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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Leidos Rolls Out NEC Face Recognition at Alabama Army Post

Starting today, when drivers approach the gates of the secure Redstone Arsenal military base in Huntsville, AL., registered users will be able to pull up slowly, then pass right on through with virtually no stopping.

With the window rolled down, facial recognition technology will verify they are a registered user in the system and can access the probable future home of the U.S. Space Command.

The new access control system rolled out today, for more than 44,000 workers and guests who use the facility.

Special facial recognition lanes for single-occupancy vehicles, will be clearly marked and available to those who opt into Redstone’s automatic installation entry program in advance.

Once users are registered and authorized to use the facial recognition lanes to enter the base, they’ll be able to "buzz into" work, simply by approaching the gate at 3-5 mph with two car lengths between themselves and the vehicle in front, showing their face until the light turns green.

Redstone Arsenal is a key United States Army post, which serves as a critical military base for those across various government agencies including, the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and NASA. 

Like most federal facilities of this type, Redstone houses some of the most sensitive information and materials, including the nation’s missile and rocket programs and technology. As many personnel already have secret-level clearances, access control ends up being a regular task they must perform several times per day.

The new biometrics system allows them to minimize the time-consuming checks and gives security personnel an added tool to verify identity with greater assurances. Guards will still be in the loop to perform visual checks and verify vehicle occupancy.

Implemented at Redstone by NEC’s prime partner, Leidos, NEC’s biometric face recognition technology is used by organizations worldwide to help prevent fraud, secure public safety, and improve customer experience across a vast range of industries. NEC’s product quality is highly tested and recognized far and wide. Independent testing from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology repeatedly confirms NEC’s NeoFace recognition and matching capability as the world’s fastest and most accurate across all benchmarks and conditions, including on demographic differences like race and gender.

Test results from the recent Department of Homeland Security Biometric Technology Rally confirm that the system is able to achieve accuracy matching rates of 99.9 percent or higher.

The speed and reliability of facial recognition that NEC is known for comes from their ability to combine both real-time identification with verification and situation analysis resulting in faster decision making, preemptive security, and smoother delivery of services.

NEC is honored to leverage its technology to serve the hardworking servicemen and women who call Redstone Arsenal home. To read more about Redstone’s automatic installation entry program, you can visit Team Redstone’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @TeamRedstone.

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Can you Change the Customer Experience with Technology?

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit the YMCA of Greater Louisville to gain insight into how they used technology to solve a common business problem. After speaking with customers and employees in the branches, I noticed just how much the organization cares about serving its members and visitors. And I was even more impressed with how they handle customer interactions. You can check out the results of our visit in the video case study.

One of the first things I noticed was how quiet the lobby was. Not one phone ringing. Instead, members were having direct face-to-face conversations with Y team members at each desk, and receiving their undivided attention.

Since the YMCA of Greater Louisville has centralized all incoming calls to customer service via UNIVERGE® 3C and Contact Center solutions from NEC, the front-line staff at Branch locations can focus on providing a great customer experience. This gave on-site employees the necessary time and the freedom to address every concern in person, while the customer was in the branch. Part of the YMCA’s mission is to ensure customer satisfaction via uninterrupted, one-on-one interaction, either in person or by phone.

So often, as we get caught up in the technology and not the people that it serves, we lose the intended purpose of the technology. But this was not the case for the YMCA of Greater Louisville. This organization found the right balance to meet their customer needs.

Free Ebook: UCaas RFP 2016

YMCA’s VP of IT (Ryan Kingery) and CEO (Steve Tarver) had encountered a problem that is not unique to any retail outlet or public organization serving its community: WAIT TIMES! At the core of the YMCA mission is the ability to serve its community and members, but the challenge they faced was the increasing wait times in their branches, which necessarily led to less in-person customer interaction due to long lines and busy phones.
Think of this scenario: if you have kiddos, you know that swim camp, t-ball registration or even your own “ME” time at the indoor pool cannot be done without registration. And the quicker you can get your registration(s) complete, the quicker you move on to being a satisfied customer, which is what we all want. The solution the YMCA put in place did just that–and it improved the quality of the real-time, one-on-one interactions between employees and clients.

Happy Customer = Better Customer Experience = Revenue Growth

Whether it’s about internal accounting clients at your company utilizing core IT- supported services, or a customer whose satisfaction is crucial to the continuing revenue growth of your company, a pleasing customer experience is the ultimate goal.

So, after this experience with the YMCA, I am wondering how many IT professionals are running across similar business problems that negatively impact a customer experience within your own organizations. What are you doing to change that experience?

You can watch the video below to see how the YMCA was able to achieve its mission.

