Tag - Cloud Communications

10 Ways MiCloud Connect Makes Your Job Easier

When the effects of COVID-19 hit hard in March 2020, businesses had to make a lot of decisions very quickly. Many of those decisions were related to IT — how businesses could enable communications and collaboration across an entirely, or almost entirely, remote workforce almost overnight. 

Those fast IT decisions allowed businesses to remain operational while peoples’ movements were restricted. However, in most cases, the communications and collaboration solutions implemented were quick fixes designed to address an immediate problem. They were never intended to be long-term solutions, and they most likely were not the solutions businesses would have chosen if they had more time to prepare and evaluate other options. 

Now that it looks like most businesses will be supporting a mixed on-site and off-site workforce for the foreseeable future, it’s time to put those long-term strategies and solutions in place.  

Cloud-based communications and collaboration technologies are ideal long-term solutions that increase employee efficiency and productivity. They give you new ways to serve customers. And you have the flexibility to add new features in a cost-effective way as your requirements evolve. 

Mitel MiCloud Connect is an easy-to-use communications, collaboration and contact center service that’s built on Google Cloud. It’s a great example of how an all-in-one, cloud-based solution makes your life easier as you shift to permanently support a hybrid workforce. 

Here are 10 ways Mitel MiCloud Connect lets you simplify communications, collaboration and customer service across your organization: 

1. Rely On A Single Hub For All Communications And Collaboration 

Mitel MiCloud Connect gives your teams access to voice, video, chat, customer engagement capabilities and more from a single, consistent user interface. With a unified approach to communications, collaboration and customer service, there’s far less risk team members will lose track of conversations or important project details.

2. Collaborate From Anywhere 

The days when all of your team members sat near each other and shared project documents locally are long gone. However, with MiCloud Connect, your teams remain seamlessly connected as if they were in the same location. They can quickly and easily chat, collaborate on documents and share information no matter where they are. And they can do it all within a single, virtual workspace.  

3. Smoothly Elevate Conversations 

Sometimes, conversations that start as text need to transition to voice so people can clarify points of view, ask follow-up questions and accelerate information exchanges. Seamlessly transitioning the conversation from text to voice is no problem when your teams can start an ad-hoc meeting with one click, then follow through on the conversation by assigning tasks. 

4. Get Voice Messages Faster With Visual Voicemail 

Everyone who has been trapped in lengthy meetings knows the sense of dread that comes from anticipating the flurry of urgent voicemail messages that likely awaits. Visual Voicemail eliminates this stress, and allows your team members to respond to their most urgent messages faster. Voicemail messages are transcribed and sent to email so they can be quickly scanned for urgency and replied to as needed — even during meetings. 

5. Instantly See Who’s Available To Help 

When your team members are engaged in an important conversation with a customer, partner or supplier and they need additional information, they need that information right away. They don’t have time to try contacting a list of people who may or may not be available. With access to employees’ presence information, every team member can see at a glance who’s open and available to respond, and who is not, so they can reach out to the right person at the right time.  

6. Stay On Track With Timed Meeting Agendas 

Meetings without agendas are typically overly long, and even then, there are often important points that don’t get covered. When your team members can set the agenda before the meeting, assign times to agenda items and share the agenda with all meeting participants in advance, meetings stay on track and are far more productive. 

7. Increase Productivity On-Site And Off-Site With Mobile Apps 

It used to be that working off-site was a frustrating experience because people didn’t have access to all of the communications tools they relied on when they were in the office. Now, with more of your team members working remotely, giving everyone the same communications experience no matter where they are is more important than ever.  

MiCloud Connect’s mobile apps let your team members take their office experience with them. Everyone, in every location, can join meetings with a single click and no need to enter participant codes. 

8. Integrate Your Phone System With Your Customer Relationship Management System 

Your sales teams rely heavily on their phones and your customer relationship management (CRM) system, so why not integrate these two extremely valuable tools? Now your sales team members can make and take phone calls from within the CRM system. And there’s no need to follow up with dreaded data entry tasks. When sales team members answer their phones, to-do items are automatically added to their lists in the CRM system.   

9. Integrate Your Phone System With Microsoft Outlook And Google Workspace 

Integrating your phone system with your Microsoft Outlook or Google Workspace software lets you bring the same seamless experience your sales teams enjoy in the CRM system to your entire workforce. Now there’s no need for people to think in conversational “silos.” They’re simply communicating in the most efficient and effective way for the conversation underway with no need to switch applications. 

10. Align Solution Costs With Evolving Business Requirements 

With MiCloud Connect, you can choose the communications and collaboration features and functions that are the best fit for your teams and business requirements today, then add capabilities as your needs evolve. MiCloud Connect features and functions are available in multiple tiers with flexible pricing structures so you’re never paying for features you don’t need. And there are minimal changes to your communications infrastructure costs. 

Discover MiCloud Connect 
With Mitel MiCloud Connect, your teams have the ultimate in communications and collaboration reliability, flexibility and simplicity — today and tomorrow. And you have the peace of mind knowing the solution your teams rely on is backed by the Mitel Customer Satisfaction Guarantee. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


Your Top Cloud Migration Questions Answered: Part 3

In the final blog of three-part series on your top cloud migration questions, we focus on answers to your questions related to migrating from MiVoice Office 250 to MiCloud Connect, and how Mitel ensures cloud solution compliance, security and availability and interoperability with other vendors’ products and solutions. 

Why Should I Migrate From Mitel MiVoice Office 250 To MiCloud Connect? 

When you migrate from MiVoice Office 250 to MiCloud Connect, you have the best of both worlds: The ability to retain all of your current features and functions, and the opportunity to unlock a whole new set of capabilities that will help your teams work more efficiently and effectively.  

For example, you can continue using your Star application for call routing and auto attendant functionality because MiCloud Connect provides feature parity with the app. At the same time, you’ll be able to access more advanced functionality through your existing Mitel 6900 series phones than you can when you’re using MiVoice Office 250.  

