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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How Prepared Are You For An Emergency Call?

Don’t wait for a problem to find out

It’s concerning enough should someone within your organization or facility find it necessary to dial 911. It’s even more worrying if there’s any uncertainty about your company’s ability to handle such a call.

Recent legislation has made improving onsite safety a company matter. Whether it’s Kari’s Law for direct 911 dialing and personnel alerts at locations using multi-line phone systems or the RAY BAUM’s Act that requires dispatchable locations of 911 callers, organizations must be confident in their compliance with such regulations.

Of course you can verify that your communications system supports a flexible dialing plan. Or you can check that your communications platform is upgraded with the necessary software or hardware. But perhaps the most important question is … is your carrier the best in supporting emergency situations? Are they equipped to handle Dynamic E911 calls quickly and efficiently? What’s their plan should a network issue occur when it’s needed the most?

If there’s any hesitation to these questions, then we have something for you – NEC NETWORK CONNECT. This intelligent carrier call routing solution is ideal for day-to-day business communications and collaboration. But for emergency situations that demand urgent E911 assistance, it’s unmatched in reliability and control.

So how does it work?

With NEC NETWORK CONNECT you gain open access to a network of Dynamic Emergency Service Providers with built-in automatic failover, re-routing capability and carrier diversity. We use M2M and AI algorithms to automatically route calls – including those to emergency services – through the network with the best quality service for optimal accessibility and performance. If a network issue exists, calls are simply rolled to the next preferential network in real-time, putting an end to possible carrier downtime and outages.

There are other benefits too

With NETWORK CONNECT you work with just one provider – us – for carrier service and support, as we consolidate over 375+ U.S. and global carriers into a single consumable provider-neutral service. No more relying on a single carrier or juggling multiple ones instantaneously. Call traffic and activity becomes totally transparent while billing gets consolidated into one monthly invoice. If you have more than one location, our Global Orchestration service can combine your multi-site, multi-vendor network for greater oversight and simplified management.

Explore the advantage of NETWORK CONNECT with the following short, informative video:

NETWORK CONNECTThen there are the cost savings. Standard carriers use retail pricing, rates that are rounded up and there might even be hidden costs. Not NETWORK CONNECT. We offer wholesale pricing, with no hidden costs. Our usage charges are accurate to the second for cost efficiencies. Plus, our services are quick and easy to deploy with minimal upfront costs … so you can get started and begin saving and feeling confident in E911 responsiveness quickly.

Let us show you how our global presence and unmatched carrier diversity can help ensure E911 compliance in the routing of emergency calls while improving carrier billing and cost savings.

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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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Low Cost Connectivity for MS Teams Isn’t Enough!

Relying on MS Teams to drive your business requires a new approach to keep your business up and running.

There’s no denying it, during the COVID pandemic, Microsoft Teams provided a simple solution for enterprise customers who quickly needed to support a new at home mobile workforce. However, during the enablement phase, little time was spent assessing carrier connectivity, compliance requirements, enterprise integration, support and a host of other issues. The clock was ticking and the priority was to support the at home workforce as quick as possible with minimal business disruption.

An approach worth considering …

Looking back, there were many complexities to be considered when enabling Teams which made searching for the lowest cost carrier, while important, not the most important criteria. But now …

  • What happens when your carrier goes down?
  • Is it smart to be dependent on just a single carrier?
  • What could carrier diversity mean for your network dependability?
  • How are you meeting local regulatory and E911 compliance?
  • Do you have real-time visibility and control of your Teams environment?
  • Is your carrier delivering Direct Connect MS Certified Solutions?
  • And are you paying competitive rates?

If you can’t answer any of these questions with confidence, it’s time to consider an alternative.

Look no further than NEC NETWORK CONNECT Direct Routing for MS Teams.

Here’s how it works…

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Why you should make the change…

Stop relying on a single carrier or being constrained by the complexity of multiple service providers.

With NEC NETWORK CONNECT for Teams we provide access to over 375 global carrier networks with a single contract! NETWORK CONNECT leverages M2M and AI to place each Teams call over the network that is providing the greatest quality of service at the lowest cost each time a call is placed assuring unmatched reliability and quality of service.

Simplify by putting a halt to billing complexity where a lack of transparency can lead to unnecessary costs.

With NETWORK CONNECT you have one provider and one bill that includes all communications and carrier costs. If you are an organization with more than one location, all sites can be consolidated into one monthly bill, making it easy to understand costs, activities and use to make informed decisions on where cost-cutting opportunities make the most sense.

Explore the advantages of NETWORK CONNECT with the following short, informative video.

Secure Teams connectivity by leveraging a Direct Connect solution that eliminates carrier downtime and outages that can bring Teams to a standstill and disrupt group collaboration and customer appointments.

With a global presence and unmatched carrier diversity, our Microsoft Teams certified carrier platform delivers turnkey access to hundreds of carrier networks for greater flexibility, reliability and redundancy. Automatic failover eliminates downtime and outages. Should a network issues occur, Teams simply gets re-routed, bypassing the problem to the next available network for optimal business continuity.

Save and put an end to high usage rates that round up, surcharges and hidden costs that traditional carriers tack onto your bill.

Standard carriers use retail pricing and network usage charges with hidden costs and rates that are rounded up. Not NETWORK CONNECT For Teams Integration. We offer wholesale pricing, no hidden costs and usage charges accurate to the second for cost efficiencies that quickly add up. The service also is quick to start and with minimal upfront costs you can begin saving fast too.

