this is the archive page

Delivering effective online teaching tools for public educators

When shelter-in-place orders were given earlier this year, public schools were among the many organizations forced to adapt to the “new normal” quickly. One particular school district in Ohio was no exception. The district in question serves nearly 50,000 students, employs a staff of 8,500 teachers and administrators, and operates dozens of educational facilities, including elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as career technical schools.

Shifting each of these several components to a remote education framework was a daunting task, but the district had the skilled employees and partner necessary to pull it off.

Working closely with district personnel on a tight deadline, CBTS assisted in the design, planning, and launch of a suite of improved remote conferencing and collaboration tools for use by teachers, students, and administrators. Initially, the district’s remote conferencing system included around 100 users. Throughout the course of the new system’s deployment process, 10,000 new users were integrated. After the new capabilities were brought online, the total number of remote education and collaboration sessions exceeded 7,600 in April, compared to a high of 802 in March.

Learn how Webex enables virtual teaching and learning for primary education schools and improves administrative efficiency.

Defining the challenge

Early on in the process of modernizing the district’s online teaching tools, the academic community of the district sought a partner to ensure it had the network infrastructure, applications, and policies it needed to continue lessons throughout the pandemic. There was a wide variety of use cases to consider: teachers needed to be able to lead virtual classrooms with their students, students needed the capability to meet privately with instructors, administrators needed reliable contact with staff, and teachers and counselors needed to be able to reach students and their families at home.

Educators and IT specialists in the district were concerned that traditional collaboration platforms lacked the connection strength and security they were looking for. For example, Zoom sessions could be searched and accessed by uninvited participants. The district also hoped to give administrators and teachers the online teaching tools, such as Cisco Webex, that they needed to intuitively manage their classrooms while keeping education sessions secure.

Finding the solution

CBTS stepped in as not only a subject matter expert but as a partner dedicated to equipping the district with the right knowledge and capabilities to allow the 2019-2020 school year to continue with minimal disruption.

An extensive consultation process was initiated, during which CBTS worked closely with educators and administrators to define and plan for the multiple critical use cases the district needed to be addressed, from virtual classrooms to secure single sign-on and active directory integration for all employees and students. District personnel led the discussion around what they needed and how they needed it to be implemented.

Providing the online teaching tools was only a part of the equation, however. The district had little in the way of official policy guiding the proper use of these virtual collaboration applications. CBTS made specialized best practices training available for thousands of teachers in the district to acclimate them to remote teaching and prepare them to make the most use of their updated network and new conferencing programs.

When the strategy was decided on and district staff had been trained, deployment was executed on a very short timeframe, with a large number of new users requiring registration in the district’s active directory system. These directories were also updated to account for the substantial increase in student users of the system that would also need to be integrated into the single sign-on process.

These steps helped the district transition to fully-online instruction, with a record-high number of virtual sessions and meeting minutes being recorded in April. The district and its partners at CBTS are considering the implementation of virtual parent-teacher association meetings in the future as well.

Members of the local teacher’s union and IT administrators working at the schools themselves played a significant role in pushing for updates to the district’s remote education capabilities, seeking the expertise of CBTS to help make it happen.

Contact CBTS for more information on secure remote collaboration tools, training, and deployment support.

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

The past year has seen a meteoric rise in the demand for, and proliferation of, remote collaboration technology as organizations of every size, shape, and type have scrambled to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an influential figure in this rapidly shifting atmosphere, CBTS has been recognized for its efforts in providing access to revolutionary solutions for mid-size and enterprise businesses.

Market research and business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan recently placed CBTS within the top quadrant of the 2020 Frost Radar™ for growth and innovation in Hosted IP Telephony and Unified Communications as a Service [UCaaS] for North America.

“CBTS differentiates from its competitors with its broad cloud, infrastructure, communications, and consulting expertise, and its unique ability to leverage the resources of a large organization and nimbleness of an entrepreneurial company culture to deliver excellent customer value. With its rich portfolio of cloud communications, collaboration and contact center solutions CBTS can effectively address the diverse needs of a broad customer spectrum—from SMB to large enterprise and from private to public companies. CBTS also stands out with its tailored approach to different industries. Specialized teams of vertical industry experts enable CBTS to custom-tailor solutions for SLED, healthcare, retail and other verticals’ highly specific requirements.”

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

The report further explores the tumultuous but opportunity-rich environment that managed service providers currently find themselves in.

“Digital technologies, including cloud communications solutions, have captured the spotlight in this time of crisis,” the study reads in part. “At the time this study is publishing, the global pandemic is already experiencing a second wave, which means that most businesses will be unable to resume normal operations for the foreseeable future.”

Despite the myriad challenges presented by the pandemic in 2020, there is also significant room for growth that agile and forward-facing organizations may capitalize on.

Although cloud migration rates could be hampered by the current economic climate, the Frost Radar report suggests considerable growth potential for the UCaaS marketplace.