MiCloud Connect enables a more integrated and improved experience with your 6900 series phones than MiVoice Office 250 does in terms of softphone functionality, mobility and other features. When you transition to MiCloud Connect, you can also take advantage of key capabilities your 6900 series phones support, such as the ability to send emergency notifications to all phones at once and to display desktop alerts. 

Does Migrating To MiCloud Connect Allow My Business To Maintain Compliance With Industry And Corporate Requirements For Public Safety, Data Security, Privacy And System Availability? 

Yes. MiCloud Connect is designed from the ground up to provide the highest possible levels of industry compliance, data protection and system availability.

We’ll start with public safety. MiCloud Connect complies with RAY BAUM’s Act, which mandates that 911 calls made from non-fixed-line phones must include “dispatchable location” data. Dispatchable location data includes a street address as well as additional information, such as a floor, suite, quadrant or room number that helps first responders quickly and easily locate callers within office buildings, hotels, apartment buildings and other large facilities.  

Compliance with RAY BAUM’s Act is extremely important for public safety when multitenant phone systems, apps and cellphones are used to call 911, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it in the near future. As of January 6, 2022, system vendors and telecom companies will be required to comply with RAY BAUM’s Act, so we’re ahead of the curve from that perspective. 

Multiple layers of security and reliability has been built into MiCloud Connect to ensure customers in every industry can meet the most rigorous requirements. 

MiCloud Connect is built on Google Cloud Platform, which provides some of the highest levels of data security and system availability in the industry. Google Cloud Platform is also certified as meeting Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards and Service Organization Control Type II (SOC 2) requirements to meet the needs of heavily regulated industries such as healthcare, government, education and finance. 

It’s also important to know that MiCloud Connect runs in Tier 3 data centers, which provide redundant servers, storage, network links and other IT components. Each component has multiple independent sources of power and cooling so one source can take over from another if needed. Together, these built-in redundancies significantly increase reliability and decrease the risk your MiCloud Connect solution will become unavailable.  

To support customers who are operating in mission-critical environments, we also offer dedicated network service options such as connectivity in the form of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) or a private MPLS link.  

And finally, MiCloud Connect software is constantly audited to uncover any potential security vulnerabilities. If a vulnerability is detected, a patch is applied as soon as possible to mitigate the risk that data will be compromised or lost. 

How Is Support For MiCloud Connect Handled? 

All software upgrades are taken care of by us, and you have 24/7 access to a help desk with knowledgeable staff who can answer your questions and assist you with any problems. If it makes your life easier, we can even program a “Help” button on your phone so you can connect directly to the help desk. 

If I Migrate To MiCloud Connect, Can I Still Use The Technologies I’ve Purchased From Other Vendors? 

Here’s a brief summary about interoperability between MiCloud Connect and other vendors’ products and solutionsones we’re asked about most often: 

  • Cisco, and other vendors’ VPN products: Technically, we don’t need to worry about VPN products. Our applications and our phones are secured using proprietary mechanisms, which means you can take a phone home, plug it in to your home router, and it will connect back into the cloud system in a secure and reliable way. The same is true for our applications, so there shouldn’t be any need for a VPN. 
  • Polycomm phones: There’s quite a bit of flexibility here. You can reuse your 5000, 6000, 7000 and 8000 series Polycomm phones with MiCloud Connect. You can also add analog telephone adaptors (ATAs) that provide additional functionality. 
  • Paging equipment: We use technology from Alogsystems to interoperate with paging systems and meet your paging requirements. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


Your Top Cloud Migration Questions Answered: Part 2

In this blog, we follow up on part 1 in our series with answers to more of your top cloud migration questions. Our second installment focuses on the specifics of handset migration, and how migration to MiCloud Connect affects your communications features, functions and configuration capabilities.  

What If My Current Handsets Are Not Compatible With MiCloud Connect? Do I Have To Purchase New Ones?

Right now, we’re offering a number of incentives to help more of our customers migrate from their on-premises Mitel solution to MiCloud Connect, which is our flagship global cloud solution. And there are great incentives related to handset upgrades. 

In North America, we include a free handset upgrade for customers who aren’t already using compatible phones, such as Mitel 6900 series or 400 series IP phones. We even include free shipping for the upgraded handsets.  

We’re also offering other incentives, such as free installation, free implementation and special pricing for monthly subscriptions to further reduce the costs of transitioning to the cloud. 

For details about all of our various incentives to help with cloud migration, reach out to your Mitel partner, and they’ll be happy to provide the information you need. 

Will I Be Able To Retain My Current Communications Functionality If I Transition To MiCloud Connect? 

Absolutely. After you migrate from your Mitel on-premises solution to MiCloud Connect, you will be able to do everything you were doing before. Plus, you’ll have access to a world of new capabilities that are available through MiCloud Connect. 

We can maintain all of your existing functionality after the transition because the MiCloud Connect platform is very versatile. We can even implement all of your current features and functions in the same way they’re implemented in your current Mitel solution. For example, if your current solution is set up to alert technicians when a voicemail message is left, or to escalate voicemails to multiple devices or email addresses, we can build that same functionality into MiCloud Connect. Even your choices for music while people are on hold can be loaded into the MiCloud Connect platform so the user experience is identical. 

How Do You Manage The Cloud Migration Process? 

We’ve put a number of people and processes in place to ensure we complete every cloud migration in the most effective and efficient way possible and deliver all of the requested features and functions. Our dedicated team of cloud migration experts covers the complete migration path so every aspect of your transition to the cloud is considered and addressed. 

We also use tools that help to automate and accelerate your transition to the cloud. In fact, we’re testing migration tools in the field right now, and they’re getting tremendous feedback.  

