Choosing the Best-Fit Unified Communications Partner: 5 Must-Have Characteristics

Are you ready to support a hybrid workforce?

Google and Economist Impact recently completed a survey which says 75 percent of respondents believe hybrid/flexible work will be standard practice within their organizations in the coming three years.1

Working with remote teams and allowing for flexible schedules requires robust communication and collaboration tools. In addition to reliable, instantaneous conversations and multichannel messaging, asynchronous features will be critical to successful information exchanges.

Unified communications (UC) technologies are essential to support ongoing digital transformation. To maintain productivity, creativity and team engagement, as well as exceptional customer experience, it’s important to partner with the right UC vendor to support your business goals.

Discover how UNIVERGE BLUE® can reimagine your business through hybrid working.

Here are five must-have characteristics of the best-fit UC partner:

1. All-Inclusive – Look for a partner who can provide your complete cloud communications needs — including voice, chat, video conferencing, file sharing, multi-channel contact center, data management, backup and security solutions.

Fifty percent of businesses that have consolidated their applications reported an improved ability to keep up with customer expectations, according to Forrester.2

Bundled UC solutions offer cost savings and the simplicity of one bill. You get the convenience of going to one place for customer support, while minimizing the need to toggle between applications.

NEC’s newly integrated UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT & ENGAGE combines Contact Center (CCaaS) with Unified Communications as a service (UCaaS) to make employee collaboration easier and customer communications smoother. Business communications are simplified and teamwork is improved since the one-stop shop approach reduces complexity and costs. Plus, user experience and customer experience (CX) are upgraded because the platform is accessible on a single pane of glass.

By consolidating your employee collaboration and customer experience solutions, you receive:

  • Faster Service Speed – Advanced call management tools unified within ENGAGE enables users to resolve customer inquiries faster
  • Better Productivity – Employees seamlessly work as a team to help each other or a customer
  • Better Service Quality – Supervisors have improved visibility into their customer experience and customer-facing users have better access to other employees
  • Flexibility – Streamline onboarding and give any user immediate access to help manage customer calls instantly
  • Adoption Rate – Users learn 2x faster due to the intuitive user interface and having only one application to operate

2. Flexible – Organizations must become more agile and responsive to ever-changing working conditions, whether remote, in office or on the go.

Mobile and desktop applications need to be available for anywhere, anytime connectivity.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND connects powerful voice, team chat, video conferencing and contact center functionalities into everyday business applications. Benefits include higher productivity, better customer retention and increased insight all-in-one tool.

Some vendors require your business to move the entire communications infrastructure to their cloud platform. NEC offers flexible deployment models that satisfy any business infrastructure whether on-premises, hybrid or cloud.

For current NEC customers, our UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE extends your existing investment, while gaining all the tools and features of cloud that benefit your hybrid/remote workers. We won’t force you to move to the cloud.

3. CX-Centered – Choose a UC partner dedicated to you and your customers.

Make certain the UC solutions are not only advanced and full featured, but also focused on a user-friendly experience.

NEC promotes a flourishing channel partner network for local, dedicated support. While there are many unified communications options in the marketplace today, not all technology providers will offer an extra layer of local support through a channel partner program.

Using UNIVERGE BLUE EXTEND, you can provide your customers with voice, chat, video conferencing and contact center solutions integrated with popular business applications like Google®, Microsoft®, Salesforce® and more. You can improve customer service and increase insights to better meet your customers’ needs.

4. Reliable – Make certain your partner has the expertise and track record of success to support your evolving UC requirements.

NEC has been a leading provider and integrator of advanced IT, communications and networking solutions for 120+ years with more than 80 million users worldwide.

We maintain the highest compliance standards for healthcare organizations with contact center tools across communications and payment processes.

UNIVERGE BLUE is purpose-built for reliability—extending peace of mind. To help you avoid the risks of downtime or unreliable communications tools, we offer:

  • A 99.999% financially-backed uptime SLA (service level agreement)
  • VoIP tests to help ensure a reliable connection and high voice quality
  • Redundant East/West data centers to increase reliability and reduce latency

5. Forward-thinking Partner – Work with a partner investing in emerging technologies and committed to giving you a competitive advantage.

As business environments continue to shift and evolve, employee and customer expectations do, too. You need a UC partner who is regularly upgrading platforms for your organization and customers’ requirements.

