The rise of VoIP solutions 02 | WELCOME 03 | The silver lining of cloud-based communications 05 | THE USES OF UC 09 | The benefits of customer experience with collaboration 10 | INFOGRAPHIC
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The rise of VoIP solutions
o say the internet has changed business at the core is not news. But it’s clear that the benefits offered by modern communication platforms will probably have the single biggest impact on long-term success. Over the last two decades, businesses have embraced two fundamental shifts in how they interact with customers and manage internal processes, with both benefiting from access to the internet, smart software and emerging trends such as voice over IP (VoIP), collaboration and the cloud. From the customer side, communication has shifted to become truly multi-modal with demands across voice, email, webchat, video and social platforms that blend formal and informal groups together. The second shift, prompted by globalisation, has witnessed many businesses embrace remote working for staff and collaborative relationships with suppliers and partners that span industries and time zones. With so many combinations of communications paths needed for different
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stakeholder groups, many organisations are adopting unified platforms. These empower individuals and groups to communicate in the most effective way with one or many people using the medium and device best suited to their requirements. With an ongoing and widespread upgrade of the broadband infrastructure, the limitations of technologies such as VoIP are truly a thing of the past. For many organisations, unified-communications platforms now offer a significant advantage, allowing them to react quicker or work more efficiently to deliver goods and customer service as a competitive differentiator. In the same way that the industrial revolution of the late 1800s forced businesses to adapt or wither, the VoIP 2.0 revolution is fostering a new age where agility and joined-up processes can help visionaries achieve sustainable growth and ultimately success. Offering valuable insights into the technology, strategy and real-world use cases, this supplement will highlight how modern communication technologies are solving longstanding challenges while delivering tangible long-term benefits and, in some cases, transformative outcomes.
The silver lining of cloud-based communications
The communications imperative. All organisations have it. Employees need to share and collaborate, better communications boost supply-chain efficiency, and it is vital for connecting with customers – whether they are buying or complaining BY ROB BAMFORTH, PRINCIPAL ANALYST, QUOCIRCA
While there has been much emphasis over the last decade on advancing various forms of messaging, visual and social communications, the majority of day-to-day business is still conducted by phone and basic email. Businesses know they need to be able to deal with many more diverse communications technologies in order to accommodate the changing needs of customers, suppliers and employees. For small and mediumsized businesses, this is becoming a significant challenge.
Driving forces Firstly, there is much uncertainty. At a direct level, businesses are concerned about increases in communications costs but also
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selecting the right technology and showing demonstrable returns. At a wider level, there are many unpredictable international, national and social changes. Attitudes to work have shifted. New working practices emerge and change is being accelerated by new generations of workers. Much of this is enabled by technological innovation. Connectivity is expected on the move and must deliver increasingly rich and varied forms of media and content. Organisations recognise the need to adapt. Communications are no longer seen simply as a set of onpremises equipment and systems but a range of services. Quocirca research conducted in May 2017 – summarised in The Next Step in Digital Business Transformation report – backs this up. Cloud-based services have already made inroads in other parts of IT infrastructure but UK businesses now believe the delivery of telephony, collaboration and conferencing as-aservice will be vital for their future.
Why make the change now? The most immediate – and directly realisable – reason to make change in business communications is for cost saving. In the short term, this can mean reducing the transactional impact of telephony by moving to VoIP and, in the mid-term, by encouraging a switch from business travel to remote video collaboration and conferencing. Finally, in the long term it can reduce the management overhead of communications. A large – but harder to measure – set of benefits comes from streamlining business processes and improved personal productivity. This is not about communicating more but more effectively. Faster decision making, more collaboration and freeing up individual time to focus on adding value to the business all have an impact. It might be harder to measure but it is significant. 3 09/10/2017 19:50
The rise of VoIP solutions
Businesses need services that deliver multiple business communications channels that can be accessed anywhere Delivering these improvements efficiently requires a step up in companiesâ€™ flexibility. Moves and changes have long been the bane of many telecoms managers but the challenges are now more intense. Communication services need to be delivered in a far more flexible way to deal with business uncertainties, more flexible working practices and employee mobility expectations.