The migration tools we work with automatically detect all of the functionality that’s being used on the network and generate an audit report. You can then confirm the report includes all of the functionality you currently have and determine whether there are any capabilities you no longer need. Once you’ve verified the list of features and functions you want to continue using, we create the cloud versions of those same capabilities. 

The migration tools also help us to quickly and easily replicate your current feature set. For example, we can extract details about button programming on your phones and how button labels and phone lines are set up, then simply upload that information into the new cloud system. These kinds of efficiencies dramatically reduce the amount of time from discovery to go live. 

By making decisions based on the audit report, you can ensure you’re only paying for the functionality you’re actively using and that the number of users you’re paying for matches your current staffing numbers. We’ve had cases where customers had purchased 100 licenses at one point, no longer have that many users but didn’t get around to cleaning up the system programming. Migrating to the cloud is an excellent opportunity to rectify those types of discrepancies. 

Can I Combine My On-Premises PBX And Phones With Applications That Are Hosted In The Cloud?

We do have cloud-based applications, such as Mitel MiTeam Meetings, which allows you to take advantage of seamless, real-time video conferencing and collaboration on a subscription basis. But, in the end, we’re trying to get our customers to the point where they can access all of the available cloud features and functions at an affordable rate and turn them on and off as needed. 

Fully migrating to the cloud gives you considerably more flexibility to meet different users’ requirements for voice, chat, video, file sharing and other features, and to accommodate different work styles. You can also mix and match service plans. We don’t limit you to one subscription for the entire company.  

Can I Manage All Of My Users And Locations And Make Programming Changes To MiCloud Connect? 

Because MiCloud Connect is provided as a managed service, you have a lot of flexibility. These tasks can be managed for you by Mitel, 4Sight, or you can take care of these tasks yourself. It just depends on how you want to set up the service.   

There’s also a lot of flexibility in terms of how individual settings can be configured. For example, permissions can be set in the way that best matches your users and the way your business functions. You may want to set permissions company-wide, based on users’ locations or their role in the organization.   

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


Your Top Cloud Migration Questions Answered: Part 1

Every year, more businesses are migrating to communications solutions that are delivered from the cloud instead of using traditional on-premises equipment. If you were to take a snapshot in time, it would show that 54 percent of businesses are currently looking to move to the cloud. That translates to about 23 million individual users.

How does cloud migration help future proof communications? The following points will help you understand what cloud communications mean for your business.

Why Are Businesses Moving Away From On-Premises Communications Solutions?

Businesses are looking for different capabilities than they’ve had in the past. They want their staff to be able to work from different locations. They want to be mobile, and they want software and tools that help them better engage with customers. 

There’s also the “millennial factor.” There’s a whole generation of individuals who prefer to send a text message or have a chat session rather than pick up the phone and call someone. Businesses need to support all of these different types of communications channels.

For businesses that are expanding and merging with other companies, cloud-based communications are a great way to provide a consistent set of capabilities to new teams, support new branch offices and engage with customers in different regions.

Another key driver is the need to streamline operations to focus on the core business and ensure processes are aligned with communications tools and interaction styles.

And finally, when it’s time to refresh, renew or replace existing on-premises solutions, the cloud just makes a lot of sense. 

What Makes Cloud Communications Solutions Future Proof?

A truly future-proof cloud communications solution delivers the best of everything:

  • A consistent set of features and functions no matter where people are
  • An intuitive and simple, but powerful, user experience across all features and functions
  • The flexibility to mix and match new and advanced features with essential features and to change feature bundles and licensing as needed
  • The ability to integrate with customer relationship management and other backend systems
  • Extremely high reliability
  • Affordability
  • No downtime during installation and implementation

It sounds like a wish list, but it’s all possible. Mitel MiCloud Connect allows teams to work from anywhere using voice, chat, video, file sharing and other capabilities. It’s very reliable, provides a consistent user experience across mobile phones, desk phones and desktop apps and it’s available through flexible and interchangeable subscriptions.

How Are Cloud Communications More Cost-Effective Than On-Premises Solutions That Are Paid For?

The key is to compare total cost of ownership for on-premises and cloud solutions.

With on-premises solutions, you may have already paid for the hardware and licenses, but you have to consider the many additional costs these solutions require. Those costs include:

  • Telecom services
  • Ongoing license renewals
  • Ongoing PBX maintenance and upgrades
  • Space, power and cooling costs for backroom equipment
  • In-house technical staff to maintain, administer and manage the solution

With a cloud solution, there are very few fees to consider and no hidden fees. You pay your subscription fee, the costs of the handsets and connectivity you need and that’s it. Even if you bring in new hires after the cloud solution is deployed, the cost of training them is included in the monthly subscription fee.

If you compare the total cost of an on-premises solution over its lifetime to the total cost of a cloud solution over the same period of time, you’ll see why we say cloud solutions are the more cost-effective approach.

In fact, we have models that show there’s a minimum 60 percent savings in the total cost of ownership with cloud communications. If you’d like to see the models, please reach out to us today and we will be happy to talk you through all the details.

How Do We Roll Out Cloud Communications Across Multiple Sites, Offices Or Locations?

We have a number of technologies and processes in place that allow us to be as flexible as possible during rollouts. For example, depending on the connectivity that’s being used, there are different ways for cloud solutions to communicate with legacy systems. 

In addition, we can provision cloud solutions to support many users, but not activate all of them or charge you for them until they’re needed. This makes it easy to add users at different sites when it makes sense. The licensing flexibility we provide is particularly helpful to businesses with seasonal requirements where they may need to give more people access to communications services around holiday periods or in the summer.

We can also do phased migrations and staged rollouts based on different sites, office locations, sections of offices, departments and other criteria. The users involved in each phase are fully trained in how the solution works and how phones can be programmed so they’re ready to start using the solution as soon as it’s live. 

How Does 4Sight Handle The Transition From On-Premises Solutions To Cloud Solutions?

