Gartner Magic Quadrant for UC

Latest Innovations in Global Cloud Business Communications

Guest post by Mark Dacanay of RingCentral

Just a decade ago, people only considered cloud PBX and IP telephony as cheaper alternatives to legacy on-premise PBX systems and PSTN. Back then, it was mostly small and medium-scale businesses that took note of these cloud-hosted alternative services since large enterprises were already employing top of the line PBX systems customized for their own companies.

Fast forward to 2017. On-premise systems are going the obsolete route while traditional telecom carriers are struggling to keep up with the demands of the ever-connected businesses of today. Nowadays, when we talk cloud communications, we are no longer talking about alternatives or substitutes; when we say cloud communications, we are now talking about the present and future of global business communications.

But what brought cloud-hosted communications to this stage? The simple answer is innovation. By going over the limits of traditional communications services – costs, hardware, scalability, and the like – cloud-based services were able to provide features that simplified business communications.  That includes ground-breaking innovations that has really raised how organizations communicate to a different level such as:

Unified Communications as a Service

The biggest innovation for cloud-hosted communications providers is delivering on the promise of unified communications. From being an empty buzzword to a real concept, it further evolved into a highly implementable service. Today’s cloud communications providers are able to offer different communication channels from a single platform via subscription. To give you an idea, Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) top ranked provider RingCentral is able to offer audio and video conference, team messaging, and business SMS on top of the usual voice, fax, voicemail, and virtual PBX. All in one service.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for UC

Gartner UC Magic Quardant

 

This removes the need for businesses to get separate providers for each service. Now, one provider is able to meet most, if not all, the communication demands of different organizations.

Open APIs

It is no longer enough for communications service providers to simply be a communications service provider. Enterprises are now looking to customize the service to fit their business needs. Not only that, business communication needs also evolve and the service should be able to have the technological flexibility to adapt every time. This is why the cloud-based approach of open APIs has been a real boon. With open APIs, the cloud communications service is able to integrate with other services bringing about new level of efficacy and efficiency.

There are two ways in which companies are able to take advantage of open APIs. The first and easiest one is through third party integrations. Popular business productivity apps like Salesforce, G-Suite (Google for Work), and Microsoft Office 365 use APIs from cloud communications providers so that their clients are able to use the service within the business productivity app. The second way is through using the APIs to integrate the communications service into the companies’ own internally developed productivity apps, creating a new and unique workflow just for their company. Either way, it allows for a more efficient and more productive workforce.

Mobile apps

The true separation between traditional phone systems and modern cloud communications is the latter’s ability to be accessed through mobile devices through apps.  By creating a mobile app equivalent of their service, either iOS or Android-based, cloud communications providers are able to give businesses and its users a different level of mobility and flexibility that was unheard of before. This paved the way for user-friendly policies that allows users to work away from the office more often or even bring their own personal devices to work (BYOD).

Multi-location setup and administration

What makes cloud communications services a truly viable option for multi-national companies with a global reach, is its ability to be setup and administered from anywhere. Gone are the days when phone systems have to be kept and managed from a singular server room by specialized manpower. Not only that, but a single service can now be used for multiple locations around the world without the need to install new infrastructure and hardware. Some providers even let businesses establish a local presence in different countries by giving them the option to use a local number from different countries. Businesses can now access and manage the service for all their locations and users from their own device as long as they are connected to the Internet. From there, they can add and delete users, grant user and admin permissions, and generally just be on top of how their organization communicates from all parts of the world.

The best part is that cloud communications is still evolving and has not even reached the height of its capabilities. At the rate of how things are going, the cloud will definitely continue to play a big part on how businesses communicate locally or on a global scale.

About the Author

Mark Dacanay is a Digital Marketing Professional who has been working with a B2B company offering cloud-based services for more than 5 years. He is obsessed with anything about the cloud – the technology, not the fluffy stuff in the sky. You can reach him through Twitter and LinkedIn .

