SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

What’s the real value behind Unified Communications?

I’m continually impressed by the good work coming out of Mitel with respect to community conversations. I think everyone agrees there’s no home for speeds and feeds BS content at SMB Nation. Rather – you want unique insights into matters that interest you. You want the community sponsors to be respectful; they want to be top of mind when you are ready to move forward. I think Mitel’s recent outreach to the SMB Nation community meets this high bar.

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Mitel has embarked on a journey to act as your guide by the side when it comes to your communications strategy. In particular, Mitel’s new communications landscape white paper that you can (and should) download here (“Making Smart Communications Decisions – an SMB Buyers Guide”) present the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) concept. Essentially ITC refers to the view that technology is an enabler. We used to call it data + voice but Mitel’s ICT concept is about the premise that today’s IP-based phone systems are gateways to this new world focused on applications.

Other topics in the white paper are:

  • Small business IT staff are more and more becoming cloud and applications managers. The assertion is that ICT staff are becoming more strategic and less break-fix.
  • Spending growth for a mobile world. Budgets are facilitating smartphones and applications to deliver a flexible work experience to employees who are becoming more mobile and geographically distributed.
  • Re-imagining work. The new workspace requires a new communications approach. I previously covered this conversation in my late December 2015 blog titled “I Love Work” that you can read here
  • Premium on protection. It goes without saying but you need to say it: security is important!
    Incremental, integrated solutions approach. This not only relates to cloud solutions but OPEX vs CAPEX financing.
  • Reshaping the customer experience. This is my favorite part of the Mitel white paper. There is a strong marketing conversation currently underway that with search, customers are doing much of their own research before ever speaking to a salesperson. So true. I’ve seen another report that nearly 70% of the decision has been made before customers speak to you. Google calls it the zero moment of truth. True that!

So you’ll have the read the rest of the report to get the good stuff. Highly recommended!

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Navigating your way through business communications decisions

Choosing the right business communications solutions is no longer simply a case of choosing which type of system and brand you want.

The mind-boggling array of options available today means that the importance of making the correct choice has never been more critical. 

Communication behaviour is also changing. Today’s users are moving from formal meetings, booking resources and geographic limitations towards real-time collaboration, using diverse communication methods and devices, and regardless of location.

Outside of your employees the customers of SMBs are also changing how they interact and driving an excellent customer experience has become a business critical differentiator.

“When consumers hear about a product today, their first reaction is ‘Let me search online for it.’ And so they go on a journey of discovery: about a product, a service, an issue, an opportunity. Today you are not behind your competition. You are not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer.” Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, VivaKi

This transformation can be seen in seven key trends:

Technology is now an enabler

The rise of communications protocols such as SIP and options such as cloud is opening up a new world of applications and solutions. Today’s IP phone systems are gateways to this new world.

SMB IT staff are increasingly cloud and applications managers

The role of ICT staff is evolving to become more pro-active and strategic with a reduced emphasis on support and break/fix.

Spending growth for a mobile world

IT and telecoms budgets are increasingly focussed around the smartphone, applications and on delivering a more flexible work experience.

Re-imagining work

A new approach is required to an increasingly mobile world of work from remote working to businesses without offices. 

Premium on protection

Many business are re-focussing on protection in areas from network security and remote working to applications and business continuity plans.

Incremental, integrated solutions approach

Without the resources to buy and install everything at once many SMBs are adopting an incremental purchasing strategy and a phased approach to implementing applications and communications.

Reshaping the customer experience

The way customers buy products and services is transitioning towards online. All businesses need to consider how this new form of customer engagement will impact on the technology they need.   

Mitel has produced a free Buyers Guide to explore these issues further and to help you to navigate the business communications market.

  •  What are the key trends influencing business communications today? 
  •  What questions should you ask? 
  •  What features, phones and tools does your business really need? 
  •  Is cloud or traditional communications the right choice?
  • A glossary to demystify telecoms terms

Download The Guide

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What’s the real value behind Unified Communications?

