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Office 365 vs Microsoft 365. Which is Right for Your Business?

Chances are that your business is already utilizing an Office 365 subscription in some capacity. The Microsoft Suite of powerful applications offered through Office 365—including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and storage through SharePoint and One Drive—meet the everyday needs of companies across industries. As a Microsoft Solutions Partner and certified Microsoft Solutions Partner for Modern Work, CBTS helps companies integrate these solutions into their regular operations as they strive to improve efficiency and collaboration. Recently, Microsoft rebranded Office 365 to Microsoft 365 and added additional features to its offerings. This post will examine the differences and similarities of Office 365 vs Microsoft 365 and provide guidance on choosing the right subscription for your business.

Comparing two essential work productivity platforms

Office 365 is a subscription-based cloud platform that hosts the flagship Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and offers storage through OneDrive. In addition, Office 365 has flexible plans for businesses of all sizes. Note that Microsoft is not phasing out the products offered through Office, simply rebranding and expanding upon their already popular offerings to meet the increasing demand for cybersecurity and compliance.

What is Office 365?

Office 365 is a subscription-based cloud platform that hosts the flagship Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and offers storage through OneDrive. In addition, Office 365 has flexible plans for businesses of all sizes.

Note that Microsoft is not phasing out the products offered through Office, simply rebranding and expanding upon their already popular offerings to meet the increasing demand for cybersecurity and compliance.

What is Microsoft 365?

It can be helpful to think of Microsoft 365 as a “box” into which Office 365 is packed. Microsoft 365 provides access to stellar Microsoft Office Suite apps in addition to advanced security tools, compliance management, and business analytics. Microsoft 365 also comes with Windows 11 Enterprise, which features significant security updates designed to protect data in a hybrid work environment.

Microsoft 365 also features Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security (EM+S). EM+S is a portfolio of security tools designed to meet the latest threats to cybersecurity. Additionally, it protects against security gaps in mobile and at-home devices.

Key differences between Office 365 vs Microsoft 365

In a nutshell, Microsoft 365 refines what Office 365 already does well and reinforces what was already the best-in-class suite of cybersecurity protections. More new features from Microsoft 365 include:
  • Easy deployment across devices company-wide with Windows AutoPilot.
  • Windows 11.
  • Advanced compliance management with Microsoft Purview.
  • Single-pane-of-glass management of all users and devices.
  • Updated security features utilizing the latest in AI and machine learning to proactively protect your data across your digital estate.
  • Easy management of Identities and Access.
  • Powerful business insights and analytics.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is aimed at larger companies and organizations. It is tailored to allow corporations to work on a single platform while leveraging cutting-edge security tools.

Subscription plans and licenses vary, but two standard licenses include:

Microsoft 365 E3, which includes:

  • Device and application management
  • Identity and Access controls from a single console
  • Threat protection and security
  • Advanced compliance and oversite (via the newly updated Microsoft Purview)

And, Microsoft 365 E5, which includes:

  • Everything included in the E3 plan
  • Advanced analytics and insights
  • Advanced compliance oversight (via the newly updated Microsoft Purview)

Note that both Microsoft 365 and Office 365 have E3 and E5 plans available.

Learn more: Microsoft Licensing Optimization

Learn more: How a certified Microsoft partner can advance your digital disruption

How Microsoft 365 drives business

Microsoft 365 expands and improves on everything you love about Office 365. Its innovative advancements enable businesses to take advantage of:

Vendor consolidation. Consolidate multiple vendor management systems with differing capabilities into a single, streamlined platform. Storing this information all in one place makes it easy to review and analyze existing provider account details.

AI and Machine Learning. Tap into the latest advances in security, compliance, and analytics by utilizing the cutting-edge applications available with M365. These apps simplify navigation of Microsoft platforms and free up time to focus on deep work by automating repetitive tasks. Microsoft AI gives intelligent, contextualized data insights, allowing businesses to make faster, more confident business decisions.

Process improvement. Improve productivity using workflows and dashboards. Microsoft 365 applications enable the automation of simple and complex business processes, for example, using chatbots to process requests for travel booking, organizing leave, ordering lunch, or requesting supplies. And documents can now inherit metadata from associated projects, which enables automatic archiving of content, data, and spaces based on pre-established criteria, keeping systems tidy and easy to navigate.

IT administration, operational, and deployment savings. Manage hardware and software more efficiently so IT can focus on strategy. Microsoft 365 frees up resources in IT departments by streamlining storage and security via a secure cloud solution. Applications are also updated automatically, diminishing the need for an on-prem IT presence.  

Physical and T&E cost displacement. Reduce hard costs, like real estate and travel, through flexible work from anywhere. Microsoft 365 is a powerful solution whether working in the office, from home, or in a hybrid landscape. Collaborate from anywhere with industry-standard apps that are now cloud-based.

Security and governance benefits

Seemingly daily, cyberattacks become more advanced. It is no longer enough for security tools to respond to threats reactively. Instead, cybersecurity must seek out and adapt to new threats proactively. One key benefit of Microsoft 365 vs Office 365 is that its advanced security solutions do just that—seek out security threats before they have a chance to cause harm.

Additionally, governments and oversight bodies are enforcing new compliance standards for security and maintaining industry regulations. Companies across industries face fines or serious security breaches if they fall out of compliance.

Here are a few of the ways Microsoft 365 fortifies cybersecurity:

  • Advanced Microsoft Threat Protection secures identities, endpoints, user data, cloud applications, and infrastructure.
  • AI and machine learning technology not only searches the entirety of the Internet for emerging threats but also roots out potential security weak points throughout the data estate.
  • Microsoft Purview (formerly Azure Purview) is a toolkit designed to address the growing complexity of compliance and managing data enterprise-wide.

Switch with expert guidance from CBTS

It is a challenge to determine the best Microsoft plan for your business. The nuances between the various Office 365 vs Microsoft 365 plans are layered and complex.   

