UNIVERGE BLUE is not just a suite of services, it’s a strategy for NEC’s Channel Partners

As a global leader in communications solutions with over 75 million global users, NEC relies on a large Channel Partner network to drive the best results for those customers. NEC started offering services for products well over a decade ago in response to the service-model demand from customers.

In the “NEC UNIVERGE BLUE is a Strategy, and a Suite of Services” Podcast, I sat down with NEC’s Director of UNIVERGE BLUE Sales Strategy,Mike Mitsch to discuss NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program. In the podcast, we learn how UNIVERGE BLUE helps NEC’s end-users successfully meet their cloud migration plans while enabling the Channel Partner to remain close to the customer and effectively “own” the relationship, even as the customer moves to the service model.

What is UNIVERGE BLUE?

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE offers a comprehensive set of unified communications, collaboration, backup/disaster recovery, and contact center services. UNIVERGE BLUE incorporates all the clients’ business communication methods and devices into one integrated, easy-to-manage system.

According to Mitsch, UNIVERGE BLUE not only delivers enterprise-grade cloud communications and backup as a service, but it’s been tailored to the needs of the Channel Partners who historically, literally, installed the NEC base, and that base’s customers.

“UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES Channel Partner Program was designed to give our Channel Partners choices” explains Mike. NEC understands that partner programs are not “one size fits all” – and that is why NEC lets Channel Partners choose from three, robust Channel Partner models based on what’s right for their business and their customers, and how they want to make money.

  • Customer Ownership Model: In this model, the customer contracts with the Channel Partner who has full ownership of billing, bundling and support. They take top line revenue on a Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) basis.
  • Agency Model & Revenue Share Model: In these models, the customer contracts with NEC through the Channel Partner. Channel partners are still fully involved with the customer during the sale and on-going support, while NEC handles billing if that’s what the partner prefers.

UNIVERGE BLUE – A strategy for Channel Partners

The ever-changing cloud services industry doesn’t just have an impact on service providers and their customers, but the people in the middle of the sales cycle too. For years, NEC has been committed to delivering solutions that appeal to their channel partner’s target audience and deliver bottom line revenue. Now that the cloud model is growing in desirability, NEC is helping Channel Partner’s rethink the way that they go to market with cloud services, so they can continue to provide personalized support to end-users while accessing the same value.

“There can’t be just one way to adopt cloud-services. NEC’s customer base is comprised of many on-premises PBX users, so we developed our program to provide these partners a bridge into a hybrid environment.” Mike explains that by offering flexible deployment models, Channel Partners can appeal to any audience – those who want to stay on-premises, take a hybrid approach, or migrate entirely to a cloud environment.

Why should new Channel Partners consider NEC?

Mike shared a few reasons why new Channel Partners should consider the UNIVERGE BLUE Channel Partner program. The first reason is self-service. The program was tailor-made for Channel Partners to sell, install, and support. NEC designed UNIVERGE BLUE from the ground up with input from their Channel Partner community and with the goal of making it easy for them to sell cloud services profitably.

NEC also offers a variety of onboarding education and support, so when new Channel Partners are brought on, they can quickly start adding value and displacing their competition.

Additionally, Mike points out NEC’s longevity in the IT market and their large customer base. “NEC’s brand recognition and large following gives new Channel Partners access to our PBX customer base – the ability to choose a Channel Partner model that is best for them is the icing on the cake.”

Synergistic suite of services, combined with excellent partner training

Mitsch explains that UNIVERGE BLUE was built to coexist – customers need their communications to integrate with other commonly used business applications. Mitsch describes UNIVERGE BLUE to be a synergistic suite of services, combined with excellent Channel Partner training. Mitsch also points to NEC as being one of the early adopters to have Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) integration with Microsoft® Teams, signaling to the Channel Partner community that NEC Corporation of America is a path into the Teams market, with a package that’s designed to anticipate an on-premises network and the adoption of cloud by the customer.