“In the near term, UCaaS solutions are likely to see pockets of rapid growth in certain customer segments and verticals,” the report reads. “Service providers leveraging modern cloud architectures and with the ability to deliver services over public broadband, on any connected device and network utilizing technologies like SD-WAN, are likely to better capitalize on the growing demand for hosted IP telephony and UCaaS than providers relying on managed circuits, premises-based infrastructure (e.g., session border controllers (SBCs) and desktop devices.”

Frost Radar Report: Benchmarking future growth potential - Click this banner to download the report

The report elaborates that in the future, diversified offerings and comprehensive service suites that offer “one-stop shopping” for clients, such as unified communications, contact center solutions, and collaboration toolkits, are likely to provide the broadest avenue toward sustainable growth.

“Going forward, providers with broader cloud services suites are likely to experience faster growth than those selling point solutions,” the report reads. “Integrated cloud collaboration suites such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and Cisco Webex will gain traction as businesses seek to deliver more compelling user experiences whereby users can use a single pane of glass to access a variety of modalities including, voice, video, team messaging, SMS, and more.”

By leveraging technologies from trusted third-party vendors such as Cisco HCS, Cisco Broadworks, Microsoft Teams Voice, and Cisco Webex Calling, CBTS is able to offer the following solutions with unparalleled reliability:
  1. Hosted Enterprise UC
  2. Hosted UC
  3. Microsoft Teams Voice
  4. Cloud Calling

Additionally, CBTS spares no effort when consulting and collaborating with clients and partners in order to deliver superior business outcomes.

Contact us to find out how CBTS can prepare your organization for the future with tailored UCaaS solutions.


Enhance the customer experience by blending Five9 Contact Center as a Service with CBTS enterprise voice solutions

Customers today demand faster service from companies across multiple communication channels. They expect contact centers to deliver extraordinary experiences with every interaction—but that becomes more challenging as communication technologies rapidly evolve.

Thanks to their widely recognized reliability and flexibility, cloud-based contact center solutions can help companies keep pace with these changes by equipping agents to provide stellar service across channels, leveraging advanced features and unlimited integration capabilities to stay ahead of the curve. By offering Five9 Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), CBTS gives enterprise clients a scalable platform from which to enhance the customer experience while streamlining agent workflows.

By combining industry-leading contact center software from Five9 with trusted Cisco UCaaS solutions from CBTS, this powerful new platform empowers companies to future-proof their contact center experience for both remote agents and customers. Below are a few of the ways Five9 and CBTS are working together to expand your enterprise communication capabilities.

Delivering a seamless contact center experience

Call center agents can’t provide a streamlined customer experience if they have to toggle between multiple systems to field incoming calls, use outbound dialers, or switch from voice to other channels. The Five9 blended contact center unifies inbound and outbound calling features to bridge this gap, so agents can access multiple applications simultaneously through a single cloud-based platform.

Five 9 Hosted Call Center Solutioins

CBTS and Five9 work together to connect agents with customers across voice, e-mail, web, social, chat, and mobile. Built-in integrations and advanced API capabilities offer connectivity to critical business applications that agents use every day. Customers ultimately benefit from this seamless experience, thanks to integrations with Salesforce, Microsoft (Dynamics), NetSuite, Oracle (Service Cloud), ServiceNow, Sugar CRM, Velocify, Zendesk, and Zoho. This collaboration also includes open REST-base API functionality that integrates with existing systems, enabling higher quality service across channels.

Bundling Five9 Contact Center software with CBTS Unified Communication as a Service solutions can reduce expenses while streamlining your company’s telecom infrastructure with a single vendor. As a single solution provider, CBTS can fully customize each client’s communication capabilities, allowing you to Bring Your Own Voice (BYOV) provider or adopt a cloud-based voice solution like Hosted UC or Hosted Enterprise UC to support your agents’ PSTN calling.

Empowering call center agents anywhere

As the omni-channel contact center experience grows more complex, it can be challenging to maintain consistency and continuity. With more companies shifting toward a remote work environment, it’s even more important to equip agents with the same service capabilities regardless of where they’re geographically located. Make sure you’ve set your remote work agents up for success; learn more about remote work best practices here. 

Whether your agents work from one central office, multiple locations, or remotely from home, Five9 Contact Center and CBTS offer scalable support. The flexible cloud-based platform keeps agents connected anywhere, on any device, by providing reliable access to all the tools they need.

Five9 also offers comprehensive supervisor capabilities that let you monitor, whisper, and barge into calls from any location, so you can manage agent interactions everywhere. Plus, real-time insights and robust performance metrics help supervisors manage contact center operations at a glance.

Preparing for the future

Aging on-premises contact center solutions can’t keep pace with the rapidly changing telecommunications landscape, and limited technical capabilities can even hold companies back. By contrast, the feature-rich functionality of Five9 Contact Center as a Service from CBTS keeps enterprises nimble and poised for growth.

Read more: Now More Than Ever it is Time to Move Your Enterprise Contact Center to the Cloud

CCaaS offers flexible scalability as your contact center needs grow and change. You can simply add more agent licenses with our concurrent user-based pricing, IVR ports, and line capacity as you need it—paying only for what you use to make growth more affordable. The interfaces are intuitive and training is included so administrators can easily add and change routing strategies and IVR call flows.