CBTS has more than 16 years of experience as a certified Microsoft Cloud Solutions Partner. We specialize in integrating a wide range of Microsoft platforms to ensure your enterprise sees the maximum benefits. Our certified Microsoft Professionals have the know-how to help your company make the switch to Microsoft 365 painless, migrate to a new licensing provider, review existing licensing contracts and licensing, and make recommendations on future utilization requirements.

Learn more about how CBTS can guide you through the process and make the most of your Microsoft licensing.

How to train your organization to use Microsoft Teams

Though more workers are returning to the office as the pandemic gradually dissipates in the U.S., remote work is here to stay. A Gartner survey found that 80% of companies plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part-time; another 47% of respondents said their staff will now have an option to work from home full-time. Adopting Microsoft Teams and training your team on how to use it effectively will maximize your team’s productivity and efficiency.

man on computer wearing headphones

Long-term remote collaboration requires company leaders to ensure that their employees know how to fully utilize the raft of new communication technologies available. CBTS’ approach unifies Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Voice with formidable hosted public branch exchange (PBX) features, flexibility, and reliability.

This blog will provide essential information on how to use Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Voice to provide maximum benefit to your organization.

Also read: CBTS awarded Most Promising Microsoft Solutions Provider by CIOReview

How to use Microsoft Teams to improve collaboration

Microsoft Teams equips employees to work anywhere and from any device by offering secure access to business applications, video conferencing, and chat. Microsoft Teams Voice from CBTS further enhances the collaboration experience in Teams by empowering organizations to use it as their primary phone system.

Microsoft Teams Voice enables IT departments to consolidate phone system management into the Teams environment already adopted by their organization, eliminating the need to activate, manage, and support separate calling applications for employees. Teams users can make and receive phone calls through the Teams application on their computers, mobile phones, or tablets. This flexibility allows organizations to reduce or eliminate expenses associated with physical phone devices.

CBTS provides the connectivity companies need to enable Teams Voice calling and assists with the activation, management, and support of the Teams phone system. Companies can choose to layer additional services and applications such as Contact Center, Call Recording, and Receptionist software. CBTS can also provide guidance and solutions for legacy elements of clients’ environments that cannot be migrated to Teams.

Learning how to maximize the use of Microsoft Teams is a great first step for companies looking to improve overall performance and productivity.

Read more: Building the best Microsoft Teams adoption strategy for your company

Collaborate more effectively by creating Teams and adding guests

Your team can easily access the platform from a web browser, desktop application, or mobile app. Guest access is also permitted, meaning you can invite users from other Office 365 tenants to a Microsoft Teams hub without needing additional licenses.

Users can navigate various sections through icons on the Microsoft Teams app bar that enable them to create a team, add guest users, hold meetings, and more. To collaborate in Teams, users must be either a member of a Teams hub or the creator of one. To create a team:

  1. Click “Teams” from the app bar.
  2. Click the “Join” or “Create a Team” link that appears at the bottom of the app bar.
  3. Click the “Create a Team” card.
  4. Enter the name and description of the team.
  5. Choose your team’s privacy settings: a Private Team means only team owners can add members, while a Public Team allows anyone in your organization to join the team.
  6. Click “Next.”
  7. Add members to the team in the “Add” box by including a name, e-mail address, distribution list, or mail-enabled security group. Teams can have a maximum of 2,500 members, whether these members are company employees or external users invited through secure guest access.

All guests must have a Microsoft 365 account. To add a guest to your team in Teams:

  1. Select the “Teams” icon and add them to the team in your team list.
  2. Select “More Options,” then click “Add Member.”
  3. Enter the guest’s e-mail address. Anyone with a business or consumer account such as Outlook or Gmail can join your team as a guest.
  4. Add your guest’s name through the “Edit Guest Information” option.
  5. Click “Add.” Guests will receive a welcome e-mail invite that includes information about joining Teams.

Also read: A Q&A on Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture

How do you hold meetings when using Microsoft Teams? To create a meeting:
  1. Select “New Meeting” from the Calendar tab at the top of the screen.
  2. Give your meeting a name in the “Title” field.
  3. Fill out the “Start” and “End” fields to schedule your meeting.
  4. Select “Save”.
  5. Choose the “Copy Link” icon to copy your meeting invite link. Your meeting will also appear in your calendar, which you can open anytime.

Harnessing the Microsoft Teams planning tool for more dynamic meetings

When first learning how to use Microsoft Teams, the Planner tool is a simple way to organize tasks. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Select the “+” icon in a channel.
  2. Select “Planner.”
  3. Create a plan and select “Save.” Then, create a new plan and enter a tab name. Or choose a plan from the “Existing Plans” drop-down.
  4. After adding tasks, you can sort them into Buckets to help break up types of work, departments, and more. Just select “Add New Bucket” and enter a name.
  5. Add and assign tasks, with details including the due date and the person taking on the assignment. You can also manage group tasks by selecting “Group by Bucket,” and selecting an option from the drop-down.

Blending VoIP, dial-in audio conferencing, and HD video makes online meetings more dynamic. Companies looking to maximize their Microsoft investment can migrate telephony services into Microsoft Teams and see numerous financial and organizational benefits.

Also read: Critical Capabilities for Meeting Solutions

Easy tips to get your company started on Microsoft Teams

How you manage your team ultimately determines its productivity and efficiency. For organizations already making use of Microsoft Teams, a few simple tips will help you get the most out of the platform:

  • Customize your notifications.
  • Use the integrated SharePoint feature to store and share files.
  • Give titles to your chat exchanges to make them easier to follow.
  • Forward e-mail messages into a channel.
  • Save screenshots during meetings for future downloads.
  • Bookmark important messages from Teams chats.
  • Use Microsoft Teams mobile apps for on-the-go messaging.