UNIVERGE BLUE delivers tomorrow’s smart workspace today. We are continuously innovating and partnering with industry pioneers to stay ahead of the curve. By integrating with other leading business applications, UNIVERGE BLUE streamlines your operations, enhances user-experience, and makes seamless communication a reality across your entire organization.

Our analytics and reporting capabilities include hundreds of reports at your fingertips. Be at the forefront of fast-changing circumstances. Get access to vital communications and contact center metrics, business data and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to make informed decisions.

Choosing a UC partner with these five essential characteristics will support you in gaining opportunities—and making the leap into a hybrid world.

Learn how UNIVERGE BLUE can help improve communications and transform your hybrid work model.

Sources:

  1. Insights from our global hybrid work survey,” Google Workspace
  2. Improve Business Agility Through Platform Consolidation,” Forrester Consulting

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10 STRATEGIC DRIVERS THAT WILL RESHAPE BUSINESS IN 2022

Digital Transformation is redefining business models and changing the way customers and employees function, altering entire industries. Social and business values surge when people, devices, and resources are connected. The pandemic has been a tremendous catalyst for organizations worldwide to embrace digital transformation in support of business continuity, dynamic service delivery, and realizing the new normal of hybrid working.

As an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) leader with over 120 years of expertise and experience, NEC is sharing its views on leading and emerging trends and technologies to navigate through these changes to simplify your organization, realize workforce efficiencies, and gain competitive advantages.

In this blog, we will explore the Top 10 Strategic Drivers that NEC distinguishes will shape an organization’s operations the coming year and beyond:

Digital Transformation

The integration of new technologies is changing the business world and has altered not only how businesses are seen, but also how they operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires flexibility and creativity in revisiting business models and operational processes.

Digital Transformation is key for enterprises to enrich their operations in 2022 with innovative solutions and technologies like cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, mobile internet, artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and application convergence. In doing so, they recreate their business model, enhance customer and employee experiences, and realize the always-on enterprise.

Connectedness

Making staff omnipresent and ‘always on’ is key for smart enterprises to operate efficiently and effectively in today’s business environments. Successful organizations are capitalizing on mobility solutions to enable employees to get work done no matter their location.

Mobile technologies extend communications, data, and business applications to mobile devices, ensuring employees remain fully integrated with their organizations, colleagues, and customers.

5G and LTE connectivity will transform laptops into ACPCs (Always Connected PCs) to ensure tasks can be performed anywhere on the go. 5G and Wi-Fi 6 technology will drive factors in wireless growth, bringing increased bandwidth and higher internet speeds along with more reliable networks.

Collaborative Workspace

The global pandemic has made companies rethink their workspaces and in 2022, we will see more investment in technology that allows distributed workgroups to communicate and collaborate easily, regardless of location.

Hybrid work has become the preferred model and makes tools that support a more flexible, open, and agile way of working, like Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C), a mandatory part of running a successful business. These technologies are dynamic, flexible, and user-centric, and provide easy access to tools like click-to-call and video conference capabilities, file sharing, and digital whiteboarding while driving productivity and reducing latencies across organizations.

At the office, touchless access and integrated environmental control, digital signage, motion sensors, people counting, desk and room scheduling, and voice activation will all support the ‘New Normal’.

From Experience to Engagement

The battle among enterprises for tomorrow’s customers is fought and won on Customer Experience (CX). Companies are pushing hard to deliver connected CX across channels, processes, and departments – making contact easy and pleasant, lowering thresholds, and ensuring swift response. Smart enterprises will reinvent their customer engagement models to deliver customers a unique, personalized experience and ensure a long-lasting relationship.

New tooling is introduced to enhance the Employee Experience (EX) for better business outcomes. Applications and workflows become user-centric instead of device-centric, tools become intuitive, and interactions are swift and simple.

Dynamic Delivery As A Service

Today, people acquire information, products, and entertainment instantly and on-demand. Accustomed to immediate accessibility, this “On-Demand” generation is forcing businesses to be agile and responsive, changing business dynamics dramatically.

Deploying As a Service model dramatically reduces CapEx investments in equipment, space, and resources. Modular services allow businesses to invest in just what is needed now, trimming up-front costs with full options for future expansion. In 2022, more companies will deploy programmable communications to embed voice, messaging, and video into business applications and workflows via simple-to-use APIs.