Even when natural disasters, power outages, and other emergencies strike, CCaaS helps companies maintain communication without interruption to support business continuity. Together, Five9 and CBTS provide peace of mind through:

  • 24x7x365 network availability.
  • Redundant global data centers.
  • Strict end-to-end security protocols.
  • Real-time software upgrades.
  • 99.990% uptimes.


CBTS and Five9 will help you adapt quickly to the constantly changing environment and stay ahead of the competition.

  • Single account team, project management, training, and implementation.
  • Overlay hosted unified communications advanced PBX features.
  • No interruption of service, ease of migration.
  • Common calling plan and extension dial legacy systems.
  • 24x7x365 U.S.-based support.
  • Bundle integrated collaboration and unified communications solutions to reduce expenses.
  • Consolidated billing for all solutions.

As a leading Five9 Contact Center provider and integrator, CBTS offers enterprise solutions to future-proof your contact center with reliable cloud-based tools that deliver consistent, high-quality customer experiences across channels, devices, and locations. The streamlined platform enables service with more flexibility, functionality, and consistency—ultimately boosting agent productivity and customer satisfaction.

Contact us to learn more about bundling Five9 Contact Center as a Service with CBTS enterprise voice solutions to enhance your contact center experience.

A Q&A on Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture

CBTS recently put together a three-part webcast series centered on Microsoft Teams and competing collaboration tools. Part one of the webcast series, moderated by Channel Chief Rob Messmer, features CBTS Sr. Director of Solution Engineering Matt Douglass, Senior Solutions Architect Justin Rice, and Senior Sales Engineer Alex Broome. Part one is a comparison of major collaboration platforms and how they integrate with UCaaS.

The second part of the CBTS webcast series takes a technical deep dive into Cisco Webex Teams, Microsoft Teams Direct Route, and UCaaS. CBTS Director of Solution Design Chris Pope joins the panel to break down the little-known advantages of Cisco’s Webex Teams toolset and the new integrations with CBTS Cisco UCaaS offerings.

The third and final part of the webcast series features an expert panel including Cisco Cloud Calling Specialist Bryan Wilson, CBTS Director of Cloud Networking Jon Lloyd, and CBTS Senior Director of Solution Engineering Matt Douglass. Together, they break down what collaboration tools mean to the new work-from-home paradigms.

Bryan Wilson, please give an introduction and explain who you are and what you do for Cisco.

“I’m a Cloud and Hosted Calling Product Specialist at Cisco. I came into Cisco via the BroadSoft acquisition. I support partners like CBTS in navigating all the architecture offerings that we have at Cisco.” – Bryan Wilson, Cisco Cloud Calling Specialist

Matt, can you explain some of the differentiators between both platforms and why someone might look at Cisco Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams?

“Webex Teams for BroadWorks—which is really Webex Teams and Webex Meetings—I think is a game changer approach. Clients have all the things you’d expect in a comprehensive environment that goes along with our BroadWorks call control. So we’re trying to help customers understand they don’t necessarily need Microsoft Teams because really when we sell this new kind of UCaaS 2.0 clients can set aside Microsoft Teams.” – Matt Douglass, CBTS Sr. Director of Solution Engineering

We hear a lot of terms around Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Teams, Microsoft Direct Route, and UCaaS. All of these offerings are discussed together. How can we talk to customers in ways that bring them all into a common solution?

“I think that’s probably the biggest opportunity for us and for partners with customers today, because customers are still confused when they think about it. They think they get Microsoft Teams, it’s on their desk, and they can turn it into a telephone. But that’s not the case. One of the great opportunities for partners with vendors like ourselves with companies like CBTS, is that now we can come in and really do a consultative approach and understand again, what are their business problems, and we just get to be more glue to help understand and you teach them really, that okay, you think maybe you’re going to move all your voice components there? Well, that’s not going to happen, you’re going to have to have a mix and match of different pieces.”  – Matt Douglass

With COVID changing the way we work to a new model of work-from-home, how does Cisco view this new world?

“If you look back maybe two years, the rate of video participation was only 30%. Most people would just be on audio during a web meeting. But since COVID, I’ve personally seen video participation well above 80% on every call I’m on. We’re going to start seeing pieces of plastic that were dedicated for calling be changed out for pieces of plastic dedicated for video.” – Bryan Wilson

With work-from-home users, how does SD-WAN play into that world?

“I have an SD-WAN device that sits here in my network. It can broadcast a wireless SSID, that SSID can have radius authentication back to my corporation so now I’m tied in. I can create a work specific segment to it, and now I’m not worried about how do I connect my DX80 in so that I can optimize Webex traffic over the same internet connection that my neighbors’ kids are doing virtual learning, and my kids are streaming videos and playing games, and all of that stuff that’s going on. People say all the time, ‘We’re reducing our office footprint, we closed 70 offices.’ No you didn’t, you opened 1,200 new ones when you sent those 70 offices full of people home, and that’s the challenge. It’s not just how do we connect, but how do we start to prioritize these mission critical functions.” – Jon Lloyd, CBTS Director of Cloud Networking

Bryan, how does Cisco view the channel? What would you say to partners as they’re looking into their base of customers on why they should start thinking about a Cisco powered solution—preferably in our case CBTS—but compared to an 8X8 or RingCentral or some of the other folks that are competitors to Cisco?

