Make These 2 Choices to Fuel Business Growth in 2022

Is your business ready to seize the opportunities ahead in 2022? Will your communications system be an invaluable asset in achieving growth — or a burden that limits your performance? 

Many businesses are finding they are weighed down by technology choices they had to make quickly during the pandemic. In the face of shutdowns, communications software became the lynchpin to allow employees to keep collaborating, meet with customers, and work productively from home. And, with little time to assess communications platform pros and cons, they made quick purchase decisions that left them with: 

  • A mix of disjointed communications tools that are awkward for employees navigate
  • Unanticipated costs associated with higher maintenance expenses and complex IT support 
  • Uneven performance, with some tools more reliable than others, creating dissatisfied customers and frustrated staff 

Looking ahead, your business has the opportunity to evolve from worrying about ‘keeping things moving’ to focus on optimizing operations. As a dynamic, hybrid work environment becomes the new normal, it’s an ideal time to ensure you have a communications platform that’s designed — from the ground up — to deliver the reliability, agility, and efficiency you need to optimize productivity today and respond quickly to unanticipated changes tomorrow. To take advantage of that opportunity, you’ll want to make 3 smart choices: 

  1. Choose the best communications architecture
  2. Select the right communications solution 
  3. Identify the ideal migration path for your business

#1 Choose The Cloud To Streamline And Strengthen Your Technology

The cloud is the easiest way to simplify and supercharge your communications technology. By consolidating disjointed communications tools into an all-in-one, cloud-based solution that offers team and video collaboration, mobility, and voice capabilities, you can unleash greater productivity and performance, while eliminating the cost and resource burdens of managing your current systems. A cloud-based communications solution:

  • Is easier to manage and maintain: Flexible, scalable, and requiring little-to-no maintenance, cloud communications platforms allow your IT staff to focus their precious time on initiatives that will help you grow and stay ahead of the competition. 
  • Provides more for less: Your business gets more of the powerful features you need (and previously had to pay for separately) in a single solution that many businesses find to be more cost-effective.
  • Removes uncertainty and costs: Cloud-based solutions eliminate large, up-front technology investments and unexpected repair costs. All you pay is a predictable and affordable monthly subscription fee. 
  • Remains effortlessly up to date: A cloud-based communication platform will give you the comfort of knowing your business will always benefit from the latest software capabilities and security updates, without requiring any work on your part.

 #2 Choose The UCaaS Leader To Meet Your Needs Today And Tomorrow

Customer and employee expectations have permanently changed. Businesses have gained new confidence in their staffs’ ability to work from anywhere. Employees value the balance that hybrid working environments provide. And customers just want great service — and don’t care where the employee supporting them is working from.

For these reasons, business communications software will remain your foundation for employee productivity and customer service excellence. To grow and thrive in this environment, your business deserves a best-in-class, cloud-based business communications platform that’s intuitive to use, easy to scale, and designed to ensure employees can work productively from anywhere, any time, and on any device.

That’s why Mitel has embarked on a strategic partnership with RingCentral. The RingCentral MVP solution has been ranked a leader in the UCaaS Gartner Magic Quadrant for seven consecutive years. Together, Mitel and RingCentral are empowering businesses of all sizes with the UCaaS solution that’s specifically designed to increase employee engagement, improve the customer experience, and provide unprecedented business agility. 

  • Increasing employee engagement: Your state-of-the-art RingCentral MVP communications solution will allow employees and customers to interact quickly, easily, and efficiently. Productivity-enhancing features like voice, video, messaging, SMS, mobility and file sharing in one app keep employees productive whether working from home, the office, or a hybrid of both. And by integrating your RingCentral system with the CRM, ERP, and support ticketing systems that your employees use every day, you can help them get more done without ever leaving those applications.
  • Meeting higher customer expectations: When you enhance employee productivity with leading communications technology, it also improves your ability to serve your customers better and faster, wherever they are. If you want to augment your UCaaS solution with leading contact center capabilities, the Mitel and RingCentral partnership provides you with options. RingCentral’s NICE CCaaS solution is available to all UCaaS customers, and Mitel will continue to offer MiContact Center for Mitel on-premises, private cloud, and subscription customers. 
  • Achieving unprecedented agility: The pace of business has never been faster. So, it’s important to know you can count on the Mitel and RingCentral partnership to provide superior performance and reliability, so you won’t miss a beat today or tomorrow. In 2021, RingCentral earned Gartner’s #1 ranking among UCaaS vendors for ‘completeness of vision.’ So when you choose RingCentral MVP, you can be confident that they are already anticipating your future communications needs and preparing to add new, next-generation innovations to the platform. 

#3 Choose A Trusted Partner To Customize Your Migration Path

If you create the right migration plan to the right cloud-based communications solution, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
Chances are, your business has already made investments in a communications platform. You’ll want a migration plan that takes that into consideration, so you’ll need the guidance of a trusted partner with extensive expertise in the full range of communications deployments — including on-premise, private cloud, and public cloud systems. That’s why you can trust Mitel and our experienced partner network to ensure a smooth transition that’s based on a custom migration plan and timeline for your business. 