Cloud Services for Any Industry

A few significant industries that will remain conducting business in person are healthcare, hospitality, and education. These verticals have a long history with NEC and UNIVERGE BLUE is now helping major organizations to move to the cloud. “We leveraged our industry expertise and verticalized our UNIVERGE BLUE Solutions, making it much easier for our channel partners be competitive within these industries” Mitsch shares.

Whether it is doctor’s office or a government agency, there are innumerable vertical and horizontal opportunities for NEC’s Channel Partners to deliver UNIVERGE BLUE to companies looking to offer a better experience to their customers. By working with NEC, Channel Partners can look to the future and focus on expansion to help customers stay competitive as cloud services become central to a greater customer experience.

To learn more about the NEC UNIVERGE BLUE Channel Partner Program, visit www.univergeblue.com/partners and visit the Channel Partner Success Story page to hear what NEC’s Channel Partners are saying about UNIVERGE BLUE.

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Please let us know if you have any questions about the program or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program Representative. Fill out the form, and we will get back with you.

Future-Proof Your Data with UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an above normal hurricane season is predicted in 2021. And while ransomware attacks are decreasing in number, the costs have been steadily increasing, including hidden costs such as downtime, stolen data and IT upgrade costs.

Data is one of your organization’s most valuable resources and must be protected from cybercriminals, as well as weather emergencies, global health crises and more. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER offers peace of mind for business leaders with secure data storage, management and recovery from the cloud.

Emerging Challenges Call for Evolving DR Requirements

According to a 2021 IDC Data Protection and Disaster Recovery Readiness research study, these emergencies have redefined the top IT priorities for organizations.

Other report findings include:

  • 95% of organizations are rethinking data protection due to work from home requirements.
  • 43% of organizations suffered unrecoverable data within the past 12 months.
  • 63% of organizations suffered a data-related business disruption within the past 12 months.

More companies are looking to cloud deployments and cloud-based disaster recovery solutions to ensure their data is safe and readily accessible.

Data Protection in 3-2-1

A tried-and-true best practice for ensuring no single point of failure in a backup strategy is the 3-2-1 methodology. Three copies of the data are backed up to two different storage media types with one copy saved offsite. The data integrity must also be certain so that recovery from any of these copies is complete and uncorrupted. NEC UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER offers control and compliance that meet these data protection best practices.

Top Technology Needs for Backup

According to the Evaluator Group Backup-as-a-Service Fundamentals Technical Insight Report, flexibility is one of the top considerations when implementing a new Backup System. “Today, recoveries are flexible (for example, recovering an entire VM or an individual file, to a few different target options)”.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER addresses this requirement through a solution that supports any type of infrastructure configured and tailored to your business’s unique requirements. Built on industry-leading data protection software and NEC’s award-winning HYDRAstor® storage platform, the infrastructure is hosted in data centers such as those provided by Iron Mountain®, serving as an offsite, disconnected copy for protection against ransomware and other malicious attacks. Replication includes:

  • Complete on-premises or off-premises data backed up to and recovered from the cloud.
  • VM snapshots replicated between regions and across clouds, so that one major cloud outage does not preclude access to the data.
  • Most major databases are also replicated, including SQL and HANA.

Learn more about NEC UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER from this Evaluator Group Product Brief.

Top Support Needs for Backup

According to the Evaluator Group Backup-as-a-Service Evaluation Guide that was recently released, “customers expect continuous availability of their backup service as well as fast resolution of any technical issues.

In a recent evaluation of NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER by the Evaluator Group, NEC received the highest Value Scale Mark of “Exceeding Requirements” on six (6) out of ten (10) selected criteria and “Meets Requirements” on the other four (4).

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER services are managed by NEC with supplemental support from an NEC partner. Managed services are provided via NEC’s Network Operations Center (NOC) that is staffed and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days per year. Through documented access control lists and SoC audits, the compliance and security of this NEC solution provides proof of best practices for Cyber Security Insurance. Reducing the workload of your IT staff and reducing the risk of threats provides more valuable time for fulfilling proactive business needs.