“Cisco has done a great job enabling managed service providers (MSP) like CBTS to have transactional velocity. In a sense, you have a Cisco team in the field that is working with you to close the business, and gets the transaction through a Cisco commerce workplace. In the past, where a lot of deals got bogged down was in the transaction and how it was transacted. With Webex for BroadWorks and a lot of other offers that you’re going to start seeing from Cisco on both the security and the network side with Meraki and others, is to empower our MSPs such as CBTS to have all of the tools in their toolkit to transact and to turn up customers and to build them all on their own.” – Bryan Wilson

As partners start working more with Cisco representative, how do you see them working together and not competing on opportunities? Is a relationship between the trusted advisor or channel partner and Cisco representative part of the go-to market strategy with Cisco?

“I think that piece is going to take a lot of education, not just on the channel partner side, but quite frankly a lot of education within our own field. In a lot of cases these folks are used to going to battle with each other, they’re used to viewing the channel agent as a competitor, and they don’t understand that they’re selling a cooperating solution. So what I would just say for—and this is something that we do in my role—is go out and meet with all those commercial sales teams, educate them on Webex for BroadWorks, educate them on our go-to market initiative, and for any of the partners that are on the phone today, if you run into a deal where there’s maybe an existing Webex seat or there’s an existing CUCM, work with CBTS, work with us, and let’s get you in contact with that field team, that Cisco team, and let’s take down business and win together.” – Bryan Wilson

Matt, talk about where our partners’ customers have some type of Cisco offering already, and how we’ve been able talk about Cisco Webex Teams and start selling the full portfolio from Cisco versus thinking that is competitive.

“I think this UCaaS—we’ve been calling it UCaaS 2.0, this opportunity to start to use the Teams work space, Webex Teams for BroadWorks—obviously we’d love to keep pushing, but that team space and opportunity, that UCaaS 2.0, is really allowing us to have a different kind of conversation that’s about a deeper relationship and hopefully a longer term relationship with a customer. So those are the things we’d love to help partners with talking to their customers.” – Matt Douglass

So Bryan, why CBTS? Why are you on this call? And why are you saying CBTS versus others in the market? What are the differentiators that CBTS brings?

“One of the things that CBTS does really, really well is letting the customer’s requirements drive the design. There’s a lot of folks out there that have CUCM, and maybe they have an on-premises business and that’s sort of their only calling solution, or maybe they have SD-WAN and their only SD-WAN solution is one thing. CBTS has different solutions tailored for different customer needs. The needs of the large enterprise are going to be very different than the needs of a user in the mid-market. The needs of a user that has highly distributed work force or lots of retail locations are going to be different than a one headquarters or a campus environment. And I think one thing CBTS does really well is sort of obscure the technology from the end customer and you don’t even talk platforms until you’re on that third or fourth conversation where you’ve really sharpened your pencil on the customer requirements, and then you come in and give them the right approach, which I think is great.” – Bryan Wilson

Matt, what kind of licensing can we provide our partners with so they can try out the different Cisco offerings we have in our portfolio and experience it? What’s available from your team from a demo perspective?

“First of all, Webex Teams is available for free. So one, I would urge everybody to get out there and load Webex Teams up and get a feel, because you can start using it. The other thing some partners have seen and started to do is what we call our partner certification program. So far that partner certification program has been around our SD-WAN offerings and our NaaS offerings and you’re going to see the same thing now in UCaaS.” – Matt Douglass

Visit Expert Breakdown: Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture 3.1-3.3 Webcast Replay for a full recap and to view all webcasts in the series.

Special Offer for Webex Meetings and Webex Teams

Get one month Free of the #1 Secure Meeting Solution


CBTS is a leading technology provider to enterprises in all industries, including dozens of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies. What sets us apart is the agility, flexible delivery models, and client focus of a smaller company coupled with the ability to deliver the resources, scale, and capabilities required by large organizations. Ask how CBTS can help you capitalize on the cloud today.

Contact us for more information on how CBTS can implement the right meeting solutions for your organization.

How CBTS is Integrating Hosted UCaaS with Microsoft Teams

As more businesses settle into long-term work-from-home environments, remote teams need more efficient ways to connect with each other and to the critical applications they use every day. Instead of patching together disjointed systems for voice solutions and cloud-based collaboration, forward-looking companies are looking to synergize and streamline their corporate telecommunications experience and employee experience.

To help businesses maximize their remote work capabilities across channels, CBTS has combined its Cisco Broadworks-powered enterprise voice solution with Microsoft Teams. Using Microsoft Direct Route as a bridge, this powerful integration unifies Microsoft Teams with the robust public branch exchange (PBX) features, flexibility, and reliability offered by CBTS.