  • You’re in charge: Mitel has a track record of being 100% customer focused. Let us do the heavy lifting. We start every customer migration by listening to your needs and understanding your existing investments, so we can provide you with a range of options to choose from.
  • Investment protection: After evaluating your options, if the best plan for your business means staying with an on-premises or private cloud platform for the time-being, Mitel remains a global market leader in these segments and has a clear, innovative roadmap for these platforms going forward. 
  • Leading technology to facilitate your migration: Mitel’s CloudLink architecture is a tested and proven technology that helps customers enhance the performance of their existing investments while they migrate to the cloud. That’s why Mitel’s CloudLink architecture will become tightly integrated with RingCentral’s MVP solution, paving the path for Mitel on-premises customers to move to the cloud at the pace that is best for them. 

Choose The Freedom To Focus On The Future

If the communications platform you put in place during the pandemic isn’t providing you with all the functionality you need to grow and meet new challenges ahead, now is an ideal time to press the reset button. Contact 4Sight today so we can help you make the right choices for your business.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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How to Attract and Keep the Best People? Aim for the Cloud

To say the pandemic, lockdowns and work-from-home requirements upset the balance of most people’s lives is an understatement. But they unbalanced businesses just as much. Employers had to scramble to set people up to work at home. They needed equipment, training and support. In-person meetings switched over to video conferencing, which for many was new technology. First-time users of video collaboration apps jumped 26.2% in the first six months of 2020, according to an IDC survey.

Even before COVID-19, people’s expectations for their work routines were changing. The pandemic just accelerated the shift in mindset. Today, employees increasingly expect employers to offer flexible work options. They want to be able to work from wherever they are, or want to be, and have the tools to work efficiently and effectively enough to achieve a good work-life balance.

That’s changed the playing field for employers. These new expectations aren’t going anywhere, and companies wanting to get – and keep – the best employees need to meet them. So, in the modern workplace, employers must think about having flexible solutions to meet flexible expectations.

That’s where the cloud comes in. The SMB Group’s 2021 digital transformation survey revealed one of the top ten reasons businesses move to the cloud was to attract and retain qualified employees. What today’s employees expect, the cloud can provide. And a move to the cloud brings benefits for employers, too.

Flexibility Is Good For Both Employees And Employers

Enabling employee flexibility doesn’t have to simply be the cost of doing business. The cloud solutions that enable flexibility for employees can provide beneficial agility for employers and save them money, to boot.

The hybrid-work model is a good example. When the pandemic hit, anyone who could work from home suddenly found themselves there. For some, it was a great fit. For others, not so much. Either way, many offices will simply never again have all their employees on premises all the time.

Switching to a permanent hybrid-work model can provide benefits for employers and employees alike, if done the right way. The key is to ensure 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 can be more engaged and efficient.

The cloud enables this seamless integration of collaboration tools that can improve work processes, while also providing several additional benefits for employers:

  • More manageable and predictable costs, which go with an operational expenditure (OPEX) funding model for cloud services
  • Improvements in employee efficiency, driven by the ability to work seamlessly and securely wherever they are — whether in the office, at home or on the road
  • Flexible, more personalized customer interactions, which are made possible by providing customers a choice of which medium they use to contact the company
  • Lower costs for hardware and software maintenance
  • Reduced service downtime
  • Accelerated delivery of new services and applications 


Employees Expect Up-To-Date, Easy-To-Use Technology

The uninterrupted access to the latest technology updates and upgrades that are available with cloud-based communications solutions also benefits employees and employers.

Until recently, having the latest communications and networking technologies for employees was a nice thing to have — something that could set a company apart from the competition. These days, not having the latest technologies also sets a company apart, though not in a good way.

In a recent survey by Harvard Business Review, a full 82% of employees said that their happiness on the job was “significantly impacted” by how well their workplace technology performs. Employees expect not just technically adequate technology to do their jobs, but easy-to-use, up-to-date hardware and software. And happy employees tend to be creative, enthusiastic and hardworking. It’s no surprise then that as many as 87% of executives believe having a happier work environment is a competitive edge.

The cloud makes this easy. Relying on the cloud-based solutions, rather than in-house technology, lets businesses stay up to date with the latest technology without having to shell out for updates and applications they don’t need. Access to best-in-class tools not only enhances how employees connect and collaborate, it enables ongoing standards compliance, simplifies the process of applying security and bug fixes, and enables online training and proactive performance monitoring.

Keeping The Best People Means Keeping Them Happy

Of course, offering up-to-date technology and a flexible work-life balance is not only a good way for companies to save money and attract the best people: it’s also the best way to keep the best people.

As much as companies have borne many of the costs of moving employees to hybrid or work-from-home models, it’s the employees who have had to adjust their lifestyles. The early days of the pandemic saw many people struggling to use the video conferencing apps they’d barely touched before, trying to keep up with a similar or even larger workload while learning the ins and outs of new technology. Many simply didn’t have the technology they needed to successfully collaborate with their colleagues or communicate with customers.