Cloud-Centric Accelerates

Cloud computing has redefined IT and software system delivery, making it easier than ever for users to signup, access, and draw on solutions available on-demand and within minutes. Adopting new technologies, functionality, and driving innovation is much easier and faster with cloud-based deployments.

Edge computing will help IoT systems to significantly lower connectivity costs and reduce bandwidth requirements, which in turn will boost the widespread availability of services and insights across businesses and society.

While cloud-based deployments can adopt new technologies more seamlessly than their on-premises counterparts, the need for existing infrastructure to co-exist within this new environment remains. Therefore, many enterprises will adopt hybrid and multi-cloud models.

Ensuring Data Security

Capturing, processing, and analyzing data offers tremendous opportunities for businesses to drive better business intelligence, product development, and customer service. However, our dependence on IT systems makes cyber security a key topic and data protection requires rigorous data security management.

As data sets grow, storage solutions will become more flexible and scalable in order to store, protect, and manage all collected information. Real-time business processes and workflows will also require swift retrieval of data. Embedding work-from-home in company operations creates a greater need for data security management during online collaboration.

Secure end-to-end network services are indispensable in supporting digital business transformation, edge computing, and workforce mobility. Companies will therefore increase investments in flexible and scalable storage solutions.

Holistic Business Continuity

The upsurge of remote working urges enterprises to ensure IT infrastructure and application security when allowing staff to integrate collaboration capabilities into their workflows. Choosing the right disaster recovery strategy will be a key investment in the future of stability for every organization. Lock-step fault tolerance and geo-redundancy technology protect critical data that will help ensure business operations.

The unprecedented supply chain disruption of 2021 has prioritized a holistic and proactive strategy to navigate future disruptions, including closer collaboration between suppliers and customers than in the past.

Augmented Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to be one of the top strategic drivers in the coming decade – with applications ranging from recognition, prediction, and optimization, to reasoning.

AI and machine learning enable systems that are self-educating, self-healing, and proactive. Augmented Intelligence (AUI) focuses on enhancing rather than substituting human involvement. Extended Reality (XR) combines real and virtual environments with human-machine interaction.

In 2022, AI and AUI tools become widely available through cloud platforms and open-source software with adoption across all industries, i.e., government, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and finance. Developers at midsize companies will start using off-the-shelf AI technology.

Digital Inclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important digital connectivity is when physical presence is not possible. Virtual and augmented reality technologies are removing the distance between people, information, and experiences. As technology advances, digital inclusion will encourage all people to participate in society, offering more potential for individuals to bloom and realize a brighter future for all.

Important steps are being made towards building smarter societies – with Information and Communications Technologies playing a vital role in ensuring energy efficiency, sustainable economic development, enhanced safety, and security, along with wise management of natural resources.

As more organizations become increasingly digital, it’s up to the technology partners to provide tools and stay adaptable to help support those businesses during their transformation. NEC has a wide breadth of core UC and IT products and each stands on its own to help solve common business challenges. Our broad portfolio encapsulates multiple solutions into one powerful enterprise approach to meet the demands and digital transformation needs of today’s organizations.

To learn how we can help your organization embrace and capitalize on the Digital Transformation, contact your authorized NEC Representative, or get in touch with us at: https://www.univergeblue.com/get-in-touch

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Three Principals for Effective Hybrid Communications and Collaboration

Succeed with the New Hybrid Work Model

It’s been called everything from the “biggest shift to how we work in our generation” to “the new norm in 2021,” and many are sure it is here to stay. One thing is certain ― preparing for the new era is a business imperative.

One aspect of hybrid work is certain—the need for communication and collaboration tools that support continued productivity and business operations. Over 70% of executives expect to raise spending in this area, according to the PWC study. But along with the technology, you’ll need a vision for how your business’s hybrid work model supports communications and collaboration.

What is a Hybrid Work Model?

Let’s first define and examine the component parts of a hybrid work model—one that supports any and all combinations of worker types while ensuring no lapse in communication and collaboration either internally or with customers.

Your company’s breakdown of worker types will be different from that of companies in other industries, and the mix of worker types will constantly shift. Employees with shorter tenures may be required to start as in-office workers, while experienced veterans may find Work-From-Home (WFH) makes them more productive. As employees change roles, their work location may shift, and there is no doubt that worker types will evolve along with it.