CCE

Top 10 Reasons to Use AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances

Making Migration to the Cloud Pure Simplicity

CCE

Because of the importance of cutting costs and increasing productivity in today’s fast-moving and ever-evolving world, the lure of cloud communications has never been stronger. However, in spite of the cloud’s numerous advantages, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed, including how to migrate to the cloud while preserving on-premises connectivity with local service providers.

AudioCodes Mediant 800 CCE and Mediant Server CCE appliances rise effortlessly to this challenge, bundling AudioCodes field-proven session border controllers (SBCs) and media gateways into a single elegantly packaged 1U chassis. They seamlessly integrate with Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition recommended architectures, and are easy to deploy and manage. The Mediant 800 CCE appliance is certified for Microsoft Skype for Business Online and is now shown in the Microsoft product catalog. So let’s have a look at the top 10 reasons why you really should think about using AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances.

  1. A broad portfolio of quality products.

AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances are made up of well-known, tried and tested products in the AudioCodes portfolio. You can be confident that these Microsoft-qualified platforms will deliver enterprise-grade security and reliability that you can count on, time and again.

  1. Two feature-packed models to choose from, depending on your deployment needs.

AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances share common functionality but provide different concurrent session capacities, so you can be sure that you’ll find a model that suits your needs. Whatever your business’s size and connectivity requirements, we’ve got you covered.

  1. Very easy to install.

The powerful and intuitive installation wizard is designed to get you up and running in around two hours. No need to bring in a PowerShell expert who will cost you valuable time and money.

  1. Simple to monitor and operate.

An easy to understand dashboard clearly shows you everything that’s happening and lets you configure your Mediant CCE appliance without needing to use PowerShell scripts. In addition, the appliances are natively integrated with the AudioCodes One Voice Operations Center (OVOC), so you don’t have to tie up financial and human resources in developing proprietary monitoring tools.

  1. Easy to update and upgrade.

The AudioCodes wizard and dashboard have automatic Cloud Connector Edition version detection and self-adjustment for forward and backward compatibility. This makes it easy to schedule updates and upgrades, including on a per site basis. Again, all this can be done without ever having to write a single PowerShell script.

  1. The AudioCodes Helpdesk and the Microsoft Office 365 Service Operations Center have integrated support procedures.

AudioCodes is certified by Microsoft to provide support for the Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition. This collaborative approach assures that any technical issues that might arise can be dealt with very quickly, bringing you real peace of mind.

  1. Effective High Availability (HA) configuration functionality.

The Mediant CCE appliances support HA configuration, which can be easily set up using the AudioCodes wizard. They also support SBC floating licenses. Importantly, the Microsoft live upgrade process does not negatively affect your service or traffic.

  1. Part of an advanced Cloud PBX Networking Solution.

The Mediant CCE appliances natively integrate with AudioCodes Routing Manager (ARM) topologies, enabling global call routing and policy enforcement to be centrally managed from a single location. The appliances also include support for the One Voice Resiliency (OVR) cloud resiliency solution, bringing you a level of dependability that you know you can rely on.

  1. Cost-effective.

No matter what your capacity needs are, AudioCodes Mediant CCE appliances represent excellent value for money. If keeping the cost down is a priority for you, then you’ve come to the right place.

  1. Available on an OpEx pay-as-you-go basis for trials.

The Mediant 800 CCE appliance is included in the AudioCodes Go Cloud offer. Go Cloud makes it simple and risk free for you to trial Microsoft Cloud PBX. You also get 9×5 support, Cloud PBX certified AudioCodes 440HD IP Phones, and IP Phone Manager Express for provisioning. You can stop anytime and just return the equipment. All this for one convenient and transparent monthly fee. What have you got to lose?

 Talk to an AudioCodes expert and discover even more reasons

for choosing AudioCodes Mediant CCE Appliances

Contact an Expert

Genesys-AudioCodes

Who is Controlling Your Home Agent’s Voice?