Unsurprisingly, employees aren’t eager to repeat the process. That Harvard Business Review survey also found as many as 77% of employees indicated that they would be willing to go elsewhere if they aren’t provided the tools and technology they feel are necessary to do their jobs well.

In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s more and more likely that employees who leave will find another company offering what they’re looking for. It’s also more likely that the companies that can deliver on employee technology expectations will be leveraging cloud-based solutions, which are more ubiquitous, easy to use and efficient than ever.

Picking The Right Partner To Help Keep The Right People

But just as there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for employees, there’s no single cloud solution for all employers. Different companies, depending on their size, current infrastructure investments and other considerations, will have different paths to the cloud. Some will be best off moving wholesale to the cloud as quickly as possible to create the work environment that meets the expectations of their employees. Others will benefit from a more gradual process, phasing in elements only as they need them to meet specific objectives.

Whichever path you choose to the cloud to create a more flexible and attractive work environment for employees, having a partner like 4Sight who can help you choose the right technologies and pave the best migration path for you is important.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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7-Step Onboarding Checklist for Reinventing and Making Hybrid Work Easier

The Covid-19 outbreak “forced” many companies to allow their employees to work remotely or through hybrid work models. However, not all employers were prepared to transfer their entire workflow to a virtual setting. As a result, many organizations struggled with disengaged employees and reduced productivity. 

Onboarding remote employees in a virtual setting can be much more challenging than your regular on-site onboarding. However, this training and support are crucial for new employees in a hybrid work model to get on board and start feeling like they belong. 

To help you, we’ve put together a comprehensive 7-step onboarding checklist that works for both completely remote and hybrid working teams. 

1. Early Engagement

Making your employees feel included early on before the actual onboarding even starts is one of the best employee engagement strategies for workers who work at least a part of their time remotely.

There are different things you can do to build engagement early on. For instance: 

  • Send them a welcome package
  • Invite them to the relevant group chat or communication channel
  • Organize an informal virtual get together
  • Explain the career path progress and reward system for top performance
  • Communicate and keep in touch regularly during early onboarding

These are just a couple of things that can help you engage your hybrid workers early in the onboarding process. 

2. Secure A Desk Setup In Advance

First and foremost, your employee needs the right equipment to start working. Think of what tools your new, hybridly working employee needs to perform well in their job role when they work from home or remotely. These would be things like a PC or a laptop, a high-quality headset, webcam, phone, printer, desk supplies, keyboard, mouse, and similar. 

Partially remote employees should enjoy the same work conditions as your in-office staff. Depending on the job role, there are different essentials they might need. For instance, if you’ve hired a designer on a hybrid schedule, you should probably provide is drawing pad (tablet). 

All in all, your flexible schedule employees should be audited and judged based on their performance. And, to do that, you need to provide them with the same working conditions as on-site employees. 

3. Tools & Learning Materials

Once you’ve provided the necessary devices, arrange a virtual meeting between your new employee and your IT department or other onboarding person/group. At this point, you have to provide your new hire with the following:

  • Login details for their new company email account
  • Credentials for any remote tools or software they will use
  • Company-wide communication channels and tools
  • Calendar access for client appointments or meetings
  • Proper training on cyber security
  • Digital employee handbooks and learning materials
  • Access to cloud storage and documentation

While assimilating to your company culture and figuring out how things work is more straightforward for regular, on-site employees, workers in a hybrid model might struggle to fit into their job roles. So, it’s your job to make their onboarding easier. 

4. Assign A Buddy For Mentorship

Another excellent onboarding strategy for employees on a remote or hybrid model is pairing them up with a mentor or a buddy who will be their primary contact person. New employees will often have many questions but can be too embarrassed or afraid to ask. 

To make them feel more comfortable, provide one-on-one mentorship with an existing employee who’s willing to show them all the ins and outs of the company. 

Provide an incentive for the mentor to push them to do their best when assimilating the new hire to the company culture. You’ll create a sense of unity and common goals by tying the mentor’s success to the new hire’s performance. 

5. Be Transparent

Be transparent throughout the entire onboarding process in every aspect of your operations.

Financial Transparency

Your new hire needs to be entirely in the clear when it comes to their earnings. Financial transparency can start as early as during recruiting by listing the salary range in your job ad. 

Another great way to promote financial transparency is by providing a pay stub with each salary. A pay stub clearly breaks apart the employee’s wages, deductions, hours worked, and similar. For this purpose, you can use a reliable paystub generator that will accurately list and calculate your income. 

Transparent Goals And Performance Pointers

A significant part of a successful onboarding process is providing your new hire with KPIs you plan to measure and a list of short and long-term goals of their job role. They need to know what to expect and how you will measure their success, especially if they work on-site only a few days a week. 

After going through virtual training, give your new employee straightforward tasks to start with. Always set clear expectations and give reasonable deadlines. At the end of each successful project, schedule some time for re-evaluation and feedback with your new hires. 

