this is the archive page

Cloud computing in retail supports growth

Businesses must adopt cloud computing in retail technologies to grow. Cloud computing in retail  technology ensures employees and customers can quickly and easily access the information they need from anywhere, at any time. The benefits include:

  1. Faster customer information processing
  2. An enhanced customer experience
  3. Increased sales
  4. Reduced costs
  5. Improved network performance

Cloud computing in retail technology allows retailers to reduce the costs associated with software and hardware development, maintenance, and staffing. This technology also allows retailers to deliver products and services more quickly, and to monitor performance data in real time.

UCaaS improves retail’s omnichannel services

UCaaS (Unified Communication as a Service), a managed service for voice and collaboration, is an increasingly popular tool for retailers.

UCaaS replaces outdated voice-only systems and allows retailers to operate on-demand, real-time communications and applications, such as VoIP, room-based video, mobile solutions, chat, messaging, web conferencing, audio conferencing, social media, contact center solutions, and more, as a utility service. It is a scalable cloud computing in retail solution that improves the quality of voice calls while adding omnichannel features such as call reporting, video conferencing, and email.

With CBTS UCaaS solutions, retailers save time and money by increasing productivity and eliminating upfront costs. Cisco’s Context Service, which is included in all CBTS contact center solutions, collects and provides customer data from all channels, and then delivers it to employees, who can use it for marketing, sales, and other applications.


According to a recent report by Infiniti Research Ltd., the global UCaaS market will expand from $17.35 billion in 2017 to $28.293 billion in 2021.


NaaS unifies multiple store locations

NaaS (Network as a Service) is a Wi-Fi enabled network that provides centralized data services throughout stores. This allows retailers to share wireless connectivity, analytics, and other resources across various locations.

NaaS helps retailers:

  • Decrease costs. With NaaS, retailers no longer need to spend time and resources managing expensive and complex network resources such as LANs, appliances, switches, and application delivery controllers.
  • Boost sales. Customers expect retailers to provide Wi-Fi connectivity so they can access loyalty and rewards apps, and product information and reviews. According to a study conducted by IHL Group with NCR Corp., stores that offer Wi-Fi have 663 percent higher sales growth than stores that do not. Customers are also likely to spend more time at retailers that offer Wi-Fi and potentially purchase additional products.
  • Enhance customer relationships. Retailers can use Wi-Fi to obtain customer data, such as travel paths and product interaction, and send customers personalized, in-store promotions. Wireless access points in stores provide information on where the customer moves within the store, which can help retailers design store layouts that maximize foot traffic.

Like UCaaS, NaaS is also expected to grow in popularity, increasing from a $35.3 billion market in 2016 to $126 billion in 2022, according to Market Research Futures.


SD-WAN improves overall network quality

A Software Defined-Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is another cloud resource that retailers use to cost-effectively manage services among UCaaS, LANs, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, security systems, and private and public clouds.

SD-WAN minimizes delays over long distances and improves overall network quality. This cloud computing in retail technology allows merchants to maximize their often costly multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) costs, or even replace MPLS entirely and switch to broadband since SD-WAN can be deployed over existing private WAN links such as MPLS and Ethernet, as well as broadband networks such as cable, fiber, DSL, Wi-Fi, and 4G cellular LTE.


SD-WAN is growing even faster than UCaaS or NaaS. The global SD-WAN market is expected to increase from $300 million in 2017 to $1.5 billion in 2022, according to Frost & Sullivan.


CBTS cloud computing in retail solutions ensure business longevity

UCaaS, NaaS, and SD-WAN are all subscription-based cloud cloud computing in retail solutions with monthly payments based on usage. This means no CapEx investment, ongoing hardware and software licensing, or upgrade costs. The trio of services ensures retailers never miss an opportunity to connect with customers, and allows them to analyze and maximize data to develop the most beneficial business strategies. Retailers also reduce costs while improving both overall business performance and customer service.

CBTS monitors and manages the network 24x7x365 to resolve issues quickly and effectively. It can also integrate these services with an existing MPLS network and legacy data apps.

Learn more

To learn more about cloud computing and its role in retail, download our eBook “How Cloud Computing is Revolutionizing Retail.”

Cloud technology for retail drives opportunities

Cloud networking is integral for today’s retailers. Cloud networking offers a more reliable and efficient alternative to traditional multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) networks, enterprise WAN, expensive bandwidth, and costly infrastructure. Cloud technology for retail can help businesses facing challenges that include:

  • Limited budgets
  • Multiple locations
  • Continuous technological maintenance and upgrades

C-level executives require technology solutions that help them lower costs while providing maximum performance and scalability. Ultimately, the best strategy for these companies – especially those in the food service, retail, and restaurant sectors – is a cloud networking solution.

