Customer Success Story – How migrating to UNIVERGE BLUE helped Epic Web Studios enable remote working, improve scalability, and grow their business.

Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania. A customer of NEC since 2010, Epic started out using the SV8100 platform but migrated to NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES after seeing the increasing need for more unified communications to support its growing workforce.

I recently met with David Hunter, President and CEO of Epic Web Studios to discuss how UNIVERGE BLUE was able to help his company enable remote work, improve scalability and grow its business.

Marc: Tell me about Epic Web Studios. How did you get started?

Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency that does it all for clients, no matter the size. From Website Design and Development, Social Media, Digital Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), our goal is to help clients compete in today’s ever-changing marketplace through a viable digital marketing strategy.

Headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania, Epic Web Studios started in 2009 as a small, single-client web-site development firm. Today, we are a full-service digital marketing firm with over five hundred clients in North America and more than sixteen full-time employees.

Marc: Wow! That is quite the achievement. In the past decade or so since you started the company, what has changed?

As time and technology progressed, the need for more unified communications features became increasingly apparent. Epic was growing rapidly and needed a system that could keep up. With more clients and the large shift towards remote working, we needed a flexible, cloud solution to allow us to communicate with clients, collaborate cross-functionally and be productive from anywhere, at any time.

Marc: You’re not alone. Now more than ever, businesses need the ability and flexibility to communicate and collaborate from wherever they may be. Can you share further insight into some of the challenges Epic Web Studios was facing?

With our on-premises system, our teams were restricted to only using voice and email to communicate. Unanswered calls were forwarded to one general voicemail, and emailing back-and-forth became inefficient as the primary mode of communication.

Our employees needed greater control over how calls could be made, forwarded, and received; they also needed more flexibility in their business communications and more variety in their communication methods.

In addition, we relied on various communication and collaboration tools, which was inefficient, costly, and difficult to manage. We needed a communications system that was fully-integrated and secure so that we could go from online meetings to instant messages to phone conversations and everything in between very easily and seamlessly.

In short, we needed a solution that would provide reliable, real-time communication with robust and fully-integrated features to support employee productivity. We also needed a solution that would enable employees to work from home, which would have been very difficult with our old on-premises communications system.

Marc: It sounds like you came to the right place. However, I know there are plenty of different vendors in the market. What made you ultimately choose UNIVERGE BLUE?

ROI CalculatorWith other options reviewed, costs were too high, functionality was missing, or the solution just didn’t meet Epic Web Studio’s needs. Luckily, NEC launched UNIVERGE BLUE as I was researching new platforms.

Ultimately, we chose UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT because the features were the strongest, the transition was going to be easy, and the price point was extremely competitive. We also chose UNIVERGE BLUE because of the local support that NEC provides with a large network of Channel Partners. Our technology partner was instrumental in getting our system set up and is always there to answer provide any support that we need. Most of the larger cloud companies and service providers do not offer this kind of local support.

As technology evolves, NEC is always on the cutting edge of new ways of working to make our communications more convenient and secure. This bevy of new features included with UNIVERGE BLUE offers us new opportunities to become even more efficient and productive with our business communications – all at a reasonable cost.

Another bonus was the ease of deployment. It was pretty much effortless. When we moved from our on-premises solution to UNIVERGE BLUE, we were up and running in a matter of hours. It was incredible.

Marc: Well, we are certainly happy to have Epic Web Studios as a part of the UNIVERGE BLUE family. Here’s my final question – what results have you seen since deployment?

For starters, our employees have been able to communicate with clients more effectively. We have seen a significant decrease in the number of back-and-forth emails thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. Our clients call us directly and we can have one-click video-conferencing meetings with them. We have also seen a major increase in our productivity because of UNIVERGE BLUE.

As a result of both the streamlined communication and increased productivity, we have also been able to scale our business and grow our client base. Because we were able to provision more users very quickly, we’re able to take on more projects, and that has led to the growth of the company, which has been phenomenal recently thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. I can’t recommend UNIVERGE BLUE enough!


For more information about UNIVERGE BLUE, NEC’s full portfolio of “As-A-Service” Solutions, visit www.univergeblue.com. For questions about the products or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD Representative, submit your information to us and we will get back to you shortly.

Contact Us Today

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Fill out the form, and we will get back with you.

Why Unified Communications Is Essential to Remote Work and Business Continuity

As business leaders implement new policies for returning to work, they are also reevaluating plans for enterprise resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns caused businesses to react quickly, testing their agility and ability to recover. During this stabilization period, there will be a pivot towards flexibility and improved business continuity plans for the “next normal.”

