Tag Archives: unified communications

A look at issues connected with unified communications migrations.

Unified Communication Migrations Prove Value and Struggle with Increased Data

A look at issues connected with unified communications migrations.Unified communications improve mobile operations, add to emergency planning, reduce costs, or just improve communications within offices. These are just some of the benefits that have compelled widespread use. Yet the rise of big data along with unified communications has posed some challenges, and made unified communications migrations both difficult and that much more valuable. Read on to learn what challenges your customers may face with a migration.

What Impact is Big Data Having on Unified Communications Migrations?

Big data is delivering changes of its own and forcing those considering unified communications migration to look more closely at how it’s accomplished.

More data, more problems. Big data requires data to operate. It’s right there in the name. Unified communications systems can be positively staggering sources of data, but it needs to be collected, stored, and accessible by analytics systems in order to be put to use. This means that when the unified communications system is deployed, it also needs to have not only facilities to gather the data generated—call times, call lengths, content of the call and so on—but also a means to gather that data and move it to the analytics systems.

A cloud connection. Analytics functions have made great strides in cloud connectivity, and thankfully, so have unified communications systems. Since both systems have localized equivalents, though, it may mean that special accommodations need to be reached, especially for firms making the decision to do either analytics or unified communications in-house. An in-house analytics system, for example, may not be able to readily connect to a cloud-based unified communications system, and vice versa, unless proper advance planning has been done.

One improves the other. While it’s immediately clear how unified communications improve big data—it’s one big source of data fodder for analysis—it may be less clear that analytics improve unified communications. Take the analysis tools big data offers and discover all sorts of useful things. For instance, analytics can tell when a unified communications system is experiencing unusual lag or issues in voice quality. It can also tell why and provide insight on how to fix problems.

How to Help Your Customers Best Incorporate Big Data in Unified Communications Migrations

There’s a lot of value in putting big data to work, but it requires specific advances right at the unified communications migration level. Big data needs to be planned for and incorporated, start to finish. To make sure you’ve got everything you need to do the job right, start by getting in touch with us at MicroCorp. Our array of unified communications solutions helps ensure your unified communications migrations achieve all the outcomes you could want, including big data accommodation. So reach out to us and let your unified communications systems take full advantage of big data’s power.

What to know about unified communications and mid-size businesses.

Unified Communications and Mid-Size Businesses: What You Need to Know

What to know about unified communications and mid-size businesses.As a channel partner, you want your mid-size business customers to onboard unified communications to improve growth and – of course – your bottom line. But mid-size companies are unique beasts. Often too big for the simpler packages, yet too small to have the pockets of the enterprise, mid-sizers will need a partner with expertise to guide them through a transition to unified communications. Here are some crucial points to digest for these types of accounts.

What Should I Know About Unified Communications and Mid-Size Businesses?

Everyone’s doing it. A recent Gartner study suggests that mid-size businesses will be increasingly investing in unified communications technology. Moreover, they expect to increase their investment in several different breeds of such technology, including collaboration tools, mobility-related systems, solutions focused on meetings, and more. By failing to invest now, the risk becomes real that other businesses will leapfrog those who don’t.

A focus on cloud. In general, cloud-based tools will continue to get particular attention from the mid-size business. Many mid-sizers are turning to cloud for their IT investments, allowing the partner who specializes in these services to bring out the latest and greatest. This encompasses cloud communications and cloud computing, presenting an opportunity for partners to sell both including UC.

A greater focus on mobility. One point that’s really resonating for the mid-size business is mobility, and unified communications buys are set to focus on that. Whether it’s having some emergency backup for disaster planning and business continuity, or going to a full remote working program, mid-size businesses are looking at unified communications to make connecting easier via remote. Support for video and audio, as well as text, will prove especially prized.

Repurposing resources. Many mid-size businesses are discovering that taking advantage of unified communications doesn’t require a large influx of resources. There’s no need to add on to staff or even retrain staff beyond a few basic points. As scaling is one of the chief concerns for the mid-sizer, this point will be one to drive home with customers looking at moving to the cloud. As the partner, you’ll be able to handle maintenance and similar heavy lifting – a particularly attractive element for a mid-size business.

How to Better Connect Unified Communications and Mid-Size Businesses

If you’re ready to combine unified communications and mid-size businesses, then start the process out by getting in touch with us at MicroCorp. We’re a leading master agent in unified communications, and we provide the best in support for UC as well. Your mid-size business will will be well-provisioned. So don’t go it alone; reach out to us for all the help you could ask for.

A look at the Internet of Things' ability to sell unified communications.

