How the Hybrid Workforce Has Brought Cloud-Based Phone Systems to the Forefront of Business

Cloud-based phone systems have exponentially grown in popularity over the past few years. Improved ROI, decreased cost, and easy scalability are just a few of the many benefits they offer.

With the recent increase in work-from-home employees, cloud-based business phone systems are now an indispensable part of the hybrid workforce.

Workers can utilize the same phone system tools as their office counterparts, no matter where they are physically located—through their laptop, IP phone, tablet, or cell phone.

Are you like many of our customers and wonder, what is a cloud-based phone system? Read on to learn more about how the hybrid workforce has affected cloud-based phone systems and the value you’ll get from installing one.

What are Cloud-Based Phone Systems?

Traditional phone systems (PBX) require expensive on-site servers and annual software subscriptions. When something goes wrong, it becomes a 911 rush to find a qualified technician to come out and fix the problem.

Cloud-based phone systems, such as UNIVERGE BLUE from NEC, offer a fully-featured phone system with high-definition (HD) audio and a wide range of features, such as:

  • Call Park
  • Call Forwarding
  • Find Me/Follow Me
  • Hold Recordings or Music
  • Conferencing
  • Messaging Applications

The cloud-based phone system provider handles the server and software maintenance. This helps eliminate the huge monthly expense of on-premises servers and software licenses as well as helps reduce on-site maintenance and management labor costs.

We have found that our customers can save an average of 15-25% over the life of the phone system when making the switch from an on-premises system to a cloud-based system.

Benefits of Cloud-Based Phone System

Cloud-based phone systems offer a wide range of benefits, such as:

  1. Reliability—cloud-based phone systems offer a 99.999% uptime backed up by a Service Level Agreement.
  2. They’re easy to scale without a huge investment. When you need to add new lines, simply call the company hosting your system and inform them. They’ll make the changes on their end without any effort on your part.
  3. Reduced hardware and labor costs—you don’t need an on-site control box, and all maintenance is done in the cloud. This means that your equipment is continually updated with the latest security patches/etc. When updates are available, the phone will let you know, and updating is as simple as clicking a button on your phone.
  4. Easier to connect with customers—you can place phone calls and send text messages that appear to come from the company regardless of if the app is installed on an employee’s personal cell phone.
  5. Some systems, such as UNIVERGE BLUE, come with a transcription feature. If someone misses a phone call, they can look at their email and see who left the voicemail, along with a transcript of what they said.
  6. A cloud-based phone system is much more secure than a premises system. For example, an old premises-based phone system can be hacked—attackers will randomly call and recognize the voicemail prompt, and from there, they can tell what system it is.

The hacker can then enter the user’s system, start making international calls, and racking up substantial long-distance bills. With the cloud, that’s eliminated because everything is encrypted, and NEC and their security specialists handle all the security stuff.

Cloud-Based Phone Systems Have Evolved Due to the Hybrid Workforce

According to many sources, the hybrid workforce is not only here to stay—workers and job applicants will start actively seeking companies that offer it. Cloud-based companies have seen the increased demand and are now offering a wide range of additional features and benefits such as:

  1. The ability to connect to the cloud from any internet-connected device. If you’re working in the office in the morning and pack up to go home after lunch—you won’t have to bring any additional equipment to work from home or in the field. When using a cloud-based phone system, you won’t have any concerns on having to take work equipment with you to stay connected.
  2. You can also work from a cell phone signal instead of a traditional home or office internet connection. Workers will still have access to the cloud-based phone system when power outages occur, provided they can receive a cell phone signal.
  3. With UNIVERGE BLUE, employees have a choice when using their personal cell phone. They can choose to take and make calls from the mobile client where the caller ID shows up as coming from the company or they can call directly from their cell phone where their personal caller ID is displayed to the person on the other end. System administration is super easy with the cloud-based phone system’s web-based portal.
  4. Many applications have also been developed to help people in the hybrid work environment. These include messaging, productivity, and collaboration tools such as call flip, SMS text, file sharing, team chat, and web meeting.

