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UCaaS

During these unique circumstances, it is important (as your communications partner) to support & provide you with the tools necessary to efficiently and effectively perform your day to day operations, be it at home or other remote capacities. It won’t take long to get confused when you take to google to source tools, resources, and technologies to support these efforts. Just as fast as you get confused, so will you sign up for a service with ambiguous terms and conditions that may hold you liable after the fact.

We have documented the services (with their respective COVID-19 promotions, concessions, and free offerings) for you. We have also streamlined the process for you sign up & deploy these services quickly. The solutions we have researched have high inventory’s and the ability to act fast! If any of the below items are becoming more of a realized need with the extended social distancing guidelines, let me know.

 

  • Headsets (WFH): source quality headsets for any remote environment. Sourced and shipped fast.
  • Video/Audio Conferencing solutions: free services w/ no contract obligations.
  • Microsoft Teams: unlimited domestic dialing, month-to-month with no long-term contract through direct routing partnership.
  • Customer Service & Contact Center: move agents to remote office, continue customer satisfaction, go digital with customer experience. Discounted rates and promo’s available.
  • Remote and Mobile VPN: ditch corporate VPN or legacy solutions for SaaS like ease of use for all internal applications w/ Zero Trust Security. Remote users can access internal corporate network through mobile terminal with fast and stable internet VPN tunnel. Free months of services.
  • DaaS: Stand up full cloud desktops for your power users. Month to month with no long term contract.
  • Workspaces: SaaS’ify legacy applications on premise and deliver to select users via online workspace portal. Month-to–month and no long-term contract.
  • Device Security & Management: Secure employees and their work from home devices with single sign on portal and mulit factor authentication. Access all SaaS application, simplify logins and reduce help desk passwork requests. Free for 60 days.
  • Expense Management: working from home will radically change how technology is consumed and invoiced. Manage these increased expenses (minutes, data, managed services, carrier bills, etc) with this service for 90 days for free.


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UCaaS

Your business continuity is our number one priority.

Please join RingCentral on March 26th for a quick 30 minute discussion on solutions to ensure business continuity and optimize your employees ability to be successful as a remote workforce. 

We will dive into:

  • Maximizing employee productivity with communication and collaboration
  • Best practices, tools and processes to optimize an efficient remote workforce environment
  • Solutions and tools to create a hassle-free experience, ensure business continuity and limit disruption and stress.


Now more than ever, the use of powerful remote work tools like RingCentral is not just a matter of preference, but a matter of safety. Our goal is to provide our best in class communication and collaboration solutions to ensure business continuity and employee health and safety.

Join us and leave with solutions, best practices, and tips on optimizing your employees ability to be successful by building strong communication & collaboration in this dynamic, quickly changing workforce environment.

Register today and become confident in remaining connected and working harmoniously during this time.

Register Now

 

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UCaaS
Article originally posted by our trusted eco-system partner, Ascenda, here.


Worldwide Spending on Digital Transformation Will Reach $2.3 Trillion in 2023 (IDC)


Y
ou’ve heard the phrase digital transformation ad nauseum for the past few years, and though it has profoundly impacted consumers as well as companies in nearly every industry around the world, it may be surprising to learn that the term is still very much relevant today. Now considered essential to business success, digital transformations are redefining the business-IT relationship, reshaping technology portfolios, and revolutionizing how work gets done.


“In the current competitive business world, digital transformation is the topmost strategic priority for every organization. Digital transformation involves managing the existing business and building for the future at the same time, something like changing the engine of the plane while in flight,” said Ashutosh Bisht, senior research manager for IDC’s Customer Insights & Analysis Group(IDC).


According to a 2016 Harvard Business School study, firms that embrace digital tech transformation saw an average 55% growth in gross margins over a three year period (growth that will echo down through earnings, net income and profits), while companies that weren’t sufficiently prepared to embrace digital tech had substantially lower margin growth, just 37%, during the same period. What’s more, a recent study by DXC and The Economist found that 68% of senior company executives have seen profitability increase over the past three years as a result of digital transformation, while 74% envisage a rise in profits because of their digital strategy.