At the upcoming Genesys CX17 events (http://online.audiocodes.com/genesys-cx-events-registration), AudioCodes will present, as part of the new Genesys and AudioCodes partnership, an IP Phone combined with a centralized management application that has been specially designed to increase the productivity of work at home agents (WAHA) and deliver a superior level of customer service.

Genesys-AudioCodes

The move towards the WAHA model, also known as the virtual agent model, is currently one of the leading trends in the contact center market. More and more industry leaders are discovering the benefits of the home agent model for their contact center services. Home agent programs offer compelling advantages, including cost reduction and better customer response strategies. Furthermore, this model tears down geographical barriers, meaning that businesses can recruit highly qualified individuals, in practically any location, who will then be available to provide excellent service at any time.

Contact Center Agent

The home agent voice challenge

In spite of the obvious attractions of the WAHA model, its implementation at a technical level is very challenging because the home agents themselves are not an integral part of the contact center’s own private, secure and reliable network.

Instead, home agents typically use their home broadband internet to connect to their company’s contact center. While this unmanaged broadband internet connection is good enough for using desktop web applications and for accessing CRM services, it is far from ideal for real time communication such as voice calls. Broadband internet connections can be unreliable, based as they are on the “best effort delivery” principle, and they have a tendency to suffer unpredictable drops in quality. This can cause poor quality voice transmission and, even worse, disconnections and unavailability – all leading to customer dissatisfaction.

Another problem with the WAHA model is the use of soft phone clients. Unlike standard web browser applications for accessing services such as CRMs and digital channels, soft phone clients are specific applications that need to be installed and configured. Since these applications handle real-time voice traffic, they require significant memory and CPU resources. Performance is therefore very much dependent on the individual agent’s PC and its operating system capabilities, which can in itself be adversely affected by other applications that are running on the PC and consuming resources as well. In addition, maintaining and updating such applications requires remote IT intervention that can be time-consuming and disruptive, causing agents to be offline and therefore unavailable to take customer calls.

Controlling, monitoring and improving the home agent’s voice service

What is needed is a dedicated IP Phone device suited to the specific needs of home agents and fully integrated with the business’s contact center, assuring a high quality voice experience. This will substantially increase the home agent’s productivity and operational efficiency, leading to a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction.

AudioCodes IP Phone

AudioCodes’ IP Phones use VoIPerfect™ voice enhancement technology that delivers high voice quality over any internet connection. This unique technology is based on a monitoring engine that examines and measures voice quality at all times, automatically triggering enhancement tools such as adaptive jitter buffer and dynamic voice quality adaptation if necessary.

The data collected by the IP Phone monitoring engine can be transmitted to a centralized monitoring application, giving a clear picture of everything that is going on in the voice network, right down to the level of individual home agents. Not only can IT managers analyze and resolve potential quality issues before they even occur, they can also remotely manage and automatically configure individual IP Phones without interfering with the agent’s work or running dedicated applications on the agent’s PC.

And last but not least, the monitoring application can also be used to add or remove agents from the agents’ pool based on the quality of their voice service, ensuring that customers will always receive the exceptional level of service that they deserve.

Want to learn more about Genesys and AudioCodes SIP solutions for contact centers? Click here to request a meeting with our experts at the show.

Genesys-AudioCodes

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

If it’s Friday, I’ll Take the Scenic Route Home

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

In my opinion, Waze is the best navigation application in the market today. Actually, Waze is much more than just a navigation app: it’s a community of travelers and commuters who are constantly contributing to form one of the earliest and largest crowd-sourcing platforms. By using on-line navigation data and user notifications, Waze maps traffic jams and sends drivers a variety of notifications including hazardous situations on the road, police presence, and speed cameras.