What to look for? The primary focus should be user experience. Businesses need services that deliver multiple business communications channels that can be accessed anywhere, by anyone and on any device. This means that mobile, the primary choice for most individuals, needs to be embedded at the core of any solution, not added as an afterthought. Secondly, is the feature set fit for the working context? Technology often aims to overdeliver on features but this clutters the user experience. Those who need a broad array of capabilities will want to access them when they need to but the day-to-day user experience needs streamlining. Seek out communications services that keep things simple, specific, tailored and direct. Simplicity is also key to communications management. Few organisations need or have the resources to manage communications systems in-house, yet most want to retain overall control. Cloud-based communications platforms allow organisations to outsource the daily grind of management but also gain better understanding of usage and adoption through analytics. This means they can focus on those important strategic elements of management rather than the time-sapping drudgery. With the right dashboard or control panel, you can meet these needs. 4 pages 3-4.indd 2
Even basic business-communication needs no longer revolve around calling and messaging. Organisations must choose services that integrate across the full spectrum of information-sharing requirements. Mobile is critical; so too are a whole raft of content storage and sharing services. This means integration with popular cloud-based services is important. Not only will users expect it but tight integration will reduce management efforts and security risks. Commercially, cloud-based services offer more cost flexibility â€“ pay-as-you-go and pay-as-you-grow â€“ but this should not be the only commercial driver. A more strategic view of usage and cost visibility will also be valuable. Making the change to a cloudbased communications service may also be, or perceived to be, a difficult and time-consuming challenge. But it need not be. Look to providers that can deliver a smooth transition. How much help can they offer through the evaluation process to ensure that future communications needs are met with the right service levels up front and that making the switch is as painless a process as possible? Finally, since reliable communications are so vital to any organisation, the long-term relationship with communication providers must be considered. Do they have the right attitude and commitment to offer the support required? Can they cope with the scale and speed to reliably deliver to meet the growth in volume and adoption, not only of the basic communications needs of today but also the growth in more sophisticated information sharing and visual collaboration tomorrow? Much recent focus on communications has been on unifying the technology infrastructure and so unified communication services have often been nothing more than unified plumbing. While this can lead to some cost reductions the key to success is focus on the user. Make it easier and more productive for them and they will increase adoption. In the past this might have required a lot of management, deployment and integration skills but with cloud-based services this is no longer the case. Now is the time to seize the opportunity to improve business communications by choosing flexible cloud services.
The uses of UC
Using a cloud-based, unified-communications system can bring businesses all kinds of benefits, including lower fees, more flexible working and improved collaboration ou probably started your business in one small space. But gradually all of your hard work paid off and the business grew, so now you have more employees and more than one location. You may also have employees working from home, as well as nomads who rarely come to the main location. Trouble is, integrating multiple locations and remote workers can be hard for small businesses: not only are old-school phone systems more expensive but they are designed to work within four walls. Fortunately, unified communications (UC) can help bring together a company’s scattered workforce and come with untold benefits when compared with their more antiquated analogue brethren.
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One of the first benefits you’re likely to notice when switching to a UC solution are the savings. Given that they offer a VoIP solution for calls and take advantage of a connection that any modern business already utilises, they ultimately work out more cost-effective than traditional telecom solutions. VoIP operates over the same connections as your internet service meaning no new lines have to be installed, which keeps initial costs low. Additionally, VoIP allows small businesses to keep their operational expenditure low. As calls are made over the internet, it doesn’t matter how long distance these calls are – something that’s a particularly big blessing for companies operating in multiple markets. But while this has clear benefits when trying to link up with international offices and customers, how can UC solutions edge out the competition when it comes to remote working? When workers from offices with traditional phone systems want to stay in touch with customers they have to give out their home or mobile number. And if a call comes in to the office for a remote worker, someone needs to get in contact and ask them to return it. By contrast, UC solutions can connect workers wherever they are – across multiple offices, at home or on the road. Setting up an IP phone on their desk can be as simple as plugging in an ethernet cable and means home workers can have a business number and full access to the company directory and voicemail. Moreover, many UC packages can turn mobile workers’ smartphones into fullfeatured business phones, allowing them to make and receive calls using your business number – not their personal mobile numbers. This means that wherever staff have to travel, to the outside world it looks as if they never left their desks. However, a company’s comms needs don’t begin and end with calls:
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The rise of VoIP solutions
The ability to increase the number of users remotely from Jersey has proven very useful when setting up new licensed partners, getting them connected to the central office and their customers straight away.
Going global 365 Tickets
With UC tools allowing it to communicate and collaborate internationally, the world is 365 Tickets’ oyster To quickly set up new team members in its 15 global locations, provide cost-effective international calls and the tools to manage its own business communication solution, 365 Tickets, the ticket company, required a system that was more advanced than the traditional legacy private branch exchange it had. “We work closely with our suppliers in order to secure the best deals for our customers worldwide,” says Ross Coupland, domain relationship & UX systems manager at 365 Tickets. “As such, we receive a range of different calls depending on whether it’s a customer, supplier or one of our 12 licensed partners based around the globe. As our business continues to scale and grow internationally, an intuitive and cost-effective communications infrastructure is essential.” Each of 365 Tickets’ international locations has VoIP phones connected to a central RingCentral account, which is used to make and receive internal calls for free.
