The Difference Between Managed Mobility Services and Mobile Device Management
Mobile device usage in business continues to be a growth market. And as that usage continues to grow, so too do business challenges that center around effective mobility management. How does a business ensure device security? How does it know that it’s getting the most cost-effective pricing from its mobile device carriers? And how does it cope with the added strains imposed on IT departments required to support the growing number of mobile devices?
The situation that confronts a business with growing mobile device usage is that these questions need to be addressed in order for their mobility initiatives to be cost-effective – but with little experience in mobility management, pulling all of the necessary management and support together can be extremely challenging. The solution for a business plagued with these challenges is very often to turn to an experienced third-party provider of managed mobility services (MMS) and mobile device management (MDM).
But finding a qualified provider can pose its own challenges to a business not familiar with the mobility landscape – including understanding, in the first instance, what it is they need to look for, as well as the vocabulary needed to understand the different solutions on offer from various providers.
With that in mind, we offer this look at exactly what MMS and MDM are, and how they differ from each other.
Managed Mobility Services (MMS)
Managed mobility services are concerned with managing the entire lifecycle of a company’s mobile device fleet, and have a somewhat (but not exclusively) account-based focus. At Wireless Watchdogs, for example, we can be involved with a company before the first device is ever purchased, helping them to understand what their needs and goals are and then helping them to create the policies needed to achieve those goals. We then help with the procurement, provision, and deployment of the devices they need, as well as act on their behalf as an authorized agent to the mobile carriers in order to ensure that they get the best structure and pricing available.
Once the mobile accounts are set up and the devices in place, we then provide continual monitoring in order to achieve two basic goals: That the company’s policies are adhered to, and that the accounts for those devices are always optimal in terms of price. In order to do that, we provide real-time analytics and reporting to our customers so that decision-makers always have the information they need to make informed decisions. They are the same analytics and reports that we use as we manage the accounts to ensure continual cost efficiency, and guarantee synchronicity between a company, its policies and goals, and our MMS efforts on their behalf.
As part of managing the entire device lifecycle, there’s another important service that is provided in order to optimize our customers’ mobility initiatives: Ongoing Help Desk support.
The Help Desk support is a key MMS feature because it removes the burden from a customer’s internal IT staff of having to support a potentially large number of mobile devices. Because the IT department is unlikely to be expert at supporting the mobile devices in use, supporting the devices themselves can chew up large amounts of time and resources. Further, IT departments are typically staffed and funded to support a company’s IT infrastructure, not its new mobile devices, leading to a vicious cycle whereby support all across the board suffers. By including Help Desk support as a part of mobility management services, we remove those burdens and costs from internal IT departments. It’s a win for both the IT department and the device users themselves.
Just as with ongoing Help Desk support, making sure that all mobile devices are always patched and updated is likewise an important aspect of managed mobility services. Keeping devices up to date is important in ensuring that they are always functioning as intended. But it’s especially important for securing devices– and thus, potentially, a business’s network and data – against hacking and malware attacks directed at vulnerabilities known in unpatched devices. And again, ensuring that updates reach all mobile devices could potentially place undue burdens on a company’s internal IT staff. By handing this responsibility off as part of ongoing MMS, companies again save time and money – and are more secure in the bargain.
And finally, because MMS should cover the entire device lifecycle, a device’s end of life is also an important part of those services. Our approach to device end of life as part of our managed mobility services includes ensuring that lost, stolen, or retired devices are no longer able to access networks – an important part of keeping data safe. To further ensure security, we also perform pre-recycle factory resets on retired devices, wiping them of any potentially sensitive data and applications.
Mobile Device Management (MDM)
As you will have gathered, managed mobility services must necessarily have some connection to the devices themselves – but in the bigger picture, MMS is about the lifecycle as a whole.
Mobile Device Management (MDM), on the other hand, directly involves the devices themselves. MDM is typically client-server software; the MDM server is centralized and controlled by administrators, while the mobile devices are provisioned with MDM agent software – the client.
Because the MDM software sits on the device, it offers capabilities that MMS in and of itself doesn’t provide. The details vary by the particular MDM software, of course, but typically they provide enhanced security of the device itself. MDM software may, for example, allow for a device to be partitioned into personal-use and business-use silos. Partitioning a device in this manner prevents users from sharing company data on their personal accounts – and likewise prevents a user’s personal data from being shared to the company network.
Access management and identity management – and thus corporate network authentication and access – are also readily controlled through MDM software. And because proper access management is readily achievable, other features can safely be provided to end users. For example, secure file synching and sharing is an important tool with many business use cases – and is readily achievable via MDM software.
Finally, the client-server nature of MDM software allows administrators to have granular control of devices and users across their network. This is especially important in mobile deployments where different users have need of different levels of access to the company network and its resources, because it can ensure that the right users have the right access at the right time – simultaneously increasing efficiency and security.
