How a True Collaboration Experience Makes Your Team a Superstar

In today’s workplace, the office walls have dissolved. There are people on every team working from home or on the road, in coffee shops or in flight. Their colleagues may live and work in another city, across borders or oceans away. Yet even so, the pace of work continues to accelerate, which means collaboration and communication must be seamless and in real time.

This is why many employees use their own mobile devices and gravitate toward standalone messaging and video conferencing apps. But this approach isn’t ideal and, in an effort to be more connected, we find ourselves endlessly switching between applications and logging in multiple times.

For a true collaboration experience, today’s workforce needs an all-in-one solution that lets them communicate and collaborate across time zones as if they were in the same room. With the launch of MiTeam Meetings, Mitel emerges as the only vendor to provide this experience.

MiTeam Meetings makes collaboration much more efficient and meetings increasingly productive. With all the information employees need available from a single workspace, team members find it easier to work, share and store project details.

Here’s how this new all-in-one collaboration app will enable you to work better:

  • Connect to the office from anywhere. As a 100 percent cloud-based video app, MiTeam Meetings makes all your contacts, data and documents available from any mobile device or desktop computer. You’re no longer tethered to a physical location. Wherever you are, you have easy access to all the details about your latest project.
  • Do away with multiple tabs. With a piecemeal solution, it’s all too common to end up with multiple apps, browsers and tabs open across your desktop or mobile device. MiTeam Meetings eliminates that hassle. One window provides a comprehensive view of your work and access to all your communications.
  • Stay on point. A key benefit of all-in-one solutions is that meetings become more focused and more efficient. When you’re switching among windows, it’s easy to get distracted by unrelated items. But when you never leave the environment, it’s easy to stay on-point and on-task.
  • Close the conversation gaps. How often do you start a conversation in chat, then realize you’d accomplish more with a verbal discussion? With MiTeam Meetings, you can seamlessly transition between talk, chat and even video.
  • Hop into a virtual meeting room. More than one person involved in resolving an escalating issue? You can also start instant meetings right from your chat thread or phone call.
  • Invite all experts―and then some. Many projects require input from a variety of professionals to move to the next level. With its multi-pane view, MiTeam Meetings allows up to 16 of your colleagues to appear on video at once. If more voices are needed, you can invite up to 100 participants to gather on a single meeting bridge.
  • Always be in the right place at the right time. No matter where team members are (a conference room in the next building, a hotel room 400 miles away or a home office on the far coast), they’re able to collaborate seamlessly. MiTeam Meetings allows you to communicate across time zones and geographies as though you were in the same room.
  • Keep everyone on the same page. When you want everyone’s input, passing around a key document by email or paper can feel terribly inefficient. But with file and screen sharing capabilities, you and your team can collaborate in real time. It’s faster and more efficient, and ensures everyone is clear on key decisions and agrees on next steps.
  • Stay on top of work in progress. Some projects have an extended incubation period or are simply ongoing. MiTeam Meetings provides you with a permanent virtual workspace where you can continue to collaborate on documents, in meetings and through conversations.
  • Avoid losing track of ad-hoc decisions. Projects are often complex with many moving parts. With multiple team members contributing, it’s easy to lose the thread of a conversation. With a persistent chat log, you always have simple access to key decisions or important discussions.
  • Be confident you’re securely connected. As you update a team document from the road, the last thing you need to worry about is who’s snooping the airport lounge Internet connection. Mitel has you covered. MiTeam Meetings was developed specifically with mobility and security in mind, so you can be sure your work stays under wraps.

As personal and effective as working face to face, MiTeam Meetings offers plenty of advantages. Providing a true collaboration experience, not only will your team will be more informed and reach decisions faster, but it’ll also set new productivity records.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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A Beginner’s Guide to the Cloud

Core Features Of Cloud Communications

The way you communicate says a lot about your business and who you are as an individual. And yet many business communications systems are anything but personal. They’re one‐size‐fits‐all solutions that your business likely outgrew more than a decade ago.

Moving your communications to the cloud can help your business build around the way you work and not the other way around.

The benefits of cloud communications include:

  • Cost savings from reduced communications complexity and operational expenses and an overall lower cost per user compared to legacy PBX systems
  • Improved employee productivity through a rich suite of easy‐to‐deploy communications capabilities.
  • A truly mobile workforce connected with communications tools and virtual systems across multiple locations that give employees access to resources from anywhere

Many businesses across the globe are in the position of rethinking their business communications and are wondering why go to the cloud now—or how. We’ve outlined below the core basics to know as you plot your course. Let’s start with the primary reason to go cloud.