By combining VoIP communication with collaboration into a single integrated platform, companies can offer a true Unified Communications experience and tap into their full employee potential by boosting the productivity of their remote workforce. Meanwhile, IT can now enable a fully-featured PBX solution to Microsoft Teams users and their entire organization. Here’s how Microsoft Direct Route from CBTS empowers business collaboration and continuity.

Full application integration

Microsoft Teams Voice from CBTS enables businesses to connect their organizations’ Microsoft Teams users with PBX capabilities whether that’s through hosted UCaaS or SIP trunking, giving advanced functionality at a lower cost than the competition.  CBTS enhances this solution by integrating the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams and the essential business tools of Office 365 with the industry-leading enterprise voice platform Cisco Broadworks—giving clients access to all the communication features their businesses need, such as:

  • Contact center functionality.
  • AI-enabled IVR.
  • Multi-level auto attendants.
  • Advanced hunt groups.
  • Analytics and call reporting.

As a certified Microsoft Gold Partner and Cloud Service Provider, CBTS integrates these enterprise voice features and omnichannel contact center functionalities with the Microsoft Teams collaboration suite to deliver a seamless telecom experience from a single managed solution provider. 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.

Reliable remote collaboration

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

Microsoft Direct Route enables businesses to take advantage of Microsoft Teams’ collaboration features like video conferencing and group chat, while seamlessly supporting employees’ daily workflows across Office 365 programs, third-party applications, and existing telephone systems. Using this integrated solution, companies can keep their teams connected with robust chat, voice, and video features that help employees collaborate effectively through shared files and app integration.

Engaging meeting features

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.

Instantly launch online meetings with a single click and invite guests to join from any mobile device, desktop, or web browser, instead of 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.

Benefitting the bottom line

Combining your enterprise calling plan with the powerful collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams enables more scalable, flexible, and reliable communications—making employees more productive whether they’re remote or on-premises—while also giving them the option to communicate however they prefer, whether that’s on a soft client, handset, or mobile device.

Deploying this unified solution can even help reduce telecom 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. CBTS Microsoft voice solutions come with additional benefits as well:

  • Customized implementation and delivery models.
  • Robust network delivery like SD-WAN, NaaS, or OTT.
  • 99.999% service level agreements.
  • Ongoing 24x7x365 U.S. support.
  • Common enterprise dial plans.
  • Extension dial to existing PBXs. 
  • Pool long distance usage.
  • Dedicated project and account management.
  • SIP handsets are available.

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

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

Expert breakdown webcast series: Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture

Team collaboration is evolving quickly as companies strive to maintain smooth operations and meaningful interactions, whether working from home or utilizing traditional office environments.

Service providers, master agents, partners, and customers alike are exploring new tools and channel options with a multitude of questions about the future of communication. To tackle these questions and help you navigate the solutions, CBTS will host a three-part webcast series during which our experts will break down Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture.

Through three engaging discussions, this series will explore the most pressing issues and opportunities surrounding collaboration tools today. Below is an overview of what we’ll cover.

Webcast Series 3.1: Comparing collaboration platforms

In the first installment of this webcast series, the team of CBTS experts will compare major collaboration platforms including Cisco Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams. By examining the benefits and downsides of each platform, this webcast will explore how different collaboration tools integrate with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to provide a seamless experience from the desktop to the cloud.

The first webcast will feature insights from CBTS experts including Justin Rice, Senior Solutions Architect; Matt Douglass, Senior Director of Solution Engineering; and Alex Broome, Senior Sales Engineer.

Secure your spot now for this webcast, scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
Sign up here

Webcast Series 3.2: Taking a technical deep dive

In the second session of this Expert Breakdown series, we’ll take a technical deep dive into Cisco Webex Teams, Microsoft Teams Direct Routing, and UCaaS.

We’ll evaluate how Direct Routing connects Microsoft Teams to SIP trunks and third-party voice applications. Then, we’ll highlight the game-changing advantages of combining the Cisco Webex Teams toolset with Cisco UCaaS integrations from CBTS.

Join our duo of technical experts—Chris Pope, Director of Solution Design, and Matt Douglass, Senior Director of Solution Engineering—to take a closer look at these integration issues.

Reserve your virtual seat today for this webcast, scheduled for Wednesday, September 23, at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
Register here

Webcast Series 3.3: Exploring work-from-home collaboration

The final webcast of the series will explore how companies can use remote collaboration tools to excel in today’s new work-from-home environment. Through a live panel discussion moderated by CBTS Channel Chief Rob Messmer, several cloud experts will analyze how collaboration tools like UCaaS and SD-WAN can elevate remote work productivity like never before.

A panel of experts—featuring Cisco Cloud Calling Specialist Bryan Wilson, Director of Cloud Networking Jon Lloyd, and Senior Director of Solution Engineering Matt Douglass—will confront the biggest questions, challenges, and opportunities surrounding remote collaboration. By the end of the conversation, your business will be better equipped to make the most of working from home.