The Sum is Greater than Its Parts
Thus, MMS is process-centric, while MDM is device-centric. It’s entirely possible to have MMS without MDM software. Likewise, some companies will choose to do an MDM implementation on their own without any other managed mobility services. But the true potential power of MMS and MDM – decreasing costs while simultaneously increasing security – is only fully unlocked when MDM software is an integrated part of managed mobility services.
At Wireless Watchdogs, we’re happy to talk with you further about the various features of both MMS and MDM. You can request a demo of our platform at any time, and see for yourself the kinds of insights that our analytics and reporting can provide.
We also offer a free, no-obligation audit of your wireless accounts. You provide us your cellular bills for the last three months, and we’ll input them into our system and then show you – again, at no cost to you – how you could be saving money every month through our managed mobility services. The savings are real – tens of thousands of dollars a month, for some of our clients. To get started and see where you could be saving, request your free audit here:
Before modern avionics, pilots set a fixed point on the horizon and flew their planes using a center stick and right and left rudder pedals. These controls allowed the pilot to keep the airplane on course by controlling altitude and direction. Likewise, call center KPIs and benchmarks act as controls to establish direction and to know whether the call center is on course.
You may be familiar with certain call center KPI’s but less familiar with benchmarks. Using our analogy, benchmarks are used to determine whether your call center is on course. When you measure call center performance, benchmarks inform you whether your results are acceptable and can help you know whether you are on target or not. So, how do you obtain KPI benchmarks?
A KPI Benchmark is a Comparative Metric.
Benchmarks can be based on business or call center goals. For example, your call center may want to set a goal to increase reduce first call resolution. That goal can be used as a benchmark. Benchmarks can also be established by looking at other call centers like yours to determine what a standard is within an industry. For example, call centers that provide customer support for software companies may have an average first call resolution rate of say 60%. If your call center also provides customer support for a software company, and if you want to be better than the industry standard, then you need to have a first call resolution rate that exceeds 60%. This kind of benchmark is also known as an external benchmark.
External benchmarks are useful because they help you align with standards considered typical for an industry. This can help properly set targets and avoid overdelivering (or underdelivering) along with the associated financial costs. But external benchmarks are also difficult to obtain.
Measuring call center KPIs and evaluating them against a benchmark is essential for continuous improvement. When benchmarks reveal performance gaps, call center managers can look for causes and take corrective actions to change outcomes. However, you won’t know whether a corrective action has the desired effect unless you remeasure and re-benchmark. Which brings us back to our airplane analogy. When you determine a performance gap and take a corrective action, you are in affect pulling or pushing the center stick or commanding the rudder all in order to keep you heading in the desired direction and altitude.
Learn More from the Premier Expert
Have you considered implementing KPI and benchmark reporting? If you would like to know more about how to implement the right KPIs and benchmarks for your call center, join KPI and Benchmarking expert, Bruce Belfiore , CEO and Senior Research Executive of Benchmark Portal for an in-depth discussion covering:
How to determine the right essential KPIs to measure
How to find and use hard-to-find, external KPI benchmarks
How to understand gaps and steps to take to correct gaps
Bruce is a KPI and Benchmarking expert. He hosts an online radio program called “CallTalk ” and has lectured and consulted worldwide including teaching Call Center Management at Purdue University. He is the author of the book Benchmarking At Its Best for Contact Centers. Make plans to join Bruce for this insightful discussion on how to implement call center KPI benchmarking Oct 15 at 1 pm ET.
Let’s be honest: The idea of opening a massive contact center probably isn’t all that appealing, especially if you are a startup or small to medium-sized business operating on a tight budget and trying to run an agile operation.
Building a traditional contact center, after all, is no small ordeal. It requires a lot of space, hiring dedicated staff members, securing premium communications infrastructure, and so on. All things considered, a contact center can be one of the most resource-intensive departments in company.
Despite these challenges, contact centers are extremely important—more so, in fact, than ever before. In the age of the customer experience (CX), where expectations are through the roof, ensuring a seamless and helpful interaction with your brand has become one of the golden rules of doing business. According to Salesforce, 47 percent of customers claim they will stop buying from a company if they have a subpar experience; 76 percent of customers say it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.
The Departmental Contact Center
Without the services of a contact center, it’s just about impossible to keep customers satisfied—putting business owners today in a tough predicament about how to proceed. As a workaround, many businesses are embracing the idea of informal, or departmental, contact centers.
A departmental contact center is one where non-traditional employees (like sales associates or IT personnel) are empowered to interact with customers over channels like voice, email, and live chat. It can reduce or eliminate the need to hire full-time customer service representatives.
Departmental contact centers typically leverage a cloud communications platform, which can be accessed securely from any location. All communication takes place over a centralized, cloud-based portal—in effect, enabling a borderless customer service department.
The Benefits Of Departmental Contact Centers
Some of the top benefits to using a departmental contact center include:
Reduced CAPEX & OPEX
By taking an informal, departmental approach, and leveraging cloud software, a business can provide strong customer service without having to spend enormous amounts of money on backend telephony infrastructure and agent-facing equipment. It will also eliminate all overhead that would otherwise have to be spent on a physical contact center (like floor space, seats, utilities, and so on).