When it comes to navigation setup, Waze is very much like other navigation applications; the navigation setup is static. The main setup decision related to routing that the user is required to do is choosing between the route with the shortest distance or the one with the fastest time.  In addition, the Waze user can decide to avoid toll roads, highways, ferries, complex turns and dirt roads.

The fact that the setup is static is a real shortcoming, since routing preferences may change during the course of a single day. For instance, in the morning when you’re in a hurry to get to work you might not mind using toll roads. But on your way back home, you might be quite happy to take it easy and go via the scenic route, enjoying the springtime aroma of orange blossom along the way. To achieve this with Waze or any other navigation application, you would need to modify your routing preferences twice a day.

VoIP routing applications suffer from the same issue: how to make decisions based on a variety of criteria. In an ideal scenario where the network is free of any impairments, the main VoIP routing criteria would simply be the cost to the desired destination (i.e. least cost routing). However, in real life, there are so many other competing criteria which need to be taken into consideration, e.g. VoIP delay, VoIP quality, bandwidth, connection health, the time of day, user policy, security, load balancing and call admission control.

Unlike a navigation application, in a VoIP routing application, most of these additional criteria can’t be configured with a simple binary yes or no. For instance, in the case of voice quality, the user would prefer the call to be transported via the route with the best quality while, at the same time, ensuring that the cost is as low as possible.  The same goes for voice delay, signalling impartments, etc. The network administrator would like his calls to take the optimal route, but how can he configure the priorities and weights for these competing criteria?  A tricky problem.

Currently, most VoIP routing applications handle this issue by associating weights to the main routing criteria. This means that the user associates a weight to each criteria giving each criteria a priority.  The routing algorithm takes into consideration the criteria based on their associated weights and calculates the routes accordingly.

An alternative scheme is basing the entire routing calculation on one criterion (usually cost). Any additional routing considerations are applied to the main rule as relevant on a call by call basis.

For instance, all routing rules can disregard VoIP quality in general, but a VoIP quality condition will be applied ONLY when it is relevant, e.g. any calls made specifically to New York must be routed via a high quality connection disregarding the cost.

With this per route association approach, routing rules can get quite complex but since the additional conditions are applied on a route by route basis they are still easy to configure and easy to maintain. Imagine how convenient it would be to be able to configure a routing rule which, for example, determines that calls from the CEO to the New York sales manager on Mondays between 8:00am and 10:00 am must be routed via best quality route. Now try to figure out how to configure the same routing rule using a Waze-like static routing configuration.

I wish that Waze had route options like playlists, aligned with users’ personal moods: happy routes, contemplative routes, romantic routes, routes for birthdays etc., maybe even combined with recommended music per route. In today’s dynamic lifestyle, we can’t rely on a static, generic setup.  We need tools that let us customise our needs as simply as possible, since routing is everything.

 

To find out more about how AudioCodes helps simplify call routing in complex enterprise and service provider VoIP networks, download our white paper today.

Call recording

My Skype for Business Calls Need to be Recorded, Right?

Call recording

Anyone who calls a customer service or tech support line has gotten that “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” announcement in their lifetime.  That typically means that the contact center you called has a recording system and most likely will record your call, whether it’s to understand how their employees handle customer calls or possibly by law to meet specific compliance purposes.  The expansion of Skype for Business in the enterprise is slowly replacing the traditional phone system and the number of options to record calls is limited to a few companies.  With such a narrow choice of products, why should you record your Skype for Business calls?

The answers are simple.  I’ve outlined a few bullets that will help you decide on whether you should record or not.