Contact us to learn how using Microsoft Teams—with hands-on support and guidance from CBTS—can enhance your organization’s remote collaboration, voice, and conferencing capabilities. CBTS has combined its long history of delivering enterprise-level Unified Collaboration tools and meeting solutions with Microsoft Teams.

How CBTS is Integrating Hosted UCaaS with Microsoft Teams for Improved Collaboration

Instead of patching together disjointed systems for voice solutions and cloud-based collaboration, forward-looking companies want to synergize and streamline their corporate telecommunications experiences. As more businesses settle into long-term work-from-home environments, remote teams need more efficient ways to connect to the critical applications they use daily. Microsoft Teams collaboration tools offer a reliable solution for companies looking to optimize their communications systems.

By combining VoIP communication with collaboration into a single integrated platform, companies can benefit from the CBTS Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution. By choosing a Hosted UCaaS service, businesses can free up IT resources and tap into their employee’s full potential by boosting the productivity of their remote workforce. Meanwhile, IT can now enable a robust PBX solution to Microsoft Teams users and their entire organization.

This blog will explore how integrating Hosted UC with Microsoft Teams boosts collaboration and efficiency for IT and across all business departments.

What is Hosted UC, and why are industries shifting towards it?

In the past, businesses relied on Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems through hard-wired networks and phone systems. However, aging PBX systems have speed, quality of experience, and security issues. Unified Communications (UC) emerged as a cloud-based solution to these communication challenges.

UC systems can be integrated with existing PBX systems or implemented independently of existing systems. Hosted UCaaS allows businesses to access all their communications through an accessible web-based dashboard and incorporate IP headsets into comm systems.

As a certified Microsoft Solutions Partner and Cloud Service Provider, CBTS calls on the Microsoft Teams collaboration suite to deliver a seamless telecom experience. This frees your IT department from having to spin up patchwork solutions or support multiple VPNs to connect remote workers to the tools they need to be successful.

CBTS Microsoft Teams collaboration graphic

Learn more: How a certified Microsoft partner can advance your digital disruption

Reliable remote Microsoft Teams collaboration

By offering local and remote workers secure access to all the business applications they use to do their jobs, the Microsoft PBX solution from CBTS equips employees to work anywhere from any device. CBTS enterprise voice solution achieves 99.999% reliability and redundant network design, ensuring uninterrupted call delivery and business continuity—even during emergencies and power outages.

Microsoft Teams collaboration features also include:

Teams and channels

Teams are a way of organizing people, projects, and other content. Channels are dedicated threads inside each Team that allow messaging and file sharing regarding specific topics and projects.


Teams allows for superior video and audio conference calls through an intuitive web-based application. Instantly launch online meetings with a single click and invite guests to join from any mobile device, desktop, or web browser without requiring proprietary conferencing software or complicated login instructions. Facilitate real-time collaboration with screen sharing features and integrated applications that make meetings more meaningful and productive. Teams also makes it easy to broadcast webinars of up to 1000 participants.


Voice is fully integrated with Teams, meaning you can reach virtually any device using your work phone number. Additionally, users can respond to phone or other messages directly from Teams regardless of the device they are currently using or their location.

File storage

All members of Microsoft Teams have access to SharePoint Online, which allows for greater collaboration through easily navigated and secure file storage.

Learn more: The widespread benefits of Microsoft Teams

Integration Capabilities

Power Apps, which is automatically integrated into Teams, is a low-code application development platform. Power Apps utilizes visual tools over code, allowing users to solve problems without learning to code.

Another powerful integration is Cisco Broadworks, an enterprise-grade VoIP and collaboration platform. Broadworks allows businesses to streamline their voice and communications tools into a single stream and offers powerful features, such as:

  • Omni-channel call centers
  • AI-powered Interactive Voice Response (IVR) 
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Call recording
  • Mass notifications
  • e911

The implementation of Microsoft Teams collaboration solutions is custom to each client and makes it easy to integrate Office 365 apps as needed.

How UCaaS with Microsoft Teams benefits the company

Blending VoIP, dial-in audio conferencing, and HD video makes online meetings more dynamic. Microsoft Direct Route from CBTS lets your company communicate with parties around the globe by extending the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams to your employees, customers, and partners.

Additional benefits include:
  1. Hosted, cloud-based VoIP phone and collaboration
  2. Flexible and scalable—grows quickly with your business
  3. Predictable cost and growth model with an average savings of 30% over Microsoft Voice
  4. Advanced reporting and business analytics

Learn more: Building the best Microsoft Teams adoption strategy for your company

The bottom line in Unified Communications

Combining your enterprise calling plan with the powerful collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams enables highly scalable, flexible, and reliable communications, ensuring employees can be productive whether they’re remote or on-premises. Additionally, the solution allows them to communicate however they prefer, whether on a soft client, handset, or mobile device.

Deploying this unified solution can even help reduce costs by leveraging your current phone systems and eliminating the need for additional network gateways, with fixed monthly expenses to help plan your IT budget without any surprises. Bringing CBTS voice solutions into the Microsoft Cloud through Direct Route delivers an average monthly savings of 30% compared to Microsoft’s calling plans, giving clients the best of both worlds without adding financial burdens.

With customized implementation, adoption, and ongoing expert support from CBTS, you can future-proof your company’s collaboration solution by integrating the best communication tools from Microsoft and Cisco.

Contact us to learn how CBTS and Microsoft Direct Route can enhance your organization’s remote collaboration, voice, and conferencing capabilities.

Learn more: The CBTS / Microsoft Partnership


SASE: What is it, why now, and is it right for you?

For many organizations, the pandemic has been a driver for digital transformation. With applications and operations rapidly migrating to the Cloud, security must follow the user and not be tied to the traditional brick and mortar location. Digital transformation is a complex process since organizations now require expertise in both networking and security, and the move to the Cloud can be costly as well.