In a traditional contact center environment, dedicated agents handle most customer-facing interactions. Information is entered into a customer relationship management (CRM) portal, where it can then be exported to other teams like sales, marketing, and Research and Development. One of the downsides to this environment is that it creates a barrier—and a disconnection—between customers and employees. All too often, critical customer data simply goes unused. By allowing high-ranking team members to communicate directly with customers, it can serve as a valuable educational component that can lead to better products and services, and happier customers in the long run.
Customers, of course, will appreciate connecting with experienced team members instead of part time call center agents. For example, imagine using a software as a service (SaaS) solution to run a business, running into a problem and contacting customer support—and instead of speaking with a regular agent, you connect with a lead developer who knows the ins and outs of the software better than anyone. This type of experience will foster feelings of strong brand loyalty—and it will reinforce the message that the company really cares about providing great support, to the point where workers will take time out of their busy day to help solve problems.
Posted on: October 14, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Your contact center needs to strike a tricky balance. On one side, you need to provide excellent customer service to drive more revenue and retain current customers. On the other, you must ensure your team is servicing as many customers as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Most businesses are adopting Intelligent Automation, IVR & Self-Service applications to maintain this tricky balance.
Did you know?
30% of a customers’ interactions with a company’s contact center is with an I.V.R. Yet only about 7% of the companies surveyed offer customer solutions through the IVR experience than an agent can provide. (Source J.D. Power)
The price of resolving a customer need on a call via the IVR versus an agent is a difference. (source: Al Cook)
Almost one-third of a customer’s time is spent in the IVR. (Source: Al Cook)
Many organizations want the flexibility to let their customers choose the level of self-service they want to address their inquiry or whether they purely want to speak with an agent. This becomes especially useful when the contact center is closed and customers can still get answers to their questions via automation. Not only will voice automation free up your agents to handle more complex cases, but customers can quickly solve basic issues like bill pay, account inquiries, and the many high-volume / low value transactions typically handled by an agent.
Evolve IP’s customers typically see a 20-30% completion rate in these low-value self-service transactions which frees up agents to handle higher level or more sophisticated functions.
For customers that do engage with self-service capabilities during business hours, many customers find that the customer still wants to speak with an agent but their question is more focused in nature reducing in shorter handle times. Typically, they’ve received some information from the automation and now have a follow-up question that requires the skillset of an agent to address.
Integrations Power Automation
Integration is the key to creating an IVR experience that leaves your customers feeling like the service was created just for them. When your IVR knows the entire customer journey, the products they’ve purchased, their financial status, etc. it can make a huge positive impact on the customer experience.
Common scenarios include:
Self Service applications that empower customers
Intelligent / data-driven routing provides personalized routing and relevant prompts
Agents can be presented with key customer information along with the interaction
An integrated contact history at the agent’s fingertips
Last agent routing allows organizations to build rapport
Challenges & Considerations
Consider the “openness” of key business applications / CRM for integration: Integrations can be very easy or very tough depending on how open the underlying platform is to building such an integration. Most modern day applications have robust APIs that enable this type of integration. You will definitely need to take a look “under the covers” to confirm that your application is ready to integrate.
Ensure the availability of technical resources to participate: Of course, you are going to need help from the technology folks getting access to these functions and everybody has a large pile of technology wishlist items that needs to be sorted through to determine which projects actually see the light of day.
Start with high-volume / low-value requests for self-service: It’s always great to start with these high-volume interactions like a status request that consumes up valuable agent resources answering simple questions that just need access to the data to answer.
Create a simplified personalized experience with minimal prompts that are relevant to the caller: We’ve had great success simplifying the customer experience by personalizing it. Why ask the caller questions to which you already know the answer? Why offer prompts that aren’t relevant to that customer? Move away from the one-size fits all routing that we all dread.
Early in the process, design your consolidated reporting across the entire CX: You really want to think about the reporting up-front and not leave that for an after thought. Many times the design of the automation needs to be adjusted to meet the reporting needs. You’d rather get the reporting right the first time than having to go back to the technology well again.
Recognize the on-going need to optimize automation based upon results: The IVR is a critical moment of customer engagement, and yet it’s frequently left untouched by companies for years. How often have you heard, “Please listen carefully because the menu options have recently changed” and known that the menu actually hasn’t changed in a very long time? That’s because many organizations don’t take the time and energy to experiment, iterate, and improve the IVR.
Deliver multiple, smaller victories over a phased rollout: My personal philosophy is to have many, small victories instead of the big-bang approach which is always high risk. Iterating through multiple phases of deployments usually results in a better product that builds and learns from the earlier phases.
Evolve IP’s Cloud IVR provides call centers with a higher level of customer interactivity and data driven decision making. This enables call centers to deploy a wide range of self-service and outbound dialing features ultimately freeing up your agents to focus on more complex requests and customers requiring a higher touch.
