Tag - Cloud Communications

What To Do: In a Pandemic

With COVID-19 spreading across borders and news headlines, concerns are rising about how to best stop the virus. Given the disease’s aggressive nature, WHO has recommended that every citizen do their part to keep things contained―whether it be more diligent hand washing, putting a temporary stop to travel, canceling events or just staying home.

“The bottom line is: we are not at the mercy of this virus.” WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus maintains that, with global solidarity, coronavirus could be the first pandemic in history that is successfully controlled through individual caretaking measures.

Business across the globe are racing to do their part. In large part this means adopting a more remote work culture. And we see this happening in more frequency as news of coronavirus grows. Amazon has asked its Seattle employees to work from home. Seattle-based rock band Pearl Jam has postponed its North American tour. The University of Washington will close campus once staff and students leave for spring break, opting to continue classes online for the remainder of the semester. And in Austin, Texas, city health officials have cancelled the popular South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.

Although it appears that remote working is picking up speed, for many businesses this is bound to be more challenging than expected. In a recent webinar, analyst firm Gartner conducted a snap poll of the human resource leaders from Asia/Pacific who attended. Ninety-one percent indicated they’d implemented work from home arrangements in the wake of the coronavirus. However, they also said their two biggest challenges were a lack of technology infrastructure and discomfort from employees in remote working.

Like you, 4Sight has been monitoring the evolving impact of the coronavirus and forming a complete understanding of how our customers will be affected. As part of our commitment to help you continue working with consistency and peace of mind, below we’ve shared some tips and guidelines that we use to make working from home more comfortable and effective:

Choose The Right Tools

An effective remote working setup is one that is just as good as at the office. And that requires the right combination of tools and processes. There’s no one-trick pony; some days video is what you need and other times chat and file sharing are more productive. The right setup for remote working will give you an array of options along with a good connection to your team and contacts. Let’s take a look at a combination that we find works well:

Cloud-Based Solution

All too often, employees working from home find with dismay that the documents or information they really needed are saved on the computer back at the office. It’s one of the most common challenges of working remotely. Yet when documents are stored in the cloud, employees can access them from any location. And it’s not just documents that are easily accessible. With the cloud, remote workers can also tap into the organization’s vast store of information, from team calendars and workspaces to a colleague’s spreadsheet and the corporate directory.

Meeting Tools

The right meeting tool can transform remote interactions into natural collaborations. MiTeam Meetings, for example, functions seamlessly so it feels like everyone’s working in the same room. One-click video calls allow for ad hoc, face-to-face conversations. You can all edit the same documents, stay updated on tasks, share screens and collaborate in real time.

An All-In-One Workspace

Perhaps the most valuable tool for remote working is one that lets you access voice, video, messaging, presence, audio conferencing, mobility and team collaboration from a single application. With a communications experience that’s consistent whether you’re at the office, mobile or at home, it doesn’t matter were you work. Connecting and collaborating becomes just as effortless and seamless.

Adjusting to remote working is simpler with this kind of persistent workspace. Capabilities like web chat and file sharing are always-on, so you can collaborate in real time. Team members can review, update and expand on project information. You can access project timelines, meeting notes, task lists and ad hoc project comments. Ultimately, you everything you need to interact and get work done without interruption.

Build The Remote Work Culture

Although remote working isn’t new, you and your team may not be prepared to work from home for longer stretches of time―possibly even weeks or months. Here are three ways you can help them adapt more quickly.

Help Everyone Get The Proper Setup

Having the right collaboration tool is the first step. It’s a good idea to survey employees and understand more about their home offices and whether their work environment is set up properly. For example, do they have a separate space to work away from the rest of the household? Is the Wi-Fi speed adequate for connecting via video or downloading large documents? The survey results will help you make appropriate recommendations for setting up home offices as well as understand what gaps you might need to fill.

Set Guidelines For Communication

In the office, managers have an easier time monitoring employee activity. For example, they know when a member of their team steps away from their desk to get a cup of coffee. But in a remote work scenario, if a manager can’t reach their employee she may jump to the conclusion that the work isn’t getting done.