Is a Cloud-Based Phone System Right for You?

The value and benefits offered by cloud-based phone systems have far-surpassed traditional PBX on-premises phone systems. You and your employees will experience increased productivity, flexibility, and productivity, while employers will save money by being able to effortlessly scale up or down as needed.

UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT is an easy-to-use cloud-based communications platform that helps employees to be more productive and collaborative. It includes a full-featured phone system combined with chat, web/video conferencing, basic contact center functionality, and file sync, share, and backup capabilities.

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How Peavey Electronics Keeps the Music Alive with UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP & RECOVER

If you’ve seen live music, you’re sure to recognize the Peavey® logo. As one of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments, amplifiers and audio systems, Peavey® Electronics has helped musicians and audiophiles to achieve high-quality sound production since the 1960s. In the pursuit of perfection and reliability, the company wanted to improve the resiliency and security of its network infrastructure and critical data in its SAP HANA® implementation.

Peavey turned to NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE® BACKUP (BaaS) and RECOVER (DRaaS) managed service offering after the challenges with their legacy backup and recovery approach.

Peavey’s Critical Data Requirements

Peavey uses SAP business warehouse software to generate daily business reporting pertaining to areas including finance, inventory, and sales. Notably, Peavey uses SAP HANA® to deliver real-time inventory information to its global network of distributors and resellers. It relies on SAP HANA for up-to-the-minute product availability and inventory levels for customers. Without this information, channel partners do not have access to inventory information and might move to another vendor’s product to purchase. In today’s fast-paced, online-centric marketplace, this is especially a threat for Peavey.

Modernizing SAP HANA Backups

Peavey required a modernized approach to its backups to reduce the administrative load on their small IT team. In addition, they looked to reduce backup errors, increase protection against cyber security attacks and ensure complete system backups with no performance impact. Another added bonus of working with NEC was the availability of modern infrastructure, including cloud-hosted storage.

Peavey chose NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE® BACKUP and RECOVER managed service offering to meet these objectives and more. The NEC managed service offering allowed Peavey to:

  • Automate SAP HANA native full and incremental Backups
  • Implement automated data archiving
  • Enhance cyber security by implementing the 3-2-1 rule of data protection best practices
  • Include additional disaster recovery capabilities against natural disasters and cyber-attacks through optional UNIVERGE BLUE RECOVER without the purchase of additional systems
  • Centralize visibility and control via the UNIVERGE BLUE COMMAND CENTER

The biggest value that NEC has brought to Peavey is the ability to offload tasks and responsibilities of its IT team. Peavey has strengthened its data protection at lower operating costs and IT administrative overhead.

Read the Full NEC-Peavey Case Study

The NEC UNIVERGE BLUE Difference

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP (Backup as a Service) and RECOVER (Disaster Recovery as a Service) offers control and compliance to meet data protection best practices. The managed service offering is based on industry-leading backup software such as Commvault® and Veeam to deliver backup and recovery services. The service also leverages NEC HYDRAstor® distributed grid storage systems that are hosted off-premises in Iron Mountain® data centers. Managed services are provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days per year via NEC’s Network Operations Center. NEC will also configure and tailor the solution to meet or exceed your business’s unique requirements.

Typical benefits provided with NEC UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP and RECOVER include:

  • Meeting 3-2-1 rule data protection best practices
  • Offloading tasks from IT Staff
  • Reducing insider threats
  • Providing proof of best practices for Cyber Security Insurance

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

Read the NEC-Peavey Electronics Solution Case Study

With the help of NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP and RECOVER managed services, Peavey can keep the music alive while NEC patches servers, replaces old hardware and provides secure backup and reliable data recovery. Be sure to read the NEC-Peavey Electronics Case Study to learn more about how the companies worked together to secure the critical data necessary to ensure continued success.

To learn more about NEC UNIVERGE BLUE BACKUP and RECOVER, download this Evaluator Group Product Brief. Or to become authorized to sell the solution, request authorization and take the training available in the NEC Learning Management System.

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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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