We have a huge amount of experience helping companies make their move to the cloud. We understand what works and what doesn’t. 

We’ve put a lot of thought and effort into how we can make the transition to the cloud as seamless as possible for our customers and how we can protect their existing investments. For example, if you have Mitel 6900 series or 400 series IP phones, you can reuse those phones with Mitel MiCloud Connect. 

There are a number of other ways we simplify your transition to the cloud, and we truly believe no one makes your move to the cloud easier than we do.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


How Do Hybrid Workplaces Boost Employee Engagement?

The world came to a halt owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced most of us to try out a new working arrangement. That is when work-from-home and remote working policies came into consideration.

However, some jobs require fieldwork and cannot support the work from home setup. In such a scenario, a hybrid workplace can strike a balance between the two.

This working model has enormous advantages. It gives employees a sense of freedom and fulfilment at work. But, there are some challenges that employers and employees are facing for the first time. At the top of this priority list are employee engagement and employee wellbeing

But let’s first reflect on the definition and advantages of a hybrid workplace.

Meaning Of A Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace supports a distributed workforce.  It includes both in-office and remote workers. It is a scenario in which employees occasionally work at the office and complete the rest of their work from home at their convenience.

Advantages Of A Hybrid Workplace.

  1. The hybrid workforce is more productive, promotes holistic well-being, and thus more economical.
  2. It attracts employees of all ages and retains them by enhancing job satisfaction.
  3. Both your employees and your company will profit financially from a hybrid workplace. You save money on operating expenses. Your employees save money since they don’t have to commute to work or buy lunch.
  4. By reducing the number of people in the office during a pandemic, a hybrid workplace is a great safety protocol.

The Hidden Traps Of A Hybrid Workplace

It Is Difficult For Women, Digital Introverts And Junior Executives.

The pandemic particularly hit women’s lives massively. Because of the pressures of home-schooling their children, many mothers chose to be furloughed. Their male counterparts, on the other hand, continued to work full-time, although remotely.

In the hybrid work model, there is a significant risk that men’s and women’s attendance at physical workplaces will be imbalanced. It will have more women choosing to work remotely for a longer time. As a result, women are likely to fall behind in promotion possibilities and might lead to an increased gender pay gap.

Meanwhile, extroverts have a greater chance of fitting in at hybrid workplaces. They are more likely to wish to return to work. But introverts would most likely want to continue working from home. This division of different workplaces runs the risk of creating a digital divide.

The employees who work in the office can participate and contribute more effectively. But those who work from home fall behind and are side-lined.

Introducing and nurturing new talent is a daunting challenge in the hybrid workplace. There are several advantages to working in a physical location that would be lost or lessened in a hybrid setting.

For example-

  • They will face the inability to understand the organizational structure and culture.
  • They will have limited exposure to their colleagues and leaders.
  • It will affect trust due to a lack of communication and team-building activities.

Lack Of Proper Equipment Impacts Productivity.

Equipment can range from laptops, stationeries, mobile phones, office supplies to internet connections and ergonomic furniture.

Let’s not deny, we’ve all worked from our beds during the pandemic. Numerous studies suggest that working from a bed can be harmful to both the mind and the body. Poor working posture can cause headaches and back pain, affecting productivity.

When most companies provide this equipment and supplies to in-person employees, refusing to provide or reimburse remote and hybrid employees for these expenses is a clear sign of a hostile work environment.

There Is Ever-Increasing Isolation And Resentment Among Employees.

Social isolation is an evil that comes along with a hybrid workplace. This isolation is often caused by employees’ feelings of exclusion rather than a lack of engagement with their co-workers. According to a 2020 Igloo survey, nearly 60% of all teleworkers say they don’t have access to specific information because managers shared it in person. Furthermore, 55% say they’ve been left out of meetings because they aren’t physically present.

Long working hours (a supposed by-product of remote work) that result in overwork can also lead to genuine burnout for these employees

Eurofound study discovered that mobile employees have much greater stress levels. For example, 41% of them regard themselves as “very stressed,” compared to only 25% of those who do not work remotely. Furthermore, 42% of teleworkers (at home or on the go) say they wake up multiple times per night (compared to 29 percent of those who do not telework).

A Hybrid Workplace, If Not Appropriately Managed, Can Negatively Impact Employee Engagement.

It also has its own set of other complexities, particularly when it comes to fostering employee engagement. It erodes the proven organizational norms that trust, cohesion and shared experiences are necessary for culture and performance.

It calls for the creation of two distinct cultures: one in the office and one online. As a result, managers may find it difficult to supervise and engage their distributed teams.

The Top 4 Ways To Keep Employees Engaged In The Hybrid Workplace

1.Encourage Creativity
We must be creative in bringing people together to facilitate a high level of connectivity amongst distributed workforces. Managers should check on employees to learn about their interests, hobbies, or how they spent their weekends. Contests and activities like a fun zoom icebreaker session can help employees feel more connected and foster team bonding. Doing these is especially crucial for younger generations who look for meaning, purpose and connection in their work.

2.Provide The Right Equipment
Even if employees work from home, organizations must be conscious of their working environment. Simple things like their desk setup, availability of a high-end microphone or speaker, and adequate lighting can enhance the employee experience.  It must promote comfort and alleviate medical issues for remote workers. So, leaders must provide employees with the necessary equipment ahead of time.

3.Minimize Burnout
We need to help employees set limits, especially since the current work-life balance is practically non-existent. Advise them to turn off email and work notifications after working hours and encourage them to take breaks during the day. Encouraging them to participate in some wellness activities can help them feel and perform better.

We can minimize burnout by having well-defined meeting agendas with specific goals. Identify the people who need to attend a meeting, for example. It can make the most efficient use of everyone’s time while also making each employee feel valued and productive.