Learn More About NEC UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER

Through NEC UNIVERGE BLUE’s flexible and affordable pricing, backup and recovery services can future-proof critical data from hackers, ransomware attackers, on-site catastrophes and natural disasters. Your organization can also customize the solution to meet your own requirements, with the choice to manage the solution in-house or through NEC’s managed services.

Learn more at https://www.univergeblue.com/cloud-services/backup/ or schedule a no obligation consultation with an NEC BACKUP & RECOVER expert to determine which solution fits your needs and budget. Simply fill out the form below, and we will get back to you soon.

Or to become authorized to sell UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER solution, click here.

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9 Ways an Aging Phone System Could be Putting Business Success on Hold

Prior to the advent of Cloud Communications, companies relied upon on-premises hardware to deliver their communications. The trouble with continuing the use of an on-premises phone system is the architecture of conventional phone systems dates to a time when going to work meant going into an office. Many were even designed when smartphones were considered nothing but science fiction. Today’s workers require more agility and capabilities than these systems support.

Traditional On-Prem PBX with UC vs. UCaaS

Unified Communications (UC) systems can take two forms: On-Premises and in the cloud, which is referred to as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). So which is best?

With on-premises UC, you own the phone system, the infrastructure and host all hardware on-site, paying for it as a capital expense. For businesses with multiple locations, PBX hardware must be installed in each location. To implement a new application, you typically have to buy new hardware/software, install it, get your resources trained on how to support it, and then go through a series of tests.

A cloud phone system with UCaaS combines many different communications applications and features into one platform, hosted in the cloud. You can choose to rent or own the phones, and in a lot of cases, phones are offered free by service providers, and you pay a monthly subscription for all maintenance, features, upgrades, and support. UCaaS takes phone system management and maintenance off your plate. All you need is an internet connection to access a cloud service, making it easy to link different branches and integrate mobile devices.

A modern cloud phone system not only provides highly reliable connectivity and call quality but is also easy to deploy and simple to maintain. Plus, the cloud delivers the agility and advanced features your business needs to keep pace with consumers and mobile workers.

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the 9 ways an aging phone system could be putting your business success on hold.

Too Costly

ROI CalculatorWith a cloud-based phone system, you enjoy one flat-rate for all your calls nationwide. For one predictable monthly charge, you also get a range of additional services without the complexity of multiple bills. Contrast that with traditional on-premises systems where, even when the hardware is paid for, you still incur ongoing costs for things like software upgrades, maintenance, and support. You may also need expensive expansion cards for adding new users or costly private business exchange (PBX) lines for connectivity between multiple locations.

Low Customer Satisfaction

A study by the respected research firm Gartner also found that when it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. This means businesses must quickly put customers in touch with exactly who they need.

This can create problems for businesses still using traditional on-premises phone systems. When a traditional on-premises PBX phone system is not built to integrate with your teams’ mobile devices, you leave yourself open to a poor customer experience unless your sales representatives happen to be sitting at their desks right when the customer calls. A modern cloud phone system gives your employees the ability to answer a call from any device and stay in touch with customers anytime, anywhere, and from virtually any mobile device.

Unreliable Phone Service with Traditional PBX

First and foremost, every business needs reliable phone service and good call quality. Of the many shortcomings of traditional PBX systems, their lack of adequate disaster recovery and business continuity may be the most serious. On-site legacy systems are not designed to provide continuous connectivity in the event of outages from natural disasters and other events.

With UCaaS, your communications and collaboration solutions run in the cloud, in redundant datacenters, not on on-premises hardware. This means business continues even in the event of a fire, power outage, or natural disaster.