Woman looking at tablet on network secured with SASE

This is where Secure Access Service Edge (SASE, pronounced “sassy”) comes in. The term is a new concept, originating from Gartner in 2019. In the not-too-distant past, SASE stood for Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope, and the evolution of the acronym exemplifies just how quickly our world is going digital.

With its Network Security as a Service offering, CBTS combines SD-WAN technology with SASE principles to provide efficient, secure, and cost-effective networks for organizations trending towards remote and branch operations. To help you embark on your own digital transformation journey, CBTS has prepared a guide on key SASE benefits, what challenges you should look out for, and why the trend is here to stay.

What is SASE, and how does it work?

In precise terms, SASE is a network architecture that combines software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and security into a singular cloud framework. That means organizations benefit from improved efficiency, heightened security, and simplified WAN deployment.

The SASE framework and philosophy is a novel approach to a cloud enabled enterprise network with many operational, business, and security benefits. For example, converging an organization’s cloud-based networking and security services reduces complexity, boosts network performance, and minimizes the number of vendors and devices IT oversees.

Additionally, there is a considerable reduction in hardware requirements, lessening IT staff’s workload related to deployment and maintenance while expanding actionable security alerting and monitoring.

By implementing SASE, you’ll engage with five core technologies:
  1. Integrated SD-WAN: Optimize network administration and performance by leveraging software and cloud-based technology for enterprise network connectivity.
  2. Cloud access security: Ensure safe use of cloud technology for your enterprise. Improving cloud security prevents malware infections, data leaks, and regulatory noncompliance.
  3. Firewall as a service: Deploy cloud-based firewalls to take advantage of advanced threat protection, URL filtering, DNS security, and intrusive prevention systems.
  4. Secure web gateway: Protect your internal network and users from potentially malicious unsecured Internet traffic.
  5. Zero trust network access: Reduce the risk of attacks and data leaks by verifying the identity of users or devices attempting to access your network.

  6. Learn more about how SASE and Zero Trust Network Access work together to deliver safe, secure, and reliable remote access to your network.

Learn more about how SASE and Zero Trust Network Access work together to deliver safe, secure, and reliable remote access to your network by downloading this e-book: SASE and ZTNA for Dummies

Complete your SD-WAN migration with improved security

Migrating to SD-WAN has become a critical endeavor for enterprises across the globe, and SASE provides the ideal path to a successful implementation.

Due to the swift spread of the coronavirus crisis, many enterprises quickly shifted to a distributed workforce. They soon realized that their existing VPN-based solutions were often unreliable, with limited performance and security measures. We’ve previously covered how SD-WAN security enhances critical business applications, but in short, enterprises benefit from a networking solution offering more affordable, reliable, and faster connectivity.

In the SASE framework, these benefits are realized alongside improved security for a remote workforce. With remote work here to stay, organizations must be able to support increasingly dispersed teams safely, and security is paramount to doing so.

SASE employs a flexible, cloud-based firewall that protects users and computing resources located at the network’s edge. It offers secure web gateways to protect companies from the threat of harmful outside resources. It also implements zero-trust network access, which bases security on identity rather than aspects like an IP address.

Altogether, by leveraging SASE, organizations ensure branch offices can take advantage of ongoing digital innovation efforts and improved security features as they scale.

Also read: Employ cloud-enabled security to safeguard your SD-WAN network

Keep pace in a shifting digital landscape

Our increasing dependence on the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing necessitates a trustworthy, homogenized approach to cloud-based services and security. In this environment, SASE is already an essential aspect of a company’s digital makeup.

Remote workforces must be able to rely on sophisticated, tailored cloud services that allow them to perform their duties with confidence. IT staff cannot be held back by legacy hardware or features that are merely stitched together instead of well-integrated.

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and so are its threats. Our 2022 Cybersecurity Predictions asserted that ransomware attacks will increase. Additionally, nation-state attacks will see an uptick, while the number of states starting to give privacy rights to consumers is on the rise.

Enterprises can best address these concerns by deploying an integrated, complete response to the cloud-based security needs of modern organizations.

Reduce the burden of network and security maintenance

Beyond increased efficiency and reduced complexity, taking the plunge with a combined networking and security offering simplifies operations for an enterprise’s IT staff.

Regardless of where users are located, SASE ensures security policies are standardized. It also simplifies the authentication process by applying the right policies based on what the user requests at sign-in. In fact, IT executives can set these policies centrally using cloud-based management platforms. These procedures massively reduce risk, as the entire system is less complex and offers a universal approach.

Where an enterprise’s IT staff is often overloaded with menial, time-consuming tasks, a combined SD-WAN and security offering frees your team to improve business efficiency, address IT concerns that affect the bottom line, and support the organization.

Why CBTS for SASE?

If legacy infrastructure, increasing complexity, and skyrocketing costs are standing in the way of your team completing your digital transformation journey, CBTS is the right partner for you.

It’s critical that the partner you select has experience in both network and security solutions. CBTS offers a wide range of expertise compared to other managed service providers. As a Check Point Software Technologies 5-Star Partner, it has a long track record of delivering extensive networking and security overhauls. In 2020, CBTS was named a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader for its VMware SD-WAN™ edge expertise. By combining VMware SD-WAN with SASE network security principles, CBTS delivers comprehensive cloud-native network security.  

Our experts work alongside you from the assessment phase to the implementation of your SD-WAN and security capabilities to provide ongoing, full-spectrum support for your organization.

Contact the experts at CBTS to enhance and simplify security for your modernized networking environment.

Four advantages food service enterprises can gain from UCaaS for retail

Next-generation communications functionality isn’t just for the high-technology corporate sectors. Customer-facing verticals such as the food service industry can benefit equally from a unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) solution just as much as an enterprise serving six-figure clients.