4.Prioritize Employee Recognition
Workplace incentives and perks must be well-structured to engage the employees. It would help if you recognized extraordinary effort, new ideas, team contributions and leadership by implementing a great employee recognition program.

As new technologies emerge, the hybrid workplace will continue to evolve. However, the ultimate goal that every hybrid workplace should strive for will revolve around the above employee engagement practices.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


Soul Searching: What Do You Bring to the UC Vendor Relationship?

As more businesses begin to adopt unified communications (UC) technology, it can be tempting to follow the crowd. If a particular vendor or solution seems to be working well for other organizations, shouldn’t it work for your company too?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “Don’t be so sure.” A one-size-fits-all approach to unified communications may meet some of your needs today (if you’re lucky), but don’t you and your employees deserve to have all of your needs met? How can you be sure you’re picking a UC vendor that will help your company succeed today, tomorrow and 10 years from now?

While it’s important to carefully review the different providers in the unified communications space, making the right choice actually begins by looking within your own organization. Assuming you know what your employees need is dangerous. Companies need to ask the tough questions about what’s working, what isn’t and what’s really needed in order to come to the vendor table prepared and properly armed to make the best choice for a relationship that will stand the test of time.

If you’re not sure how to get started, we have five questions to ask to make sure you dig deep within the soul of your business and uncover all of your communications needs.

Unified Communications Analysis: What Do You Really Need?

The questions below can help your business get to the bottom of what your communications needs really are. Be sure to involve stakeholders from all parts of the business when seeking answers to these questions. Otherwise, you risk missing out on important information that can help lead you to the ideal UC vendor.

What Type Of Workforce Do You Have?
If you’re like most companies, your workforce changed a lot over the past year and a half. While only 30% of employees worked remotely before the pandemic, 73% of employees want flexible remote options to remain on the table in the post-pandemic world. Many companies are permanently adopting a hybrid model, giving employees the flexibility to switch between working from home and in the office. The type of workforce you have has a direct correlation to the communications tools you need. For example, capabilities such as video, voice and chat in one integrated solution, web and mobile applications and a single point of access for all communications tools makes it easy for employees to work from anywhere and from any device.

How does your team prefer to work?
After steadily increasing over the past ten years, employee engagement decreased from 22% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 thanks to – you guessed it – COVID-19. Not surprisingly, the daily stress felt by workers increased from 38% to 43% during the same period. Believe it or not, unified communications can help with both engagement and workplace stress, so managers and executives need to take this into account when thinking about requirements. Our suggestion? Go straight to the source and poll your employees. Do they want access to shared workspaces for easier collaboration on projects? Is Outlook and calendar integration important? Where does a mobile-first design rank? When you take the time to find out which communications tools and features your staff most desire, you increase your chances of picking a solution that can improve engagement and make the workday less stressful.

How important is security?
Every organization needs to keep security a top priority, but it’s even more critical for companies handling highly sensitive information or subject to certain regulations. Document all of your security needs, so you can be sure to select a vendor who can check off every box. MiCloud Connect and Teamwork from Mitel, for example, are built on trusted public cloud, delivering industry-leading reliability and security to deliver uptime as well as SOC2 and HIPAA compliance. 

Do You Want To Leverage Existing Infrastructure?
Your current setup is unique to your business. What works for another company (even one in your own industry) isn’t going to necessarily work for you. Do you need your UC solution to make use of your existing systems? Are you already in the cloud or do you need more time? Answers to these questions can help eliminate vendors who may try to force you to rip out your existing infrastructure and migrate fully to the cloud on day one. Perhaps you need a vendor like 4Sight – one who will work with you to create a communications solution that works with your needs today while building a solid foundation for the future and lets you grow and evolve at your own pace.

What Does The Future Look Like?
You probably have a vision for the future of your business, but if you’re truly honest with yourself, you’ll admit your plans may change. It’s important to discuss your future plans with potential UC vendors, but it’s just as critical to think about how you can plan for the unpredictable. How can a vendor support your future goals and the possibility of them shifting? Perhaps you need a solution that can easily scale up or down as the market changes. Or maybe you need a vendor that’s always looking ahead for you, anticipating your future communications needs.

While your business may be eager to jump into a relationship with the first unified communications vendor you speak to, a wiser approach is to turn inward first. Asking the right questions of your own staff can help organizations discover what they really need in a UC provider – so you can be confident during the selection process. With a little bit of soul searching, you can find a match made in communications heaven. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


Five Ways to Ensure Your Employees Have What They Need Post-Pandemic

If there’s one lesson the COVID-19 pandemic taught people and businesses globally it’s that everything can change in an instant. While we can’t anticipate whether we’ll ever again face changes as sudden and severe as the pandemic introduced, most of us are taking steps to ensure we’re better prepared to handle unexpected events in the future. 

For businesses looking at the next steps for success, there’s a lot at stake. Many businesses experienced lengthy and costly disruptions during the pandemic, and they’ll want to do everything they can to mitigate the risks of future disruptions. To help cement their long-term success, every business will need to ensure their teams have solutions that allow them to work efficiently and effectively, no matter what unforeseen circumstances come their way.

As you evaluate where you are today and where you need to go, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind.

Start By Evaluating What Worked Well And What Didn’t

To cope with the pandemic, most businesses were forced to make unbudgeted investments to spontaneously support a vastly larger remote workforce. Some of those investments will be worth maintaining, while others met a short-term need, but now need to be updated or replaced with more cost-effective and flexible solutions that will increase productivity long-term.

As you’re making your assessments, take a broad perspective. Look at the solutions and processes your teams are using today, but also consider what you’re missing, and what you might need in the future. An employee survey can be a good way to identify pros, cons and gaps in your current solutions. Your teams’ responses will help you determine:

  • Which solutions are used most often, by which team members and for what purposes.
  • Whether generational work styles and preferences are affecting solution usage.
  • The types of solutions that will deliver maximum benefit to your employees today and longer term.
  • Whether there are opportunities to update the solutions in use with more advanced and tightly integrated technologies, or whether it makes sense to replace existing solutions with more future-friendly technologies.