Protection – Any verbal transaction that involves your company and a customer or partner should always be recorded.  A recording will protect your company and employees during verbal monetary transactions, no matter how big or how small the transaction is.  Further, in cases where specific laws take place, such as financial investments or order by phone, it is required by law to record the conversation.  More importantly, even if it’s a casual conversation between an employee and customer, the minute a commitment is involved, the conversation should be recorded.  This will help in cases of disputes where the customer or employee may make a claim of “he said, she said”.  Recordings don’t lie, the conversation can simply be played back and the dispute can be settle.  Even in cases where there is no contact center, like in finance for instance, your finance administrator may not speak with customers on a regular basis but at times calls might get escalated to them.  In these situations, wouldn’t it be great to recording the conversation so that there are no discrepancies?  By using Record on Demand, the conversation can be recorded and saved for future reference.

Understanding Your Customer – By recording conversations between your employees and customers, the organization can get a better picture of how it communicates with its customers and how its employees are positioning the company and its products.  Sampling conversations can easily provide a picture of what your customers are looking for, or perhaps outline areas of improvement for your organization.  Sometimes it’s not what the customers says, but rather how the customer says it or implies it.  You can’t get that from your employee.  They can only provide you a recollection of what was said, and in their view only.  Recordings provide an unbiased view of the conversation where management can make informed decisions.

Compliance – Compliance is at the forefront of every conversation in the enterprise.  Many companies have Compliance Officers that manage communications between the firm and its customers.  With the expansion of data breaches, hacking oblog.af technology and identity theft, compliance laws have been implemented over the past few years to protect consumer information such as personal financial information (social security numbers, credit card information, etc.) and even healthcare information from being exposed.  Further, laws such as MAD II (Market Abuse and Market Manipulation) which protects the consumer from misleading or misguided information on financial investment vehicles.  MAD II manages the company’s sales practices and protects the company from disreputable trades.  Other compliance laws such as MIFID II, which is scheduled to be implemented in the European Union in July 2017 stretches the compliance monitoring standard from investment brokers to sales, administrative personnel and certified financial planners.  So, the expansion of compliance is requiring that conversations or basically any communication with the consumer be recorded.  With that requirement, Skype for Business users must have both voice and chat (IM) sessions recorded to protect the consumer and allow the firm to monitor the activity of their employees.

SmartTAP is AudioCodes Skype for Business recording platform.  Built specifically to support Skype for Business, SmartTAP provides a secure, tamper proof environment to record both voice and chat sessions, either consistently, or on a Record on Demand / Save on Demand basis. Through SmartTAP’s Media Server protection, Skype for Business calls are never exposed to the internet, thus adding another layer of protection from outside intrusion.  SmartTAP also stores voice and chat sessions in an encrypted environment, with a Digital Signature added, where original recordings can never be touched.  Expanding SmartTAP throughout the organization is easy by deploying the Skype for Business Toolbar that embeds directly into the Skype for Business client.  Tagging calls, recording calls on demand are made easy by simply selecting the SmartTAP option on the Skype for Business client.  These capabilities only scratch the surface of what SmartTAP can do for your Skype for Business deployment.  Find out more by visiting our website at www.audiocodes.com/smarttap.

Lifeline providers

Increasing Margins of US Lifeline Providers

How can US lifeline providers reduce their per-minute cost

Lifeline providers

Thanks to the FCC-mandated, government-sponsored program, called Lifeline, the financially disadvantaged in the US can receive a cell phone and anywhere from 500 minutes to an unlimited number of minutes and texts every month — at no charge! The Lifeline program ensures that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.

As of December 2016, lifeline providers are required to provide a minimum of 500 minutes per month and 500 MB per month at 3G speeds. As of December 2017, lifeline providers will have to provide a minimum of 750 minutes and 1GB per month and as of December 2018, a minimum of 1000 minutes and 2 GB per month. The Lifeline program provides a discount (support) on monthly service of $9.25 per month for eligible low-income subscribers.

Increasing minimum service standards

The FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) are increasing the requirements of minimum voice minutes and MB data while reducing the discount on monthly services, meaning that lifeline providers will have to provide more voice minutes and mobile data while receiving less support funds (in US$) from the FCC program.