By modernizing in-store Wi-Fi capabilities, seamlessly networking brick-and-mortar locations and mobile applications, and layering in an up-to-date IT support platform to manage it all, restaurants can leverage UCaaS to transform their forward-facing digital footprint for the next generation.

Below are a few of the ways UCaaS can deliver the same benefits for your food service organization:

To offer your customers a truly modern and satisfying experience that will keep them coming back, aim for the following benchmarks made possible through UCaas for retail:
  • Continuous and reliable connectivity with a high quality of service.
  • A customer-friendly in-store Wi-Fi experience.
  • High-end threat detection measures in every store.
  • A monthly managed service model that keeps expenses low.

Why reliable communications are crucial for the food service vertical

In a fast-paced, customer-facing environment, losing connectivity can very easily lead to a loss of business. When customers expect service quickly and conveniently, every dropped or disconnected phone call represents lost revenue. That’s why call quality of service (QoS) and circuit failover are key factors in a UCaaS for retail transformation. By protecting each individual telephone order with UCaaS, organizations can, in turn, prevent an avoidable loss in revenue.

Donatos restaurant uses UCaaS for retail

UCaaS for retail also delivers the tried and true key system functionality where on-hold customers show up as a blinking line on all phones. This visual representation of on-hold customers on every phone enables easier customer retrieval and simplifies employee training.   

Cloud-based call queuing is another valuable tool for food service enterprises. During particularly busy times, such as holidays or sporting events, cloud-based call queuing—along with a branded hold message—can put customers at ease and address their orders efficiently. UCaaS for retail can also enable these on-hold calls to be answered from any networked device without complex call park procedures or pickup codes, making the entire system intuitive and user-friendly.

Ensure a memorable in-store experience with UCaaS for retail

Modern customer service standards indicate that simply providing a product or service isn’t enough; guests expect to feel welcome in your place of business, and that means offering a well-provisioned guest Wi-Fi network. Through UCaaS for retail, food service enterprises can not only provide a secure, family-friendly Wi-Fi experience for restaurant patrons, they can also implement branded sign-on pages and rate limits to maintain bandwidth limits and keep guests engaged.

Protect your enterprise with next-gen threat detection

Another critical component for network modernization is the addition of a unified threat management (UTM) firewall at individual storefronts­—in this way, UCaaS can deliver next-generation protection for your organization. Store-level UTM solutions provide application control, identity-based web filtering, and safe search features. A UTM can be supplemented by SSIDs and VLANs at the store level to maintain digital security across all guests, employees, point-of-sale terminals, visiting vendors, and any other devices in the building.

Also read: SD-WAN: The perfect prescription for CIOs’ pharmacy network challenges

Keep expenses under control with a managed UCaaS solution

All of the above benefits can be delivered as a monthly expense with no capital costs required upfront, due to the CBTS UCaaS managed solution model. This service also includes 24x7x365 monitored support and even covers any necessary relocations, additional equipment, and service changes. Under the CBTS UCaaS for retail managed solution, your food service enterprise will enjoy greater control and transparency into its network while also freeing up resources to focus more on long-term strategic initiatives.

Contact CBTS for more information on how a managed UCaaS for retail solution can help your food service enterprise improve its customer experience.

Continue reading:

CBTS and Parallel Technologies combine strengths to modernize 200+ restaurant locations

Retail technology helps businesses generate wins

Cloud technology for retail drives opportunities

Optimize your remote work migration with a VMware service provider

The coronavirus pandemic amplified the need for organizations to become more agile and resilient. As a VMware service provider, CBTS has been helping businesses across industries embrace remote work, redefine their digital strategy, and accelerate large-scale migration efforts.

According to the 2020 State of Remote Work, approximately 98% of remote workers said they would like to work remotely—at least part-time—for the rest of their careers. With remote work here to stay, organizations supporting a dispersed workforce can leverage the CBTS and VMware partnership to transform their enterprise WAN connectivity and manage thousands of devices securely.

Establishing a powerful WAN Edge infrastructure with CBTS and VMware

For the fourth year in a row, Gartner has recognized VMware as a Magic Quadrant leader for their completeness of vision for WAN Edge Infrastructure. CBTS is a top VMware service provider and VMware Partner Innovation Award winner for SD-WAN. Together, CBTS and VMware transform enterprise WAN connectivity by harnessing the public cloud to host critical applications. 

As part of the VMware SASE™ vision, the SD-WAN solution is built to be future-proof, with the speed, simplicity, and security today’s agile businesses need. CBTS delivers on that vision by providing organizations with cloud on-ramp services via global cloud gateways, implementation of VMware orchestrator, and rapid deployment of edge appliances based on assessed needs.

CBTS has demonstrated expertise as a VMware service provider, enabling organizations to take full advantage of the SD-WAN technology through deployment and ongoing monitoring and management across locations. The award highlights the significant ways CBTS empowers organizations of all sizes in their digital migration, with a full suite of flexible technology solutions that drive business outcomes, improve operational efficiency, mitigate risk, and reduce costs for clients.

Read more: How SD-WAN security enhances critical business applications

Adopting UEM strategies for modern desktop management and improved security

Last year, VMware was also named a 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant leader for unified endpoint management (UEM) tools. VMware scored highest in three of four use cases in the 2021 Gartner Critical Capabilities for UEM tools. CBTS has been at the forefront of helping customers mobilize for the “anywhere” workforce spanning geographies, use cases, and a myriad of devices.

Organizations leverage CBTS expertise in VMware Workspace ONE UEM to establish modern desktop management, including BYOD and increasingly diverse endpoints, for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Chrome OS, among others. CBTS assesses network vulnerabilities to enforce security-centric UEM strategies to protect against cyberattacks on the perimeter.

CBTS and VMware partnership in practice: a powerful networking combination 

CBTS teamed with VMware for SD-WAN beginning in 2017 to help enterprises deploy flexible, secure WAN connectivity across their remote and branch locations. 