Assume You’ll Be Permanently Supporting A Hybrid Workforce

In the post-pandemic world, many offices will never again experience all staff working on-site at the same time. At least some percentage of the workforce will always be working remotely — and the mix of on-site and remote workers may change daily. 

This shift means businesses will need more meeting rooms and collaborative spaces instead of individual workspaces for everyone. Hot-desking, or workspace sharing, will become commonplace. And everyone will need the ability to easily access all of the applications and tools they rely on whether they’re working in the office, at home or while on the road. 

To meet these new requirements on a permanent basis, you’ll need to ensure apps and tools are provided in a very flexible way, but with no compromises to data security or compliance. All data must be fully protected and comply with corporate policies and industry regulations no matter where people are located or which device they’re using.

Focus On Communications And Collaboration Solutions

The communications and collaboration solutions you adopt affect every aspect of your internal and external operations. With the right deployment strategy and solutions, you can:

  • Help on-site and off-site team members efficiently and productively work together, no matter their role, experience level or preferred work style.
  • Create a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan that ensures everyone in your organization can continue to communicate and collaborate with one another and with partners, suppliers and customers without interruption, regardless of what’s going on in the outside world. This includes the ability to quickly pivot and ask all employees to work from home, or from satellite locations, with minimal disruption, whenever needed.
  • Enhance the customer experience with omnichannel communications that include traditional voice and web interactions, social and mobile apps and services, advanced data analytics and integration with customer relationship management (CRM) and other back-end systems.

The key is to ensure your communications and collaboration solutions are fully integrated. When people can switch seamlessly between voice, text and video conversations on any device, they can work in a more natural and intuitive way. And they’re better able to focus on the topic being discussed rather than how to manipulate multiple disparate tools and apps.

Explore New Technologies With Your Entire Organization In Mind

As you evaluate the technologies and solutions that are best aligned with your business goals and workforce requirements, you’ll no doubt consider the merits of cloud-based solutions. According to market research from Frost & Sullivan, when technology solutions are delivered from the cloud, businesses can:

  • Reduce costs for hardware and software maintenance
  • Reduce the risks of app, tool and service downtime
  • Free IT resources to develop innovative solutions to tough challenges
  • Accelerate delivery of new services and applications
  • Increase agility and market responsiveness

While cloud-based solutions are a great way to efficiently deliver a consistent set of features and functions to highly dispersed teams, it’s also important to understand what these changes mean for the different groups in your organization. For a successful transition, you’ll need to consider how your move affects:

  • Your workforce. Industry research shows that Gen X employees have different workstyle preferences than Gen Y and Gen Z employees. The generational profile in your organization will influence the speed and ease with which people adopt cloud technologies.
  • IT. These teams are used to providing on-site services. They’ll need to adapt their focus areas and priorities to help your workforce understand, and make optimal use of, solutions delivered from the cloud.
  • HR. These teams will need to help hybrid on-site and off-site teams adapt to new ways of working together and keep morale high.
  • Facilities management. As people try different ways of working, facilities teams will likely have to adjust space allocation multiple times. This need will diminish over time, but it will be important for team members to feel they can work productively from the office or from home. 

Rely On An Expert Partner

4Sight Communications specializes in helping businesses of all sizes and types navigate the new normal, do more with the solutions they already have and migrate to cloud-based communications, collaboration and contact center solutions at the pace that’s right for their business. We understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and we are fully equipped and ready to help you implement the solutions that best fit your unique requirements

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


Do You Know What UC Solution You Really Need?

As many organizations continue to grapple with what the future of the workplace will look like for the long term, it can be challenging to know whether you’re making smart technology investments.

Not surprisingly, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a major area seeing growth. According to research firm Metrigy’s 2021-2022 global study on workplace collaboration, 82% of companies are using video for most or all meetings, and 57.1% are using team collaboration apps as work hubs. In fact, 72% of executives expect to raise spending on virtual collaboration tools, says PWC.

But with constant change, how can you be confident you’re making investments that will help your business meet the needs of employees and customers today while also supporting future growth? Cloud services certainly make it easier to scale and add new features as needed, but there’s a bit more to the equation that demands consideration.

For instance, how does the unified communications (UC) solution you select fit into the bigger business picture? Are you choosing a reliable UC vendor who will be there for you and support your current and future needs?

We believe every business manager should ask themselves four questions before making a commitment to a communications provider. Keep your answers close by as you weigh your UCaaS options so you can be confident you’re entering into a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

Four Questions To Uncover What Your Business Actually Needs

1. Where Are You In Your Digital Transformation Strategy?

Perhaps you have a formal digital transformation strategy―or maybe it’s on the docket for 2021. It’s important to be honest about where you are on the digitization path, where you want to be and whether you have the right resources on hand to help you get there. Some UC solutions don’t let you grow at your own pace.

Don’t be afraid to ask vendors tough questions about their ability to help your business on its unique journey. If, for example, you’re not ready for a complete cloud deployment, can the provider give you the communications tools you need today to succeed? How easy will it be to migrate to the cloud when you’re ready?

2. What Technologies Will You Need To Future-Proof Your Organization?

Just because most companies are using video conferencing doesn’t mean it has to be top of your list. Maybe an integrated contact center is your highest priority. Mitel has a number of options available to help you create a more engaging customer experience and empower your employees to create happy and loyal customers.

For those who are focused on collaboration, think about which technologies will best serve you today and tomorrow. Shared workspaces, single-click access to real-time audio and video conferencing and a seamless experience across multiple devices are just a few of the features you may need right now. Unified interfaces and omnichannel communication are other popular features for 2021.

