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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Reach Sky-High Communications

This ebook will help you understand how UNIVERGE BLUE can support your communications system while allowing your team to remain focused on what matters most—your business.
 
 


Putting Dynamic Communications At The Center Of Business

Inaccessibility and non-responsiveness are no longer acceptable in today’s business environment.  It isn’t prudent in winning or retaining customer loyalty; it doesn’t foster internal teamwork; nor does it help in building a sustainable brand reputation.  Plus, from a technology perspective, there really isn’t an excuse for lengthy lags in responsiveness, productivity or collaboration.

Unified Communications (UC) with its integrated approach to advanced voice, mobility, messaging, video and audio collaboration and communications apps, enables organizations of all sizes to effectively manage the how, when and where of their connectivity.  Yet to create such an accessible and dynamic work environment, having the right foundation is essential.  A communications platform that is capable of reliably and quickly facilitating and right-sizing how, when and where regarding its accessibility across and beyond the enterprise.

NEC has been recognized by industry experts as having one of the highest levels of customer satisfaction among UC vendors and providing customer solutions with one of the lowest total cost of ownership in the market.  So what performance factors determine the company’s highly reliable and virtualized UC environments?



Operational & Service Scalability
Interoperability and accessibility are central to agile enterprise operations from an operational and customer service standpoint. Communications systems have to be dependable, sizable and adaptable. But they also must remain manageable. NEC’s UNIVERGE® SV9500 UC solution probably best illustrates how the company is meeting these requirements. Developed for larger and geographically dispersed organizations, this communications solution robustly supports voice, unified communications as well as unified messaging and it is all done from a single point of management. In spite of such broad capabilities, the SV9500 is among the simplest UC-capable systems to configure and integrates simply into existing IT technology as a fully interoperable IP or digital system. There is also a virtualized software model for those seeking more extensive competencies and a new SV9500SE model that brings the SV9500 and its many abilities to smaller-sized organizations.

When it comes to scaling customer service, it is all about meeting if not exceeding expectations. The UC Contact Center suite for the SV9500 exemplifies such front line attention through its fast and efficient handling of customer calls. Able to control high call volume using intelligent routing, inquiries get evenly distributed among contact agents to reduce hold time or can be skill-based to best match queries with the most appropriate representative. Additional agents can even quickly sign in during peaks or purges in caller activity to ensure optimal responsiveness. And to lessen the chance of call abandonment or caller frustration, options such as automated call back and queue announcements can keep those on the line engaged and provide them with control over how their call gets handled. With additional options such as chat, email or voice, callers can truly interact and get the information they need in the manner that they like best.

Collaborative & User Accessibility
Openness and transparency and the capability to react quickly defines what it means to be a highly-connected workforce. Through improved access to critical apps and by knowing when and how to best reach someone, tasks get completed quicker and more easily. When complete suits of user-centric UC and collaborative apps are consolidated into one highly available client, teamwork becomes streamlined. NEC’s SV9300 solution makes all this possible for mid-size organizations with up to 1,500 potential users. By supporting collaborative apps as instant messaging, group chat, audio and video conferencing along with presence technology and intelligent call routing, unencumbered communications can be realized across grouped and dispersed individuals, teams and environments. The fact that the platform’s mobility apps are out-of-the-box ready and compatible across Apple® iPhone®, iPad® and Android™ devices ensures quick deployment and uninterrupted adoption. Equally as important, this compatibility averts any need to replace or reinvest in existing technology and avoid time-consuming and disruptive operational modifications.



Brand Sustainability
Brand memorability depends on the experiences provided. Each and every interaction – whether interpersonal or electronic – has the potential of enhancing or detracting from an organization’s reputation. As a hub for so many apps, communications systems can be instrumental in understanding which applications and devices are promoting or hindering brand loyalty and employee productivity. Intuitive, feature-rich call accounting systems can provide complete visibility into UC usage and the means to effectively evaluate performance. This is why NEC includes a secure and modifiable administration and expense management system with each SV9000 Series communications platform, even for the SV9100 designed especially for smaller-sized organizations. So even smaller companies can benefit and alter their practices by effortlessly scrutinizing how their communications system and collaborative apps are creating brand ambassador moments.

Interested in how NEC – a global leader in the call control market – can optimize your workforce across and beyond the organization? Contact us now and find out …

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Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated Communications System?

(Editor’s Note: This is an update to an article originally posted June 2, 2014.)

You know your communications system is way past its prime, and economic pressures have led you to delay its upgrade or replacement.

But there comes a point in time when it no longer makes sense to put off replacing your communications assets—from both a financial perspective and a business/productivity perspective. Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.

Plus, keep in mind; the greatest risk to your business if your communications go down is your business shuts down. This can lead to huge losses for your business, including customer dissatisfaction, customer loss, damaged reputation and costs related to regaining your reputation. These all can greatly affect your business and result in huge losses.

Phone systems are one of the assets that many companies take for granted as long as they have dial-tone. They don’t think much about it and will definitely spend their budget elsewhere if they can. As a result, many of these organizations are sitting on archaic (or end-of-life) equipment that is no longer efficiently supporting their business while possibly putting it a risk.