So, when a large healthcare system in Indiana approached CBTS to build out several pop-up clinics during an upswing in COVID-19 cases, CBTS engineers were ready to deploy an SD-WAN solution to support clinic operations in only 24 hours.

Read the full case study: IU Health deploys COVID-19 remote testing centers in 24 hours with SD-WAN

Partnering with CBTS as your VMware service provider enables your organization to:
  • Address performance issues associated with latency while accessing data sources distributed across locations, devices, and geographies.
  • Reduce overall costs and stabilize IT budget by eliminating sweeping redesigns and the expense of maintaining outdated, disparate networking equipment.
  • Improve network reliability, redundancy, scalability, and security.
  • Remove IT burden from staff through reliable automation and cloud management.
  • Transform business outcomes with enhanced real-time operations and agility.

Growing alongside an evolving ecosystem

CBTS and VMware power the world’s complex online networking infrastructure, an ecosystem that will evolve alongside ever-changing enterprise needs. CBTS SD-WAN technology powered by VMware optimizes available bandwidth for remote workers in three ways:

  • Giving higher priority to business traffic than to social media and streaming service traffic.
  • 24×7 monitoring of the traffic path for packet loss or delay while applying forward-error correction to increase throughput and reduce packet loss.
  • Using traffic-handling techniques to throttle unnecessary application traffic.

By leveraging the CBTS and VMware partnership, your organization can implement cloud-based connectivity—and all its benefits of ubiquity, high bandwidth, and low cost—with assured quality, reliability, and security.

Frost & Sullivan names CBTS among its top UCaaS providers for second straight year

The pandemic has accelerated long-standing trends around remote work, the rise of virtual organizations, and customer interactions over digital channels. These rapid changes in industry norms require that companies take action to keep up. Forward-thinking businesses understand the importance of flexible solutions that support shifting workforce and customer needs. With the help of top UCaaS providers, enterprises across industries are making the changes required to future-proof their businesses.

As a recognized unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) provider, CBTS can help your enterprise organization evolve alongside a constantly changing digital landscape. With a rich portfolio of cloud communications, collaboration, and contact center services, CBTS can deliver custom-tailored solutions across industries.

Operating as one of the industry’s top UCaaS providers has garnered CBTS recognition among its peers. Frost & Sullivan, a market research and business consulting firm, recently placed CBTS in the top quadrant of its 2021 Frost Radar™ in Hosted IP Telephony and UCaaS for North America. 2021 marks the second straight year that CBTS has received the honor, thanks to expert design and a team of engineers ready to support hosted solutions for any industry sector.

“CBTS has been particularly effective in serving organizations in the public, healthcare, and retail sectors, which have been disrupted in the past two years. With its diversified technology portfolio services, CBTS has proven a trusted partner for businesses at varying stages of their transformation journey. Much of CBTS’ past UCaaS growth has come from substantial deployments, including many in SLED and retail. CBTS is poised for continued growth in these sectors as government and education organizations embrace cloud services to support the rise in remote/hybrid work.”

Elka Popova, Vice President and Senior Fellow, Digital Transformation at Frost & Sullivan

Read more: Six ways to enable business transformation with UCaaS

CBTS delivers robust cloud services for successful remote work

CBTS differentiates itself from competing top UCaaS providers with its extensive cloud, infrastructure, communications, and consulting expertise. A highly consultative approach results in custom-tailored solutions that leverage third-party technologies for its Hosted Enterprise UC, Hosted Unified Communications, Microsoft Direct Route, and Cloud Calling offerings.

The broader CBTS portfolio—which encompasses fiber connectivity, multiple as-a-service network models, integrated contact centers, and SIP trunking—provides additional value to its UCaaS customers. Today, CBTS also acts as a strong worldwide partner for Cisco Broadworks and Cisco HCS and as a leading provider for retail, healthcare, and state and local government and education (SLED) verticals. With 27 offices in five countries, CBTS is positioned to scale its UCaaS operations moving ahead. Much of the company’s prior growth derived from large deployments in SLED and retail. CBTS continues to grow in these sectors as government and education entities embrace remote work-supporting cloud services.

Read more: How UCaaS is changing the face of education communication solutions

Through top third-party UCaaS technologies such as Cisco HCS, Cisco Broadworks, and Microsoft Teams Voice, CBTS has become a reliable provider for solutions including:
  • Hosted Enterprise UC.
  • Hosted UC.
  • Microsoft Teams Voice.
  • Cloud Calling.

CBTS is a top UCaaS technology company for your cloud migration needs

CBTS UCaaS and collaboration technologies are built to ensure your successful transition to the cloud.

Microsoft Teams Voice is a fully integrated voice and collaboration service utilizing:

Hosted telephone unified with Microsoft Teams.

  • Robust integrated feature sets.
  • Advanced integrated solutions.
  • Diverse location configuration capabilities.
  • Around-the-clock monitoring by expert engineers.

Hosted UC brings cloud-based unified communications capabilities as well as:

  • Enterprise-grade VoIP.
  • Flexibility to scale with your business.
  • Advanced integrated solutions.
  • Key system emulation.

Hosted Enterprise UC provides secure industry-leading technology with benefits including:

  • A powerful Cisco HCS backbone.
  • A simplified management portal.
  • Ability to scale users up and down as needed.
  • Integrated Contact Center as a Service.

Also read: VoIP vs UCaaS: What is right for your business?

Going forward, CBTS can continue to enhance its standing as a top UCaaS company through integrated collaboration services. According to the Frost & Sullivan report, third-party productivity, communications, business, and vertical software and services are opportunities to further impact mission-critical business processes among the CBTS customer base.

In particular, the healthcare and SLED verticals are ripe for transformation in the coming months and years. CBTS is well-situated to capitalize on increased demand for UCaaS in these ever-growing marketplace sectors.

Contact CBTS today to discover how CBTS can bring tailored UCaaS solutions to your changing organization.