3 Ways the Internet of Things Can Help You Sell Unified Communications

A look at the Internet of Things' ability to sell unified communications.Selling anything is simple, though it’s almost never easy. All anyone has to do to make a sale is convince the buyer that the value of the item being sold is greater than the value of the cash required to make the sale happen. For those who sell unified communications systems, that can prove a challenge. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), however, a whole new opportunity has opened up to help drive those unified communications sales.

How to Use IoT to Sell Unified Communications

IoT represents a terrific opportunity to better sell unified communications thanks to its new benefits. Astute sales reps can take advantage of these to overcome objections and fuel sales.

A powerhouse in fleet. Anyone with a fleet—vans, trucks, or even drones if the FAA can get off the dime—can appreciate the value of IoT. It allows for easy tracking, updates on shipment status, reports on maintenance issues, and more. Incorporating unified communications simplifies the connectivity process and allows the information that IoT systems gather to be more readily sent back for use.

Improvements in monitoring. The same principles that make IoT and unified communications a power in fleet management can be readily put to work in other segments. Use the combined force of both technologies on the factory floor to track finished goods inventory or raw materials status. Use it in the warehouse to track locations of goods and alert on reduced quantities. Then use all that data to better improve workflow, address bottlenecks, and ultimately improve productivity.

Impress on your customer that more devices do not create a headache – they create an opportunity to really see unified communications shine given its collaborative functionalities.

Build better collaboration. It’s one thing to have information, but it’s another altogether to use it effectively. While unified communications systems tend to improve collaboration alone by offering more ways to keep employees talking to each other, IoT generates data that makes that communication more effective. It also helps keep data where it’s needed, meaning there’s less time wasted in trying to find the information about shipping schedules, raw materials figures, or whatever needs to be discussed.

Want to Improve Your Ability to Sell Unified Communications?

Get the right kind of support to properly sell unified communications – and integrate IoT as a selling point. Start by reaching out to us at MicroCorp. Our range of expertise and vetted industry providers will provide the infrastructure support to bolster your sales. And our partner training programs will keep you up to date on the very latest developments, including those in IoT. Combining the two can make for spectacular results, so just drop us a line to get started.

The Top 5 Things You Must Know as a Partner for Unified Communications Rollout

For partners, a unified communications rollout can be a challenge. The actions you take to help establish a rollout can be the start of business relationships that last long after the individual partner has retired. Help build those relationships with the top five points to know to make a unified communications rollout work.

Unified Communications Rollouts: What You Need to Know

Make sure everybody is involved. Before you’re even in a position to start a rollout, get ready in advance by bringing in perspective from all the major stakeholders. You may not use all of that perspective, but by getting it, you increase the chances of spotting problems before they crop up, right in the earliest stages.

Be ready with an answer. It’s a safe bet that your customer will ask a lot of questions in the earliest stages, and that’s just what you want to happen. All these questions help suggest issues to watch for, and again, the kinds of things you can head off at the pass later, and establish your reputation for being knowledgeable in unified communications.

Know what’s available. A unified communications rollout can be a big process; it’s easy to overlook some key points. Consider adding lesser-known technologies like redundant connections to fuel stability. This makes the rollout go more smoothly and work better down the line.

Prepare for the worst. Light Network’s VP of engineering, Ryan Harrelson, makes one point crystal clear: “Overall deployments of midmarket customers never go as easy as planned.” Keep this in mind, watch out for things like number porting and the development of design documentation, and be flexible so you can address issues that pop up.

Engagement, always. Get regular feedback about the process, and then be available to make the desired changes. Don’t just take that feedback from one or two sources, either; try to get a complete cross-section or even poll the entire user base. These points help build engagement and reinforce your positive image.

What to Do When You’re Ready for a Unified Communications Rollout

Don’t leave your next rollout to chance. Prepare by considering what we’ve said here. Then, get in touch with us at MicroCorp. We can help you deploy unified communications and UCaaS to ensure your rollout is as smooth as possible.

Facing issues of UC costs.

Tackling One of The Great Objections: UC Costs

Facing issues of UC costs.It’s easily one of the biggest objections when it comes to unified communications (UC): costs. As UC costs can be one of the main reasons that potential buyers don’t throw their hats in the ring, partners need tools to convince them it’s worth it. Beating the cost objection is simple but not always easy – all that needs to be done is to demonstrate that the value of UC is greater than the value of the cash that would be required to bring it in. So how do you do that? The best way is to look at the trends that are emerging regarding cloud and how businesses spend so you know what your customers are considering.

Here are some trends that will affect how businesses spend money on the cloud and specifically consider UC costs.