Worker types could include:

  • In-Office Workers
  • Employees who choose to work at a remote location (such as coffee shop or library)
  • Work-From-Home Employees
  • Workers who are part time in the office and part time at home
  • Workers in Transit (working on the go)

The Keys to Hybrid Success

Designing a communications and collaboration solution for your hybrid work model shouldn’t be difficult, and won’t be if you keep three principals at the forefront: Flexibility, Business at the Center of All Communications, and Crazy Simple Communications and on-line meeting tools.

Flexibility

A hybrid work model requires your solution to stretch and expand, ebb and flow as the model takes shape and changes. Hybrid work isn’t a static concept—by nature it implies that where people work will change over time, so your communications solution has to embody elasticity.

Employees should be able to quickly and seamlessly collaborate with each other regardless of their physical location. Elastic communications technology doesn’t care about “where.” Location of either employee or customer is a nonissue. And it needs to be a central feature of your hybrid work model. Elastic communications and contact center solutions also support the unpredictability of a hybrid work model—when employees decide to move to a rural location where your business doesn’t have an office, customers and employees can still reach that employee without awareness of the move. A cloud-based contact center and unified communications allows your business to engage and support customers, no matter where agents or employees may be.

Keep Business At The Center

When your hybrid work model communications technology puts your business at the center of all communications and collaboration, customers reach you the same way they always have. Your business phone number doesn’t change, nor do your employees’ business phone numbers. Employees should never have to share personal phone numbers, because their business phone travels wherever they go. And all communications should be unified in the cloud such that you or your IT leader can measure, secure, and manage them regardless of location.

Management capabilities should let you add phone lines for unexpected growth or remove them when no longer needed. You should enjoy one console to manage permissions, set up hunt groups, set up auto attendants, and more, regardless of employee and customer locations.

Crazy Simple Communications & On-Line Meeting Tools

Let’s illustrate a bit further what we mean by “crazy simple,” at least for your communications and collaboration technology. One suite of tools should deliver all that you need—a business phone system with desktop and mobile applications, the ability to conduct virtual meetings with video, webinar, contact center solutions, security, chat capability, even secure and easy file storage and productivity applications. A central, single management platform and a service record that makes deployment easy. Uptime so good, so reliable, that the system rarely goes down. One system that delivers on whatever communications and collaboration need your employees may have, wherever they are.

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES – Designed for Hybrid Working

Flexible, business-centric, simple communications and collaboration technology is what NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE offers. A cloud-based unified communications and collaboration platform, UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT enables users to be more productive and share ideas and content though a single system, regardless of location. CONNECT seamlessly integrates all your communication tools—desktop and mobile phones and computers voice; video conferencing, on-line webinars, and chat; secure file sharing, and contact center— into one easily manageable solution oriented around your hybrid work model and its employee’s needs and workstyles.

Are you ready for the world of hybrid work? Don’t waste time and money on servers, app install, and security patches. With NEC’s cloud-based business productivity suite, your business is your focus, not your IT. UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES can help define your hybrid work model and ensure your employees have the tools they need to work better, from wherever they might be.

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New Photorealistic Virtual Tour Offers Immersive Experience of NEC’s AI and Biometric Solutions

Introducing the brand-new NEC Virtual Customer Experience (VCX) center!

Designed to connect customers and partners directly with our latest AI and biometrics technology in simulated environments, the VCX is a 360-degree photorealistic and interactive virtual tour of the technology featured in NEC’s Customer Experience Centers

Here, visitors can virtually explore NEC’s identity management and CX platform in four different vertical market settings without traveling to our physical centers in Texas or California.

  • Aviation: Experience a frictionless and hygienic travel journey through a simulated airport using the NEC I:Delight platform.
  • Federal Government: Observe first-hand how NEC’s digital identity platform promotes the safety and preservation of public and national security.
  • Healthcare: Learn how hospitals can achieve a safe return to normal operations while managing employee and patient expectations through NEC I:Delight.
  • Retail: Visit the virtual restaurant and discover how NEC I:Delight can help retail businesses increase revenue, lower operating costs and improve the quick serve restaurant customer experience.

Ready to Tour NEC’s VCX Center?

Schedule a guided virtual tour with an NEC sales executive or our VCX Program Manager and learn how NEC’s solutions can help provide world-class service to your customers.