Executives are increasingly turning to CBTS to manage their cloud technology for retail solutions with a combination of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and managed cloud Network as a Service (NaaS) to triple their performance.

Cloud technology for retail saves costs and increases efficiencies

UCaaS is a managed service for voice and collaboration tools that allows retailers to operate on-demand communications and applications as a utility service. NaaS is a Wi-Fi enabled network that provides centralized data services throughout unlimited locations. This allows retailers to share wireless connectivity, analytics, and other resources.

When provided by CBTS, cloud technology for retail solutions:

  • Allow retail executives to focus on their core expertise rather than IT-related issues.
  • Reduce redundancies through management and monitoring via one company rather than multiple vendors.
  • Decrease the need for additional IT professionals and ongoing training.
  • Combine mobile solutions, web conferencing, VoIP, contact centers, and collaborative efforts so that they integrate and work together seamlessly.
  • Eliminate the need for costly equipment maintenance and upgrades.
  • Place the burden of implementing upgrades and enhancements on CBTS.
  • Scale and evolve as your business scales and evolves.
  • Provide usage-based monthly pricing models.
  • Offer effective and reliable 24x7x365 service.

UCaaS and NaaS provide retailers a single-pane-of-glass view

UCaaS and NaaS solutions encompass a wide range of communications services, including VoIP, phone, long distance, collaboration applications, contact centers, networking, firewalls, access points, and optical sensor cameras. With a real-time, web-based dashboard, retailers can view key metrics and performance indicators, and evaluate how they align with business goals and priorities. These cloud technology for retail solutions provide a more efficient and unified look at a retailer’s IT services, and offers a comprehensive analysis that would not be possible with solutions from multiple vendors.

CBTS solutions aid PCI compliance

Businesses that process credit card transactions face myriad security concerns. With CBTS NaaS solutions, retailers no longer need to worry about threats to customer information. The solution works with clients’ current payment card industry (PCI) compliance solutions, and adds state-of-the-art Intrusion Detection (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention (IPS) Systems. Anti-malware products protect against digital threats that could compromise data, and a network segmentation strategy limits hackers’ attack options.

Streamlined solutions allow for more in-depth analytics

CBTS analytics evaluate client data so retailers can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and adjust their business models accordingly. This information also helps forecast trends for the future, which is important for industries like retail that rely heavily on customer data. With the suite of CBTS cloud technology for retail solutions, retailers can identify customer demographics and shopping trends, track the effectiveness of customer loyalty programs, illustrate customer traffic patterns, and send promotions.

Learn more

CBTS UCaaS and NaaS solutions combine to maximize retailers’ cloud networking capabilities. Contact CBTS and read our White Paper, “10 Reasons Why UCaaS and Cloud Networking Work More Effectively Together to 3x Your Performance,” to find out more about how these services can triple retailers’ production.

CBTS drives communications solutions for retailers

Future-facing companies understand communication and collaboration solutions are imperative in today’s work environment, even as they face challenges such as an increasingly mobile customer base and aging infrastructure. When it comes to effective communications solutions for retailers, the key is to connect all customer entry points and create a seamless experience across your entire company.

This benefits customers, who desire a consistent experience across different platforms, and businesses looking to collect and utilize customer data for merchandising. Retailers learn more about their targeted customers, and their demographic and purchasing data, through information from a variety of communications platforms. They also learn how customers behave online and the best ways to engage with targeted groups or individuals.

What retailers can do with a unified communications solution

With a unified communications solution, retailers can:

  1. Continue to grow and evolve. Communications solutions can scale and change.
    • Integrate contact centers. Deliver a seamless multi-channel customer experience no matter how your customers want to reach you.
    • Advanced routing features. Route calls to other sites during times of peak volume. This is also a necessary feature for retail chains that have locations operating in different time zones.
    • Informative store analytics. Analyze the data collected to recognize call volumes as well as the amount of missed calls your business is experiencing. By analyzing the call data, your business is able to better understand staffing needs and customer experience issues that may be occurring.
  2. Reduce costs. Retailers spend less money on buying and maintaining aging infrastructure and pay only for the technology they use.
  3. Implement new products and features faster and more efficiently. Integrated communications solutions allow businesses to roll out new updates and applications almost instantaneously.
  4. Enhance visibility. Retailers are able to view their personalized suite of solutions 24x7x365.
  5. Maintain agility. Modern businesses must be able to adapt to changes instantaneously.