Business Continuity While Working Remotely

No one could predict that organizations would have to quickly embrace remote work due to the potential spread of employee illness. As a case in point, a Gartner Business Continuity survey revealed that only 12% of organizations felt that their business continuity plans were prepared for the impact of COVID-19. Without these plans in place, revenue has been affected, some businesses have shuttered, and others are unable to reopen.

With the continuation of the pandemic and the uncertainty of a vaccine, 74% of CFO’s are planning to permanently shift to remote work in order to manage costs. The onus is now on IT and security leaders to consider what employees need to successfully work from a remote location so that business can continue as usual. Leaders are looking to cloud-enabled services and unified communications to minimize future business disruption and support remote collaboration.

Built on NEC’s award-winning infrastructure, UNIVERGE BLUE® offers affordable services to ensure business continuity and employee productivity and collaboration while working remotely.

Why Unified Communications is Essential for Business Continuity

Remote work and telecommuting options have steadily been increasing, with 159% growth in the past 12 years, driving an increase in UC implementation. As some organizations were considering unified communications before, there is now an added benefit of increased business continuity and disaster recovery, post-COVID-19.

Moving to a UC solution takes services such as telephony, file storage sharing, video conferencing, contact center and data backup to the cloud so they are accessible from anywhere at any time. Cloud-enabled services create an additional layer of security to real-time work processes, guaranteeing availability beyond weather events or pandemics. Systems and collaboration tools remain available to remote work locations, often at higher speeds, to enable workflow and increased productivity outside of the normal office environment.

Since the unexpected impacts of the pandemic, work and team collaboration have been changed for good. It is imperative that a disaster recovery plan account for remote work options. Organizations must include UC in their contingency plan to be agile and continue business as usual.

Remote Collaboration and Effective Communications

As more employees are expected to work from home, remote teams must find new ways to work together. Unfortunately, remote communications can be easily distorted or misinterpreted with delays and a lack of physical and social interaction. Another frustration is when remote teams choose ad-hoc services, creating more complexity, security holes and maintenance challenges for IT and security teams.

Streamlining communication complexity is the key to improving remote collaboration, enhancing security and productivity, as well as saving time, finances and resources.

It’s important that employees don’t lose the power of face-to-face meetings while remote. The good news is they don’t have to! With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE® MEET Video Conferencing solution, you and all of your colleagues have access to powerful virtual collaboration tools to help keep your business moving forward—even when employees aren’t in the office.

What’s more, NEC is giving MEET Video Conferencing and Collaboration to existing customers and new UNIVERGE BLUE® customers for FREE for the rest of the year!

*Some Restrictions Apply*

Responsive Remote Contact Center

One of the challenges with remote work is continuing to provide a high-quality customer experience. Implementing unified communications optimizes contact centers, offering increased control and simplified maintenance through a single platform. Instead of working through multiple tabs or applications, contact center agents are more agile, with one interface to handle customer needs efficiently, from anywhere at any time.

Contact center performance can be measured through monitoring, recording and analytic reporting. The use of unified communications for contact centers also allows for easier scalability and deployment for remote workers. With a streamlined remote contact center, organizations can hire agents in any location and ensure top-notch customer responsiveness.

Secure Disaster Recovery

No business continuity plan is complete without secure backup and recovery to manage and protect critical proprietary information and data. Working remotely can increase security and compliance challenges, as sensitive data may be stored unencrypted on remote workstations, especially if there is no singular platform for accessing company resources.

When moving to cloud-enabled services for responsive communications or collaborative work practices, IT and security teams require simplified and more secure data storage. The cost-savings of implementing a secure, cloud-enabled data backup and recovery platform also include ongoing access to the latest hardware and software without the need to maintain the infrastructure or personnel.

Why Choose NEC UNIVERGE BLUE® for Remote Work and Business Continuity?

The new remote work challenge for IT and security teams is managing multiple types of software, infrastructure and other platforms across many locations. UNIVERGE BLUE offers secure, cloud-enabled unified communications and collaboration solutions that are fully integrated, scalable, cost-effective and easier to maintain than on-premises hardware. The streamlined communications platform improves employee and customer experience with secure access from anywhere for team collaboration and a centralized hub for information.

NEC also offers a phased approach and flexible delivery model for organizations moving to unified communications. Consider UNIVERGE BLUE solutions to:

  • Improve remote employee productivity and collaboration through greater mobility and communications
  • Reduce IT costs through integration with other cloud-based applications and simplified management
  • Reduce risk with secure, compliant data backup and recovery

Contact your NEC Account Manager or visit the UNIVERGE BLUE website to learn more.