If you asked 10 IT Directors or Managers for their definition of UC, you’d probably get 10 different answers so let’s simplify it to “An easy way to work together via voice, video, online collaboration and mobile devices”.

That easy way to work together is really what Unified Communications should be about.

In this sense Unified Communications is simply a way to describe what business has always needed – communications and collaboration working in harmony to achieve tangible benefits for the bottom line and for the user experience.

Defining the ‘what’ of UC is good but we also need to ask why businesses need Unified Communications.

“Using Mitel’s suite of UC and collaboration solutions, we can close about 10-15 sales a day at the end of the month, and can get the money into the bank account faster.” Paul Whiting, IT Manager, Revolution Tea

Mitel works with businesses across the world and here are five of the most common reasons these customers cite for choosing UC technologies.

Productivity Enabling better ways for people to get more done together.

Continuity Ensuring the business is always available to do business.

Mobility Supporting a connected workforce demanding 24/7 access from anywhere and using any kind of mobile device.

Integration Leveraging, rather than stranding, existing and potential IT investments.

Future Proofing Being ready for future challenges and developments in technology.

This customer feedback is covered in depth in a guide which explores the most popular reasons for Unified Communications deployments and shares real-life feedback from businesses about the potential value of UC.

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The evolution of the way we work

Changes in the interplay between technology, location, culture and business are transforming where, when and how we work.

Workers are taking control of their work / life balance with traditional ‘nine to five’ commuting patterns changing. Employees are also seeking more control over the communications devices and applications they use.

There is also an interesting sub-trend involving the development of portfolio based careers.

These trends are confirmed by evidence from SMB Group about the changing use of business communication technologies with 92% of SMBs using at least one cloud solution, 60% saying that mobile solutions are critical and 86% using mobile applications.

Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group said “As a company we are moving towards keeping and managing everything in the cloud…Whatever we need, whenever we need it, accessible from whichever device is most suitable and available at the time.”

Small and medium sized business today face the challenge of providing workers with flexibility while at the same time maximizing their productivity, controlling costs and ensuring that teams retain good interaction.

Stephen Tanner, Founder of OfficePOD Ltd commented “An organization cannot promote the idea of flexible working and merely cover the provision of a desk and a chair in a spare room. Employers have a duty to provide staff with the tools they need to work effectively and productively; this should include a suitable working environment, wherever that happens to be.”

To explore these issues further the team at global business communications vendor Mitel asked business users, leaders in innovation, architects, psychologists and human resource experts for their perspectives in four key areas:

• How technology trends are setting the agenda
• Next generation workplaces
• The impact of a global market
• Cultural changes and the impact on work.

To discover more insights download the full guide.

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The Evolution of The Way We Work

Story by Mitel -

Changes in the interplay between technology, location, culture and business are transforming where, when and how we work.

Workers are taking control of their work / life balance with traditional ‘nine to five’ commuting patterns changing. Employees are also seeking more control over the communications devices and applications they use.Big Mitel

There is also an interesting sub-trend involving the development of portfolio based careers.

These trends are confirmed by evidence from SMB Group about the changing use of business communication technologies with 92% of SMBs using at least one cloud solution, 60% saying that mobile solutions are critical and 86% using mobile applications.

Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group said “As a company we are moving towards keeping and managing everything in the cloud…Whatever we need, whenever we need it, accessible from whichever device is most suitable and available at the time.”

Small and medium sized business today face the challenge of providing workers with flexibility while at the same time maximizing their productivity, controlling costs and ensuring that teams retain good interaction.

Stephen Tanner, Founder of OfficePOD Ltd commented “An organization cannot promote the idea of flexible working and merely cover the provision of a desk and a chair in a spare room. Employers have a duty to provide staff with the tools they need to work effectively and productively; this should include a suitable working environment, wherever that happens to be.”

To explore these issues further the team at global business communications vendor Mitel asked business users, leaders in innovation, architects, psychologists and human resource experts for their perspectives in four key areas:

• How technology trends are setting the agenda
• Next generation workplaces
• The impact of a global market
• Cultural changes and the impact on work.

To discover more insights download the full guide at http://www.mitel.com/knowledge-hub

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