But what might you need in three, five or 10 years? You may not know the answer, so look for a UC provider with a focus on innovation. We’re happy to report Mitel has a record of being one step ahead. We were the first to move to the cloud, and we were talking remote work well before it took over the working world. Make sure you can depend on your provider to support your requirements today and be ready with what you need tomorrow.

3. What Type Of Workforce Do You Need To Support?

In-person, remote, hybrid―chances are, your business needs to be able to support them all. Flexibility and scalability are the most important characteristics when it comes to meeting the needs of today’s ever-changing workforce.

What are the most important communications tools your staff needs to thrive no matter where they are? Some of the items that may be top of mind are a mobile-first design and a unified experience across devices.

Depending on your business, however, file sharing, archiving projects by subject or a personal dashboard for tracking to-do’s may be what your employees really need. Be certain the solution you select gives your employees a wide array of options when it comes to communicating and collaborating with each other. The system should make it easier to get work done, and employees should find it simple to use―from anywhere and on any device.

4. What UC Vendor Qualities Matter The Most For Success?

Every business will answer this question slightly differently, but you can’t go wrong by starting with the vendor’s reputation. What do their current customers say about them? What kind of success stories can they share?

And while a strong relationship can take time to develop, there’s still nothing wrong with trusting your gut. In your initial meetings, a vendor who tries to push a cookie-cutter solution that doesn’t exactly meet your needs is definite cause for concern.

Does the provider have a history of reliability? How focused are they on security? Do they make you feel confident your lines of communications will stay open no matter what challenges may arise? You should be able to rest easy knowing your long-term success is just as important to them as it is to you.

As organizations put more time and money into communications technology, it’s critical to properly assess your needs before you make any big investments.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


11 Cyber Security Tips and Best Practices for Remote and Hybrid Workers

Remote work is all the rage, and it’s easy to see why. Employees want flexibility and freedom while executives want less overhead and more productivity. Since most businesses have already transitioned communications to the cloud, it just makes sense. 

However, as the number of remote teams and a hybrid workforce increases, the sophistication and amount of cybersecurity breaches have also, unfortunately, increased. For example, Google registered more than 2 million phishing sites in 2020, up from 1.7 million in 2019 (a 27% increase in one year). The number of identity thefts reported by the FTC doubled from 2019.  In addition to this, CybSafe reported that one-third of UK businesses have suffered a data breach in the past 12 months because of remote work.

New remote workers may not even be aware of what to look out for, while veterans may feel that the situation is hopeless. According to a recent IDG Research Services survey commissioned by Insight Enterprises, almost 80% of senior IT workers believe their organizations lack sufficient protection against cyberattacks despite increased IT security investments in 2020 and according to Shred-it, 86% of C-level executives believe that the risk of a data breach is higher when employees work remotely. 

There is hope, however. If your business takes care to implement the best cybersecurity practices now, it is much more likely that you will avoid a security nightmare and save your company from suffering a huge financial loss, and an even bigger headache.  

The Unique Security Challenges Of A Hybrid Workforce 

Cybersecurity is essential, whether your workers are in the office, hybrid, or remote. However, in-office workers are generally protected by layers of security when it comes to data and communication. Once workers move outside the office, new vulnerabilities appear. For example, an office network will likely be secured by firewalls, VPNs, antivirus software, and other measures to ensure VoIP security.  

Many home routers don’t have a firewall, and even home routers that double as a firewall may not be as secure as a business firewall. Even if VPNs and WiFi security software are installed on employee devices, once working remotely, those employees become solely responsible for keeping the software up-to-date.  

Many of the security vulnerabilities that come along with remote work can be minimized, however, with a few clear-cut policies, some training, and IT support for your remote workers. 

Checklist Of Best Practices

These best practices are generally accepted by cybersecurity professionals as being the most effective in preventing or at least minimizing a security breach. If your remote workforce is informed of these policies and, most importantly, agrees to put them into practice, you can rest assured that your company has the best protection against an attack.  

1. No Public Wi-Fi
Working out of a Starbucks may seem idyllic, but using their Wi-Fi can cause a host of problems. The lack of firewalls allows anyone using that network to easily hack into your company’s data. In fact, hackers that are on public networks anywhere that your data hits between you and your office can monitor traffic as it goes by.  If you still want to work from Starbucks, set up a personal hotspot and VPN. 

2. Be Aware of Surroundings
According to a study done by Code 42, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in airports alone. Losing a laptop is bad enough, but if there is a data breach on top of that, it could be a catastrophe. 

Instruct your remote workers not to be careless with their work laptops. If they happen to be working in a public space, they should remain alert. They should make sure that their sightlines are blocked, meaning, no one can sit behind them and watch/record everything they are doing. 

Employees should take their device with them to the restroom and avoid leaving it in a car (even a locked car). It is also important that remote workers keep the doors of their homes locked just as the office is locked up every night. 

3. Encrypt Stored Data

In the case that a device is stolen, you can avoid the disaster of a data breach if the data on your device is encrypted. Make sure that remote workers are all using devices that are set to encrypt all stored data. 

4. Do Not Use Personal Devices for Work

If your remote workers are using their own personal devices to conduct work on, chances are, they are exposing the company to a security breach. The protocols that your company has for keeping data safe such as regular updates, virus scans, and malicious site blocking are likely not being kept up by remote workers on their personal devices. 

Your remote worker may not be aware of all that your company does to keep data safe, for one, and secondly, your remote worker likely does not have the same budget for cybersecurity that you have for your business.  

5. Enable Email Encryption

Emails are another point of vulnerability for remote workers. Just as you want to ensure that all stored data is encrypted, it’s also a good idea to encrypt the data attached to any email, as this will prevent an unintended recipient from viewing the information. 

6. Don’t Allow Non-Employees To Access Work Devices

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s important to keep as much control as possible over devices. Remote employees should never share their devices with non-employees. Even if it is someone they know, a non-employee who doesn’t understand your company’s security policies could unknowingly open up a pathway for malicious actors. 

