical teams and implementation teams are used to the tool or they’re repeating a process over and over. But for each new team that you’re giving it to, it’s all brand new to them.

You have to make sure that you’re baking in time, so the acceptance testing process includes agents getting a chance to do mock calls and mock chats — and supervisors are watching their dashboards while that’s happening so they can experience the new environment before you switch it on.

Any last thoughts about moving to cloud that you’d share?

Aron Meyer (15:18): 

If anyone out there is having hesitations for some reason, don’t hesitate. It’s been massively beneficial for us. It’s truly enabled us just to focus on processes, focus on outcomes, and not have to spend so much time thinking about boxes and places and infrastructure. Just go do it.