Tune in to participate in the live Q&A, scheduled for Wednesday, September 30 at 1 p.m. EDT.
Reserve your spot here

Navigating all the different platforms and potential pitfalls of today’s rapidly shifting communications experience can be a challenge, whether you have sophisticated IT resources or a one-person IT department. That’s why CBTS designed this new webcast series to explore Microsoft Teams in the Big Picture and guide companies through the maze of collaboration tools impacting operations in every industry.

Join our three-part webcast series to find answers to your biggest collaboration questions.

Register for Webcast Series 3.1

Register for Webcast Series 3.2

Register for Webcast Series 3.3

Improving the remote collaboration experience

When COVID-19 made working from home mandatory, many companies struggled to bring corporate communication tools into remote work environments. Webcams and headsets quickly became the new norm as home-based employees tried to keep noisy kids from disrupting their video conferences.

When CBTS began working from home in March, we started to explore how to collaborate more effectively to enhance the experience of working remotely.  We were used to face-to-face communication, so we wanted to recreate that environment at home.

Now, as businesses move from pandemic mode to long-term planning, executives expect higher quality, fewer distractions, and easier integration as they prepare employees for long-term remote productivity. In fact, according to a recent Gartner survey, nearly three-fourths of CFOs plan to move 5% of their on-site workforce to remote positions, and a quarter of them plan to make at least 20% of positions permanently remote post-COVID.

To make this shift successful, businesses must examine and enhance their remote meeting experience by equipping employees with intuitive collaboration tools that turn any home office into a professional conference room.

The new normal

Even in this age of high-tech communication, many meetings still require face-to-face interaction. When global pandemics or scheduling logistics prevent physical meetings, workers in every industry need reliable tools to collaborate from separate locations.

For example:

  • Executives sharing financial reports with investors.
  • Employees huddling together to plan tasks.
  • Engineers collaborating to design new prototypes.
  • Sales reps presenting products to prospective customers.
  • Support teams troubleshooting issues with clients.

As vital as it is to facilitate interaction between remote workers internally, it’s even more critical that companies offer clients and prospects a platform for interaction outside of the conference room. Providing an enhanced collaboration experience can exert credibility and professionalism.

Under pressure to manage costs more tightly, business leaders are realizing that remote collaboration tools can actually save them money. Not only do virtual meetings reduce the need to travel (and the related expenses incurred on business trips), but they also produce significant real estate savings, since physical office space is no longer required for face-to-face communication.

According to the Gartner survey, 22% of businesses have reduced real estate expenses (or plan to) because of remote work. Similarly, 20% of respondents have deferred on-premises technology spending, with many issuing work-from-home equipment instead.

New solutions for remote collaboration

To deliver a secure, streamlined collaboration experience that engages employees and clients, CBTS offers a state-of-the-art solution through the Secure Remote Collaboration portfolio. Custom-designed for the huddle workstyle, The Secure Remote Collaboration portfolio includes robust endpoint options such as the Cisco Webex Room Kit Mini, as well as the Cisco Webex Desk Pro. These all-in-one collaboration tools offer features such as cameras and microphones that can be easily mounted on any monitor.

As entire industries shift toward virtual meetings, the Secure Remote Collaboration portfolio provides four key features that foster enhanced collaboration

Smart meetings

The camera’s “best overview” feature automatically detects meeting participants to provide ideal framing. Meanwhile, automatic noise suppression minimizes distractions by reducing background sounds like rustling papers or children yelling in the next room.

“One Button to Push” functionality makes it easy for participants to join scheduled meetings withno more clicking around, trying to find the meeting link. Although the process of joining meetings is simplified, end-to-end security prevents uninvited guests from entering.

Smart presentations

Wired and wireless content sharing elevates the virtual experience by allowing groups to view and annotate whiteboard presentations through the Cisco Webex Teams app.

Smart rooms

By combining high-definition audio and video, the collaboration portfolio improves interactions with intelligent collaboration tools typical of much larger systems. The camera even counts participants, enabling utilization analytics and insights to guide future resource planning.

Flexible integrations

With its seamless integration of Cisco Webex software, the portfolio delivers continuous workflow by registering either on-premises or to the cloud. Plus, interoperability with any cloud-based video conferencing provider gives users the flexibility to leverage the same sleek functionality whether they’re joining Webex conferences, Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or any other platform.

By empowering people to meet instantly and securely via any device in any location, this Cisco Webex solution from CBTS enhances remote collaboration anywhere—helping businesses minimize wasted time and expense while maximizing the remote work experience for customer-facing employees.

Learn more about the Secure Remote Collaboration portfolio’s features that designed to streamline remote communication.

Contact us today to get your first month’s subscription to Webex FREE when you deploy the Secure Remote Collaboration portfolio for your remote workforce.

Enable remote branch employees with SD-WAN

Working outside the office is rapidly becoming the new normal and, in some ways, home offices are the new branch facilities. Many remote working situations put employees at a disadvantage; those working at home may have to share their wireless bandwidth with family members and their devices, while those in branch offices may be dealing with underpowered networks compared to their traditional workspaces.