Remote work requires a certain degree of trust, and transparency helps build trust. Set expectations with clear communication guidelines. For instance, ask employees to set status messages each time they step away from their desk or agree on what comprises an adequate response time.

Practice Ahead Of A Pandemic

The time to start building a remote working culture is now, before a pandemic infects your operations. Train your employees to work remotely by sending them home to work for a week or more. A mandated trial will allow you to work out the kinks, ensuring that your business will continue operating smoothly even during a crisis.

There’s another benefit of adopting a work-at-home work culture: you’ll be prepared for a future that is likely to involve a significant portion of the workforce working remotely. As Gartner points out, demand for remote working will increase as Generation Z enters the workforce.

You will need to build a culture and infrastructure that allows employees to communicate and collaborate effortlessly as if they’re in the same room, even if they are miles or time zones apart. For this reason implementing a work-from-home model serves two purposes: it enhances your ability to weather a pandemic and it paves the way for the workforce of the future.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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6 Signs it’s Time to Update to Cloud Phone Technology

It’s easy to get comfortable with your communications system – until that moment when you realize you need more from it. Consider mobility, for example. Just a few years ago, most employees worked from the office. Today, more than half are likely to be on the go and working remotely at least some of the time. If your current phone system isn’t able to handle the office exodus, that’s a glaring sign you’re due for a change.

The good news? A cloud phone solution, like MiCloud Connect, ensures employees can work and collaborate anywhere by delivering the latest in mobility.

But mobility is just one problem solved by cloud phone technology. Chances are, your communications system is flashing yellow and red in other places as well. Some of these warnings are harder to recognize than others. If you’ve noticed any of the following signs, now is the time to make the switch.

6 Signs It’s Time To Upgrade Your Communications

You’re getting a lot of questions about security. This is a hot topic both in the news and at weekly IT meetings. Protecting sensitive information is a top priority. But if you’re not 100 percent confident in your communications system, you’ll want to ask vendors some hard questions. For example: Do they offer Secure Real-Time Transfer Protocol (SRTP), which ensures voice, web and signaling traffic is encrypted? What platform are they using and what levels of security do they offer? At Mitel, we decided to amp up security by partnering with Google Cloud. Our customers benefit from the same reliable and trusted network infrastructure we all use for search and videos on a daily basis.

You operate in a regulated industry. In industries like healthcare or finance, compliance looms large. Violations are expensive and can tarnish your reputation. However, when you work with a cloud phone provider committed to ensuring high levels of security and protecting sensitive data, you’ll ease your IT burden. MiCloud Connect, for example, is certified to meet Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards and Service Organization Control Type II (SOC 2) compliance, helping you adhere to even the most stringent requirements.

High traffic is reducing the quality of your communications. People might run on coffee, but business are powered by a reliable and consistent network. Slow-downs, dropped calls and low-quality video impede conversations, frustrating employees and customers. Ask about the provider’s track record. As a reference point, Mitel has 99.995 percent uptime backed by SLAs and financial penalties if we don’t meet these standards. Other important items to look for in a reliable solution are Tier 4 data centers with several layers of redundancy and multiple connectivity options with automatic failover. With these built-in capabilities, employees work fast and never miss a chance to drive customer satisfaction higher.

Cloud phone technology helps business adapt to change

Business is booming, so your company is growing – fast. Ask yourself how difficult it is to add or remove lines and users to your current system. If it requires a call to the vendor every time you need to make a change, then it’s time for a cloud phone solution. The beauty of the cloud is that it’s so easy to adjust to new conditions. You can add or remove seats and upgrade permissions in real time, which means your business is more agile. A scalable solution keeps you competitive, while also offering flexible pricing plans so you can stay within budget.