Continue Reading:

CBTS lauded as top Frost Radar Report communications leader for second year

Frost & Sullivan report places CBTS in top bracket for UCaaS innovation and growth

Building the best Microsoft Teams adoption strategy for your company

Organizations are adopting Microsoft Teams strategies to make collaborative processes more productive and efficient. Business connections are critical in today’s remote work era, making Microsoft Teams the ideal digital teamwork tool.

Microsoft Teams implementation can come with some difficulties. Read key Microsoft Teams adoption strategies to ensure adoption by end-users and leadership.

Microsoft Teams is a modern communications hub enabling channel- and team-based threaded conversations, along with support for live and streamed events, external application integration, file-sharing, and real-time networking. All are accomplished through a single user interface that operates consistently across devices.

However, as with any digital collaboration technology, implementation can come with some difficulties. For starters, enterprise leadership and IT personnel must develop a plan to ensure end-user buy-in and adopt security practices specific to Teams. This blog will explore key Microsoft Teams adoption strategies and how your company can best utilize this technology to its advantage in the changing communications landscape.

A host of business-critical features

Microsoft Teams is a persistent chat-based platform complete with document sharing, online meetings, and other essential communication features. Shared workspace software makes remote teamwork easy, especially for large companies with groups of remote employees.

Companies adopting strategies around Microsoft Teams can harness features including:

  • Teams and channels: Teams consist of people, content, and tools organized around different projects and objectives, open to anyone within the organization or made private to invited users. Channels are dedicated threads within a team created for specific subjects, disciplines, or project functions, with file-sharing and storage capabilities utilizing SharePoint.
  • Chat and channel messaging: Instantly communicate among teams, groups, and individuals with customized features and roles defined by the organization’s global or multiple messaging policies.
  • SharePoint document storage: Every Microsoft Teams member has access to SharePoint Online, where files specific to conversations are shared and stored.
  • Online meetings: Host groups of up to 10,000 users for department and project updates, training sessions, or even regional or company-wide meetings, with built-in scheduling aids, a note-taking app, and in-meeting chat messaging.
  • Power Apps Integration: This highly intuitive, low-code application development platform allows individuals to solve business problems with visual tools that don’t require code. When integrated with Microsoft Teams, it can be used for everything from customizing SharePoint forms to building end-to-end solutions that can reduce time-to-market, rapidly streamline processes, improve customer satisfaction, and enhance worker productivity.

Read more: The widespread benefits of Microsoft Teams

Companies adopting Microsoft Team strategies are challenged by:
  1. Sprawl: Any user can create a team and—without active supervision—the environment can become confusing. Additionally, teams that cluster storage space can remove silos and blur lines of demarcation between internal groups.
  2. Guest access: While inviting guest users to Teams can help employees make decisions, granting access to your enterprise’s internal documents has its pitfalls. The challenge here is collaborating with clients and partners without oversharing or compromising crucial data.
  3. File management: With information uploaded and shared in private chats and Microsoft Teams channels, it can be tricky to manage files effectively. Users may have to move files manually to the correct location, wasting time and potentially clogging up your document library with hundreds or thousands of files.

Solving common challenges in Microsoft Teams

Although Microsoft Teams adopters often face hurdles while developing their implementation strategy, these obstacles can be overcome with thoughtful planning.

For example, organizations can minimize teams sprawl by:

  • Preparing an adoption strategy: Before implementing Microsoft Teams, your IT staff will need to establish governance to guide the management of users’ access and data security in compliance with your business standards. With input from executives and department leads, establishing governance involves preparing use cases to set policies and organizing ongoing communications and training plans after deployment.
  • Crafting clear messaging: One of the primary reasons for teams sprawl is impatience. Before Microsoft Teams deployment, organizations must communicate to staff the difference between teams and channels, channel conversations versus chat messages, and common use cases. 
  • Guest access solutions include:
  • Admin center implementation: As a Global Administrator or Teams Administrator in the Microsoft Teams admin center, you can grant guests minimum privileges for their projects without exposing data or communications outside of project scope. For instance, if an executive is concerned about possible information leaks during a video meeting, the admin can disable the Microsoft Teams screen sharing capability.
  • Sensitivity labels:  During the team creation process, team leads can set up sensitivity labels that mark delicate data as “confidential.”

Organizations in need of better file management can:

  • Upload files to folders: Use the Files tab of your respective channel to create required folders. You can then copy shared links and paste them into private chat or channel conversations. This method will keep your Document library organized and avoid file loss or duplication.

Read more: How to train your organization to use Microsoft Teams

Accessing certified experts during integration

To guide Microsoft Teams integration, enterprises often need to augment their IT organizations with experts who have day-to-day experience with essential Microsoft Teams adoption strategies. CBTS, as a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, has a large pool of experts who can assist IT teams with the challenges encountered during an integration, as well as provide 24×7 monitoring and support afterwards. 

Download the e-book: Build a modern workplace with Microsoft Teams and Power Apps 

Future thinking is critical

Microsoft Teams is a robust collaboration environment that will continue to grow as remote work expands. Your business has unique processes and technology needs, making planning ahead critical.  With decades of experience in delivering communications services, CBTS experts can help you leverage Microsoft Teams to meet your unique needs and prepare your business for the future of remote collaboration and hybrid work.

To learn more, watch our LinkedIn Live Tech Talk with expert engineers Justin Rice and Jon Lloyd. They answer the question, “Are you prepared for the revolution in tech communications?”

Contact CBTS for more information on adopting Microsoft Teams in your organizational strategy.