As of today, a Lifeline provider (MVNO) pays a high wholesale per-minute price (around 1.5 cents) and per 1 MB data price (around 1 cent) to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). As a result of the increasing minimum requirements and high wholesale prices, the lifeline wireless providers are expecting a decrease in margins and ARPU. In addition, the increasing number of lifeline operators offering smartphones instead of feature phones increases the competition even more since offering smartphones makes their service more attractive to eligible consumers.

Reducing per-minute cost

To increase their margins, lifeline providers can offer voice over WiFi and data cellular services as an alternative to MNO’s high cost GSM service. This way Lifeline providers need only buy wholesale data from MNOs without GSM minutes. The new service decreases the per-minute cost by more than 50%. This technology enables MVNOs to offer 4 voice minutes for every 1 MB. Assuming an MNO wholesale 1 MB price is 1 cent, then a 1-minute call will cost just 0.25 cents. Thus, the Lifeline MVNO reduces its per-minute costs from 1.5 cents to 0.25 cents (excluding termination cost).

For a lifeline provider serving 50,000 eligible consumers consuming 500 minutes per month each, having 50% of their calls over WiFi and paying 0.15 cents per-minute termination, the total monthly savings amount to around US$ 300,000.

Lifeline providers may offer the service through low-end, used or refurbished Android-based smartphones to their subscribers or provide it through an OTT app supporting BYOD for iOS and Android-based smartphone devices.

Wifi first does increase margins

AudioCodes MobilityPLUS, a WiFi First wireless solution, reduces the lifeline MVNO per-minute and message costs by over 50%. It enables voice and messaging services over WiFi and cellular data networks, providing seamless interconnections from WiFi to cellular networks and vice versa, a process that significantly extends coverage areas and potentially lowers costs for providers and end-users alike. MobilityPLUS is delivered from the cloud as a service (SaaS) ensuring minimal initial setup and monthly costs, and fast deployment. AudioCodes’ field-proven underlying voice technology assures crystal clear HD voice quality that boost the subscribers’ satisfaction.

Full line of service for mvnos

AudioCodes and its US partners have come up with a complete, cost-effective and innovative service that truly does provide MVNOs and other providers a real competitive advantage in the wireless marketplace

  • White-label voice and messaging over WiFi and data service
  • Customized and pre-loaded into Android OS as an integrated dialer
  • Full support for BYOD, supporting iOS and Android-based smartphones
  • Wholesale voice minutes and messages
  • Wholesale cellular data
  • Integration with billing and CRM
  • SMS-enabled DIDs
  • Long distance termination

To learn more about AudioCodes MobilityPLUS, please contact mobilityplus@audiocodes.com

Coexistence & Migration

Clouducation Episode #2

Coexistence & Migration

Coexistence & Migration

I know most people don’t want to hear it, but is it time to start thinking about removing legacy infrastructure and beginning the journey to rolling out a new telephony solution?  The old adage of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ might no longer fit with the rapid pace of change.   Perhaps you have already started the process of modernizing the work place and the voice communication and collaboration aspects that tag along.  Either way change is inevitable and this is really where a decision should be made of “how” that modernization should occur – not if.

In the old days, when moving from one PBX to another, the theory was much more of a “rip and replace” mentality where the users would leave work on Friday, then come back Monday morning to a new phone on their desk with a little cheat sheet on any new buttons or features that the new PBX has to offer.  But is this really the best way to make this type of change?  Is it fair to the users to be “forced” to immediately adopt the new platform?  Well, in many opinions, it is no longer the right way to go about this process and options now existing to smooth out this process.

Instead, companies are starting the concept of “migrating” to the new platform with some level of “coexistence” with the old and the new.  Let’s dive into a couple of things to keep in mind during this process as when done right, it is great but when done wrong…ouch…

A great example is in a larger organization, where many offices may exist in different geographical locations, and doing a complete cutover in a couple of days is usually impossible.  The IT teams do not have the manpower to make all the changes without a negative impact on the users – especially while focusing efforts to ensure successful deployment and functionality along the way.  This is where coexistence is key!