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 …

NEC Corporation of America

Free Strategic Consultation
Let us assist you with your current business needs!

Fill out the form today and we will get back with you.

 
 
 
 



Create the Perfect Cloud Solution for your Organization

Cloud computing used to be the “wave of the future” but now small businesses and large enterprises alike are realizing the benefits. Instead of replacing aging infrastructure or making large purchases as the business grows, cloud services allows scalability and availability at a lower operating cost. Small businesses enjoy enterprise grade features and mobility with the use of cloud computing, allowing them to do more with less cost, less maintenance and a smaller staff. Large enterprises can grow exponentially, deploying large systems on a scalable platform that’s available when needed.

A cloud solution allows organizations to revolutionize how they deploy business applications, communicate and store data with greater flexibility and scale. Businesses that have previously managed their own infrastructure may be hesitant to subscribe to a public cloud model. A private cloud or a hybrid solution, may be a good alternative for those businesses looking to maintain control over security and expenses while offering the latest technologies.

Built on our award-winning IT infrastructure, NEC offers flexible solutions for organizations considering a private, trusted cloud or hybrid cloud solution.

Communicate Better with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)

UCaaS, or Unified Communications as a Service, offers tools for businesses seeking to move communications, messaging, chat, video collaboration, contact centers and more into the cloud. UCaaS is customizable, allowing organizations of any size to scale up or down, depending on seasonal demand, so that businesses are only paying for what they’re using. Lower up-front costs, minimal maintenance and extensive mobility allows your IT staff to be proactive and efficient, anywhere and at any time.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services delivers dynamic flexible UCaaS options, using public, private or a hybrid cloud, and can also leverage your current on-premises PBX investment. NEC’s cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions brings value and, if needed, improves upon the existing IT infrastructure.

UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE

Straight out-of-the-box, UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE delivers hybrid cloud communications for businesses wanting the ease and cost-effectiveness of a cloud solution while still maintaining an on-premises system. Reliable and secure, the SV9100 BLUE provides unified communications and mobility applications with a minimal investment.

Hosted Telephony

NEC’s hosted telephony solution reduces the need for in-house maintenance by a telephony support team. Free up space in the data center and management costs for scalable features such as call recording, automated attendant, mobility and call transfers from a landline to a cell or a computer.

UNIVERGE BLUE SIP Trunking

Route calls over an IP network instead of traditional phone lines with NEC’s SIP Trunking. For businesses with multiple offices, SIP Trunking turns voice into an application, creating the appearance of a single location without the cost of extensive infrastructure.

UNIVERGE BLUE Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Capitalize on customer interactions and let them engage with you on their terms, from anywhere, at any time by providing multiple avenues of communication through social media, SMS, webchat and more with NEC’s CCaaS. Customers speak to a real person, specifically selected to meet their needs through skills-based routing, while allowing high-priority clients to skip to the front of the line. Additionally, NEC’s CCaaS provides metrics and workforce management solutions to improve the effectiveness of your customer service team.

UNIVERGE BLUE Team Collaboration

Improve company-wide communication and collaboration with NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Team Collaboration. Enabling users to participate in private one-to-one, group, or company-wide conversations. Communications are streamlined and can follow users to whatever device they are using at the time.

Unified Threat Management

NEC’s Unified Threat Management monitors and manages threats between the local network and the local gateway. The appliance connects to the cloud for up-to-the-minute virus definition updates and can also be used for keyword filtering, URL filtering and notifications when a threat is detected.

UNIVERGE BLUE Video Collaboration

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Video Collaboration delivers a reliable video hosting solution for businesses. Powered by Vidyo, this scalable communications solution offers 4K quality, multi-party conferencing, crystal clear picture and sound from any device and location at an affordable price.

Backup as a Service (BaaS)

In a sobering 2018 statistic, 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within six months of the disaster. As cloud environments grow, the need to securely back up and manage data that is delivered in the cloud and not cloud-delivered has also grown. Considering the threat of natural disasters, power outages, cyberattacks and man-made errors, NEC offers powerful Backup as a Service (BaaS) solutions to mitigate the risk of data loss and save businesses money on the investment of backup infrastructure.

Built on NEC’s award-winning distributed grid storage platform, HYDRAstor®, placed in highly regulated, compliant and secure IronMountain® datacenters and using industry-leading Commvault® backup software, BaaS delivers powerful performance and security. Whether backing up between datacenters on site, straight to the cloud or in virtual or physical environments, organizations can expect cost-effective managed backup 7x24x365, advanced encryption, compliance and easy scalability.