It’s getting harder to meet client expectations. In a competitive market, it’s all too easy to fall behind without integrated collaboration tools. A stellar customer experience builds loyalty, but it can be difficult to deliver when employees are taking extra steps to share documents or discuss issues. When collaboration is built into communications, it’s easier for employees to exceed customer expectations. For example, with click-to-join access for web, audio and video conferencing, a product manager can convene his team to resolve a pressing issue quickly, getting goods in the hands of customers at the right moment. In addition, a persistent workspace with chat, tasks and file sharing gives teams the ability to collaborate in real time. When employee collaboration is easy and seamless, customers get answers faster and satisfaction soars.

Managing multiple licenses is keeping you very busy. There are better ways to spend your time. With a cloud phone solution, you can mix and match license types on a single plan. Need a contact center? Collaboration tools? It’s simple to add licenses on-demand and manage each user via their own profile. And since your cloud provider is responsible for infrastructure, you don’t have to worry about maintenance or carry the cost of unused equipment or lines. Plus, budgeting on an operating expenses (OpEx) model is predictable and easy.

All signs point to cloud phone technology

If any of these signs are flashing red or yellow in your organization, it’s time to start exploring what cloud phone technology can do for your business. A solution like MiCloud Connect will adapt to your business needs, ensuring you stay current with the latest technology – and keep customer satisfaction at all-time highs.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Public, Private or Hybrid? 5 Questions to Help You Make the Right Choice

How do you educate 30 baseball teams about new rules and policies – and make sure they follow them? That was the challenge Major League Baseball faced as it moved toward implementing “pace of play” rules aimed at shortening the length of games.

As part of the plan, the MLB installed phone lines in every stadium, connecting the dugout, bullpen and video review rooms. Although these are the exact areas the teams use to prevent sign stealing, they can also contribute to excessive visits to the pitcher’s mound. Now the league can centrally monitor, review and record every time a coach picks up the phone.

The league’s solution was in the cloud, specifically a private cloud securely accessed through the public internet so all stadiums could use it.

Private cloud was how the MLB changed its play. How will you change yours? Of course, every business has its own needs. As you consider which cloud environment makes sense for your company – publicprivate or hybrid – asking these questions can help you choose the best path for you.

What Level Of Privacy And Security Do You Need?

If you’re in a highly regulated industry, like financial services, government or healthcare, consider which data should be kept on-site versus a private cloud. Do you need to protect patient data? Comply with the regulations of multiple countries? A hybrid cloud solution could work well for you.

“When we first set out to make a decision around the cloud, we knew we wanted to get out of owning our own data center and migrate to a combination of private and public cloud,” says James Swanson, Monsanto’s CIO. “We consciously decided not to go all-in on public cloud because there were things we wanted to keep internal.”

A hybrid solution enables you to keep control of some parts of your communications infrastructure while still reaping cloud benefits like scalability, resiliency and cost management. So, if privacy and control are essential to your business, this route may provide the flexibility you need.

How Important Is Reliability?

In terms of reliability, public cloud environments have good track records, but they’re not as reliable as private clouds. Think bandwidth. If your company generates heavy usage both inside and outside the organization, reliability is bound to be compromised. If your workforce needs immediate and reliable access to complex data, for example, large multimedia files, consider either a private cloud or storing the data on site.

Another consideration is call quality. A contact center needs 100 percent dependability so that your customers can always get through. If this is essential for your business, consider a hybrid solution: a private cloud combined with an on-site back-up. Such redundancy protects you from costly downtime; if you lose your on-site system, the cloud is there. Likewise, if a network failure hits your cloud provider, your in-house infrastructure becomes your safety net.

Will The Communications System Grow And Flex With You?

The size and potential growth of your organization, in terms of both users and geographic locations, will also impact your decision about whether to use a private or public cloud.

For organizations with fewer than 500 users, the public cloud environment is the most cost-effective. For one thing, your business can pay on a user-per-month basis. In addition, even though you still use a public internet connection (also known as “over the top” or OTT), it can be combined with private network solutions.