6. Don’t Stop Communicating

Perhaps the greatest challenge in onboarding workers remotely or hybridly is the lack of physical proximity. Making a first impression and establishing personal connections with teammates so that an employee feels included is more challenging to achieve virtually. 

Since the employees aren’t always there to read your facial cues, you have to open a constant communication line. In remote settings, overcommunicating is better than under-communicating. 

As stated by Gallup, onboarding shouldn’t be a one-way communication but a process where you socialize and engage the new hire. And this is especially vital for workers with a hybrid schedule. 

7. Train Managers To Lead Hybrid Teams

According to a PWC remote work survey, training managers to lead teams in a remote environment is the second-largest gap or inefficiency, just behind childcare benefits. 

Learning how to build schedules with flexibility in mind is the first step to successful hybrid work. As there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to flexible schedules, managers and leaders need to learn what type of hybrid schedules work best for their business needs and different job roles within an organization. 

A great manager needs to differentiate between essential staff that has to be on-site or on a minimally hybrid schedule, and those that can work fully remote. From that point on, the manager needs to be able to rotate and schedule staff shifts accordingly, with employees’ wellbeing always in mind. 

Summary

To wrap it all up, we have another best practice you can use to give your hybrid onboarding process a boost – personalization. Not every employee is the same, and they all have different ways to process and learn new information at a different speed. 

Tailoring your onboarding process to each job role and allowing your new hires their own pace of progress can improve the employee’s integration and assimilation to the company culture, regardless of how many days they work on-site.

We hope you found this onboarding checklist helpful in making hybrid work easier for all your new hires. Although the onboarding for different roles could slightly alter these steps, the principles remain the same. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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There’s a New Pathway to Private Cloud

Many enterprises are urgently reconsidering their business communications to keep pace with the needs of the new work environment. Do they stay with their premises-based solution or migrate to the cloud to take advantage of new capabilities, new technologies and hybrid working? 

Together with Mitel, 4Sight can offer a fast, seamless migration to the cloud. The added advantage is that when you choose 4Sight for cloud services, the learning curve is flatter as we already know your systems and you trust our services. And that’s not all. You can also expect: 

  • Less disruption than with other cloud vendors
  • To gain the full benefits from your previous investments in phones while also enjoying the additional benefits of the cloud
  • Easier integration of emerging technologies, unlocking all the capabilities cloud communications has to offer

Let’s talk a bit about why the cloud is so attractive and the options available. First, migrating to the cloud may mean that you no longer need to buy and operate servers and software. You simply purchase the services you need, and these are delivered through the cloud.  You can buy software as a service (SaaS) which delivers specific software application services. 

Another option is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) from providers such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure or AWS, who provide data center services. These are public services where you share the cloud with other organizations. For enterprises who need a dedicated environment and more control, the alternative is a private cloud. This is more costly and may require advanced expertise within the organization.

Evolution Of The Private Cloud

Now there’s a new option. Mitel, and a few other providers, are offering managed private cloud services that combine the benefits of public and private cloud services. Mitel calls this new service MiCloud Flex, and it provides three separate communications capabilities:

  • Traditional owned or controlled software in a data center – a secure, private solution accessible only by one business
  • Controlled software on cloud infrastructure – for businesses that want to keep control but with the capability to be more agile in deploying communications applications
  • Public software as a service – shared between different organizations with hosting, management and security the responsibility of a hosting company

So, what’s new about MiCloud Flex?

Mitel cloud solutions offer telephony, collaboration, conferencing, and features like contact center and integrations. MiCloud Flex offers your organization extra control as it is offered in a dedicated, secure environment. It provides the best of both worlds – you benefit from the value and simplicity of cloud-delivered services but retain the greater control of a dedicated private cloud solution. And since it is a pre-built, optimized and managed cloud service, you won’t need to employ a dedicated IaaS Engineer to maintain it. One of the key benefits of MiCloud Flex is that it can be optimized to exact specifications. Your business can customize systemwide parameters, set default values, and select integrations that meet your specific requirements. 

Explore Further 

We expect MiCloud Flex to be most appealing to organizations with 100+ seats, for whom control is important as well as reliability, security, scalability, and global reach. These organizations may also be spread across several locations. This makes MiCloud Flex an ideal solution as users can enjoy the same communications experience anywhere, anytime and on any device. Cloud storage means applications and information can be seamlessly accessed, while advanced security protection ensures that sensitive data remains safe. In addition, it also offers organizations that previously rejected private clouds due to complexity and costs the chance to take a fresh look. MiCloudFlex offers a solution that optimizes the benefits of public cloud services, such as scalability and global reach, with the control that many organizations need.