Integrating Advanced Applications With Your Communications System

Communications shouldn’t just start and stop on your desk phone. It can, and should, be integrated into multiple business processes. Moving communications to the cloud can help you reach greater levels of functionality:

  • Deliver the same phone features of a Fortune 500 company: mobile‐friendly communications, broad selection of end points, automated callbacks, announced queue times, and more—at a cost that businesses of all sizes can afford.
  • Ensure a better customer experience with intelligent call routing that sends customers to the right agent, with the right information, right away.
  • Provide deployment flexibility by only paying for the features that you need, where they’re needed, and custom bundle features as required.
  • Enable versatile communications by giving employees access their phones, unified messaging, chats, apps, and more—on any device.

By communications-enabling critical applications that support key business processes, your mobile workforce can be productive no matter where they are and what device they’re using. Here are some common places to start:

  • Salesforce.com (e.g., Click to Dial, Inbound Calls Auto-pop Customer Records, Find Contacts via Directory Search, Capture Notes and Call Details to the Record)
  • Microsoft Office 365 (e.g., calendar-based presence notifications, Click to Dial, Auto-create Calendar Invitations, voicemail to email integration)

Choosing Communications Deployment Models

Now that we’ve looked at the key reason for moving communications to the cloud, let’s explore how. Until the last several years, there weren’t many options for deploying business communications systems. For most businesses, the traditional deployment model required a substantial investment in on‐site branch exchange (PBX) systems. This model put all the risk on the buyer because it was a long‐term strategic decision that, among other things, potentially impacted:

  • Future business growth and scalability
  • Expandability to multiple locations
  • Agility and ability to support new features and capabilities in communications‐enabled business processes (CEBPs)

During the 1990s and early 2000s, many organizations replaced their legacy PBX systems with more flexible on-site unified communications (UC) systems. This enabled them to converge their voice and data networks and leverage many standard networking components in their telephony infrastructure. At the same time, it offered advanced UC and collaboration capabilities to users.

Cloud communications, the newest option in business communications, is one of the fastest-growing market segments in technology, growing roughly 27 percent year over year.

However, there’s more than one path to cloud communications, and different sized businesses have different requirements that drive their decisions on which cloud model to adopt.

Small Business (1 To 100 Employees)
  • Some integration into other key applications like Salesforce.com and basic contact center may be required
  • Ideal consumers of mobile and public cloud solutions displacing small-end customer on-site platforms
Mid‐Market (100 To 2,500 Employees)
  • Often have sophisticated business process integrations and contact center requirements
  • Interested in public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions preferring private networking instead of over-the‐top (OTT) solutions
Large Enterprise (2,500 To 10,000 Employees)
  • High interest in private cloud migration and hybrid cloud solutions to leverage existing investment
  • Integration into larger IT framework is a key consideration
Extra‐Large Enterprise (10,000‐Plus Employees)
  • Focused on solutions that can be effectively deployed to a large user community by emphasizing role‐based user types and multiple location scalability
  • Security, scalability, and third‐party integrations are key considerations
  • High interest in private and hybrid cloud migration strategies

Public Hosted Cloud Communications

Public cloud is the primary cloud communications deployment model for small and medium businesses (SMBs) and is a popular option. It can be easily procured on a per-user, per-month basis and can be combined with private network connections, although it’s often used over a basic Internet connection or runs on an “over the top” (OTT) service. Most public cloud communications services include contact center features and integrate with popular business applications.

Public cloud communications offerings can be delivered with private networking for increased security and reliability.

Private Cloud Communications

Private cloud communications deployment models are most popular with enterprises, key verticals, and government agencies. Private cloud communications take advantage of cloud benefits while achieving maximum levels of security and control for the organization.

Private cloud can be managed by a solution provider and often includes recurring cloud revenue components. Some executive decision makers may prefer the CapEx investments and perpetual licensing in private cloud models, instead of the recurring OpEx and licensing fees in public cloud models, for various financial reasons.

With the availability of leading public cloud platforms like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, some innovative companies are making their communications solutions available off these platforms. This is in a way the best of both worlds, as you get the security, compliance and reliability of the leading public cloud platforms and the feature rich functionality in your cloud-based communications solution.