UCaaS, NaaS, and SD-WAN enhance communication capabilities

UCaaS (Unified Communication as a Service), Network as a Service (NaaS), and Software Defined-Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) are important pieces in creating communications solutions for retailers, and enhance the connectivity and collaboration capabilities of communication technology:

  • UCaaS allows retailers to operate on-demand communications and applications as a utility service, providing business agility, scalability, informative analytics, and cost-effectiveness to encourage innovation and growth. Through a partnership with CBTS, retailers save both time and money by eliminating upfront costs. UCaaS solutions include VoIP, collaboration, mobile solutions, chat/presence, messaging, web conferencing, audio conferencing, contact center solutions, third party integrations, and more.
  • NaaS is a managed cloud service that includes Auto VPN, security, switching, and Wi-Fi. It can be integrated throughout various locations, allowing retailers to share a variety of resources, such as wireless connectivity. It also eliminates the need for expensive network resources, such as appliances, switches, and application delivery controllers. NaaS enables easy and cost-effective sharing of wireless connectivity, powerful analytics, and countless other network resources among all branches.
  • SD-WAN is a purpose-built enterprise solution that implements and maintains a high-performance WAN. With SD-WAN, merchandisers can maximize the use of costly MPLS connections or even replace MPLS entirely in favor of broadband. This minimizes delays over long distances and improves overall service quality, which is essential for businesses that need to constantly maintain their connection to customers via multiple platforms. It reduces the costs of private Internet connections such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and coordinates UCaaS, LANs, SaaS applications, security systems, and private and public clouds, saving costs, improving voice and video communication, and regulating private and public networks.

Communications solutions for retailers require strong network backbone

For unified communication solutions to work, and benefit both companies and customers, retailers need a strong and reliable network. Oftentimes, when companies add functions such as cloud computing, social media, and mobile technology, they strain their network capacity, slowing performance.

CBTS offers Ethernet services, dedicated network access, managed Wi-Fi, and SIP/IP Trunking Services to ensure companies stay connected to customers at all times, maintaining customer loyalty and enhancing merchandising capabilities. With 24x7x365 monitoring and management, users can feel confident knowing their network remains operational and their data stays protected. Retailers also minimize downtime, increase productivity, and enhance mobility. The network is available anywhere and everywhere with instant upload potential.

Constant customer contact key to customer-centric merchandising

Retailers require a digital contact experience that includes voice, video, and written communications. To manage these contact points, retailers must provide a contact center that delivers an easy and reliable customer experience. These solutions include omnichannel web, email, chat, and social customer interactions and integrate with existing communications technologies.

Because CBTS understands that contact solutions often change, it offers contact center as-a-service solutions that scale but still meet the necessary demands without any hiccups.

Communications solutions critical in modern business environment

If retailers want to remain competitive in today’s marketplace, they must provide customer-centric merchandising. To do this, they require strong and reliable communication and collaboration solutions that are scalable, yet easy to implement and use.

CBTS communication solutions provide management and monitoring services as well as the communication services themselves, ensuring businesses receive excellent service without oversight or interruption.

Learn more

Retail’s biggest conference, NRF, kicks off Jan. 13, and CBTS will be well-represented, leading with UCaaS, NaaS, and SD-WAN solutions.

CBTS recognized at Cisco Partner Summit

Cisco recently honored CBTS, a leading technology provider that delivers communications, cloud, infrastructure, and consulting solutions to clients across North America, with two awards at the Cisco Partner Summit annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

  • CBTS received the Execution Excellence Regional Partner of the Year award for its innovation, leadership and best practice as a Cisco business partner across the Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio region.
  • CBTS received the SLED Breakaway Partner of the Year award in the U.S. Public Sector.

Joe Putnick, Vice President and Principal for the CBTS Communications Practice, accepted the awards on behalf of the company.

“These awards reflect our commitment to strategic partnerships with Cisco. We pride ourselves in delivering best-in-class solutions, built on Cisco technologies, that deliver positive business outcomes to our clients,” said Putnick.

“We have seen tremendous success with our Hosted Unified Communications as a Service solutions, especially in the SLED space, as more and more clients wish to consume technologies in a hosted model.”

Cisco Partner Summit Theatre awards reflect the top-performing partners within specific technology markets across the country. All award recipients are selected by a group of Cisco Global Partner Organization and regional and theatre executives.

Cisco Partner Summit is attended by more than 2,100 global attendees from Cisco’s ecosystem of partners representing more than 1,000 companies worldwide from more than 75 countries.

 

Related News:

CBTS awarded Cisco Master of Security Certification

Cisco Certifies CBTS as Unified Contact Center Enterprise Partner

CIO Review names CBTS to Top 20 UC List

Four steps to providing Wi-Fi connectivity

Wi-Fi is an important part of customer service.