Whether your business needs a private cloud solution or can make a quick move to the cloud via a public cloud solution, 4Sight has everything necessary to meet your communications technology needs. As experts in on-prem, cloud and moving customers from one to the other, you can trust that your cloud migration experience will be both easy and seamless.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Why Migrating to the Cloud is More Affordable Than You Might Think

When we think about upgrading something we own and use, most of us feel a mix of emotions — especially if the item still functioning as it should and fulfilling our needs. While we may be excited about what we’ll be able to do with the new features and functions we’ll have at our disposal, we’re also worried that we can’t really afford the upgrade and maybe what we already have is good enough. That concern often causes us to delay upgrades, hoping to squeeze more from our current investment.

Businesses are no different. Most businesses recognize that modernizing their communications technologies will help them increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and sharpen their competitive edge. But many are sticking with the technologies they have today because they don’t believe they can afford to do anything else.

The good news is funding and delivery models for communications technologies have become far more flexible in recent years. This flexibility opens the door for almost every business to start on the path to modernization.

CapEx Funding Strategies May Be Holding You Back

Traditionally, chief financial officers (CFOs) have preferred to buy IT infrastructure outright as a capital expenditure (CapEx) because they could use the associated amortization and depreciation costs as tax deductions. While these financial benefits are helpful to businesses, a CapEx purchase strategy for communications systems also comes with downsides.

A significant cash outlay is required to initiate the purchase. The need for cash can be budgeted in advance, but it has become increasingly difficult to accurately anticipate the long-term hardware and software requirements for communications systems. Hardware is particularly notorious for becoming obsolete in shorter-than-expected timeframes.

Once a business owns a system, it’s difficult to switch it out for a more appropriate solution if technology advances in unexpected ways, new business requirements or opportunities emerge or the company grows faster than forecasted. If businesses over-purchase communications technologies in an attempt to proactively address potential scenarios down the road, there’s a significant risk those resources will remain idle or underused over the lifetime of the system.

The problem? The speed of technology evolution doesn’t fit well with a CapEx strategy. At a minimum, it’s time-consuming and arduous to get an additional CapEx budget approved. In many cases, it’s impossible because most businesses simply don’t have the cash reserves required to change course or purchase a more advanced communications system before the pre-defined upgrade or replacement timeframe.

A CapEx approach to communications systems also affects operational costs (OpEx) because the on-site hardware and software systems consume space, and they must be maintained, powered and cooled.

An OpEx Strategy Increases Flexibility On Every Front

With an OpEx strategy, businesses don’t purchase the communications system hardware or software. Instead, they pay a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee to access communications capabilities that are offered in a subscription model. All hardware and software are owned, operated and maintained by another company, and communications costs become day-to-day business costs.

While some CFOs are still reluctant to move IT spending away from traditional CapEx models, most realize that an OpEx model for IT systems delivers an important set of financial benefits. When technology is an operating expense, businesses can:

  • Pay only for the capacity they need at that time, so capital is never tied up in under-used hardware and software
  • Write off the entire subscription cost each year rather than just a percentage of the total CapEx purchase price
  • Free up large amounts of capital that can be invested across the company
  • Avoid the need to borrow money or divert money from other projects to pay for large, upfront technology costs
  • Reduce the costs of system operation, management and maintenance
  • Streamline cash flows by eliminating large, sporadic cash outlays
  • Simplify and accelerate budgeting exercises because short-term spending requirements are lower

CFOs also increasingly recognize that the business agility gained with an OpEx strategy outweighs the gains from capital write-offs. According to Deloitte’s 2019 guide to the cloud for CFOs, some companies are achieving returns of more than 10 times on their cloud investments when they account for all the costs and benefits.

Cloud Communications Solutions Leverage The Benefits Of OPEX Funding

The limitations of CapEx strategies, combined with the availability of subscription-based, cloud-hosted communications solutions, are leading many CFOs and chief information officers (CIOs) to choose OpEx funding models for business communications systems.

With this approach, businesses can immediately start migrating to the cloud at the pace that makes the most sense for their communications requirements, business goals and budgets. They have the freedom to choose the features and functions that match their needs today, and to add, change or drop capabilities as their business evolves — whether the business is growing in size locally, expanding into new territories, adopting to seasonality or new ways of working or changing focus to take advantage of new opportunities.

For many businesses, a hybrid approach that combines existing on-premises solutions with cloud-based applications could be the right way to start the journey to the cloud. For example, Mitel MiVoice Business users can add cloud-based apps such as Mitel MiCollabMiTeam Meetings, and MiContact Center Business.

With fast and easy access to these apps, businesses can almost instantly do more without making massive CapEx investments. They can introduce new communications, collaboration and customer experience technologies that are crucial to support modern business requirements and remote staff while still leveraging their investment in their current system.

Businesses can also use a gradual cloud migration strategy to evaluate the business and financial benefits of their newly adopted OpEx strategy over time. And they can make their assessment while benefiting from maximum business agility with almost no financial risks.

4Sight, Mitel Certified Partner, Is Ready To Help

Adopting a new funding model and service delivery strategy is a significant change for many businesses. At 4Sight we are ready to discuss the benefits of an OpEx funding strategy for your communications system as well as the pros and cons of different cloud migration strategies when you’re ready.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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How to Make Virtual Meetings Fun for Remote Teams

Virtual meetings are essential to help remote teams collaborate, connect and stay informed but they can quickly turn into tedious and frustrating time-wasters if handled thoughtlessly.