Budgets are on the rise…mostly. The good news is some hefty gains are afoot in total IT budget spend. The gains aren’t universal, but they’re there; 46.2% of companies are planning increases with an average of 18%, while only 6% of firms are planning cuts. (Those cuts, however, will be deep; the average cut is 22%.) Additionally, the firms likely to bolster budgets are larger firms, where firms under 250 employees remain skittish about hikes.

Cloud is growing. Right now, architectures are broken down into three classes: on-premise, hybrid, and cloud. Those with on-premise solutions hold 33% of the market, cloud at 29%, while 38% hold hybrid. Those with hybrid architectures are either planning to go full cloud over several years or stay hybrid permanently. Cloud, therefore, is on the rise as the other two classes hold ground or decline.

Cost is no longer the priority. While most think of cost savings first in a cloud transition, only 17.9% of companies in recent studies have actually seen such savings. Oddly, 35.6% actually saw costs rise in the wake of a cloud transition. Costs in general are a declining priority, down from 49% in 2017 to 33.1% in 2018. The big new priority is agility, which large businesses commonly need. (And those large businesses are the ones boosting their IT budgets as noted previously.)

When You Need Some Help Proving Value of UC Costs

Proving value isn’t always easy, even when you know how to tailor your approach. Sometimes, you’ll need something extra. For that, look to us at MicroCorp. As a master agent, we offer expertise in unified communications among a host of other technologies, and we can help you prepare yourself with the flawless arguments for UC to make that sale.

Want to sell UCaaS? Here are four must-have tips for partners.

Infographic: Want to Sell UCaaS? Here Are 4 Must-have Tips for Partners

As the adoption of unified communications as a service (UCaaS) continues to grow at an astonishing rate, there’s never been a better time for your customers to begin reaping the benefits of this next-level offering. From zero upfront fees and a reduced total-cost-of-ownership to increased flexibility and unlimited scalability, UCaaS offers an abundance of benefits — without costing an arm and a leg. And although it is obvious to many that outsourcing corporate communications is the way of the future, many businesses are still reluctant to make the switch. So to help you convince the companies you work with that now’s the time to adopt a UCaaS solution, here’s some invaluable advice to help you close more sales.
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What are the ways to boost your UCaaS sales?

Four Ways You Can Improve Your Ability to Sell UCaaS

What are the ways to boost your UCaaS sales?There’s little doubt that the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market is swelling. An Infonetics report suggests the market will hit $88 billion by the end of this year. That’s a lot of room for opportunity, but how can partners get their hands in the pot? A few tips should help pave the way – check out these four options for boosting your UCaaS sales.

How to Drive Your UCaaS Sales

Protect the customer. The amount that downtime costs a company varies. Boosting your UCaaS sales, therefore, can be as easy as calling attention to your protective measures. Focus on your security, your highly-trained staff of problem solvers, and your quality of service (QoS) agreement if you have one. If you don’t, making one is a good plan; that guarantee, complete with remedies for failure, can smooth over a lot of concerns.

Support remote workers. More and more companies are embracing the remote worker concept. UCaaS is a great tool to keep remote workers working, so draw attention to that point and show how you make remote working, well, work! Point out how a customer’s remote-working employees can use UCaaS tools to stay connected to each other and the wider office and improve accountability.

Adjust your sales tactics. Understand one thing about the sales environment today: sales tactics that were a requirement 20 years ago like cold calling and telemarketing are mostly illegal today. “No soliciting” signs on business doors, the federal Do Not Call list…these add up to outdated tactics. So adjust to focus on social media interaction, qualified leads, and the like to keep up. Those more modern channels present an opportunity to interact with (and possibly become) thought leaders in the UCaaS world.

Get to know your customer’s true needs. The only way to ensure a truly successful UCaaS sale is to get inside your customer’s business, understand the issues and obstacles at hand, and then recommend the right UCaaS solution for the job. Sales reps who are uneducated about UCaaS and just sell to sell won’t get as far as a knowledgeable partner devoted to truly understanding the customer’s pain points.

Make Those UCaaS Sales with a Little Help

Sometimes, making UCaaS sales can be as simple as adding some new products to your lineup. We here at MicroCorp can help on that front; we’ve got a range of UCaaS services ready to offer from some of the best brands in the field. As a master agent, we’ve got the contacts you need to get the best product in place. Just drop us a line and let us help you get started.

Do you really dig into your customer's needs before suggesting a UCaaS solution?

How Agents and Partners Can Leverage the Rise of UCaaS in the Enterprise

By Ryan Harrelson, VP of Engineering at Light Networks

Do you really dig into your customer's needs before suggesting a UCaaS solution?