This is becoming a widespread issue as major corporations and enterprises are continuing to shutter office buildings for safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these organizations are now relying on employees’ home and remote environments to serve as fully functioning branch locations.

These “temporary” remote working situations are no longer temporary in many cases, with several enterprises putting off plans to return to traditional office environments. Therefore, to avoid productivity losses and to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on mission-critical business goals, enterprises relying on remote environments must equip their employees with networking capability equal to what is available in more traditional office settings.

To support the many organizations struggling to equip their remote branch employees for success, CBTS is offering a suite of networking solutions that can empower remote branch employees to connect with reliable signal strength no matter where they’re working from or how many users or devices they’re sharing their remote branch with.

For years, CBTS has been on a mission to fix networks, not just the devices that connect to them. That mission continues with the Meraki Remote Work Bundle, which includes the MX67C Firewall and 1G LTE SIM card, a fully managed cloud security solution complete with automatic VPN and LTE connection functionality.

This package offers a robust collection content and search filtering, anti-malware, self-provisioning, and remote management features. This not only keeps remote employees safe from intrusion outside the office, but it also allows network administrators to maintain access for remote branch workers without the need to be physically on-site. The integrated LTE technology also allows for remote cellular visibility without the external hardware or configuration requirements of similar networking platforms, making this bundle an all-in-one remote networking solution.

Other options for enterprises looking to optimize connectivity and efficiency for their remote branch employees include the VMware SD-WAN 510 LTE Edge with 10mbps license. This provisioned appliance enables secure connectivity to proprietary applications and protected data regardless of location. It also allows remote branch employees to access private data centers, public clouds, and other sources, all with unparalleled signal strength, more reliable coverage, and fewer compatibility issues than non-standardized USB modems. Additionally, this package comes with a 1G LTE data plan.

In addition to these network-boosting hardware solutions, Check Point CloudGuard can be added on to deliver managed cloud security services at the enterprise level—making remote branch traffic smoother and creating secure connections over traditional internet and hybrid WAN transports.

With this array of solutions, CBTS seeks to solve networking challenges at their source by transforming the connections that modern enterprises rely on instead of simply installing new devices. These services offer a cost-effective way to make remote branch operations more reliable, secure, and effective, with proven LTE technology serving as a backup transport.

Contact us for more information on our range of remote working solutions and managed services.

Hosted cloud security with Check Point CloudGuard delivers active threat prevention.

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

According to recent findings, 37 percent of employee time is spent in meetings. Is your team connecting effortlessly and securely? Are you providing an intuitive experience for your remote employees? 

Today, more than ever before, there is a need for teams to connect remotely with as little hassle as possible. Seventy-two percent of executives rated “effective team communication” and “collaboration” as key drivers of business success. 2020 has been and continues to be the year of the remote workforce. Which platforms and tools emerged as the best solutions for working remotely? Although there have been and still are many remote work platforms to choose from, Cisco Webex has emerged as the clear preferred choice for companies with remote teams. 

Cisco was recently recognized as a leader in five collaboration-focused Gartner Magic Quadrants, including web conferencing and group video systems. 

Whether you are working remotely, planning meetings in advance, or collaborating whenever and wherever inspiration strikes, Cisco Webex helps you make the most of your team’s time. With continuous collaboration, your teams can connect effortlessly, make meetings intuitive, and optimize their efficiency. 

How a secure cloud team collaboration platform works  

Cisco Webex ensures continuous and seamless team communication no matter where your team is located. When properly implemented, it can help you beat your competition by improving your teams’ efficiency on time-sensitive tasks, projects, and proposals. 

The following is a typical scenario illustrating how Cisco’s Webex helps companies beat the competition. 

  • 8:58 AM – A customer calls to ask for a proposal and needs it ASAP. With only hours to get it done, you create a new Cisco Webex Teams space and add all of your team members. 
  • 9:10 AM – You begin posting relevant documents using file sharing. Your teams get to work on the agenda and select a time to meet. 
  • 10:00 AM – At the set meeting time, team members click the Cisco Webex Teams link on their calendar and join. Team members are able to seamlessly access the meeting on any device, from any location. 
  • 10:05 AM – The meeting is underway, and team members are speaking face-to-face using video, sharing applications and screens, and brainstorming ideas using the whiteboard. 
  • 11:15 AM – After the meeting finishes, team members are back to work and messaging about action items in your Cisco Webex Teams space. Revised files are posted so everyone can find the most updated version easily.
  • 1:59 PM – Conversations continue, and team members message their task updates, share files, and stay connected on deliverables and deadlines. Some initiate one-on-one meetings on demand to iron out small details face to face. 
  • 3:45 PM – You deliver the proposal to your customer, ahead of the 5:00 p.m. deadline. All of your files, messages, whiteboard drawings, and action items are saved in your dedicated Cisco Webex Teams space so you never lose context. 
  • 6:15 PM – The customer calls after reviewing the proposal—you’ve won the deal! Your competition was unable to provide viable proposals within the short deadline window. 