In 2019, 37% percent of employees believed that their organization’s most significant cost was unnecessary meetings. As the world shifted to virtual meetings and remote work, the word “video fatigue” was suddenly a part of our everyday vocabulary.

According to research done by Microsoft, stress and burn-out occur faster over a video call than when doing other work in front of a computer screen. Their findings state that video fatigue begins to set in 30-40 minutes into a video call. This is because of the intense concentration needed to extract relevant information without all of the additional non-verbal cues and information you would receive in an in-person meeting.

The good news is, it’s possible to avoid this kind of prolonged concentration fatigue even in a virtual meeting. If you have ever known anyone who was really into video games, you know that prolonged attention to a video screen is definitely possible.

So how can you make your meetings more like a video game while still getting everyone on the same page to meet company goals? If you follow these guidelines, fun meetings can quickly become a part of your work culture. And with happier, more engaged, and unified workers, you will soon see improvements in every area of your business.

1. Plan Ahead

Just like in-person meetings, planning is essential to running a smooth virtual meeting. You could start with planning out the agenda, but this isn’t always the best strategy for a fun meeting. It’s usually best to start by asking some big-picture questions.

Purpose

You want to determine the purpose of the meeting because everything that happens at the meeting should serve this purpose. Does your team need direction? Information? Inspiration? Unity? When you figure out what the purpose of the meeting is, you might realize that a virtual meeting isn’t even necessary. For example, if you are calling a meeting to disseminate information, something like email might work better.

Attendees

Once you’ve uncovered the purpose and determined that a virtual meeting is the best way to serve that purpose, you can make a list of invitees. The bigger the list of attendees is, the more draining the meeting will be for everyone involved. In order for employees to be engaged in a virtual meeting, they must be able to give input, and this isn’t possible in large groups. Additionally, smaller meetings feel more intimate and will help team members feel closer to one another and more supportive of each other.

Agenda

Now that you know the purpose of the meeting and who is coming, you can plan out the agenda. Make sure that you hit everything you need to but remove as much as possible.

Start by writing everything you would like to cover, then go back and remove the items that are not essential and don’t serve the overall purpose. Then go back and remove some more. Make sure to include some fun activities in the agenda that support your purpose (more on this below). It’s also a good idea to include ground rules and roles in the agenda so that everyone is aware ahead of time and things don’t devolve into chaos. 

2. Share The Agenda In Advance

Once you know what you want to cover at the meeting, make sure you share the agenda and any materials that will be discussed ahead of time. Sharing new materials at the meeting will waste time and likely cause participants to divert their focus from the speaker to the new materials. Additionally, with the materials in advance, your team can come up with questions ahead of time which can either be addressed quickly at the meeting or even outside the meeting through a team chat channel or group email.

3. Make Introductions

Introductions are vital for an engaging meeting. When team members know who is in a meeting, they are much more likely to engage, particularly if they can see everyone involved. Remind participants in the ground rules to turn on their cameras and use a virtual background if necessary.

Introductions can serve another purpose as well. As each attendee is introduced along with their role and responsibilities in the meeting, they are instantly engaged. We can’t help but pay attention when we are the subject of conversation.

4. Give Everyone A Role

Most of us know how difficult it is to stay engaged during a dry lecture. For the person giving the lecture, however, the experience is completely different. They get a boost of adrenaline from being in the spotlight and feel completely engaged. Similarly, if everyone gets a chance to be in the spotlight, everyone gets a little boost of adrenaline to help them stay in the moment.

When assigning roles, consider the strengths and personalities of your employees and use your creativity. Some roles you might want to have are: a leader, a record keeper, a timekeeper, a devil’s advocate to challenge ideas that are tossed out, and an activity or game leader.  

5. Utilize Virtual Tools To Keep Things Interesting

If you have a large amount of information to convey, you will want to use different media and switch things up to keep team members from losing focus. Remember, it is more difficult to stay focused on a person speaking over video than it is in person. Use fun visuals, colorful PowerPoint slides, whiteboarding and screen sharing to keep video fatigue at bay.

6. Gamify The Meeting

To keep team members engaged, your meeting needs to be informative and fun. And what is more fun, engaging, and bonding than games? For memorable meetings, choose a game or two to play at the beginning of the meeting, during the meeting, and towards the end as well. 

Icebreakers

Icebreakers are a great way to get team members to loosen up and get to know each other right away. Some ideas for virtual icebreaker games are “would you rather” (participants have to choose between two things and then explain why), “two truths and a lie” (each participant tells two truths about themselves and one lie and everyone has to guess which is the lie) and “highs and lows” (participants share a high and low point of their week.