Posted on: October 10, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Emails pile into your inbox by the dozens—or hundreds. Notifications pop up on your desktop computer and phone. So do text messages. And both your desk and mobile devices constantly ring.
Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone.
Sometimes we feel like we work for our communications devices, not the other way around. They pull us in all directions when we just want to get some work done. In today’s work environment, we’re challenged to be productive and effective, sometimes in spite of the technology we use.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Unified communications (UC) combined with smart, intuitive collaboration tools (UC&C) makes work easier, connecting us more efficiently with colleagues, customers and partners, all from one platform that can be accessed from any device.
Improving The Customer Experience
With UC&C, employees can connect with customers through any channel, no matter where they’re located. Envision this scenario: A customer’s flight is delayed two hours, so she misses her connection. After speaking with the gate agent, she resignedly wanders off to get a bite to eat, five gates away. Why shouldn’t she? She knows it will be a while before she’s rebooked.
In the meantime, the gate agent finds an alternative flight. He brings up the customer’s information from her reservation, finds her mobile number and, with a click, the system dials her smartphone. She answers, thrilled when the agent shares details about her new flight. After agreeing to the rebooking, she sets off to the new gate.
Improving Team Productivity
Your creative team is hard at work developing a new client’s marketing campaign. But before they can proceed, you discover they need a critical piece of information from an internal subject matter expert. Despite leaving a voicemail and sending an email, you’ve received no response. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if your colleague is even on this continent, let alone available to conference with the team?
Presence technology lets you see if the SME is available and by which means: voice, text, video or not at all. The system automatically routes calls from one number to another. On top of that, your colleague can see all communications with UC&C’s unified messaging. Whether he’s in his office, in the car or working remotely, by signing on via a shared cloud platform he sees all messages, including texts, voicemails and emails. If he’s not available, the team sees this immediately and reaches out to another colleague for the information it needs.
Improving Community Communications
It’s not only businesses that benefit from UC&C. Staff and teachers in the Lovejoy Independent School District needed a way to communicate both internally and with parents. After UC&C was implemented, they gained a phone and voice mailbox in each classroom with conferencing capabilities. One feature, the Time of Day Call Restriction, allows teachers to put the classroom phone into “meeting mode” at scheduled intervals. That way, they’re not interrupted by calls during class time.
When class is out of session, teachers easily make calls from any device, either with a single click from their contact list or by entering a name. They can also easily join conference calls. That’s particularly handy when someone can’t make a parent-teacher conference in person.
Improving Partner Collaboration
In product development today, speed to market is essential. To achieve it, employees must work efficiently with partners, involving them as early as a product’s design phase.
Imagine you’re an engineer developing a new battery for a prototype automobile. You need to collaborate with the vendors supplying the necessary parts. UC&C provides tools that not only let you manage the project – setting tasks, scheduling meetings, sharing documents and virtual whiteboards – but enable you to invite external parties to participate via a secure, web-accessible interface.
It doesn’t matter which communications tool the vendor uses. UC&C can send messages across multiple providers. It even allows you to build a digital twin online so you can conduct a deep dive into the product’s requirements, working side-by-side.
UC&C Drives Results No Matter Where You Are
UC&C is bringing organizational communications into a new era. Now, colleagues, customers and communities can easily communicate across devices, geographies and across applications.
Choosing the right Unified Communications platform
A unified communications (UC) platform should be your ticket to easier team collaboration, with all workflows for instant messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, VoIP telephony and more running through one streamlined application. Whether it actually becomes this ideal all-in-one hub will hinge on which solution and vendor you select.
What’s at stake when shopping for UC – and why you should explore cloud
When you choose a UC platform, you’re not just purchasing a product – you’re buying into a larger ecosystem, much like you do when you opt for iOS or Android. In addition to placing a bet on the solution’s underlying communications technology – i.e., its ability to handle calls, messages, and meetings – you are also trusting its vendor to support it and other vendors to allow it access to their APIs. That raises the stakes for making an informed decision, as the wrong choice can leave you with a UC solution that is as unreliable for end-users as it is difficult for you to integrate into your larger IT environment.
Making these sorts of high-stakes choices between seemingly similar – but actually quite different – collaboration tools is the enterprise equivalent of the format wars that once dominated consumer tech. For example, imagine being a movie buff circa 2006 and going all-in on the ill-fated HD-DVD instead of Blu-ray. The latter quickly drove the former out of the competition despite their comparable specs, leaving early adopters with an expensive player that studios had abandoned and which couldn’t even play Blu-ray discs – in other words, a major sunk cost.
When it comes to business communication tools, there’s a much wider range of competing solutions, from on-prem UC based on SIP trunking and an existing phone system to cloud-based implementations from vendors including Telesystem. Cloud-based UC, which is low-cost and continuously updated, is generally the most reliable platform for sustaining growth and ensuring real-time communications, not to mention eliminating the risk of ever being saddled with expensive, low-utility assets down the road.