Travelers want to respond to work emails while waiting for their flight to board. Sports fans crave the ability to live-stream the Hail Mary pass from the big game at a packed stadium. Diners enjoy reviewing restaurants on Yelp while they’re waiting for the check. Tourists can’t resist posting Instagram pictures from city landmarks.

Fortunately, advances in Wi-Fi technology allow companies, municipalities, and other entities to deliver immersive, unforgettable experiences to people’s mobile devices.

It’s crucial to remember that commercial-grade Wi-Fi networking equipment is mandatory for connecting large groups of people. Residential-quality gear doesn’t have the security, configuration options, and management controls for access points and switches built for business use.

Moreover, you need an experienced technical partner that understands the complexities of broadcasting the Internet over a wide area to masses of people. At CBTS, we’ve implemented advanced Wi-Fi solutions in places like college dormitories, airport terminals, hospitals, and public shopping districts.

These are four fundamental steps we’ve discovered while helping our clients implement high-quality Wi-Fi networks:

1. Prioritize the quantity, quality, and configuration of access points

Wi-Fi access points (APs) use radio waves to broadcast the Internet over a defined area. They must have the capacity to deliver a fast connection to large volumes of users, all of whom might be streaming videos or downloading large files.

When you’re designing a Wi-Fi network, you need to ensure that APs are placed in strategic locations that beam the Internet into areas including rooms, hallways, and stairwells. You need to scout out dead spots and tweak your configuration to shrink or eliminate them.

Interference from other APs is a constant concern. Indeed, if you install too many APs, you can actually degrade people’s download speeds. You can also pick up interference from nearby businesses.

All these challenges underscore the need to partner with trained and certified Wi-Fi experts who know how to set up and manage the most advanced wireless networks.

2. Account for high-capacity users

High-end Wi-Fi equipment can deliver gigabit-level speeds over wireless networks. These technologies allow you to accommodate high-bandwidth users. If visitors to your business give video presentations in a meeting room or project multimedia presentations in an auditorium, they might not need a wired ethernet connection.

Today’s commercial-grade 802.11ac Wi-Fi gear has plenty of bandwidth to accommodate demanding Wi-Fi use cases. Access points can come with ethernet ports allowing you to plug in Internet of Things sensors to glean insights from network traffic and a vast array of data points.

Management software can help you tune your network to exacting specifications. Access points broadcast on 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz frequency bands. 5Ghz bands have higher speed and shorter range, while 2.4Ghz bands have slower speed and higher range. Strategic placement of APs and careful configuration of your Wi-Fi network can make the most of the options from these bands.

3. Make security a priority

Wi-Fi broadcasts have no inherent security. They’re just like using walkie-talkies: Anybody within range of an AP can listen in. These are key ways to enhance Wi-Fi network security:

  • Password-protect your network and encrypt broadcasts.
  • Segregate and isolate users so they have no way to access other areas of your network.
  • Create multiple authorization levels to tightly control who goes where on your Wi-Fi network.
  • Create login screens and unique identifiers that ensure only authorized users access your Wi-Fi.
  • Educate your users about protecting their data while using Wi-Fi.

Wireless technology providers are getting more serious about security all the time. They’re creating more options to thwart hackers without ruining the user experience of everyday online travelers.

4. Partner with an experienced enterprise Wi-Fi developer  

Whether your Wi-Fi-connected customers number in the dozens or the thousands, you need an experienced partner to pair you with the technologies that match your precise needs.

CBTS has deep wireless experience across a breadth of industries and technologies. Joining forces with Aruba Networks, the HPE enterprise wireless experts, we’ve helped a host of clients turbocharge their Wi-Fi offerings. Recent projects:

  • Providing free Wi-Fi in multiple shopping areas throughout Greater Cincinnati.
  • Upgrading APs and improving bandwidth in college dormitories.
  • Giving a local hospital the capacity to connect up to 30 wireless devices in patient rooms.
  • Delivering world-class Wi-Fi access to a hub airport.

For an in-depth account, check out how we gave a Midwest hub airport the capacity to provide Wi-Fi to everybody in the terminals on the busiest travel days. Download the free case study here.

 

Related Articles:

Cities help fans make wireless connection

Reliable WiFi access vital to universities

7signal helps clients maximize WiFi potential

UCaaS roadmap requires support from stakeholders

This is the third in a three-part series sharing our tips for creating your unified communications roadmap. Check out the first installment – “UCaaS roadmap starts with deep assessment”, and the second installment – “UCaaS roadmap continues with process analysis”.