Weak Security and Compliance

With a cloud-based system, data is backed up to secure datacenters that employ dedicated security personnel to monitor networks and server rooms at all times and are built to withstand natural disasters. With on-premises phone systems, servers are located in your office, which is more susceptible to break-ins and unforeseen weather disasters, which pose threats to your servers containing your data.

With the right cloud provider, robust security protects your data. This is particularly important for small- and medium-size businesses, which typically lack the dedicated IT and Security staff of larger businesses. The right cloud service provider experts can provide world-class security, which includes compliance with government regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Not Mobile Friendly

Most traditional PBX systems, with their hardwired infrastructures, can’t easily accommodate the needs of an increasingly wireless, mobile world. A cloud phone system provides apps for mobile devices and desktops to support your workers anywhere they roam. This mobility allows mobile employees to access conference calls, video conferences, faxing, and team chats from a mobile device. Meanwhile, your customers can reach your employees from a single company phone number.

Hard to Scale

What happens when your business grows, and you need to add more users? With traditional PBX with UC, more phones and UC licenses need to be purchased and installed. You’ll also need to ensure that sufficient voice channels will be provisioned, which involves significant lead time that could severely impede your ability to react in a timely manner. Cloud-based communications provides users with on-demand scalability and bursting capabilities. This means you can increase your seat count in record time – or quickly scale down during slower seasons to control costs.

Difficult to Set Up Branch Offices and Remote Workers

As businesses undergo mergers and acquisitions, move offices, launch new international locations, and hire new teleworkers, your communications must be able to adapt quickly. With traditional communications platforms, adding a PBX to each location can be slow, labor intensive and expensive. This limits an organization’s flexibility to easily adopt new features, functionality, or process improvements.

Rather than requesting a service call or waiting for the phone company to provision lines, a cloud phone system lets you simply send phones to new offices or remote workers.

Aging, Out of Data PBX

Premises-based PBX systems can quickly become out of date as keeping up with updates and new feature enhancements can become costly and time consuming. Moving traditional software models to the cloud helps ensure employee access to the communication tools they need, while also helping you stay up to date with the latest versions.

A top-tier cloud service provider will automatically upgrade your calling and other features in the cloud so you won’t have to worry about upgrades or added fees.

Cumbersome and Complicated

A cloud-based phone system eliminates the need to pay for collaboration services such as video conferencing, chat, file storage, internet fax, backup, and other stand-alone services from different suppliers. This not only reduces procurement and billing complexity as with a traditional PBX but also dramatically improves employee productivity. For example, with an integrated cloud communications service, employees collaborating in a group chat can instantly elevate the session to a video conference or web meeting without leaving the application.

Ready to Move to the Cloud?

The days of waiting for the phone company to deliver, set up, and connect on-site business phone hardware are gone. With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT, you will have a reliable, full-featured cloud-based phone system up and running almost instantly.

If you’re ready to make the move, chose a cloud company with superior call quality, proven reliability, and a track record for stellar customer service and support. The fully integrated UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT solution provides a premier business phone system to meet your needs.

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Partner Success Story: How UNIVERGE BLUE has been a welcomed change to DTC’s and their customers business

From the time DTC (Digital Telecommunications Corporation) was established in 1982, their commitment to providing solutions that help optimize business practices, drive workforce engagement, and create competitive advantages for customers has positioned DTC as market leader in the communications space.

Mike Maccani, General Manager of Digital Telecommunications recently sat down with us to explain his partnership with NEC and experience selling UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES.

The Challenge

As cloud and hosted solutions grew in popularity, DTC found it challenging to respond to customer’s needs with only an on-premises solution offering. DTC began exploring the market and after researching many options, they knew they needed a service provider who would let them own the customer relationship.

Before UNIVERGE BLUE, DTC tried other cloud providers, such as 8×8 and RingCentral, but these providers fell short when it came down to allowing DTC to maintain their own customer relationships and service their customers. Mike explains, “Right now, the big cloud companies are trying to gain as much cloud market share as possible, with aggressive sales teams and very competitive partner SPIFFs, they locked us in then wound up taking our customers who we worked really hard to build relationships with over the years.”