Hybrid Cloud Communications

The hybrid cloud leverages existing on‐site communications investments, increases resiliency, and enables cloud management benefits and efficiencies of scale. A hybrid cloud communications strategy is often adopted by organizations as part of a transition strategy, from a traditional on‐site phone system to a more robust cloud‐based unified communications solution that provides unlimited scalability and advanced business capabilities.

A hybrid cloud communications strategy can also be adopted as an end strategy, rather than simply a transition strategy, offering organizations the advantages of both public and private clouds. For example, an organization may choose to maintain complete control of certain aspects of its communications infrastructure while leveraging the resiliency, management, and scalability benefits of the cloud. In these cases, primary communications functions may be handled on‐site in a private cloud deployment, while overflow call volume and business continuity/disaster recovery is handled in the public cloud.

Hybrid cloud communications favor large campus environments with geographically distributed locations. This model is embraced by IT organizations with limited resources and coverage, as it provides unified management tools to manage users across all sites.

Who’s In Control?

When considering cloud, we can’t ignore the question of outsourcing. The old IT adage was that outsourcing allowed firms to focus on their core business, rather than on technology. While that seemed like a reasonable proposition at the time, the mistake that many firms made was in giving up the control of their technology and their ability to differentiate themselves in a competitive global market. This is particularly true of firms that went well beyond IT outsourcing to farm out their customer service, sales, design and, in some cases, manufacturing processes.

Cloud computing (more specifically cloud communications) outsources the communications infrastructure, not the business processes. By simplifying network operations—such as managing firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), and session initiation protocol (SIP) trunks—and eliminating server administration, moving to a cloud communications provider enables businesses to reallocate IT staff to responsibilities that actually do create competitive differentiation and business value.

Make Your Move

The mobile, ultra-integrated way we function today makes it a natural choice to integrate voice with other processes within the business world. We’re already doing it in our personal life (think WhatsApp and Snapchat); it’s high time we reaped the rewards of in within the walls of our workplaces.

Although the benefits of cloud communications are clear, the way to get there is as individual as the pathways and folds of your internal infrastructure. Make your move to the cloud based on the knowledge, support and ease that comes with a plan based on your specific business culture and needs.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Infographic: Business (Communications) Continuity

MiContact Center Business 9.2. Powering Customer-Centric Organisations (1)

We have experienced it all over recent months, with travel, weather, and now the Covid-19 virus threatening our personal routines and the integrity of our business performance.

Whilst we cannot prevent these issues, we can consider how we can use what we have to help mitigate the risk, disruption, and costs. Having already invested in a Mitel Platform, you will already have a comprehensive range of “flexible working” options available to implement right now.

To explore your options for teleworking or mobile working, please contact your Account Manager.

If you do not have contact details, please contact us at info@4sightcomms.com with your company name and contact details and we will get straight back to you.

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16 Ways to Help Remote Workers Feel Like They’re in the Conference Room

We’ve all been there. The frustrating meeting: disorganized, without an agenda and far too many attendees – both in the room and on the phone. When you’re done, you feel like you’ve wasted an hour of your life.

For remote employees, it’s even worse. Because they’re not physically at the conference table, they miss the non-verbal cues and side conversations, while those attending in person often forget who’s on the other end of the speaker phone. It’s no wonder that people multitask during conference calls.

The problem is you need remote workers to contribute. You need their information, knowledge and feedback. Think of a sales manager in another state who can share what customers are saying. Or a franchise owner who’s identified problems with a new point-of-sale system.

To make your remote colleagues feel connected and valued, here are 16 ways you can help them feel like they’re in the conference room along with everyone else.

1. Make It Mobile-First.

The first step toward changing this dynamic is to provide remote employees with the right tools. They need to the ability to join meetings from any device – mobile, tablet, desktop – and any operating system. A cloud hosted phone system, like MiCloud Connect, puts them in the room with a single click and makes it easy to collaborate with colleagues.

2. Ensure A Strong Connection.

Nothing is more aggravating than a poor connection that makes it difficult to hear others or contribute to the conversation. A cloud phone – a Voice over IP (VoIP) based business telephone platform – enables your remote colleagues to connect to any conference call with one click, from any device, via the Internet.

3. Set A Clear Agenda.

It’s been said many times but it’s worth saying again. Distributing an agenda days before the meeting is essential. Choose a unified communications solution with a built-in agenda capability that enables you to send the meeting plan with the invite. This way remote employees aren’t at a disadvantage. Everyone is on the same page from the get-go.