Auditing your hardware and mapping your processes form the foundation of a transition to Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). But there’s one more step you cannot afford to neglect: securing stakeholder buy-in for transition.

Stakeholders can be a variety of people in your organization—top executives, middle-managers, team leads, clients, and external vendors. Getting them excited about unified communications can encourage adoption of the technologies and win over skeptics who are resistant to change.

Here are five ways to help secure stakeholder buy-in for UCaaS:

1. Educate your staff on the benefits of the new solution

Start in the executive suite. Even if they approved your new UC solution, leadership might need an extra round of persuasion to encourage everybody who works for them to embrace the new services. If they get excited about UC, the solution stands a much better chance of catching on with everybody else.

Have another demo ready for managers, outlining the specific benefits for their teams and the new work processes. Point out intuitive features and advanced processes that help people collaborate. Make it easy for all leaders to get their staffs excited about UC.

2. Provide formal training

Everybody needs an opportunity to learn how the system works before it goes live. Tailor your training to specific roles. Your warehouse staff probably doesn’t

need the same depth of training as your customer-service reps. Your UCaaS partner should have all the tools, resources, and documentation to support your training efforts.

3. Make sure everyone can access training materials after implementation

Your team will discover the limits of their training the first day on the job. The primary limit is their natural tendency to forget what they’ve learned when the system goes live.

Make sure everyone knows where to access training and resources. Make sure your vendor has a guide that includes lessons from training and step-by-step instructions to walk employees through all the new features. And make experts available for a few weeks to help people who feel stuck.

4. Clarify any changes to working practices

A cloud-based UC system allows people to work anywhere with an Internet connection. That gives you an opportunity to create work-at-home options for your staff. Will this option be available to your staff?

5. Think beyond your workforce

The collaborative features of UC can streamline your work with vendors, partners, suppliers, and clients.

Set aside time to bring them up to speed on features like text messaging, video conferencing, and integration with CRM software. The last thing you want to do is allow a technology transition that alienates your core external audiences.

Everybody needs to feel invested in your new UC tools

Your cloud-hosted UC system can help you unleash innovation in every corner of your organization, and extend it to all the people who make your business possible. Stakeholder buy-in for UCaaS is pivotal to making it happen.

CBTS engineers have put together a guide to unified communications in the cloud. Download our Guide to Start Your Cloud Communications Journey and start your transition today.

 

Related Articles:

Six ways UCaaS drives business transformation

3 elements to a UCaaS roadmap

UC journey begins with three steps

Six ways UCaaS drives business transformation

Hosting unified communications (UC) in the cloud turbocharges the effectiveness of video conferencing, voice over IP, messaging, and other UC tools.

An on-premises UC system has broad appeal because it streamlines communications and collaboration across an organization. Features like presence information, contact center and CRM integration, and advanced call forwarding make it easier for everybody to do their jobs.

However, on-site UC also introduces challenges that a cloud-based solution overcomes. For instance, investing in UC equipment, software, and support-staff expertise requires extensive budget resources. Once purchased, the technology must be maintained and updated. Moreover, the hardware starts approaching obsolescence within months of being installed. (Check out “4 ways your outdated voice solution is costing you money” to learn more.)

The standard pitch for cloud computing—switch to OpEx from CapEx, pay a predictable fee, use only the resources you need, and allow experts handle the hardware—also applies to cloud-based UC. These advantages sparked the rise of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), which enables companies to centralize all their collaboration tools in a platform managed by UC experts.

UCaaS can transform your business in at least six ways:

1. Expanding opportunities

On-premises UC gives everyone within your organization access to a robust collaboration platform via tablets, PCs, smartphones, and VoIP handsets. But what about everybody else?  Wouldn’t it be nice to use the best collaboration tools with your vendors, suppliers, marketing agencies, and other third parties?

Centralized cloud computing makes it easier for companies to use APIs and other connective technologies to ensure that your collaboration platform can talk to people’s platforms or individual apps. What’s more, a UCaaS provider can streamline these connections as part of a suite of managed services.

2. Work smarter from nearly anywhere

Hosting your UC apps in the cloud means you can do business with anybody who has Internet access anywhere in the world. No matter where the people and partnerships you need are located, UCaaS can ensure that you make these connections.

Cloud connectivity can be a crucial advantage when companies require extraordinarily narrow or specific expertise. When your interface designer works for six months of the year in Iceland, or your security team operates out of Singapore, UCaaS is critical.

Furthermore, your people can take their work with them anywhere. When your production line goes down and the lead engineer is relaxing on the beach in Rio, UCaaS tools can come to the rescue. And if executives in a meeting need research data from an expert on the other end of the country, their expert can send them the information in real time. That allows leaders to make decisions faster and get more work done.