Coexistence allows IT managers to have both telephony platforms up and running, while meticulously identifying users and groups to migrate at a much more reasonable pace.  Users in one office can start the migration to the new platform, adopt the new technology, and continue working without interference.  At the same time, users in other offices will see no change in their daily activities, as they will continue to use the existing telephony infrastructure until they are selected and ready to migrate.

Now that is all well and good, but what about the IT department?  Having to manage two telephony environments, especially in cases where administrators may only have knowledge of one or the other but not both, can become very challenging.  This also could pose issues with the ability to manage and enforce dial plans to provide a similar experience across both platforms.  Many things to think about while beginning the journey but things that industry experts are able to assist with and reduce the pains that could come up along the way…

No need to despair and fret over the choices – there are solutions that can help in both scenarios.

We plan to cover all of the above (and much more) on our upcoming “Cloud”ucation Episode #2 – Coexistence & Migration, so please do join us to hear it from the experts.  If you have not already signed up, please do so at the following link: http://online.audiocodes.com/clouducation

CloudUcation

CloudUcation

Clouducation Episode #1

Devices and Endpoints

CloudUcation

In today’s fast paced and ever changing world, companies are quite often looking to the latest and greatest technology to get the elusive competitive edge.  This is true from the flashy ‘front door’ of their website / mobile app to the more pedestrian, but equally critical, voice infrastructure especially when deploying Skype for Business.  The latest in voice technology allows for users to ubiquitously connect to others using virtually any piece of technology they can get their hands on.  This often includes their PC, iPad, Surface, mobile phone, or tin can and string – it should not matter (except for that last one which is a stretch!).  Well, at least that what users want to think…

Allowing users to make their own unfettered decisions about what device to use is great in theory, right up until the point where they continually have quality issues and turn their attention to blaming the back end infrastructure, rather than realizing it is the device or connection they are on that is the culprit.  At the same time, it is important to realize that users are people, and for people their device choices are personal.

So how do organizations overcome this challenge?  Well, first and foremost is to properly train their users on how to utilize SfB properly.  Secondly, and arguable more important, is to provide the appropriate devices for the users to utilize at all times to ensure they have the best possible chance for a successful experience.  This is where it is extremely important to provide users with a couple of options, including certified IP phones and headsets.

So what are the key things to consider when placing an IPP on a user’s desk?  Let’s take a quick look at some of those topics briefly below, before we dive much deeper during Episode #1 of the “Cloud”ucation series:

  1. Connectivity – When it comes to IP phones, making sure the user always has a “constant” connection readily available at all times helps to alleviate those times where your PC has conveniently decided to install updates and require a reboot.  It seems like a small inconvenience, but we have all been there!!
  2. Ease of use – IP phones can also help to bridge the gap from user’s past experiences on other voice platforms, with the new ways SfB has to offer for communicating.  Why would anyone want to “relearn” how to use a phone?  It is a silly concept for sure and great options are available to alleviant this concern.
  3. Manageability – This might not be something the users think of, but who wouldn’t want to be on the latest software load and be able to report all statistics back to the IT manager automatically?  We have all been there as well, having a bad call experience, and calling the IT folks to get the old “send me more information” response.  Users should not have to concern themselves with this type of stuff, and that’s why the endpoints need to be the eyes and ears of IT.

Pretty interesting stuff to consider, especially in the BYOD world we live in!

On top of that, there is an interesting new term that I have just learned of from Mauro Caule over at Jabra called a “Confetti day”.  Think of it this way, we all work in different places and spaces, but how do we keep ourselves “on task” with the increasing number of distractions we have around us?  Mauro is going to touch on how headsets can help mitigate a lot of those distractions and keep users on task no matter what is going on around them (except the NFL playoffs, who can work during that?!?!).