Ongoing Games

Ongoing games are games that run in the background for the entirety of the meeting to help keep participants on their toes. Some examples of ongoing games are “word of the day” (participants are given a word that they must try to sneak into a conversation at some point during the meeting), “tuned in”(whenever the speaker holds up a sign that says “tuned in” everyone on the call has to hold up their own sign and the last one to do so has to complete a challenge) and “freeze” (participants try to fool each other by pretending to be frozen).

Virtual Games for Cognition and Creativity

If you really want to get the creative juices flowing in your team, try scheduling a bigger game into the meeting agenda. This could be something like Scattergories, Charades or Werewolf.

With global teams on the rise, seamless unified communications and collaboration ecosystem is more important than ever. Virtual meetings have become a necessity for all remote teams, but those companies that make their virtual meetings fun and engaging will experience higher productivity, better employee retention, and greater employee satisfaction.

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Anywhere Working: What Do Resilient Teams Really Look Like?

As organizations make plans to implement hybrid working, many executives are asking themselves: “What does it take to succeed in today’s ever-changing business landscape?” 

In a word? Resilience.

That’s what helped Apple deliver strong growth during the pandemic. “If I had to describe our performance this quarter in a single word, it’s resilient,” said CEO Tim Cook. “Even though we’re apart, it’s been obvious this year that around the company, teams and colleagues have been leaning on and counting on each other more than in normal times. I think that instinct, that resilience, has been an essential part of how we have navigated this year.”

But what does resiliency really mean to the modern-day manager? Merriam-Webster defines resiliency as the “ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” However, as the majority of companies plan for a hybrid work future, you may be wondering how to build and maintain resiliency among a mix of in-person and remote workers. Fortunately, the qualities that characterize a resilient in-office team match those of a resilient work-anywhere team – as long as you have the right communications and collaboration tools in place. 

Resilient teams have been a hot topic. Check out the four qualities of resilient teams and how you can foster these characteristics across a hybrid workforce.  

Four Qualities Of Resilient Teams – And How To Hybridize Them

1. Flexible And Resourceful

Being flexible and resourceful is akin to the golden rule of resiliency. Teams need to be able to adapt to changing customer expectations, market conditions and supply chain issues. When challenges arise, resilient teams pull together and come up with creative ways to overcome obstacles. 

In the past, team members were often huddled in the same conference room, brainstorming new and innovative solutions to complex problems. While some of your team may still be in the same physical space, others will be joining from afar. With the right communications technology in place, however, it’ll feel like everyone is in the same room. 

In fact, why not transform the in-office huddle room and add even more power to your hybrid team? MiTeam Meetings is a plug-and-play solution that lets your in-person staff gather in one room without remote workers getting lost in the background. Features like instant messaging and polling let everyone contribute their ideas easily and in real-time. Teams can even capture notes, share files and pick up right where they left off in the next brainstorming session. 

2. Vocal And Informative

Another key ingredient to resilient teams is open and honest communications. People need to feel free to raise their hand when there’s a problem or share an idea without worrying about being judged or overlooked. A recent post on one of our Twitter chats points to the important role managers play in creating a culture of open communications: “Leaders can encourage their team members to speak up when they see challenges or problems and demonstrate that they are listening to their team members by acting and thanking their team members for their honesty.”

In order to accomplish this, managers should make it easy to communicate with employees and always be available to listen. It’s important to offer a variety of communications options. MiCollab and MiTeam Meetings, for example, make it easy for teams to stay connected, no matter where or how people are working. Features such as web and mobile applications and a single point of access for a multitude of collaboration tools makes sure no one is ever more than a click away. 

3. Psychologically Resilient

Adversity often breeds anxiety. If your team doesn’t feel supported or safe, they’re less likely to succeed. Managers can create a safe space for employees by expressing their own concerns and encouraging team members to voice any issues or ideas. 

Managers can also use technology to improve the psychological health of teams. Consider a weekly meeting where anything goes – employees can be free to talk about what’s on their minds, whether it be work-related or more personal. Give members the freedom to join the meeting any way they choose – video, audio, in-person or remote – so they have a sense of control. And don’t be afraid to make it fun. Some leaders have even hosted virtual happy hours and held at-home contests. A little time to blow off some steam or vent can go a long way in improving psychological health and building a sense of trust among team members. 

4. Diverse

If everyone on a team has the same ideas, innovation isn’t likely to happen. That’s why diversity is so important. But managers need to embrace all aspects of diversity, even when it comes to communicating with employees. In the hybrid world, there are more communications options than ever, so it can be a challenge to know how best to interact. 

As Andy Grant, Vice President of Global Field Marketing at Mitel said, “We don’t need to have all our calls over video. Sometimes when you just want to chat and check in a phone call is more effective.” Leaders should recognize different people have preferences when it comes to digital communications and certain situations are better suited to different communications channels. Managers need to adapt to the styles of team members to make them feel comfortable and connected. 

Resiliency may seem like an unattainable goal these days, but with the right communications tools in place, it’s really just a click away. Give your hybrid teams the resources they need, and you may be surprised at how well they persevere – at home, in the office and anywhere in between. 