3. Creating seamless experiences

Your users shouldn’t have to master different interfaces on PCs, smartphones, and tablets. A well-designed UCaaS platform will make sure all these devices have intuitive user interfaces with a standard look and feel.

A standard interface reduces training time and gets new employees up to speed sooner. That improves customer service and enables more productive interactions with clients and partners.

4. Enjoying the latest technology

On-premises UC platforms oblige company IT teams to keep every app patched and up to date. Every device needs firmware updates, and all hardware must be repaired and maintained. Soon the technology becomes obsolete and requires replacement. If a company lacks the resources to do that, employees have to muddle through with tech that has aged beyond its expiration date.

UCaaS providers, by contrast, offer the latest technology and keep hardware and software current, patched, and secure.

5. Limiting security risks

Cloud providers share a powerful motivation to deploy the best security tools and enforce sound cyber hygiene. Companies are understandably reluctant to place essential technologies outside the confines of their organization, but these days, on-site tech has little inherent advantage in thwarting adversaries and cybercriminals.

System security is part of the package with UCaaS. Moreover, providers like CBTS likely have considerably more cyber-defense expertise than individual companies have.

6. Freeing up time

Installing, managing, and maintaining a UC system makes substantial demands on your IT team. Some of your best people might spend hours, days, or weeks on UC issues that distract them from the most productive use of their time: making your company more efficient and profitable.

It’s also worth considering the distraction that accompanies the installation of a new system. Your IT people can spend weeks fixing glitches and helping confused users. A UCaaS provider puts all those chores on their to-do list and removes them from yours.

The CBTS advantage in UCaaS

CBTS provides a comprehensive suite of unified communications technologies that deliver the advantages outlined here (and many more). We have decades of IT experience in communications and data centers, ensuring we have the skills to match your precise requirements.

Download our free eGuide to start your journey today.

 

Related Articles

NaaS, UCaaS give IT leader flexibility

UCaaS helps employers navigate workplace trends

CBTS helps clients drive business outcomes

UC journey begins with three steps

You see the potential of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to transform your business. A single cloud-based platform for voice, video, and text communications enables all of your people to connect on any Internet-connected device at any time, in any location. The same applies to collaborations with your vendors and suppliers.

Whether you have a legacy PBX system or an on-premises UC platform, you need a comprehensive plan to migrate your communications to the cloud. It’s an intricate process with dozens of interrelated parts that must be configured to work in unison.

Indeed, the complexity of the transition creates a strong argument for partnering with a UCaaS provider to coordinate the move and manage all the new technology after implementation.

Planning your move starts with three principal stages: A system audit, an assessment of investment opportunities, and business preparations. Here’s a quick look at all three:

Stage 1: Audit your current communications system

It’s critical to avoid disruptions when your new system goes live. Therefore, you must document every current feature, application, device, and hardware component. The audit looks for things including:

  • Phone lines and extensions
  • Contact information
  • CRM system integration
  • High-demand services that people use every day
  • Low-demand services that you might not have to migrate
  • Employees’ mobile devices and numbers
  • User profiles, including permissions and log-in credentials

Be sure to review the location of every piece of equipment. You need an accurate inventory of what you have and where you have it.

Your audit will vary widely depending on the type of migration. If you’re transitioning from an antiquated PBX system, your audit could be a reasonably simple assessment of current hardware and services.

If, however, you’re migrating to an enterprise UC system to the cloud, you’ll have to ensure that a vast assortment of services, software, and devices dovetail successfully. That’s a much bigger job that typically requires the services of an experienced UCaaS provider like CBTS.

Stage 2: Identify investment opportunities

UCaaS presents a wealth of choices that you must assess carefully to identify the most lucrative opportunities. Popular UC services include:

  • Video conferencing. Video can unlock limitless collaboration and customer service opportunities for your organization.
  • Collaboration tools. App-centric services that allow teams to meet, message, call, whiteboard, and share.
  • Contact center. If your current customer support system is overwhelmed, you may need advanced contact center features to help more customers and ease the strain on your staff.
  • If you need to know the physical location of staff members, then presence capability can enable it.
  • Every device is a network endpoint that generates data. Every app provides further insights. Software to visualize all these data sources can help you figure out who is generating the most sales and which support calls leave customers the most satisfied, for instance.

You may feel like a kid in a candy store if you’re new to UC. It’s important to understand that each app, feature, and device has pros and cons; you must establish priorities for the services that seem most promising. Perform a cost-benefit analysis of different features.