Free Ebook: UCaaS RFP 2016

Free Ebook:

UCaaS/Hybrid RFP & Review IP Telephony and Unified Communications System

There are significant differences in offerings from the major vendors in terms of architecture, functionality and total cost of ownership. IT organizations are encouraged to work with their business units to understand their unique requirements and to articulate these in an RFP or other formal procurement vehicle.



Acquire New Technology on Your Terms

Frequently organizations adopt a “make-do” attitude when it comes to technology, primarily because the acquisition of new technology is often expensive and time-consuming to implement. Add to that the potential complexity of integration to legacy systems, hardware and software upgrades, and an increase to capital expenditures, and many organizations feel it is necessary to maintain rather than upgrade. Until…

A multitude of events can create demand for new and upgraded IT resources, including:

  • You’ve landed that big fish – acquiring a new major client that requires certain amounts of integration to your systems or you simply need to improve performance.
  • An acquisition may be in the works – whether you are looking to expand via acquisition; be acquired or merge with another company, having up-to-date IT assets will help ease the transition.
  • The company is ready to grow – perhaps the organization has reached a milestone and is ready to expand, either to new markets or geographic areas. The need for a solid IT infrastructure to accommodate expansion is incredibly important.
  • An existing IT vendor folds – it’s sad, but can happen. Now, you have technology without support and are in need of a rapid change in order to ensure your organization is not adversely affected.

Get 0% Financing from NEC

 

You may find that you need to act quickly, and need to do something that does not negatively impact your budget. Where do you turn?

Your Technology Funding Source

Traditional sources are not always the most effective means to fund your IT needs. You need a source that is responsive and understands the nuances of acquiring new technology.

“At NEC Financial Services, we start with a transaction team and use underwriting and financing contracts that are customizable to the client needs,” said Herschel Salan, vice president, NEC Financial Services. “Our unique system enables us to use experienced people, coupled with 30 years of knowledge, to create a better solution that ensures our clients have what they require to grow their businesses.”

Attention #B2B CIO or CFO, you have options to Acquire New Technology with Flexibility. Click To Tweet

The NEC Financial Services team offers several options for the financing and leasing  of technology acquisitions, and yet the approach can be very different than you will find at a more traditional lender or bank. For example:

  • Programs based on customer requirements – most organizations face the same business challenges that are not easily resolved with standard finance transactions. NEC Financial Services provides different types of programs based on customer requirements. From a purchase to own arrangement to an OPEX finance option, the program is designed to fit the business need.
  • Off Balance Sheet – many organizations find it more attractive to acquire technology as an operational expense, giving them additional financial benefits.
  • Driven by cash flow – if an organization has a specific budget amount they need to meet, NEC Financial Services will work to structure financing to accommodate that number.
  • Our job would be to align the budget expense to the cost of that technology over time. For example, with a $10K budget a month – the goal would be to get that number to $10K or less.
  • Beyond the traditional – NEC Financial Services designs financing options to ensure that clients can receive funding for their technology upgrades and investments, even during the installation or implementation phases. . Many times this can be accomplished through various offerings that include direct and working capital loans or structured financing.

“Our team becomes very involved with our clients to understand the technology, how it will have a positive impact on their business and how to best fund it for success,” said Salan. “Whether it’s progress loan financing in the early stages of a longer term transaction, or even multiple vendors and multiple technology types, we structure our financing to meet the business needs.”

NEC 90 Lease offer

 

More Than a Banker

“Our goal is to have long-term relationships with our clients where we support their ongoing business growth,” continued Salan. “We ensure that we understand their business requirements and growth strategies so we can structure finance options to meet their needs and successfully implement  their plans.”

In addition to the financing options, NEC Financial Services also provides asset tracking.

“We find that many of our clients require a more robust asset tracking system than they have in-house, so we provide that service,” said Salan. “We can track assets by jurisdiction, county, state, and zip code, taking the burden from our clients while providing added value.”

Salan also said that many clients have a need for protection  against technology obsolescence. This is one of the drivers for determining the right finance solution and term.

“While the length of a typical technology lease is between three and five years, we create terms based on the customer’s decision,” said Salan. “For those that obsolescence is a real issue, we can structure shorter terms so they can keep up with important technology updates to grow their businesses.”

Salan and his team work through the whole corporate lifecycle, ensuring that the technology will grow to meet current and future needs.

“It’s an advantage to our clients that we are agile and have business growth at the core of our decisions,” said Salan. “We understand how technology can help a business grow and reach the next level, so we are eager to explore those options with our clients.”

To learn how NEC Financial Services can provide technology financing on your terms, contact us today!