Unified Communications (UC) is a service that grants users the ability to work with each other across any platform from anywhere. It eliminates obstacles in productivity, making it easy for enterprises of any size to enjoy frictionless interactions regardless of location. Perhaps that’s why, here at Light Networks, we’re inundated with an overwhelming number of UC projects. In fact, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is — without a doubt — our fastest growing cloud and carrier service.

As an agent in the partner community, how we approach customers is exceedingly important. We often remind our clients that, while they may overhaul their communications systems once every 5 years, we design and deploy solutions across multiple providers and multiple customers on an ongoing basis. That’s why we’ve made it our objective to look beyond the marketing side of a product. Unfortunately, not everything you hear about UC platforms is what it seems.

Fill the void

To resolve this issue, agents need to think about how they’ll fill the void between the strengths and weaknesses of these providers, and what the customer desires. This can become even more challenging as companies transition from a small business to enterprise territory. Personally, I don’t see many enterprise customers getting excited about new features. Rather, they seem focused on talking about the total cost of ownership, and they’re looking to get rid of on-prem servers, which pose both a risk and a responsibility.

When an enterprise purchases an on-prem solution, you have no option but to purchase features for the entire organization. In reality, though, the majority of an organization’s employees aren’t superusers of any particular product. For the most part, they only use a tool for its core functionality. For example, 99% of what I do personally with UCaaS at Light Networks is make and receive phone calls. It’s not as if I’m playing around with advanced features on a regular basis.

It is still important for us to show our customers the “sexy” products and features sets end users want to see. As the saying goes: “sex sells.” It is even more important as an agent to pay attention to effectively using the customers’ budgets to give them what they need by reducing the management footprint. This increases an organization’s ability to satisfy the needs of their external and/or internal customers. Further, it helps agents provide additional services that can help customers succeed and make the agent more valuable, while increasing wallet share in a single customer.

So, how?

How can partners distinguish the marketing fluff from important concepts they need to sell to customers? We recommend an approach that’s a bit different from our competitors. At Light Networks, we aim to spend time understanding our customers’ environments and solutions that can work for our customers, instead of merely taking end-users at their word and assuming they know exactly what they need and exactly how to use it. It’s the whole trust-but-verify model. It’s wonderful when a customer says they can do X, Y, and Z, but we like to do a full review of usage to ensure they are not missing anything that they may not recognize is required.

If someone tells you they’ve got the greatest solution for your business, you don’t just go all in right away. You install and test it before you make a full-blown commitment to it. It’s more about being diligent in your practices and not rushing through the sale and trying to get ink on paper. It’s about taking the time and spending it with your customer to ensure all of the features they want are actually required.

Engineering First

And if you’re wondering how Light Networks has been so successful in the marketplace, it all starts with us being an engineering-first firm. When one of our client principals or account managers meets with a customer, they ask a ton of questions and gather plenty of data. Then, they bring that information back to our engineers to find out what they think. If our engineers say we need more information, we’ll schedule a secondary call. But if they say some of our providers might have certain solutions that fit perfectly, we dig deeper to find out if those providers are truly viable.

Every provider will tell you they offer the best services around. And it’s not that they’re lying  — at least hopefully not. For the most part, they likely believe their product is better than the competition. However, I feel like it’s our responsibility to be honest and upfront with our customers. Otherwise, what are we doing?

It’s imperative to understand your customers’ situation first, before recommending a solution. So use your experience, and make the best recommendation based on your customers’ needs.

What is Nextiva bringing to the channel partner table?

Spotlight on Nextiva: ‘Change Your Ability to Communicate with Your Customers’

What is Nextiva bringing to the channel partner table?Here at MicroCorp, we like to stay in touch with our partners. We also like to make sure that they get the spotlight every once in a while. That’s why I sat down with Ira Feuerstein, Channel Chief of Nextiva, to get his perspective on what Nextiva is bringing to market, where he sees the channel headed, and his thoughts on some emerging trends. Read on to learn what Nextiva is bringing to the partners’ table. 

Keenan: What is the primary pain that your business or offering addresses?

Feuerstein: Nextiva is a true Unified Communications company, creating products to help businesses navigate their customers journey through their organization.  Through offering a robust group of communications services including hosted VoIP, web chat, surveys, email marketing, CRM, and more, Nextiva has a full suite of products that truly change businesses’ abilities to communicate with their customers.

Keenan: What is the most important thing for a partner to know about what you provide?

Feuerstein: Partners really need to understand that the communications world is growing ever more complicated and that offering a solution rather than just “slapping a product in for a customer” will offer them the ability to make much more money and have a more stable and loyal customer base. 