Yet for some, the prevailing practice is to continue operating the existing system well past its useful life and beyond the end-of-support – not realizing the potential costs and the risk they are putting their business in.

We often hear the following reasons to avoid upgrading:

  • We don’t have the budget, or there is a higher priority budgetary request.
  • The lifespan on the last communications system was too short.
  • We’re afraid that if we upgrade tomorrow, something better will come out next week (a.k.a. the cycle of obsolescence).
  • We’re unclear on our unified communications plans and how our phone system should fit in with UC.
  • Newer phone systems are becoming too complex to use.
  • The buying cycle is too long, and we will have to get too many people involved who will all have different opinions.
  • We don’t know which approach to take—i.e. premises, hybrid, or cloud-based.

There’s a chance that the phones you think are supporting your business aren’t. While the value of your older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

Free White Paper:  Time to Replace that Old PBX

We know the decision to move to a new telephony system is sometimes a difficult one to make. That’s why we’ve created the following list of 3 of the benefits of a modern unified communications system over an outdated phone system.

1. System Stabilization

If you are a business owner or decision maker, you have probably thought, “We save money keeping the old system. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Every day your business uses an analog, TDM, or older VoIP phone system that has reached end-of-life, you run the risk of having your phone system fail without access to support. If that happens, revenue will likely be lost as a result. How much? Well, you could lose what equates to hours, days, or even weeks of revenue—depending on the amount of time it takes to quickly repair or worst case find and install a new system. Not to mention what was previously stated about customer dissatisfaction and loss.

And hurrying to find a new system isn’t ideal. If your system fails, it could mean you are forced to make a quick replacement decision. Companies that don’t have the time or don’t take the time to research properly before purchase usually discover they’ve spent too much money or are unhappy with their purchase after it is too late to change it. Taking the time to find the right IP Telephony solution or Unified Communications solution will improve your business processes and efficiencies without over-extending your budget.

2. Improved Operational Costs

Maintaining separate systems like directories, conferencing software, voicemail, and telephony is expensive and time consuming for IT departments to sustain. In fact, it can be so time-consuming that the IT department spends the majority of their day keeping these systems functional—time that can be better spent on more strategic IT projects.

The older the system, the higher the operational cost is when you don’t upgrade. Some of the costs businesses accrue using older systems include:

  • Proprietary hardware at each location (equipment, phones, PBX)
  • Installation
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance, repairs and upgrades
  • Additional services
    • Fax
    • Business SMS
    • HD video meetings
    • Audio conferencing

When you factor the lost IT time spent maintaining each separate communications system with the opportunity cost of not having the advanced applications and features that modern unified communications provides, you end up with a total cost that is just too high for most businesses to ignore.

3. Competitive Advantage

Have you stopped to think about whether your competitors are taking advantage of modern communications software? If they are and you’re not, then chances are they are able to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Working smarter gives them an edge by increasing their productivity and creating a competitive advantage.

Your competitors that are working with updated communications systems, most likely have these advanced features at their disposal:

  • Audio/video/web collaboration, white boarding and document sharing
  • Support for the mobile workforce with a consistent user experience across smartphones and tablets
  • UC clients that provide status, presence, call history, call control plus more
  • Integrated vertical applications through standard and open services

While the cost of upgrading may seem high, the advanced applications and features associated with modern communications systems will help re-gain lost competitive edge and offer companies an opportunity to better serve their customers.

Unified communications can help businesses re-gain competitive advantage in two ways:

First, a new system can help you increase your revenue by providing your business with the communications applications needed to be more productive and efficient. You could gain better advantages and increased competitive edge by choosing a modern solution with a lower total cost of ownership and features that enable collaboration across your business, improving the speed of your communications.

Secondly, UC provides communications software that makes enterprise-level communications applications available on an ad-hoc basis. This either gives you access to applications that you might not have previously been able to budget for, or, saves your organization money as you no longer have to pay the fees required to utilize multiple services. Replacing hosted web, audio or video conferencing services is a perfect example. The accrued savings can boost the return on your unified communications investment, and expand your competitive edge through re-investment into other IT projects that help your business grow.

Increased Productivity

If you fear that your new technology will become obsolescent and use that as an excuse to avoid upgrading, you shouldn’t. Look for vendors that offer software assurances and extended warranties for hardware that will provide your business with more security and less risk in the long run.

With a modern communications solution, you ensure that your system has the flexibility to handle rapid growth, giving you the ability to provide support to your increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. Your IT team will re-gain some of their time, allowing them to focus on other strategic IT initiatives. And, your employees will re-coup benefits that improve the speed of communication from access to applications that positively impact your daily business—whether it’s through more efficient collaboration with colleagues, or improving customer response times.

Options Available to Your Business

Ultimately there is a high cost, in terms of inefficiencies and operational cost, when you continue to operate an outdated or end-of-life phone system.

Some organizations struggle with selecting the best model (premises, hybrid, or cloud-based) to meet long-term communication needs. Ultimately you’ll look for the platform and vendor that has the flexibility to customize the right solution to meet your specific needs.

Smart Enterprise

Free White Paper
Time to Replace that Old PBX

To learn more about the risks associated with running an outdated communications system and the steps you should take in purchasing a new system, fill out the form to download the white paper written by Dave Michels, principal analyst at TalkPointz.