That said, it’s important to scrutinize the features of any unified communications platform as well as the specific value the vendor can add to it. Let’s look at what you should prioritize during the selection process.
Deployment model: Cloud, hybrid or on-premises
All UC solutions are designed to perform the same basic task, namely to create a one-stop-shop for:
HD video conferences.
At the same time, they differ in the specific infrastructure they harness to reach this goal. An on-prem unified communications platform is built on equipment the customer owns, operates and maintains. In contrast, cloud UC – or Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) – leverages the power of the provider’s data centers and hosted IT resources, and hybrid blends the two.
There are pros and cons to each approach. On-prem and hybrid afford a higher degree of control, at the cost of budgetary and operational flexibility. Cloud offers the latter two in spades but requires finding a trustworthy vendor. For now, cloud UC seems to be winning the race, with a Synergy Research report finding its adoption among enterprises increasing a staggering 57% year-over-year in 2018.
A UCaaS platform like UC-One from Telesystem can completely replace your existing PBX without requiring you to handle its maintenance or perform the complex operations for moving, adding or changing the system’s users. Cloud-based unified communications are highly scalable, flexible and cost-effective, as they are billed as periodic operating expenditures, not as steep upfront capital expenditures.
Features for calling, messaging and meetings
Any UC solution worth its weight will do much more than simply be a PBX-in-the-sky, though. It will support all of the key functions integral to modern teamwork and put them into context in one place, eliminating the need to waste so much time on app switching just to keep up with the many possible ways in which a team can interact.
Indeed, today’s workplaces are home to a plethora of collaboration tools, including persistent chat apps, VoIP and video services for real-time communications, online meeting spaces and old standbys such as email, PSTN calls and text messages. The latter remains particularly popular despite the rise of newer alternatives; a survey by Technalysis Research found that they accounted for 75% of all co-worker communication.
Unified communications platforms like UC-One effortlessly balance old and new modes of communication:
Need to make a quick phone call? Corporate directory lookup allows colleagues to be found within seconds. You can also set up a single number for all of your devices, use Wi-Fi calling for cheaper rates and make VoIP or conventional calls from your business number. HD video is available as well to enrich voice conversations.
Business messaging has come a long way from the early days of IRC and SMS. Chatting within a UC suite is strengthened by features such as presence (to see who’s online at the moment), private and group chat, full chat history and easy access to all shared content such as emails and other files.
Online meetings should be simple to join and participate in, but too often they throw a lot of roadblocks in front of their would-be participants. Dial-ins, PINs and complex user interfaces complicate the experience. Meeting functionality in a platform like UC-One is much more streamlined, with a simple invitation system that gets out of everyone’s way and allows participants to get right down to business via integrated video, messaging and screen sharing. You can even drag and drop a colleague’s icon into the meeting room or, if needed, dial-in.
Support for mobile workers
Since the 2000s, there has been a steady increase in the number of people telecommuting, in large part due to the evolution of mobile devices and wireless networks. More than 4 million individuals work from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Half of the U.S. workforce holds a position that is compatible with telework arrangements and 80 to 90 percent of workers would like to telecommute at least some of the time.
Accordingly, mobile device support is a must-have in a UC solution. Specific features to look for include:
Android and iOS client apps for phones and tablets.
The ability to move calls from desktops to mobile devices.
Multiple call handling and merging.
Business phone number support across devices.
Wi-Fi calling with seamless handover between networks.
Integrations with other business communications apps
To return briefly to our earlier point about HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray, ecosystems matter. Cloud UC solutions without deep integrations and reliable vendor support are no better than fancy media formats that have no films or shows that anyone wants to watch.
The best UC platforms build context and support efficient workflows by integrating with everyday tools such as Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Box and more. Plus, they can pull information and events from calendars and emails. The end result is one view within the UC app that provides a wealth of information about your calls, messages, files and co-worker statuses.
Should you invest in a UC platform?
Upgrading to a unified communications system is a big step, and one worth taking for many businesses. As PBXes age and become costlier to operate and maintain, transitioning to cloud UC, in particular, is often the rational move.
UC technology brings together the core functionality of your phone system with advanced features for messaging and meeting. It also goes beyond a traditional PBX by incorporating better support for mobile devices, which can easily use an existing workplace number to create a more professional impression, especially for small businesses.
Organizations of all sizes and across all verticals can potentially benefit from a UC implementation. Multi-location enterprises are perhaps best positioned since a UC platform provides a common way for geographically dispersed and frequently on-the-go employees to consistently stay in touch.
As an experienced national provider of services including hosted VoIP, network security and dedicated internet access, Telesystem offers a top-notch unified communications experience via the UC-One platform. It’s easy to get started by requesting a quote from our team. You can also contact us directly for additional information on UC-One or any of our other enterprise collaboration tools.
Posted on: September 25, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
If you’re on the lookout for a business VoIP phone service to streamline communications, you might want to consider Nextiva. In this post, we go into some of our genuine Nextiva reviews, top features, and pricing.