This is true even if the non-employee only wants to use the employee’s work device as a temporary “charging station”. Additionally, some of your employees may be too trusting, and it is easier just to have an “employee only” policy than to have rules about who can and can’t use work devices. 

7. Disable All External Drives

USB thumb drives are some of the most popular vehicles for bad actors to use to install malware. These malicious actors would install malware onto 30 or 60 thumb drives and then distribute them where an unsuspecting worker would pick one up and, thinking it was theirs, plug it into their device. With the advancement of cloud storage solutions, there is almost never a reason to use an external drive of any type, USB or otherwise. Unless your employee is a photographer or videographer, you should disable all external drives on work devices.  

8. Password Policies

Your employees may unknowingly invalidate several expensive security measures if they have weak or repetitive passwords. Make sure that your company has a password policy in place instructing employees to choose strong, unique passwords and to have different passwords for different applications that they need to use for work. Work passwords should also be different from any personal passwords. 

9. Train Employees To Recognize Signs of a Breach And Report Immediately

The sooner your IT or security team finds out about a breach, the better the outlook will be. Train your employees to recognize the signs of a security breach and to report it as soon as possible to your IT or security team. Some things that should tip off your remote workers to a breach are: 

  • An alert from the anti-malware software indicating that a virus or malware is present.
  • A new homepage or default search engine comes up unexpectedly.
  • There is a sudden and significant decrease in performance.
  • There is a sudden increase in spam and pop-ups.
  • They are receiving frequent error messages.

10. Consider a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution 

SASE is essentially an “as-a-Service” cloud solution that combines wide-area networking (WAN) with network security functions, cloud access security broker (CASB), firewall as a service (FWaaS), and zero-trust network access (ZTNA). SASE tools can identify malware, decrypt the content, and continuously monitor sessions for risk.

11. Keep Your Employees Away From Nefarious Websites

Torrent and pirating websites will obviously expose your business to a host of malware. Most companies will have a prohibition against employees going to such sites on work devices, but if it ever happens and one of your employees accidentally downloads a file of malware from a website of ill repute, firing them for breaking company policy will be of little solace. 

Here is a creative tip to keep your employees from ever breaking this very important rule in the first place: Use some of the money you save from transitioning to a remote or hybrid workforce to buy your employees subscriptions to reputable music and movie websites such as YouTube Premium, Disney+ or Netflix. This investment will serve double duty as a fun perk for your team as well as a strong deterrent to visit nefarious entertainment sites.  

Final Thoughts

Remote and hybrid work has become more appealing than ever to both employees and business owners, but the threat of a security breach is a big drawback. To address this, consider investing some of the savings you receive by going remote into a solid cybersecurity plan. If you implement the best cybersecurity practices now, you and your team will be able to enjoy all the benefits of remote work without the dark cloud of a security breach looming overhead.  

This blog post was first published by Mitel.


Report | Hybrid Working 2021

Customers accepted reduced service as companies shifted to working from home, but now expect a return to ‘normal service’ with improved response times and a stronger customer experience. Those that invest in good technology, rather than relying on declining customer goodwill, will generate a better experience and potentially stronger sales.

The challenge facing businesses is how to resume a professional service while simultaneously adapting to the new norm: hybrid working. The answer lies in empowering customer-facing staff with the right tools that not only let them work from home as seamlessly as they work from the office or call centre, but also allow customers to interact how they prefer, says Dave Harrison, head of sales and marketing at 4Sight Comms.

Businesses should start at the edge to understand staff needs, their precise roles and define what they need in terms of functionality and technology – this will be the blueprint for a business’ core platform. For example, a customer service agent at a startup may be perfectly suited to replying to customers via Whatsapp, either at home or in the office, while an established business with a higher customer count may need a more technological solution, such as an artificial intelligence-powered web chat.

Harrison says: “The right technology brings together the choice of the customer with the choice of the customer service agent, but at the same time maintains the security, control and analytical capability that you so desperately need as a business. That’s where 4Sight Communications comes in with our access to Mitel technology.”

Mitel powers more than 2 billion business connections with cloud, enterprise and next-generation collaboration applications. Its solutions are well adapted to hybrid working because agents can efficiently handle voice and digital media contacts anywhere from a ‘single pane of glass’ comprising phone, email, web chat, SMS and social media. This type of advanced technology delivers excellent customer service in a hybrid working environment because, according to Mitel’s own research, most customers would rather interact through digital channels including web chat, SMS, chatbots and social media.

Moreover, automated forms of self-service, such as chatbots and virtual agents, can help address many of today’s customer experience shortcomings. Research by Mitel indicates that these next-generation technologies translate into better forms of customer service. Therefore, businesses need to work out which channels their customers prefer and equip staff with the options to access them either from home or in the office.

The added benefit is that businesses can get their hands on analytics that provide valuable insights into employee performance and identify weak spots. Supervisors monitor and manage agent and queue performance and are alerted when service levels are below target. Live analytics include insights such as average response time per media channel. Historical analytics include call recording and quality monitoring, which provide supervisors with the ability to listen to and score agent interactions.

Harrison says: “A business can track the availability of agents irrespective of a hybrid working location. This gives businesses the ability to cope with customer demand both proactively, with an understanding of volumes and trends, and reactively should additional resources need to be added to cope with unexpected surges.”

The good news is that it’s never been easier or cheaper to tap into top tech. Businesses can sign up to an affordable, monthly subscription service to Mitel via 4Sight Communications, instead of allocating significant capital expenditure to a proprietary platform. All you need to do is work out what hybrid working means to you as a business and how customers want to interact.

Harrison says: “Businesses need to embrace change, find new lanes of opportunity and fill them with the right technology that empowers people to fulfil their working aspirations with the aspirations of the organisation that they’re working for.”

This article was first published by Raconteur.