Today, digital transformation means a variety of things — expanding usage of Office365, adapting networks for hybrid environments, integrating AI and blockchain to everyday process, utilizing Internet of Things (IoT), edge and cloud compute, impacting the overall business—for future-stage growth in the new decade.


Artificial Intelligence


Today, data is one of the main catalysts for digital transformation; companies are leveraging data to improve customer experiences, open new markets, make employees and processes more productive, and create new sources of competitive advantage – working toward the future of tomorrow.


In the coming year, new and evolving ways of wrangling data will take center stage in the enterprise, and innovations in artificial intelligence, edge computing and software robots will increasingly be leveraged for competitive advantage.


AI for example is helping companies attack daunting or near-to-impossible challenges for tech or business staff. AI has enabled employees to focus on higher-value tasks by tackling the following:

  • Demand forecasting
  • Personalized social media content/advertising
  • Predictive maintenance on machinery/vehicles
  • Competitive analysis
  • Proactive/personalized customer service
  • Inventory Planning
  • Risk analysis


AI also plays an important role in defending organizations from security threats, a trend that Vinay Sridhara, CTO of Balbix, expects will continue to gain steam in the year ahead. “Enterprises are using AI to enable their cybersecurity teams to get an accurate idea of breach risk by analyzing up to several hundred billion time-varying signals across their network,” Sridhara says. “This enables chief information security officers to continuously analyze high-volume, high-velocity cybersecurity data and gain real-time visibility into their company’s breach risk. AI-powered platforms even provide prioritized steps to remediate issues to drive cyber-risk reduction throughout the enterprise, enabling them to better protect their customers’ information.”


Cloud Consumption


Data provided by Blissfully 2019 SaaS Trends Report shows an average company 200-500 employees uses over 120 apps, but that same company shares an even more interesting number, about 2,700 app-to-person connections. Meaning these application and employee relationships produce data that needs to be analyzed, relationships that need tracking, management and security. That average company spends almost $900,000 a year on SaaS.


Increased cloud adoption across every business unit creates organizational challenges from governance to access to consumption. And there lies opportunity for IaaS, Colocation, SD-WAN, and Security.


Datometry surveyed 166 IT leaders and found that cost cutting initiatives was the number one reason to migrate computing to the cloud. But as we look to the new decade and integrate more M2M, AI and IoT into the business, top cloud initiatives include: standing up hybrid environments, public cloud adoption to replace data centers or utilize data analytics. Companies will invest in business resiliency and continuity along with developing/utilizing APIs and interoperability to further stitching existing tools together that help with automation.


Productivity & Collaboration


Forbes reports that companies earning in excess of $1 billion in annual revenue see an average increase of $700 million over three years, simply by investing in customer experience.


It’s time to implement technology that can automatically identify, measure, and respond to shifts in consumer behavior—and in real-time. For example, in a call center environment, cloud-based communications platforms can identify potential problems such as longer than average hold times or an increased rate of abandoned calls, allowing these issues to be addressed swiftly and before they have a long-term, negative impact on customers.


The ability for call centers and marketing departments to use qualitative and quantitative feedback from customers via call transcripts, surveys, social media interactions, etc. gives valuable insights into customer sentiments and a better understanding of the customer journey.


The employee experience is also as a crucial factor for organizational success—not simply in terms of productivity but also as a fundamental attraction for highly sought-after talent and a way to get them in the door. In a survey of nearly 300 companies to determine what makes a great employee experience, researchers at MIT found a surprise at the top of the list: video. Investments in video technology lead to innovation, as well as improved collaboration and productivity, researchers found, thus solidifying how embracing digital transformation initiatives can benefit a company long-term.


Organizations looking to be stay relevant must understand the nuances of digital transformation in 2020 and beyond. The last decade was about what to migrate, where and when. This next decade is about the change experience and how it affects the company, its network, its people and customers. The focus of digital transformation projects in the near-future won’t be to replace employees but to employ greater efficiencies so time can be spent focused on revenue-generating and/or mission-critical initiatives.

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UCaaS

Q4 is upon us, and we’re entering the home stretch for the year—and the decade. Businesses of all sizes are looking back on 2019 to audit crucial infrastructure and evaluate performance and cost-effectiveness to inform both their short-term organizational investments as well as long-term planning.