Keenan: If you could get one question from any prospective partner or customer, what would it be?

Feuerstein: The question I always love from a partner/customer is: “What makes you different than every other provider out there?” I literally break out in a huge smile every single time! The truth of it is that the industry is full of “me too” companies – not many unicorns like Nextiva! We get that question, we win 99% of the time.  

Keenan: What would your answer be to that question?

Feuerstein: There are three core parts of that answer…three legs that hold us up.

  • Leg 1 – we have a tenacious commitment to 100% amazing service. It’s everything to us. We track it, we hold ourselves accountable to it every single day.
  • Leg 2 – We have great technology. Nine data centers across North America, fully redundant and cross-connected into all the major ISP companies (like Comcast, AT&T, etc.) for great quality of calls.
  • Leg 3 – We are jumping innovation curves by allowing our customers to have a full suite of communications services that tie together in a perfect way. By connecting your voice, web chat, customer surveys, social media monitoring, and CRM systems, businesses will ALWAYS have a finger on the pulse of their customers. No one else in the industry does this…no one!

Keenan: What do you think is the most important emerging technology right now, and why?

Feuerstein: I really believe artificial intelligence is super key in technology. AI allows us to monitor all customer interactions and make proactive decisions and implement actions accordingly. Imagine this: Nextiva is monitoring social media for you and our system sees a positive tweet about you. The system can analyze the tweet, understand it is positive, and score the customer as being very happy with you. Once a customer is considered very happy, then do something, like perhaps sell them something new.  I’m sure you can see the power of this.

Keenan: What technology or trend will be the most significant in the coming year, and why?

Feuerstein: To me, it’s really teaching the best of the best partners how to solution-sell and not just go down the path of just selling voice or data. With our new suite of services, you can start anywhere in the communication stack. Example:  just sell them chat as an easy way in and then backdoor your way into everything else.

Keenan: What would you recommend for partners who are trying to transition to new technologies?

Feuerstein: Don’t try to be an expert in everything, but do get educated. Use your Nextiva team (one of our 45 local Channel Managers or our big Sales Engineering team) to help you go to market.  Know enough to get the customer interested and then bring the subject matter experts in to help seal the deal.

Want to know even more about how Nextiva can boost your business? Contact MicroCorp today.

Talking Unified Communications Trends with Star2Star

Despite the proliferation of unified communications (UC) technologies — and the partners selling them — we continue to see some partners slow to adopt UC. Why? And what are some trends in UC that partners should watch out for as technologies like SD-WAN advance? We asked these questions, and more, of Colin Johnston, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Star2Star Communications. See our exchange below to get the scoop on what Johnston has been noticing in the channel, and how Star2Star reacts.

Keenan: What are some of the more prominent trends you are noticing with unified communications lately?

Johnston: The largest and most recent impact on the unified communications space would have to be SD-WAN, which has taken the industry by storm. As an innovative solution provider, Star2Star has already been implementing voice-optimized traffic shaping since its inception through our patented StarBox® Cloud Connection Manager (CCM), so it’s interesting to see how SD-WAN has become such a hot topic. The ability to now incorporate a solution that handles all data traffic is a great step forward for UC.

Keenan: How would you address partners that have not yet adopted UC?

Johnston: Partners that are currently managing their customer networks and not actively selling a UC solution are leaving money on the table. In almost every case, partners that sell UC can offer a superior service to their customers at very competitive price points that allow for significant revenue margins.

As our world moves toward the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, the choice that some channel entities will have to make becomes clearer. Sell UC; it has and will continue to become the way we communicate and stay connected in the future.

Keenan: How is unified communications impacting other technological developments in the channel?

Johnston: Communication Enablement Platforms (CEP) have become a huge springboard for growth in tech. They encompass everything from the Internet of Things (IoT) integrations to Point of Sale (POS) software. It seems like every technology solution is somehow attempting to incorporate unified communications into their various platforms.

UC has become the glue that connects modern business platforms together. It allows for better customer service, more informed decisions, and better data and metrics to plan and predict company decisions. And there’s much more than just these benefits; the true potential of Communication Enablement Platforms has yet to be seen.

Keenan: Are there any specific trends in security you’re noticing?

Johnston: There has been a focus on security from the very beginning with UC. Take our StarBox® CCM: it acts as a firewall and monitors data traffic as it goes through the system. Our new hosted solution, StarSystemTM Hosted, also comes with built-in security with TLS encryption for call data. In the general market, the recent developments with utilizing blockchain for voice data also come to mind when thinking of specific security trends.