Nextiva is a VoIP service provider that offers business VoIP and call center and contact center solutions. Founded in 2006 on the principle of Amazing Service, Nextiva’s VoIP system powers 100,000+ brands in the United States.
While our products work well alone, they work even better together. How? Introducing NextOS. It’s the technology that powers our all-in-one communications platform. There’s no better place to get a pulse of your customer experience.
Want to see what NextOS can do for you? See our bundle plans and pricing here.
Nextiva is perfect for those businesses that need a complete UCaaS solution. When you sign up, you’ll also get custom configurations and on-demand support. Beyond this, we also offer PBX SIP trunking as well as Nextiva Drive for cloud storage.
Posted on: September 18, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
The global business VoIP (UCaaS) market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11 percent between 2018 and 2025, so chances are your organization has either already adopted the technology or made plans to do so in the near future.
As you start the process, you’ll be amazed at all of the features and functionality this technology offers. We’ve been in many a meeting in which we’ve seen customers get excited about how business VoIP solutions such as MiCloud Connect and Mitel Teamwork could transform their work.
That’s part of the fun. The technology is so new, though, it’s spawned its own language. You hear these words all the time, but we thought it would be helpful to have the definitions in front of you as you evaluate business VoIP solutions. So, we’ve created this handy list of 10 hosted VoIP-related terms for you to keep nearby.
Our definitions will help you understand not only what they mean, but why they’re important to a reliable and powerful business VoIP system. Before you know it, you’ll be impressing—and maybe even intimidating—business VoIP sales reps with your expert knowledge.
Private Branch Exchange
A private branch exchange – more commonly known as a PBX – is a system that connects all of the phones in a building. Basically, it allows users to make both internal and external calls on shared phone lines. Think of a PBX as your old-school switch operator, but automated. The major benefit of a PBX is that it allows organizations to have a ratio of internal to external lines.
Let’s say you run a brewery with 75 employees. Not all of them need to be talking on the public network at one time. In all likelihood, only about 10 of them will. With a PBX, you pay only for 10 lines rather than 75. Internal calls go through the PBX and are free – yes, free – so you can start adding other capabilities, like paging.
Then let’s say you open a second brewery. PBX still has you covered with a private connection between each location’s system. Thanks to the PBX, employees at both breweries can internally dial each other. Sounds pretty good, right?
Now that you have a better understanding of what a PBX does, let’s move on to a hosted PBX. At the brewing company, you own the privately managed call controller or server on which the PBX operates. A hosted PBX resides in the cloud. It’s a virtual PBX system delivered through your internet connection.
What’s great about a hosted PBX is that you don’t need to house or maintain any hardware or equipment. Everything is stored in the cloud, and the PBX provider handles maintenance. You get all of the benefits of a PBX system without any of the worry or headache. Your business also becomes adaptive, easily evolving and scaling as needs change.
Typically, a hosted system’s subscription cost includes updates and new functionality, though you should always be sure to ask prospective providers about this. A hosted PBX allows your business to take advantage of advances in technology right away.
IP Desk Phone
Now let’s dig into some of the devices your employees may use on a daily basis with a business VoIP system. An IP desk phone looks a lot like a traditional desktop phone, but it uses VoIP technology (the internet) to make calls. There’s a huge range of options available when it comes to IP phone selection. You want superior voice quality, obviously, but you also need to decide what other features you need.
For example, how important is support for Bluetooth or USB handsets? Given the array of options, we typically recommend you review all options with your vendor to accurately determine which type of desk phone best meets your employees’ needs.
A softphone is a piece of software that allows you to make calls over the internet through any device that has a supported speaker and microphone. What exactly does this mean for your business? For one thing, your employees can make phone calls without using a physical telephone. Translation: You’ll have less equipment to purchase.
Softphones require a headset and microphone and will typically include business phone system features such as call transfers, call waiting and call routing.
Because VoIP calls are usually less expensive than traditional landline calls, the cost savings of softphones go beyond physical equipment. In addition, if you choose a robust business VoIP system, your team gets access to additional features such as video conferencing, call center integration, instant chat and SMS messaging.
Virtual Phone Numbers For Business
Numbers that aren’t anchored to a specific phone are called virtual phone numbers. They’re used to forward calls to other phone numbers. Virtual numbers can be used on any communications device, including smartphones and desktops.
From a business perspective, virtual phone numbers deliver cost savings. Since they can be used across several phones, you have fewer phones to purchase. These virtual numbers can also be set to any area code, reducing long distance expenses and creating a local presence in the country where the call originated. Toll-free virtual numbers enable customers to call your business free of charge.
Another benefit is the option to create a unique virtual phone number for each department or business unit. Calls can be routed by set rules or via an IVR to improve the overall flow and organization of your communications.
While you probably know what this one means, you may not have a clear understanding of why it’s important. Single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication process that gives users access to a host of proprietary business applications and systems with one set of credentials. That means your employees don’t have to juggle multiple usernames and passwords. (We can hear the cheering now.)