The Solution

The UNIVERGE BLUE partnership was a great fit for DTC because it allowed them to provide the great service levels that customers had come to associate DTC with, and a robust cloud-communications solution that customers loved. Mike shares, “Our customers trust us and the relationship we have built with them over the years. UNIVERGE BLUE is excellent because it’s reliable and dependable solutions meet our customers’ needs, and the partner program allows us to maintain our customer relationships, reinforcing DTC’s reputation of providing exceptional customer support.”

Cost-Effect and Simple Unified Communications

“We recommend UNIVERGE BLUE’s Cloud PBX [CONNECT] to all our customers. The whole experience of working with NEC is just easy. From the simplicity of quoting and ordering to deployment and system management through the administrative portal – everything is streamlined and simple. Plus, UNIVERGE BLUE has all the features our customers want at a very affordable price billed as an operational expense (OPEX).

Enterprise Level Contact Center Functionality

With UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE, DTC can provide SMB customers a call center solution with enterprise-level features that are not available with an on-premises solution. Mike explains why a recent customer chose UNIVERGE BLUE, “The customer chose UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE because of the enterprise-level features and flexibility to deploy ENGAGE in any location for agents, whether at home or an office environment.

Owning the Customer Relationship

Mike talks to the benefits of selling Cloud under the UNIVERGE BLUE Customer Ownership Model, “We’ve had great success operating under the customer ownership model. We love that we have full ownership of billing, bundling, adding services and support but don’t have to deal with any of the complex telecom taxation aspects since NEC handles all of that for us.” DTC provides the first level of technical support while NEC is always there is provide support if there is ever a need.

Sales and Marketing Enablement

“The UNIVERGE BLUE team itself is extremely valuable to us, they’re incredibly knowledgeable and understand our business. For most of our existence, we have been a tradition interconnect company who sells on-premises equipment. NEC understands this and helps us position UNIVERGE BLUE to our traditional and non-traditional customers,” Mike Shares.

Additionally, the UNIVERGE BLUE ROI Calculator has proven to be a great sales tool for DTC, in addition to the variety of marketing collateral and co-brandable campaigns NEC offers Channel Partners. Mike considers the ROI tool a critical element in discussing cloud with on-premises customers.

The Results

Having UNIVERGE BLUE as a reliable Cloud Voice partner has resulted in a steady stream of new Cloud PBX customers. Maccani explains, “We have never had service issues with UNIVERGE BLUE. Because of the simplicity of the system and overall ease of use, we spend less of our own resources. UNIVERGE BLUE also significantly reduces the upfront chunk of costs that customers need to spend on expensive on-prem PBX systems. It’s been a welcomed change to our business model, and a cost-savings that we’ve been able to pass onto our clients,” concluded Mike.

Mike explains the importance of technology providers introducing cloud to their customer base, “Whether it is with you, a technology partner, or a competitor, every customer will want to discuss cloud for their business. UNIVERGE BLUE allows us to start a dialogue with customers about their needs – staying on-premises, migrating immediately, or taking a phased approach to their migration – Regardless, DTC is a part of that conversation and will be ready to help them with their migration when the time comes.”

For more information on how you can become a UNIVERGE BLUE Channel Partner and begin realizing the unlimited benefits and high margins that come with being a cloud provider, visit https://www.univergeblue.com/partners today. For any questions about the program or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program Representative, submit your information to us and we will get back to you shortly.

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Three Principals for Effective Hybrid Communications and Collaboration

Succeed with the New Hybrid Work Model

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

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

What is a Hybrid Work Model?

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

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

Worker types could include:

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

The Keys to Hybrid Success

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

Flexibility

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

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

Keep Business At The Center

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

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

Crazy Simple Communications & On-Line Meeting Tools

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

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES – Designed for Hybrid Working

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

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

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