Stage 3: Prepare your business

Launching a new phone system can generate chaos across your business. You don’t want your executives fumbling through new features in front of prospective clients. And, of course, you want the transition to be invisible to customers. Keep the following in mind:

  • A cloud migration is the ideal time to replace or refresh equipment that’s been online a few years.
  • A phased implementation can help work out the bugs with a minimum of risk. Start with departments or divisions where downtime and confusion have less serious consequences.
  • Test your system thoroughly in advance and try to replicate the migration process as closely as possible.
  • Get early stakeholder buy in. If executives and supervisors start preparing their team early for the transition, there should be less confusion and chaos when the transition day arrives.
  • Thoroughly train all employees. The more people know about the system before it goes live, the fewer problems you’ll have.
  • Provide thorough documentation. When processes and techniques are written down, there’s less risk of problems ensuing because a crucial person is on vacation or has left the company.
  • Inform vendors and suppliers. Take time to determine how you can integrate your UC system with their systems.

Your migration will have iterations. You can’t anticipate every problem or please every customer during the transition. But careful planning and preparation can anticipate and eliminate most problems.

With UCaaS, you’ll never go it alone

Running UC in the cloud requires in-depth training, experience, and certifications across a broad range of technologies and disciplines. That’s more trouble than a lot of companies want to embrace.

These complications underscore the appeal of UCaaS from CBTS: Our experts decode all the details and make everything assimilate so your employees, customers, partners, and vendors enjoy seamless digital communications. And it doesn’t end at implementation—CBTS stays with you every step of the way through management, maintenance, and 24x7x365 support.

Download our free eGuide to start your journey today.

Startup leverages UC solution for growth

Every organization wants the advantages of unified communications (UC) technologies like video conferencing, team chatting, advanced analytics, and custom calling.

Perhaps it’s a one-woman consultancy conducting real-time conferences with clients on another continent. Or, maybe it’s a 25-seat tech startup using a rich suite of cloud-computing apps and tools. Then again, it could be a 200-employee software company integrating sophisticated call-center technology with an advanced CRM platform.

Small and midsized organizations can use UC technologies to elevate customer service and collaborate with vendors in far-flung locales. They can ensure all their employees have always-on connectivity to data and documents that help them succeed. They can give salespeople immediate access to rich customer data that help them call more prospects and land more contracts.

It all sounds fine on paper, but there’s a hitch: Most small- to mid-sized organizations don’t have the resources to corral all these technologies and fine-tune them for optimum performance. And that’s why so many partners with experts like those at CBTS, who have decades of experience configuring and managing high-end communications systems for companies of every size, in every industry.

Partnering with a UC expert has three fundamental benefits:

1. Saving money

UC systems must be designed, purchased, installed, and tested. Servers, switches, phones, mobile apps, PCs, tablets, and other components must be carefully coordinated and customized to meet a company’s precise business needs. Then, somebody needs to monitor, manage, and update the system.

For years, these hurdles discouraged smaller organizations from investing in UC technologies. They simply couldn’t afford the time, payroll, and equipment costs. Moreover, they did not want to deal with the distraction from their core business goals.

The advent of cloud technologies shifted this paradigm. Today, managed services experts like those at CBTS can deliver all these capabilities to just about any organization — all for a predictable monthly fee. CBTS partners gain access to best-in-class technologies and pay only for the resources they use. The CBTS advanced team of certified experts handle all the hardware, software, and security patches.

2. Scaling to meet business growth

A traditional PBX and phone network requires companies to purchase additional handsets, servers, and bandwidth capacity when their business grows. But if economy contractions or marketplace changes make these tools redundant, companies get stuck with plenty of old equipment that nobody wants.

Seasonal businesses like retailers that land most of their sales around the winter holidays might have to buy enough technology to handle their busiest shopping days, then let all those tools collect dust the rest of the year.

With UC hosted in the cloud and managed by a third-party provider, companies can scale up or down quickly, limit their costs to actual usage, and stop worrying about technology becoming obsolete the day they install it. And they can leave the intricate technical details to experts who can quickly adapt a company’s technology to its current needs.

3. Making better use of your people’s time

If you’re unfamiliar with a technology, you can tie up hours, days, and weeks tweaking settings and patching software—and still end up with subpar performance. By contrast, certified, well-trained technology experts can fix problems and improve outcomes quickly because they’ve solved the same issues a dozen times before.

The complexity of UC technologies requires people with years of experience and a passion for squeezing maximum performance out of hardware and software. The question is whether your business can afford to devote time and payroll to areas outside your core mission.

For smaller organizations with limited resources, it makes much more sense to keep your employees focused on your biggest business challenges and to leave the technical work to UC experts who can optimize performance at a lower cost.