IT departments also benefit from SSO. The drastic reduction in requests to locate or reset login credentials allows your technology staff to focus on more value-added tasks. As a whole your organization becomes more secure since there are fewer credentials that can be compromised.
Single Pane Of Glass
As the name implies, this is all about visibility. “Single pane of glass” relates to a management tool that unifies data and interfaces across several sources and presents them in a single view. You get a better perspective on what information is valuable, and that information is more readily available for your employees to act on.
When uniting disparate data sources into a single pane of glass view, users usually work with a dashboard that has a graphic interface so users can interact with the data and even generate custom reports.
But remember, we also mentioned interfaces in this definition. With communications systems, businesses often use multiple tools. A single pane of glass gives employees access to all of their communications and collaboration tools in one view. For example, MiCloud Connect Contact Center integrates chat, multiple customer interactions, call profile information and more.
Persistent workspaces are ongoing virtual rooms where teams can collaborate via messaging, tasks, file sharing and more. If a user leaves the room, the conversation continues on. When they return, they will be alerted of missed chats and as well as messages, tasks and files specific to them.
A persistent workspace, such as the ones available in Mitel Teamwork, gives employees and team members access to all of the information they need in a single solution. Users save time, and productivity increases.
Automatic Call Distributor
If you operate an inbound call center, you need virtual queuing. Call centers use an automatic call distributor (ACD) – a device that answers and distributes incoming calls to specific groups within the center. With a virtual queue, callers have the option to hang up and have the system call them back when their turn comes up. While they wait, they can go about their day, without the hassle of sitting on hold. This can make your customer’s day.
When we talk about workforce management (WFM) in relation to UCaaS, we’re referring to software solutions that improve the overall customer experience. This starts in the contact center. A WFM solution puts the most appropriate person in the right place at the right time.
For a better understanding of how this works, check out MiCloud Connect CX, a cloud-based contact center tool that’s easy to set up and is intuitive to use. Plan and manage your contact center with ease and end the all-too-often nightmare that is scheduling.
Now that you’ve read our list, consider yourself well-armed to search for the right UCaaS solution provider. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what you need versus what you want, and what you may need in the future. You can make a well-informed decision – one that will deliver all of the efficiency, productivity and reliability you expect.
Posted on: September 12, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Mobility technologies have made great advances over the last few years, but the sum of those advances often looks like an impenetrable jungle of TLAs. That’s “three-letter acronyms,” and it illustrates the problem a lot of people have when looking at the field of mobility technologies. How do you tell MMS from MDM from EMM and from any other TLA that steps into your POV (point of view)? Sometimes it would be helpful just to have a simple field guide to the various acronyms out there, and, with that, a better understanding of just what does what.
Understanding Mobility Technologies by the Acronym
Getting a handle on mobility technologies starts by making the acronyms meaningful and cutting through the jargon to see the value each offers.
MMS, or managed mobility services, is the collective term for a slate of mobility services offered by a central service provider.
Start-to-Finish Support. MMS offers a range of options that’s intended to cover just about every phase of the mobile device’s life cycle. It starts with the basic setup but then proceeds to provide regular monitoring to generate actionable insights about how well the devices are working. This also includes some capacity to determine what changes, if any, should be made in mobile service operations.
Help Desk Support is Vital. One of the key draws in MMS operations is help desk support. This function not only takes the weight of mobile support off the likely already-overloaded IT department but also helps keep the devices up, running, and using mobility services.
Patches Kept Up. MMS functions also ensure that patches are routinely applied. It’s one of the biggest potential failure points as far as any device goes, mobile or otherwise, and MMS helps to address it. Keeping up with security patches helps ensure that widely known security vulnerabilities can’t be exploited, which secures one potential path to trouble.
End-of-Life Support. MMS functions even go so far, in some cases, as to address end-of-life issues. Complete factory resets to purge devices of usable data and even recycling programs are on-hand as part of MMS in some fields.
Focuses Mainly on Devices. MDM is generally a breed of software that’s focused on the device. While the servers that supply MDM are controlled by administrators, the software not only stays on, but it addresses key functions of the device itself.
Offers Some Unique Functions. MDM will actually offer some features and benefits that MMS doesn’t. For instance, MDM can offer identity and access management tools — points that MMS commonly doesn’t. It can allow for establishing partitions on devices — great for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments that need a way to switch from business to personal rapidly — and other functions like secure file sharing.
Extremely Specific Control. Since MDM focuses on the individual device, it allows network administrators granular control over those devices and, by extension, their users. It allows for easy stratification of access, allowing certain users access to certain systems and certain information from there. It’s an excellent way to control access to key data and provides a note of added security as well by reducing the pool of sources from which an insider attack can even take place.
Focused on Security. EMM is commonly device-focused as well, but it focuses even further, generally limiting itself to securing devices and the data contained therein. This focus can take on several forms, including specific processes that target data security, processes that need to integrate with wider IT options, and services that seek to protect specifically intellectual property.