4.Choose The Right Time.

A convenient time for participants in one time zone might be the kids’ bedtime for participants in another. This is a common complaint of remote employees. Everyone in the room thinks 3 p.m. is a perfect time for the next meeting, but the remote colleague is in the awkward position of reminding the group that it’s not a good time for them. It’s the job of the meeting leader to be conscious of this and proactively find times that work for (mostly) everyone. In some organizations, meetings rotate times so that everyone “shares the pain.”

5. Share Expectations For Participation.

With the agenda, let participants know you expect everyone to come prepared to fully contribute to the conversation, no matter where they’re located. Ask everyone to read through the agenda and reach out to the meeting leader with any questions or feedback.

6. Invite The Right People.

Not surprisingly, conference calls with too many participants are less engaging. Stanford University Professor Robert Sutton found that the magic number for a productive team is five to six people, no more than 10. But success is about more than a number. A sure way to increase inclusion and participation on a conference call is to have the right people involved.

7. Establish Meeting Ground Rules.

When you’re calling in remotely, it often feels like you have to fight to be heard. Set ground rules for how people should communicate during the call. For instance, one person speaks at a time with no interruptions. Or ask your team what they feel the ground rules should be. A remote colleague might suggest, for instance, that everyone say their name before speaking since she isn’t in the room. This also serves to remind the people in the conference room that remote colleagues are on the call.

8. Start With Introductions.

So simple, yet so important. Ask everyone to say “hello,” give their name and role, and explain why they’re on the call. Small talk can help make everyone feel included, especially remote colleagues. If the call’s a video call, make sure everyone is on video (not audio). If someone can’t be on video, ask them to post a photo of themselves.

9. Invite Participation.

Since it’s easy to forget who’s calling in, it’s the job of the facilitator to make sure everyone contributes. Keep track of who has spoken – and who has not. Ask direct questions to those who haven’t contributed like, “Ashley, what do you think of this idea?” Use a cloud business communications service, like MiCloud Connect, that enables participants to give their input via cloud collaboration tools such as chat, IM or polling.

10. Manage Speaking Time.

One of the hardest tasks for a meeting leader is controlling who speaks and for how long. This is particularly difficult for remote colleagues, who often find they can’t get a word in edgewise. The meeting leader must be aware of this dynamic and counteract it. For example, if one participant is rambling, the leader can interrupt gently, acknowledging and reflecting back their contribution before moving the discussion on, or asking for input from another participant.

11. Speak Clearly.

When speaking to someone face-to-face, you get a lot more information. Speech clarity isn’t as important because the listener is picking up non-verbal cues, too. That dynamic is missing for those not in the room. Therefore, it’s important that the facilitator speak clearly and slowly, with more pauses to make sure everyone is following.

12. Make It Visual.

Use collaborative conference software that allows anyone on the call to share their screen. Use visuals to keep everyone engaged. Ask different participants to share documents.

13. Break It Up.

When planning the meeting, be conscious of keeping it interactive. For instance, stop after three slides to ask questions. Assign different items on the agenda to each participant. In this way, the remote worker feels like an important contributor to the meeting.

14. Rotate Roles.

Effective meetings need more than a leader. Other roles include a notetaker and a time-keeper to keep the agenda on track while the leader focuses on content and presentation. A good practice is to rotate these roles. Sitting in the passenger seat is very different from being the driver. When meeting participants share responsibilities, they feel more ownership and engagement. This is particularly important for remote workers, who often feel peripheral.

15. Create A Shared Workspace.

Remote employees need access to the same information as everyone else on the team. In the past that meant dialing into the mainframe. With the cloud, it’s so much easier. Choose a cloud business phone system that provides a virtual shared workspace containing all documents and communications pertaining to the team’s efforts. With a click, remote workers can see all the team’s work in one place.

16. Record The Call.

Sometimes colleagues have to drop out of a call early, or something comes up that prevents them from attending. Use a cloud-hosted communications and collaboration solution to record the call and store it in the shared workspace. Drop the meeting minutes in the workspace, as well.

Conference calls have always been challenging, but with more team members working remotely, it’s essential for businesses to make sure they contribute and feel included. Choose a cloud business communications solution that gives you the tools to create an inclusive, collaborative workspace.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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