Read more:

Microsoft 365 Business Voice: Always Stay Connected

Microsoft 365 Business Voice: Always Stay Connected

Why are so many companies turning to Microsoft 365 Business Voice? A big part of the drive is that so many organizations are already using Microsoft Teams. With the recent boom in remote work, Teams has become an integral part of routine business operations for many enterprises. This solution is typically used as a business communications system through Teams. It acts as a logical replacement for traditional telephony providers and seamlessly integrates with existing Teams clients. Considering all the benefits of Teams, adding purpose-built enterprise voice functionality is an easy choice.

woman on phone. collaborate with Microsoft Business Voice

Find out: How Microsoft Teams Voice by CBTS can boost collaboration for your organization.

Who is Microsoft Teams for?

This enterprise voice solution is an excellent choice for all businesses using Teams as their collaboration tool today. Microsoft Teams Voice empowers businesses to take advantage of all Microsoft Teams collaboration features while also fully integrating CBTS’ robust VoIP core capabilities like contact center, AI-enabled IVR, call recording, advanced analytics and call reporting, and many more advanced applications enterprise requires.

And because Voice integrates with Teams, you can turn any computer, phone, or tablet into a phone that uses your business voice number. Remote team members using Microsoft Teams can respond to calls anytime and anywhere. When you make the transition, you’ll be able to keep your existing phone numbers by porting them over to the new enterprise voice interface.

Also read: How SD-WAN & NaaS come together to supercharge remote work productivity.

When you make the switch to Microsoft Teams Voice, you can:
  • Unify onsite and offsite business calls.
  • Experience easy, on-the-go communication.
  • Stay connected anywhere.
  • Get all the standard phone system features.
  • Keep your current business number.

Keep your business connected offline

Whether you’re looking for a better way to keep your remote workers connected or wanting to bundle your communications and cut costs, Microsoft 365 Business Voice can help. Seamless communication, both online and offline, is key for a business of any size. Teams Voice is the easiest way for growing businesses to stay connected no matter what their conditions require. It’s ideal for companies of any size that need integrated communications with Teams-enabled clients. When you make the switch to Teams Voice, you get the following features and more:

  • Phone system — Standard phone features including voice mail, caller ID, call menus, shared phone lines, and emergency calling.
  • Domestic calling — Calls within your country or region are free. International plans and toll-free dialing are also available.
  • Video and audio conferencing — Host conference calls with people who don’t have collaboration applications or a reliable Internet connection.

Also read: Give your remote teams the tools to connect seamlessly with Cisco Webex

How to make the switch to Microsoft 365 Business Voice

Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite is one of the most powerful business tools available. Working with a certified Gold Microsoft Partner like CBTS ensures that you get informed recommendations based on your unique IT environment and business needs. Even if you’re already using Office 365, CBTS can help you optimize how you use it and integrate Microsoft 365 Business Voice.

Talk to an expert today and discover how CBTS can help your team connected.

Leverage franchise technology solutions to foster a satisfying customer experience

The fast-casual restaurant business is no longer defined by simply serving meals with speed and convenience. Modern customers expect a comfortable and welcoming experience, from the time they order to when they leave the restaurant.

With this climate in mind, many corporate restaurant entities and franchise operators are investing in purpose-built technology solutions. These innovations take many shapes, but examples include app-based ordering systems, drive-through operations optimized by smart tablets, and more.

However, these tools are only as useful as the networks that power them. To make the most of cutting-edge customer service technology, corporate enterprises and franchise owners alike must improve their in-store networks. Managed Network as a Service (NaaS) by CBTS could be the ideal method for taking your business network to the next level.

Also read: Network solution for retailers delivers sales

Where franchise technology solutions are heading:
  • Restaurants are rethinking drive-through lanes, using networked mobile devices to process orders faster and instill brand loyalty.
  • In-store Wi-Fi is no longer optional—customers expect to be able to enjoy a steady Internet connection while they dine.
  • If your restaurant doesn’t offer the option of ordering through a streamlined web page or mobile app, you’re falling behind the pack.

What holds restaurant networks back

When foodservice organizations grapple with the issue of modernizing the networks that support their stores, roadblocks aren’t uncommon. Some enterprises struggle to cut through the entanglement of sluggish long-term contracts with multiple service providers. Others are held back by licensing agreements that can prove frustrating to break out of.

Another common trial faced by restaurants is the issue of network consistency. Corporate entities and even franchise owners often find it challenging to maintain consistent network performance across disparate locations.

These obstacles lead to one result: many restaurant enterprises and franchise owners face overwhelming difficulty in implementing advanced technology solutions.

Also read: Cloud technology in retail increases productivity

Modernizing restaurants with NaaS

Businesses of any size and vertical can benefit from the cost savings and high-end performance of NaaS by CBTS. However, foodservice organizations are uniquely positioned to drive results and reduce expenses with this managed solution. At the same time, they can position their brands for the next generation of franchise technology solutions.

Downtime can be deadly for restaurants, which is why CBTS works closely with clients to deploy NaaS on demanding deadlines. This means NaaS by CBTS quickly delivers tailored networks that offer consistent performance across multiple storefronts and devices. Moreover, around-the-clock support from CBTS means owners and managers can worry less about network upkeep and focus on serving customers.

NaaS is also built to be flexible and scalable. As businesses grow and add additional franchises, restaurant enterprises can rest assured that their networks will grow with them. This flexibility also means organizations can adjust and customize their networks on the fly with minimal disruption.

Also read: NaaS solution meets automobile retailer’s needs

Enabling the next generation of franchise technology solutions

The very concept of fast-casual restaurant service has taken on a new dimension. The customer experience is of high importance and modern customers expect convenience through technology as well. Capabilities such as checking the status of an order through a mobile app or table-mounted smart display are increasingly common. But these solutions need robust and reliable in-store networks to function.

With CBTS as your cloud networking provider, you can equip your restaurant with the conveniences your customers expect. At the same time, you can reap the rewards of lower networking expenses, simplified billing, dependable performance, and much more.

Read the full case study to learn how NaaS by CBTS prepared dozens of Arby’s locations to leverage new franchise technology solutions.