Cisco Webex improves your productivity throughout your organization

The better your team communicates, the more productive every team member will be. Webex helps companies improve communication and productivity every day. A Techvalidate survey showed: 

  • 86% of users report shorter and more effective meetings. 
  • 83% report faster decision making. 
  • 88% report easier engagement with experts. 
  • 90% report improved collaboration with team members. 

A secure collaboration platform 

The collaboration tools your teams use every day contain some of your company’s most sensitive information. When your teams are collaborating remotely, the need for enhanced security arises. When employees use personal devices, the risk for a security breach increases. 

The security features built into Cisco Webex applications make it an easy choice for corporations, institutions, and government agencies worldwide. For more information on the security features Cisco Webex applications offer, read the whitepaper linked here.

Ready to make the most of your team’s remote communication?

Download this Collaboration Use Case from CBTS and Cisco for an example of continuous workflow before, during, and after the meeting.

Learn more about collaboration solutions from CBTS and how to securely connect with remote employees and teams.

Remote Collaboration and Networks – Expert panel shares practices for future of work

Following work-from-home mandates issued in response to COVID-19, companies rushed to find ways to enable remote collaboration. Some businesses smoothly transitioned into this new normal, while others struggled to adapt.

To examine the best practices for remote team collaboration, CBTS recently hosted a panel discussion about the challenges facing companies during this period of instability.

Greg Samuels, senior director of the communications practice at CBTS, moderated the panel, which included Steve Harris, senior director of service delivery for OnX Enterprise Solutions; David Absalom, director of enterprise solution design for CBTS; Jon Lloyd, director of cloud networking for CBTS; and Christopher Pope, director of solution design for CBTS.

To highlight the most effective strategies for remote collaboration and communication, the panel experts shared the tools and technologies and best practices that companies have been used to keep employees connected while quickly transitioning.

Enabling existing technology

While no one could have predicted the rippling effects that COVID-19 have had on day-to-day business operations, many companies already had tools in place to support remote workers—but they weren’t leveraging them until now.

“For some companies, it really wasn’t until recently that they discovered the full potential of hosting their voice in the cloud and coupling that with a mobile phone,” Pope said. “It’s been our duty to inform customers of the work-from-home capabilities that they have…and get them using the tools that they didn’t know they already had.”

Pope said many companies were sitting on legacy private branch exchange (PBX) systems or hosted voice solutions, but not utilizing collaboration tools to integrate their system with their employees’ mobile phones. By enabling soft client capabilities and meeting tools, companies are leaving the comfort zone of traditional voice calls to facilitate work-from-home mobility. For those with legacy PBX systems, CBTS was able to enable features on the network to quickly support those temporary changes to their configuration.

Redefining contact centers

The contact centers of large enterprises—especially those in government and healthcare sectors—are pushed past capacity with increasing call volumes related to the pandemic. By rethinking traditional processes and channels, contact centers are developing more sustainable service models that equip remote agents to serve customers efficiently, Absalom said.

Setting up remote phone access for employees working at home is easy enough, “but then you also need to somehow give them their contact center agent desktop, and that requires a VPN infrastructure,” Absalom said. While some companies already had this infrastructure in place, others needed to build internet gateways to enable remote agents.

“Then, because of the massive growth in contact center use, we had to take a look at some other technologies, because the queues and IVRs [Interactive voice Responses] were getting hit so hard we had to find alternate ways to get those calls answered or redirected,” Absalom said, like courtesy call-back capabilities that allow customers to request a call back rather than waiting in queue.

CBTS quickly analyzed how customers wanted and expected their calls to be routed and used that data to find the most efficient way to handle customer calls. To handle the influx of service calls efficiently, contact centers should similarly examine their current workflows and streamline business processes. Absalom encouraged call centers to think beyond the phone and explore the potential of omni-channel contact centers, where agents can also leverage e-mail, chat, and text to provide comprehensive service.

Protecting the perimeter

To keep the remote workforce connected to the enterprise, companies are relying on VPNs to extend their network—which comes with certain limitations, Lloyd said.

“When we start looking at a client-based VPN, all of that traffic comes back to the data center, even if the application doesn’t live there,” Lloyd explained. “That is crippling customers’ bandwidth. It’s crippling data centers.”

Split tunneling can be one solution for alleviating some stress to the data center, “but it’s a pretty complex routing configuration,” Lloyd said. Instead, companies should focus on flexible connectivity to extend their networks. “Utilizing technology that is cloud-connected or software-defined is allowing us to build auto-networks and auto-scale very quickly,” he added.

With software-defined perimeters, security is a fabric that lives in the cloud, rather than a firewall that just lives in the data center. “We used to think we were protecting the network,” Lloyd said. “But now, we realize the network is all around us. It doesn’t matter what the device is or where the employee is working from.”

This software-defined model is what separates the companies that are excelling in this remote environment from those that are struggling. “The customers who have looked forward and leaned toward this software-defined world have had a much, much easier time adapting,” Harris said. “Customers who have struggled tend to be ones who have a very traditional network and infrastructure.” Follow this link to view the full webinar. Learn more about collaboration solutions from CBTS.

Contact the experts at CBTS