Starting to Expand. While security is vital in any business application, EMM is starting to learn it can’t live by protection alone. Now, EMM is adding a broader definition of mobile to its operations, covering not just mobile devices but also some operating systems including MacOS and even Windows 10.
Offerings are Often Limited. EMM can cover a broad range of operations, but EMM providers will tend to focus on a comparative handful of applications. That’s the word from a Gartner study, which noted that EMM is starting to move to cover “unified endpoint management,” but that move is only in its early stages.
Mobile application management (MAM) is perhaps the most specialized field of all in the mobility technologies subsector.
Exclusively for Apps. The name makes it clear: MAM handles applications and mostly just applications. While there are several points within applications that are worth addressing, don’t expect MAM to address functions of the device itself.
Useful for Security. Since MAM has an application focus, look for it to work well with other technologies to control potential attack vectors from hackers. With MAM, it’s a lot easier to defend against malware in apps as MAM specifically controls application functions.
Useful for App-related Housekeeping. For those who have a lot of apps with licenses, and with payments accordingly, MAM can be a great way to protect against potential pitfalls. For those who dread true-up times, for example, MAM can be a help here as it can work with app licensing, helping to keep the right number of licenses in play at all times. It’s also useful in BYOD settings, since it can be used to selectively isolate and remove apps where needed, along with any data that might be connected to that app.
What to Do When You Need More Help With Mobility Technologies
Understanding all of the various mobility technologies is difficult even for specialists. Turning to a managed mobility services provider can be a great way to get a better handle on what’s available and what will work best for your business. Start by getting in touch with us at Acuity. We not only have a slate of managed mobility services, but we can also offer telecom managed services as well as voice and data services to keep your devices working to their fullest whether mobile or otherwise. Just reach out to us when you need a guide through the mobility technologies jungle.
Posted on: September 11, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
A recent survey showed that 47% of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation time last year, and 21% left more than five vacation days on the table1. This doesn’t have be you.
As you plan your vacations this summer, here are some tips and tools that will let you book your trips knowing you won’t lose touch or traction with your work (unless of course, you want to). In today’s always-on world, being out of reach for several days can make your return overwhelming, not to mention, you may miss key decisions that could shape your role or company.
Luckily, technology has also evolved to help you stay connected no matter where you are. Your options are no longer limited to working in a stuffy hotel room while friends and family are enjoying the beach, going on a hike, or relaxing by the pool.
Modern collaboration meets convenience
Years ago, sophisticated software and video equipment was needed to achieve immersive connectivity. Today, advanced communication tools are available to keep you connected on your terms with options that range from email, chat, text, voice calls to full blown video and web collaboration. Best of all, they can maintain your business identity, keeping your personal life separate. They can also work seamlessly on the device of your choice, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops or desktops.
The ease of use and flexibility today is truly remarkable; many online video conferencing tools require nothing more than your mobile phone to make you a full participant in a face-to-face meeting or client interaction when you’re lounging by the pool. What’s more, you can even ensure the background behind you remains professional by using a custom virtual background to show off your brand or mask the real scene behind you.
Enabling the mobile workforce
So how do you get all these great tools before you pack your bags? Many companies have already adopted cloud-based communications or unified communications as a service (UCaaS) but are not fully leveraging all the capabilities to maximize their investment. Simply asking your IT department what is available and how to set it up is a great first step. If, on the other hand, it’s not in place today and you have stake in making your employees and the company more productive, then a unified communications solution is definitely worth considering.
Technology has also made vast improvements to enable virtual workers. Unified communications services have evolved into cloud-based solutions that can be accessed from anywhere, on any connected device. High-definition audio, video and content sharing services are no longer reserved for the larger enterprise companies with hardened conference room systems. Advanced collaboration solutions can now be leveraged from any desktop, mobile and tablet device over any broadband connection capable of supporting the minimum bandwidth and latency requirements.
Additionally, remote access and security have also advanced with easier to use virtual private networking (VPN) and remote desktop services, coupled with two-factor authentication and single sign-on capabilities. Phone systems are no longer tethered to a black box with blinking lights in the back room of the office or data center. In fact, office phones themselves are no longer a necessity with the advent of the softphone and mobile twinning of devices. The day is finally here where this author can claim that remote workers no longer have a technology handicap compared to their office bound, hard-wired colleagues. In fact, some might say they actually have an advantage.
The upper hand of connectivity
Companies who have not yet made the cultural and technology changes necessary to enable digital nomads and remote work lifestyles are going to quickly find themselves out-paced by their leaner, more agile competitors. My advice is to partner with communication providers who can not only enable remote workers but empower them in a way that allows immersive engagement and connectivity across all their communication channels. If you already have tools in place that aren’t making the grade because of the lack of key features, quality issues or seamless integration with your other platforms and applications, know that there are better options from companies who offer superior software solutions and the adjacent data connectivity solutions required to make it all work together.
Regardless of who your services are with, be sure to take advantage of the advanced technology available to make the most of your time, whether you are on vacation or not.