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Adapting in real time RingCentral Office provided 365 Tickets with the flexibility to design a telephony system that allowed different journeys for specific callers. This has allowed 365 Tickets to work smarter with the way that it handles call volumes for different departments and create dynamic call handling rules on the fly to adapt to the needs of the business in real time. “It’s not just external communication that has been simplified as a result of switching to RingCentral, engagement between colleagues has also improved,” says Coupland. “We are based in Jersey and often have to travel for meetings, so being able to make and receive calls using the iPhone app helps us to stay in touch with each other.” Efficient team collaboration 365 Tickets has also benefited from the UC specialist’s powerful collaboration tool, Glip, which is offered at no extra cost to RingCentral Office customers. The business’s technology team were looking for a costeffective collaboration tool to help with its internal project management but didn’t want to pay an expensive monthly fee for all the features that were needed. “Many of the more basic collaboration platforms, whilst low initial cost, generate significant spend on training, uptake and acceptance,” Coupland says. “We also found that most of the products that were compatible with things like Google Drive and Hangouts required a high monthly cost per user. “Glip makes handling projects and daily tasks really easy and it also works with RingCentral Office, meaning that we can make video and audio conferences with a single click. We have been really impressed with the increased efficiency and reduction in emails since using Glip.”
Taking care of business Optimum Healthcare Solutions
Offering more lines and a way to easily share customers’ medical information, a UC solution is proving to be just what the doctor ordered for Optimum Healthcare Solutions
Dean Payne built Optimum Healthcare Solutions from the ground up and, seeing a gap in the market for end-to-end treatment, he expanded the company to include rehabilitation. Optimum Healthcare Solutions grew rapidly and is now one of the main regional healthcare providers in the UK. But with upwards of 500 inbound and outbound calls a day, its previous telecoms solution – an iPECS 50 phone system with only four lines – meant customers were kept on hold for much longer than they needed to be. “Even though Optimum Healthcare Solutions thrives on the best customer service, we realised we weren’t
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achieving our KPIs because of the time it was taking to answer customer calls,” says Payne. “We considered getting more lines on our existing system but it meant we’d be spending three to four times as much and this just wasn’t financially feasible. That’s when we started investigating possible alternative platforms and decided to implement RingCentral’s cloud-based system. Within a week, we let go of our iPECS system completely and now have 32 lines with RingCentral for the price we used to pay for four ISDN lines.
Pure and simple “Apart from the financial costs of the iPECS system, it was also relatively complicated to program, which meant an engineer had to be called out each time we wanted it to be changed,” Payne says. “Consequently, we could not react quickly to issues or when we wanted to make changes to the system like changing call volumes or recording promotions for the client to hear while they were put on hold. “Not only is the administration of the RingCentral system very straightforward but the implementation was incredibly easy – all the equipment arrived as promised and we had really helpful tutorials at the start. This means my staff are now in full control of the system and don’t require any additional technical support.” Come together “Information-sharing across all our clinics is vital especially in our line of work, where communicating a customer’s medical history is necessary if they visit physicians in a number of our clinics,” says Payne. “We use RingCentral cloud technology to connect all our staff and share information easily. Our phone system means staff can contact colleagues in different locations through an allocated extension number and we also use a cloud-based clinical system to securely share notes. “I’m also a huge advocate of cloud technology that enables my staff to lead flexible lives. This means they can work from home, or remotely, when they need to and still be securely connected to the office. In fact, I have an employee that has recently had to relocate to Germany for her husband’s job but thanks to our cloud-based phone system, clinical system and the cloud desktops we’re about to launch, she can work remotely via the cloud.” 7 09/10/2017 19:53
The rise of VoIP solutions
enterprises wanting to really engage with clients and customers should also have their hearts set on a range of conferencing solutions. Any UC solution worth its salt can host audio conferences for many hundreds of delegates, as well as HD video meetings that can be conducted from any computer, smartphone or tablet. However, enabling execs and sales teams to host meetings for clients from wherever they are in the country doesn’t help if they aren’t able to back up their patter with quarterly reports or data on ROI. That’s why it’s invaluable to find a solution that offers a simple and easy way for teams to share screens whether they’re working on an iMac or an iPhone. Another side effect of the fact that workforces are spread out across so many locations is it is becoming difficult to get different stakeholders together in the same room. Inevitably, this makes it far harder for businesses to work on new plans and proposals without a lot of faffing about with emails, which often proves to be a clunky way to collaborate and only adds to businesses’ admin. Fortunately, quality UC tools put collaboration front and centre, allowing companies and their clients to work jointly on projects no matter where they’re located. Allowing teams to manage projects, store and share files, access individual and group calendars and conduct private and team conversations, a good UC package will make it a breeze for staff to cooperate, whether they’re in a meeting room or on the move. For ambitious, fast-growth companies the real clincher around implementing UC is that they can scale as you do. As they enable you to quickly set up satellite offices and plug new employees into your systems, they can prove invaluable for any business with a bullish attitude toward growth. Whether you’re a real-estate business looking to unify the communications of a number of small offices, a scaling
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Many UC packages can turn mobile workers’ smartphones into full-featured business phones
tech startup wanting to expand into markets where it can access talent or a construction company aiming to seamlessly integrate site workers with the larger enterprise, UC tools can prove to be the solder that holds a rapidly growing business together. One final benefit worth considering for firms thinking about the future is how easy the system is to maintain and update. Even once they are installed, traditional phone systems require a good deal of management and maintenance, while upgrading can prove a costly and time-consuming fair, often requiring the installation of new hardware. However, thanks to the fact that UC systems are cloud-hosted, updates are easily pushed out across the system, minimising the ongoing costs and time commitment companies have to make in taking on the system.