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

NEC Corporation of America

Free Strategic Consultation
Let us assist you with your current business needs!

Fill out the form today and we will get back with you.

 
 
 
 



Gartner’s UC Magic Quadrant is Losing its Luster

The Gartner Magic Quadrant has long held a place of reverence in the Information and Communications Technology industry as a go-to resource for large enterprises seeking a short list of vendors to consider for technology purchases and projects.

As you may know, NEC is regularly included in a number of Gartner reports, most notably the recently updated 2018 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications.

Frost and Sullivan Report NEC Smart Enterprise

Despite the fact that NEC is the world leader in lines shipped – with a 14.3 % market share in Global Call Control Licenses Vendor over Q1 2018 according to MZA Consultants – and despite the fact that we offer a full portfolio of UC solutions for businesses small, medium and large, Gartner has decided to place us in the “niche” category.

I’d like to share a few points of fact that I think you should consider when reading this year’s updated UC Magic Quadrant.

“Unified” No More

Let’s start with the name. I believe the widely accepted phrase “unified communications” is reaching its end of life. I’m not the only person who believes this, in fact there are several prominent industry analysts who share this opinion.

A recent NoJitter article by Sorell Slaymaker – a former Gartner analyst who was the lead author on the Corporate Telephony (CT) magic quadrant – makes a compelling point that the Gartner UC Magic Quadrant is “reaching the end of its usefulness.”

In Slaymaker’s opinion, “the idea that an enterprise will use a single platform for all communications is dead. Business communications is increasing an embedded capability in applications, and no one vendor does all things well across all regions of the world.”

His point is valid. We live in a highly customized world. Different business processes drive unique requirements, and we in the vendor community have learned that we must be able to integrate to survive. This is what we as NEC successfully demonstrate and are widely recognized as doing with our smart and integrated solutions across many vertical market sectors such as Hospitality, Healthcare, Government and Education.

Is #Gartner UC Magic Quadrant Losing its Luster? #magicquadrant Click To Tweet

Positioning in Quadrant Highly Questionable

Slaymaker furthermore does not agree with the positioning given by Gartner to several major vendors, including NEC.

As he states: “It’s hard to see NEC move to a niche player this year since it arguably sells more phones than anyone else; has a full feature set; is doing some leading edge things, including incorporating facial recognition into communications; and gets decent reviews.”

Many of our largest customers run multi-vendor, multi-cloud communications environments, just as many also run only NEC. We embrace them all. And I doubt any of them would consider us “niche.”

Furthermore it is worthwhile noting that, not unlike the market overall, a significant portion of our customers are categorized as ‘midsize businesses,’ while analysts like Gartner tend to be disproportionately impressed by major firms with larger marketing budgets. The strong marketing influence of American-based vendors like Cisco, Microsoft and Avaya is another aspect to consider when evaluating Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant.

Smart Enterprise is the Future

The truth of the matter is there’s no perfect Magic Quadrant that can accurately capture the essence of NEC’s enterprise technology business. As a result, you’ll find NEC products, services and solutions captured in 11 different Gartner Magic Quadrants, at last count.

Today’s large businesses run highly customized IT and communications environments, and rather than seeking point solutions to react to specific problems, they’re becoming more strategic about their buying decisions.

NEC believes this strategic approach is best achieved by focusing on the four value pillars of the Smart Enterprise. These pillars are business agility, cloud delivery, collaborative communities and assured services.

NEC supports these four pillars by delivering the industry’s strongest and most innovative portfolio of IT and communications solutions built on 118 years of excellence and expertise.

You can learn more about the Smart Enterprise on our Web site.

The Bigger Picture

Gartner’s library of Magic Quadrants is constantly evolving. For example, the company retired its Corporate Telephony Magic Quadrant a few years ago. Many believe the same will be true for the UC Magic Quadrant before too long.

In the meantime, NEC will continue to pursue optimal positioning with Gartner and other industry influencers with all available facts, vision and information regarding our products, solutions and implementations, as we’ve always done.

And while the era of optimal usefulness may be coming to an end for the UC Magic Quadrant, NEC maintains a healthy rating over on the Gartner Peer Insights Web portal.

If you’re not familiar, Gartner Peer Insights is where you can find customer testimonials on numerous IT vendor solutions. NEC has numerous positive reviews in numerous categories. I encourage you to check it out.

And if you’re an NEC customer, please do us a favor and leave a review! After all, in the customer’s buying journey, there’s very little information that’s more useful than hearing from a peer who has walked a mile in your shoes.

Smart Enterprise

Free Strategic Consultation
Let us assist you with your current business needs!

Fill out the form today and we will get back with you.