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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Want a Successful Cloud Migration? Planning Makes All the Difference

Now that we have covered the “whys” of moving your communications systems to the cloud, let’s move on to the “how”.

The “how” is perhaps the most important question in your transition to the cloud. While there are huge benefits to moving to the cloud, there can also be significant challenges along the way. Every step in your journey matters, and not every business will approach the journey, or even each step, in the same way. 

Some businesses might be ready, willing and able to make the end-to-end journey to the cloud in one phase. Others might need to take a more cautious, step-by-step approach over a longer timeline. The keys to success are tailoring your approach to the needs of your business, clearly defining where you are, where you want to be, and how you plan to get there.  To lay the foundation for a smooth migration and eliminate trade-offs, businesses should complete 3 key steps: 

  1. Build a comprehensive plan that supports clear objectives
  2. Pursue internal activities to set the stage for success
  3. Obtain guidance from a trusted, objective partner

Chart Your Course Before You Set Sail 

Reaping the full benefits from your move to the cloud requires you to have a clear understanding of the following: 

  1. What are your objectives? It’s important to understand exactly what you’re trying to accomplish with your move to the cloud and make your goals as measurable as possible. For instance, one key objective may be to take advantage of the superior security the cloud offers. If so, document what specific security issues are you hoping to avoid or lessen. Your goals may also include improving the quality and reliability of your remote work environment. With increasing numbers of employees working from home full- or part-time, it’s essential to ensure they stay connected regardless of location or what devices they’re using. 

    In your journey to the cloud, look for ways to measure improvements in remote worker productivity and satisfaction. And if your organization is moving to the cloud to ensure employees can take advantage of next-gen software and tools, anticipate what productivity improvements you might gain when employees have earlier access to the latest updates and features, as well as the cost savings you may achieve because IT no longer needs to perform system maintenance. Look beyond the date your migration is expected to be complete. Identify where you want to be by next year, in three years and in five.
  2. What are your timelines and milestones? Chart the step-by-step journey that makes sense for your business. Ask yourself: “In what order should the steps occur to ensure a smooth migration and minimal disruption to the business?” Identify when you’ll need certain features, and ensure timelines are realistic. 
  3. What potential business disruptions should you anticipate and what’s your “Plan B?” Despite the best laid plans, business disruptions can occur. Having a plan B to mitigate and minimize those risks will give you peace of mind. Maybe you’ll plan for part of your system to be unavailable as it’s being upgraded. What’s your workaround? Identify what unintended disruptions could occur. Which ones are most likely, based on your objectives and planned journey? When could they occur, based on your timeline? Craft a technology and staffing plan that addresses what can you do if they occur, and when you will need to be ready.

Actions To Take Before You Migrate

It’s advisable for some businesses to start their journey to the cloud by taking preliminary, internal actions first. These activities can lay a solid foundation for the eventual move. For example:

  1. Consider consolidating multiple sites and SIP services to make your business run more smoothly
  2. Identify and capture institutional knowledge that will facilitate the journey. It’s hard to move information into the cloud from someone’s brain!

Reach out to key stakeholders within your organization who may have specific requirements. Talking internally will help you determine what different departments might need from a move to the cloud. You may discover requirements you hadn’t thought of and mitigate risks you might not have considered. 

Choose A Flexible, Knowledgeable Partner

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ journey to the cloud. Some businesses have existing systems that they can leverage with cloud-based technologies and retain existing infrastructure. Others will be better served by hustling straight over to full cloud integration. Different regions, different vertical structures and different business sizes and histories will all play a role in how a specific business approaches the cloud. 

That’s why having a flexible and knowledgeable partner is so important. The right partner can understand your specific requirements and help identify which systems may be well-suited to a lift-and-shift straight over to the cloud. That partner can also help you determine which legacy applications should not make the move to the cloud right now, or ever. 

While the cloud offers a lot of value and many opportunities, if you feel pressured by a partner with a ‘cloud-or-bust’ approach, it could mean more headaches, frustrations, and costs down the line. Every step on your cloud journey should provide value to your business today. A good partner can help you figure out which approach works best for you now, and which approach is worth looking at later or not at all, giving you peace of mind.

A good plan lets you have your cake and eat it too

In life, changes often lead to trade-offs. In your move to the cloud, they don’t need to be. Many times, apparent trade-offs in cloud migration are the result of moving too quickly with too little information. A move to the cloud can, and should, meet your requirements for business-as-usual at every stage of the process. 

Take security. Many breaches of cloud security are actually the result of misconfigurations during the migration process. They have nothing to do with the cloud itself, which is likely more secure than the in-house servers of most businesses. In fact, most businesses will benefit from the improved network security offered by the cloud, provided the migration to a cloud environment isn’t rushed.

Ultimately, making a smooth move to the cloud means asking a lot of questions and investing time and effort in building your custom plan. 4Sight is ready, willing and able to help you map your path to the cloud and ensure a smooth, successful transition. Why not get started today?

This blog post was first published by Mitel.

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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.

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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.

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