The benefits of customer experience with collaboration t’s a given that technology is constantly evolving, with new innovations coming to market every day. Some of these new solutions become the latest trend du jour and businesses need to carefully evaluate the overall value and benefits of deploying these solutions in their enterprises. The truly disruptive technology is driving the digital transformation that is improving the way many companies operate. That said, there’s some uncertainty in understanding what digital transformation means to different companies. Decision makers need to understand the applications, processes, and outcomes that come with digital transformation and how they translate into business value. The analysis begins with perhaps the hottest topic in the collaboration space: customer experience (CX). This may not be the first thing you associate with collaboration or digital transformation but it certainly resonates strongly with management.
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The connection between CX and collaboration needs to be clarified. Traditionally, contact centre interactions haven’t been very collaborative at all; they’ve mostly been just a dialogue between customers and agents. Contact centres that are still based on legacy technology are falling further behind the digital applications that customers are using and this model is putting agents at a disadvantage; they simply don’t have access to enough resources or expertise to resolve customer issues in real time. As far as collaboration is concerned, enterprises have typically viewed these solutions for use by internal teams but not for agents because they’re customer facing. Today, a new opportunity is emerging that enables collaboration platforms to integrate office-based workers with contact center agents - not for working on internal projects but rather for ad hoc collaboration to solve customer problems as they happen in real time.
Cloud-based collaboration solutions: taking CX to the next level Today’s customer expectations are for greater immediacy and shorter time frames to place orders, get answers, etc., and companies need to elevate CX beyond what they are doing today to meet those expectations. Technology isn’t the only way to improve CX but if you continue using legacy technology or communications applications that are not tightly integrated, it will be impossible to keep pace with changing customer needs. Whether the end customer is a consumer or a business decision maker, recent research indicates that their needs are being shaped now by digital transformation. This means having faster bandwidth, adopting a mobile-centric workstyle and using cloud-based applications tailored specifically for their needs. Digital transformation goes well beyond deploying a collaboration solution; but in terms of delivering a great CX, it may well be your best investment, short of doing a complete refresh of your contact center. That’s not an option for most businesses, so it’s easy to understand why cloud-based collaboration solutions are gaining traction to meet today’s customer and team collaboration needs. 9 09/10/2017 19:54
The rise of VoIP solutions
Bruce is a busy guy. Follow his day and see how he manages to stay in control. Bruce is often out of the office...
8PM: Bruce travels 9AM: Bruce picks up his office calls on his home number
overseas and downloads the mobile app to take calls anywhere
11AM: A quick stop at the cafe and Bruce takes calls directly on his desktop app
2PM: Bruce gets out in the open and diverts calls directly to his mobile
Never miss a call again
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When unavailable, he always has a back up plan... DURING OFFICE HOURS
OUT OF HOURS
Important callers are forwarded straight to his colleague
Bruce’s calls are forwarded to colleagues working late Bruce’s team pick up calls based on who’s availble in their Call Group
If nobody answers, the call diverts to the main company switchboard
When no-one is available, calls are sent straight to voicemail
Want to be more like Bruce? Get your own personalised infographic with tips on how to take full control of your communications. Request yours by emailing email@example.com
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The new world of work The working environment has changed dramatically in the last few years. Many staff are working longer hours and are now dispersed over multiple locations, working from home for part of the week or while travelling. Thankfully, there is a better way. RingCentral is enabling companies to maintain customer service levels, staff productivity and lower their costs to retain a competitive edge.
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Published on Oct 10, 2017