A good example of this is the MLB’s system. Although the number of users is relatively small (fewer than 20 phones in each stadium) a hybrid solution using the public cloud via a secure private network gives the league room to scale up when necessary and allows it to maintain reliability and control.

How Can You Connect To The Cloud?

Public internet connectivity. In this model, public internet connections like business-grade DSL and E1/T1 are used for voice and video services. This is an economical choice for small and growing organizations.

Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) uses high‐speed telecommunications networks to transport packets over virtual links. The technology routes data efficiently because it communicates known information about the network’s topology. It also provides high call quality and a secure connection.

SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) allows organizations to reap the benefits of both public internet and MPLS. SD-WAN employs one or multiple network connections to prioritize applications, using a mixture of OTT and/or OTT with MPLS services to review and evaluate all network traffic. To ensure data and call quality are maximized, it can switch circuits quickly.

What Goes In The Cloud? What Stays?

Preparation is key to successfully using the cloud. So before moving forward, be sure to evaluate your needs.

Monsanto’s Swanson recommends you start by assessing your current infrastructure. “Now’s the time to identify the applications that really matter,” he says. Identify redundant functionality across applications, then focus on the key business and technical reasons for moving to the cloud. Use those decisions to shape the specific criteria for determining which applications should move to the cloud. Start with an overall digital strategy and work backwards, he urges, evaluating each offering in the marketplace against your value proposition.

“What do you need to fulfill your strategy in the most effective way that gives you both the financial return but also the capabilities that you’ll need as you go forward?” he asks. “The more refined your strategy is, the more tailored your cloud environments can be.”

This article was first published by Mitel.

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WHAT TO DO: An Emergency at the Office

We don’t like to think about it, but the possibility of an emergency affecting your business is real. Organizations of all types and sizes are susceptible. And although many situations will turn out to be false alarms or have minimal impact, businesses still need an emergency preparedness plan in place to ensure communications with employees are swift and effective. Another necessity? The right technology, including a modern mass notification system, to support such a plan.

Planning is essential because a crisis poses three related threats to your business: public safety, financial loss and reputation loss. Any one of these could have a lasting impact on your business and your employees.

For instance, severe weather such as hurricanes or earthquakes could impede your ability to operate, even causing damage to facilities that might take several months or years to repair. In 2017, national and man-made disasters caused $306 billion in economic losses worldwide – up 63 percent from 2016.  Forty percent of small- and medium-sized businesses that experience downtime due to disasters will not survive.

Then there are the types of tragedies that unfold at the hands of people, some intentional and some accidental. Although workplace shootings have captured news headlines, businesses need to be prepared for other types of unforeseen man-made incidents, including fires, chemical spills, and even the spread of illnesses such as the flu.

How To Plan For An Emergency

Businesses can mitigate such risks by planning ahead. A solid emergency preparedness plan coupled with a modern mass notifications system significantly reduces risk, keeps employees safe and maintains the integrity of your facilities.

In crisis preparation, it’s critical to remember how much different communications in the workplace are today compared to a decade ago. For example, in its early days, email was one of the quickest ways to share information. Today, however, as more people rely on their mobile devices, a text message is speedier and more reliable.

Issues also come to light faster thanks to the prevalence of IoT-enabled devices because alerts can be delivered automatically, without human intervention. For instance, if an intruder forces their way into a building, sensors can detect the breach and send alerts to employees, your security team and even the local police. Employee communications preferences and technology advancements should influence every part of your plan.

Worried you’ll miss something? What follows are a few tips for covering all the bases as you put together your emergency preparedness plan:

  • Incorporate feedback from across the organization. Every team works differently. Sales, for example, is often on the road working from smartphones and tablets. In the warehouse, team members work in shifts around the clock. Reaching the right people at the right time means documenting how, when and where each employee works.
  • Conduct scenario planning. Working with your cross-functional team, talk through potential emergencies. You’ll need to understand how they might unfold from start to finish. As you assess the risks, you can put plans in place for the most likely scenarios and identify communications requirements.
  • Establish an escalation path. When a crisis occurs, know who needs to be alerted. Executives and teams are constantly changing, so have a plan to keep this strategy updated.
  • Have a back-up plan. Consider how you’ll execute on your emergency notification plan if the power goes out, critical equipment is damaged or IT solutions are breached or compromised.
  • Debrief after events. Learn from the crises you face. Take the time after executing on your emergency plan to re-evaluate what went right and what went wrong. The lessons will prove valuable should similar situations occur.