Case study: CBTS helps distiller focus on growth

A Northern Kentucky distillery is tapping into the region’s boom in bourbon tourism. The startup has two dozen employees and is growing quickly after three years in business. CBTS delivers a fully hosted UC solution that helps the company stay focused on communicating with its core audience of bourbon sippers.
Read the New Riff Distillery case study here.

 

Related Articles:

NaaS, UCaaS give IT leader flexibility

UCaaS helps employers navigate workplace trends

CBTS helps clients drive business outcomes

CBTS helps governments use telehealth technology

Businesswoman showing laptop to doctor in hospital Telehealth and telemedicine aren’t new concepts, but emerging technologies and robust networks mean they can be implemented more easily and effectively.

However, there are still challenges to adoption and effective deployment, especially for government-supported initiatives. Key hurdles include budget constraints, siloed IT departments, and organizational structures that traditionally haven’t had to work together. To solve these problems, governments at all levels, in collaboration with community organizations, are turning to their technology partners.

Tim Lonsway, Regional Director at CBTS, works with many state and regional governments to adopt telehealth and telemedicine technologies. Adoption is growing, but there are still growing pains.

What is the state of telehealth today, and what’s driving it compared with a decade ago?

There’s private healthcare, but there are also hooks all over the place with education, higher education, and then, of course, government activity, because governments have hospitals. They do healthcare activities and health services. There are other opportunities such as addiction services and corrections facilities care for individuals, and even out into rural K-12 schools, where it’s hard to get nurses.

There are federal or state requirements that require a certain amount of capabilities to service the constituents of a given community. It’s exemplified by the fact that the federal government is funding certain programs to implement telehealth solutions into those rural areas to provide some additional help, or even in urban deserts where it’s difficult to attract and maintain a workforce.

What are some of the newer technologies that are helping deliver on these mandates?

It can be as simple as a laptop with a camera, a microphone, and an internet connection. But you still need the software and the software packages behind the scenes. You must document changes because ultimately there are compliance rules. Hospitals do a lot of collaboration and sharing of information, and they leverage a lot for training.

It’s really the ability to use, store, and share anything over a distance. You’re taking your entire hospital capabilities and putting them in the palm of your hand with mobile devices, laptops, and tablets.

Are there still technological challenges given the bandwidth available to remote communities, or do we have all the pieces?

The pieces are there. It’s the distribution of the capabilities that is always going to be a challenge, and the consistencies of the deployments. There are other technologies that may suck away bandwidth from those mission-critical life-saving activities. And then it’s the deployment of the individual technologies. Do the applications feed back properly into the various systems? Did you deploy the technology properly so it’s sustainable and supportable?

And you go into some of these smaller areas with these great ideas, like with K-12s, where you’re putting big kinds of multiple video box, all-in-one monitor, speaker, camera, keyboard, into a school, and the technology just sits there. And then, of course, there’s the quality of the individual implementations once you get out to remote and rural areas.

What are the key challenges for governments looking to support telehealth aside from budget constraints?

The biggest challenge is multiple governments or entities or agencies. Better end user services are different than mental health and addictive services, for example. It’s different than youth corrections facilities or adult corrections facilities. You not only have administrators and policy makers at the top, but your technologists within each of those silos. They all have different challenges and they create their own organizations. There’s lots of overlap. But those are starting to consolidate. It’s about the money, but it’s also about the inefficiencies of how the money gets allocated and distributed to deploy technology.

How are governments looking to technology partners like CBTS to solve these challenges?

The trend away from doing individual siloed work has really been going on for about 10 years, and has gotten a lot of traction over the last five or six years. The IT partner comes in and says, “We’ll take those basic infrastructure services off your plate. We’ll worry about compliance and adoption and availability, security vulnerabilities, bandwidth constraints, computing constraints, resource management, all that stuff. You can focus on the business of treating cases or educating students or whatever it is you might be doing.”

That’s really where the partnerships come together. They help governments focus further upstream and break down those silos.

How beneficial are emerging technologies and “as-a-Service” models for deploying them?

In these environments, they may or may not have an enterprise network. Plain internet connections aren’t secure or robust enough to handle the traffic. The ability to leverage software-defined networks to prioritize the traffic and create what looks like an enterprise network meshes it all together and creates the right environment.

Network-as-a-Service or compute-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service, SD-WAN, even wireless LAN-as-a-service enables organizations to basically create line items on their monthly invoice at a consumption level. You can predict it, you can plan for it, you can budget it. Those types of services are tremendous for government. The adoption of partnerships are there and they’re continuing to expand and grow.