The adoption of cloud computing will sustain its acceleration through the new year as organizations continue to explore and fine-tune the mixture of on-premise and managed cloud services and applications that work best. In the past year, an increasing number of businesses have opted for multi-cloud and hybrid IT environments as a way to leverage the strength of various cloud solutions and deployment models based on data and application requirements as well as cost, compliance, performance, and future sustainability.

Flexera reports that 45% of enterprises deployed some sort of hybrid solution in 2019, and 31% utilized public cloud. (31% public; 9% on-premise private cloud; 6% hosted private cloud.) Last year, 30% of all IT budgets are being allocated to cloud computing and by 2020, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud (Forbes).

Nearly 90% of businesses predict their IT budgets will grow or stay steady over the next year. Over $20 billion was reportedly spent in one quarter in 2018; companies are spending on cloud solutions to improve customer experiences, drive operational efficiencies and improve employee productivity. Cloud communications solutions such as CCaaS and UCaaS, for example, are not just tools for communications; in fact, streamlining communications—even with true omnichannel capabilities—is only a small portion of the collection of benefits organizations see. Other benefits include reduced IT workloads and scalability and enhanced analytics. Forrester reports nearly 7 out of 10 IT managers feel that improving the experience of their customers is a top business priority, and PricewaterhouseCooper reports “nearly 80% of consumers say that speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer experience.”

Innovation on the horizon for cloud communication solutions includes the increasing maturity of artificial intelligence and its ability to interpret large quantities of unstructured data. For example, a contact center might field thousands of calls in a given day; AI can analyze every interaction and, based on trends, potentially identify opportunities in real-time. Be it quick fixes or new product features, AI can reduce the lead time it takes a business to adapt and deliver value back to the customer.

Similarly, IVR (interactive voice response) will continue to make headway in 2020—powered by AI, of course. With the ability to interpret accents and tones with better accuracy than traditional speech recognition software, intelligent IVR is one of the major contact center trends for 2020. AI-powered IVR systems can also benefit customers who are hesitant to wait in a call queue by assigning the caller to specific agents or departments on a case-by-case basis.

Again, in deference to customer experience, surveys have shown that customers have a strong preference for self-service solutions over agent support. As such, self-assist tools, including FAQs and tutorials that help customers to self-troubleshoot generic issues, have gained favor from consumers because they can quickly resolve the majority of simple concerns before a live agent needs to be involved. A rise in the adoption of self-assist tools is predicted in 2020, as most organizations are working to free up their agents to focus on more time and resource-intensive tasks.

Lastly, more organizations will be looking to leverage high-end message filtering technology that reduces the number of error messages and misinformation without impacting customer experience or experiencing loss of time or money. The utilization of message recall technology is a major milestone for call center business. While message transmissions can be delayed by a couple of seconds, the result could be worth millions of dollars in savings annually, depending on the size of the organization.

MarketsandMarkets reports that UCaaS will grow to over $28 billion by 2021. The market is only 16% penetrated and cloud-based contact center is growing at 25.2 CAGR resulting in a 20.9 billion market by 2022. 

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UCaaS

The infiltration of mobile devices in the workplace isn’t new news; although it may be hard to believe, mobile devices entered the workforce just a little more than a decade ago. More recently, the influx of BYOD, the ever-growing number of remote workers, and the mind-blowing pace at which technology is advancing have kept IT departments on their toes and CIOs awake at night trying to manage it all. As such, it should come as no surprise that with this increase comes growing strain and an increasing number of obstacles facing a CIO; they and their staff need to continuously shift their priorities and strategies to accommodate the current challenges that are plaguing their organization and adapting to the constant changes.

Not surprisingly, CIO mobility-induced headaches run the gamut from mundane to major and can often be attributed to several different challenges simultaneously. Here, we’ll look at the seven biggest headaches that mobility is causing.

Lack of Resources

While many organizations—in particular enterprise organizations—are becoming increasingly ambitious with their digital transformation initiatives, new technology solutions may not be implemented very quickly due to the lack of sufficient IT and budgetary resources. Additionally, with BYOD and the remote nature of the workforce it takes more manpower than often what’s staffed to accomplish security, integrations, development, management and monitoring along with analytics.