What to ask about mass notification systems

The success of your emergency preparedness plan will hinge on the technology you choose to support it. You have to be confident alerts will reach the right person at the right time. That’s why you need a solution that meets the needs of the modern workforce and can reliably support the broadest possible range of communications devices, channels and alert levels.

As you assess your current system or evaluate new vendors, these are the questions to ask:

  • Is the platform capable of delivering both routine mass notifications as well as emergency alerts? The ability to handle both will ensure you get more out of your investment.
  • Does the platform support mobility? Does it offer mobile apps for iOS and Android devices? Remember that today’s workforce is mobile, so this is a must-have feature.
  • Is it capable of integrating with a wide range of hardware and software? Interoperability is critical because technology changes rapidly. The platform should be flexible to accommodate both the needs of today and adapt to future technologies.
  • How easily can it scale? Can it expand to support tens of thousands of devices, including desktop devices, mobile devices, overhead speakers, email, horns, strobe lights, digital signs and other communications channels? It’s important that your mass notification system grows with your business.
  • Does it allow you to create unlimited notifications, including live, pre-recorded or scheduled broadcasts? The flexibility to create messages ahead of time for any potential situation will allow you to respond faster – if the time comes.
  • Does it support notifications regardless of location? With a mobile workforce, it’s essential that employees can initiate notifications both on- and off-premises as well as send text message notifications to any location.

While the considerations above apply to all businesses generally, keep in mind that some organizations – such as schools and hospitals – will have unique needs. However, an emergency preparedness plan coupled with a robust mass notification system will benefit every business, allowing them to stay in control even as dynamic, high-risk situations unfold.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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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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WHITE PAPER | How to Increase Contact Center Agent Productivity

Contact center success can be a moving target. There are multiple variables that need to line up, and many of those depend on the effectiveness of your agents. This eBook will provide you with tangible tips, tools and practices you can implement today to enhance agent productivity in your contact center. You’ll hear from industry leaders, gain workplace productivity best practices and get psychological principles to help keep your goals in clear sight and hit your mark with greater consistency.

Key topics:

  • Improving managerial practices
  • Enhancing productivity with the right tools
  • Streamlining processes
  • Enhancing contact center agent productivity

This content was first published by Mitel.


See how 4Sight can help you provide a great customer experience. A seamless, omni-channel experience drives revenue by improving customer loyalty.

If you want to find out how 4Sight can help you redesign your current contact center or to just find out more information, please contact us on + 44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com.

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REPORT | 2019 Workplace Productivity and Communications Technology

What’s really hurting productivity in your organization? Ever wonder about the financial impact it can have on your business? Your organization’s communications and collaboration practices and technology play one of the most important roles when it comes to employee productivity. And it turns out they can have a big impact on your bottom line too.

Research shows that businesses could recoup over $10,000 per employee per year with more efficient communications.

The Workplace Productivity and Communications Technology Report looks at key trends in business communications for North America and Europe plus dives into how existing communications and collaboration practices are impacting both workforce productivity and the bottom line. In this report you’ll discover:

  • How communication inefficiencies are impacting workers and your organization’s success
  • Nearly 15 percent of employees’ total work time is wasted inefficient communications.
  • The factors preventing your company from effectively using communications and collaboration technologies – and how to fix them

This content was first published by Mitel.


See how 4Sight can help you provide a great customer experience. A seamless, omni-channel experience drives revenue by improving customer loyalty.

If you want to find out how 4Sight can help you redesign your current contact center or to just find out more information, please contact us on + 44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com.

Read more...