If your Microsoft Teams costs need trimming, let us show you how our intelligent call routing solution can drive costs down and bring savings with greater control and transparency.

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Creating a Communications System Built for Hybrid work: How existing customers can transform their on-prem solution with cloud-based flexibility

Survey after survey keeps telling us that the in-office workplace is a thing of the past. Offices are not obsolete, but most companies admit that remote work didn’t cause any collapses of infrastructure, operations, or productivity. In fact, 83 percent of employers and 71 percent of employees call remote work a success according to PwC’s Remote Work Survey.

Hybrid work models involve flexibility on where someone works, whether remote, on-site, or anywhere in between. However, this model is creating challenges for businesses with existing on-premises phone systems as they look for a seamless transition that keeps operations moving forward.

Introducing UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE – Your BRIDGE to the Cloud

Up until now, the options on-premises NEC customers had in response to remote and hybrid work was limited. On-premises users had two options: continue utilizing an existing on-premises phone system with disparate applications or abandon the on-prem investment and move to a completely different solution.

NEC recognized the need to provide another option to meet the needs of our customers in this new work environment. That’s why we created UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE. This new option extends existing NEC phone systems with cloud-based communication tools via desktop and mobile apps, creating a seamless, all-in-one communications experience.

Protect Your NEC Phone System Investment, Extend Its Capabilities

Many on-premises NEC PBX customers are choosing to keep their existing on-premises system due to its’ long shelf life, despite the hybrid work benefits of cloud communications; and this is why we have differentiated our strategy from other competitors in this space. NEC will continue selling and supporting premise systems for many years to come, and enhance their capabilities through integrations into the cloud. This is great news for NEC premise customers! If your on-premises system continues to work well for your business, there is probably not an immediate need to migrate to a full cloud-based unified communications (UCaaS) solution. You already paid the capital expense for your on-premises system, so it’s understandable for businesses to opt out of a full cloud migration to see their investment through its end-of-life.

With UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE, existing on-premises NEC customers no longer have to choose between the flexibility of cloud communications or protecting their current phone system investment.

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE was designed specifically for NEC customers. It seamlessly integrates with:

  • UNIVERGE® SV9100
  • UNIVERGE® SV9300
  • UNIVERGE® SV9500
  • UNIVERGE 3C®

CONNECT BRIDGE enables inbound and outbound calling via desktop and mobile apps, PLUS includes an integrated suite of collaboration services.

Consolidate Multiple Standalone Solutions – Reduce Complexity and Costs

To keep up with the needs of the workforce during the pandemic, businesses with on-premises phone systems turned to standalone collaboration services with the intent of empowering employees to stay connected and maintain productivity from dispersed locations. While this approach may have worked for the short term, as a long-term solution, there are many drawbacks.

Leveraging multiple disparate systems cause productivity and efficiency challenges. Lack of integration results in these standalone tools living in silos, leading to significant issues for the business at the user level. Additionally, using multiple standalone solutions often means juggling multiple vendors and bills. This can result in billing complexities and higher costs than consolidating all your tools into one application, which is traditionally a benefit of migrating your entire solution to the cloud.

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE brings together your existing NEC phone system with the critical collaboration tools your teams need – all in one single application from the provider you already trust with your business communications, NEC. By extending your existing NEC phone system with cloud-based tools via desktop and mobile apps, employees enjoy one seamless solution with all the collaboration tools they need to get work done. The days of switching back and forth from one application to another are over. Now, employees receive a seamless, all-in-one communications experience for one low per-user monthly fee.

How To Solve Collaboration Issues In A Hybrid Work Environment

Allowing for remote flexibility is good for business and retaining high-value employees. They have different expectations now, with 92 percent of employees requesting to work remotely at least one day a week.

How do you manage a hybrid workforce and all their communication and collaboration needs? Regardless of where your employees sit, they should have the same experience with access to the technology required to do their jobs well. Now, on-premises NEC users can leverage their existing platform to be the ideal solution for hybrid teams. With UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE, employees can collaborate in the office, at home, or anywhere in between with integrated video conferencing, chat, and file sharing/backup.

Hybrid work requires advanced tools such as video, chat, messaging, and file sharing to enable seamless and quick collaboration. For businesses with existing on-premises NEC phone systems, depending solely on the voice features with an on-premises PBX could result in a disadvantage when it comes to hybrid working and attracting new talent who expects flexible working environments.

Enhance productivity and collaboration through seamless cloud UC integrations with NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE, keeping your team connected anywhere they are.

How Organizations Need to Respond to Shifting Communications Needs

Business communications needs are different than they were during the in-office work era. While businesses had to pivot to address communications and collaboration quickly, many did so in haste; hence, the standalone applications model. Now, you need business communications tools that address current and future work models. Futureproofing the work model will be a priority for every business that wants to grow and thrive. Thankfully, there’s a way to do this while leveraging your investment with your existing NEC phone system through NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT BRIDGE.

Now is the time to look for a consolidated approach that extends your business phone system to remote workers, protects your current investment, and adds on additional voice and collaboration tools that your employees need to stay connected and productive. To learn how NEC can help, reach out to your Authorized NEC Representative, or visit the CONNECT BRIDGE website to learn more: www.univergeblue.com/connect-bridge

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