Unlock a seamless, hands-free experience that is secure, frictionless, and personalized using our award-winning biometrics and AI technology. Schedule your tour today and see what is possible!

Soar To New Heights with NEC UNIVERGE Blue Cloud Services

Take Your Unified Communications to the Cloud

Today’s businesses have customers and employees that expect reliable and secure communications from anywhere at any time. Unfortunately, building and maintaining this infrastructure can be cost-prohibitive. Cloud-based communication services are available but could put businesses in a bind paying for services they don’t use or limiting them to one-type of solution.

Small businesses and large enterprises need flexibility when investing in cloud computing. Enterprise businesses expect scalability that’s available when needed. Small businesses are limited in resources and require the ability to do more with less.

No matter the path: on premise, cloud or hybrid, NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE offers a dynamic and flexible delivery model that’s tailored to your business needs and built on our award-winning IT infrastructure.

Why Move to Cloud-Based Solutions?

Your customers, whether internal or external, desire an easily accessible, secure and responsive experience. Employees must be able to perform their duties effectively and rely on dependable technology to fully support a positive customer experience.

Organizations are challenged with implementing communication systems and technology that allows their employees to work together from anywhere at any time. The solution typically involves multiple types of software, infrastructure and other platforms across many locations. Complex system integrations and management can raise IT costs and limit the IT staff from enjoying a productive and efficient employee experience. With IT employees in reaction mode, the customer experience falters due to downtime or unavailable data.

Adapt, connect, and transform your business with UNIVERGE BLUE Cloud-based solutions and unified communications streamline the employee experience while reducing costs and simplifying management. Employees have access to their data and systems via the internet or anywhere they have cell data coverage.

The challenge becomes deployment of these new solutions (legacy systems, reliability, security and cost) and choosing a technology that will continue to grow with the organization.

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE: Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)

UCaaS provides tools for organizations choosing to move voice, mobility, messaging, chat, video collaboration and more into the cloud. Employee teams can communicate anywhere, at any time, on any device. As an enterprise-grade communications solution, UNIVERGE BLUE is cost-effective, built with the latest UC tools at the cost of a standard user license. Best of all, this solution is fully customizable so any business can scale up or down as needed. UCaaS replaces outdated communication systems and reduces the need for extended disaster recovery planning and resources.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE delivers this solution while shouldering the burden of maintenance and upgrades, freeing your staff to focus on other business needs.

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE: Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Meet your customer where they are by implementing a cloud-based contact center solution that can be accessed from anywhere. Empower agents to use social media, SMS, webchat, phone, video and more to provide an elevated customer experience. Customers speak to a real human, specifically chosen through CCaaS skills-based routing and, if needed, moves your high-priority customers to the front of the queue. Any size business can benefit from this solution that scales from 5 agents to 20,000.

Again, NEC manages and maintains the system 24/7/365 and business continuity and disaster recovery is built into the solution.

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE: Team Collaboration

Team Collaboration creates a digital workplace in the cloud by improving workforce and remote communications and cooperation. Voice, video, screen sharing, messaging, meetings and file sharing is accessed through a single dashboard on multiple devices at any location. Either used in real time, or off-line, all team members are kept connected and up to date as communications follows them to whatever device they’re using.

Simplifying collaboration and reducing the cost and complexity of multiple applications improves the employee experience and employee retention.

What Makes NEC UNIVERGE BLUE Better?

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE enables a phased approach to organizations moving to cloud as well as a flexible delivery model. Built on highly secure JITC-certified encryption technology and offering two layers of support, NEC’s innovative solutions and customizable approach to communications allows businesses to:

  • Improve the customer experience
  • Improve the employee experience
  • Reduce IT costs
  • Reduce risk
  • Simplify technology management
  • Improve productivity

NEC also has extensive expertise in the market with more than 120 years of experience across all environments. Our solutions integrate into your current environment and scale to where you want to be in the future. Our dynamic delivery model gives you the options of on premises, cloud, hybrid, public or private environments. Payment options are just as flexible, with capex, op-ex or a combination of both.

NEC’s Cloud services allows your organization to grow and deliver a unified, reliable and secure experience with minimal investment. Customize the solution that’s perfect for your organization. Contact an NEC Solutions Expert to learn more or download the UNIVERGE BLUE ebook.

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