Talent Shortage

In some areas of IT, in particular cybersecurity, there seems to be a stunning lack of talent in the industry; it is estimated that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021. Mobility causes all sorts of challenges for IT, from security concerns like lost/stolen devices to mobile device management and BYOD policies.

Security  

As mentioned above, mobility brings an alarming number of threats to the enterprise and deposits them at the door of the CIO and IT leadership. Preventing the next cybersecurity attack, mitigating the risks employee devices bring, and leveraging the right solutions to do it all can keep a CIO up at night worrying about keeping the network, employees and customers safe.

Surpassing the Competition  

CIOs in particular are under a great deal of stress from the executive team to not just keep up with the competition but to outpace them. Mobility is the cornerstone to innovation and the leg up companies have when working to identify new revenue streams.  

5G

Although it may be a year or so before 5G transforms the way business is done, 5G-enabled phones have already hit the market. 5G not only brings an upgraded network to the table, from 20 to 100 times faster than 4G, increased speed and bandwidth will lend itself to a boom of IoT devices (a forecasted 18 billion by 2022). Of course, the more devices that an enterprise has online, the greater the security risk and the greater number of devices that will need to be managed—all by the IT department.

Mobility & the Edge

“Edge computing is going to be huge going forward,” Jack E. Gold, president and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates says. “From an enterprise perspective, that will play out largely in the EoT (Enterprise of Things) space, but it also means we’re going to have distributed apps. Computing will be dispersed even more as mobile carriers add computer resources right at their cell sites.” Increased edge and fog computing will provide even more questions for the CIO regarding the network, data storage, cloud environments and colocation.

In response to mobility-induced headaches CIOs are facing, both traditional management vendors and AI companies have been focused on creating Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions. AI has the potential to help alleviate much of the IT burden placed on companies when it comes to mobile devices. As Gold puts it, AI coming in is a way to help IT manage devices… look for this kind of assistive intelligence – not just Siri or Alexa, but a concierge that understands me and can help me make the most of the device.”

Interested in learning more about how you can navigate the often-challenging field of mobility solutions? Contact us here.

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UCaaS, Voice
Originally posted by ATI partner RingCentral

RingCentral, Inc. (NYSE: RNG), a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications, collaboration, and contact center solutions, today announced it has ranked the highest for growth and innovation in the new 2019 Frost & Sullivan UCaaS Radar Report. Frost & Sullivan’s first North American hosted IP telephony and UCaaS Radar report delivers analysis of 30 providers across growth strategy, execution, and performance, as well as their ability to develop solutions that are globally applicable and aligned with mega trends and customers’ evolving needs. RingCentral received the highest combined growth and innovation score of all the providers.

“RingCentral has consistently been a leading player in the UCaaS industry and has yet again surpassed its competitors, with a strong focus on innovation, user experience, global capabilities, channel enablement, and technology partnerships,” said Elka Popova, global vice president for Connected Work, Frost & Sullivan. “RingCentral is the market share leader in North America in terms of both users and revenue and is likely to maintain its leadership position through relentless pursuit of growth and innovation.”

The 2019 Frost & Sullivan UCaaS Radar report highlights a number of key strengths for RingCentral, including:

  • Compelling mobile functionality that addresses the pain points of the increasingly mobile workforce
  • Global Office solution that caters to multinational businesses
  • Flexible cloud technology and a proprietary platform that enable rapid innovation and cost-effective scalability
  • An extensive and expanding feature set that addresses diverse and evolving user needs
  • A collaborative user experience, SMS, analytics tools, video and web conferencing, and webinar services—competitively packaged and priced—that set RingCentral solutions apart from most competitors
  • Geo-redundant data centers and strong track record of service reliability that ensure high service quality


“With today’s workforce increasingly mobile, enterprises are looking for effective ways to enhance communication and collaboration with their customers, partners, and employees,” said Riadh Dridi, chief marketing officer, RingCentral. “We’re honored to be ranked highest in this new report by Frost & Sullivan, and it validates our commitment to provide businesses with global, mobile, and secure communications and collaboration solutions that enhance business efficiency.”


esults are based on the 2019 Frost & Sullivan UCaaS Radar report. For more information, please view a complimentary copy of the report. Results are not an endorsement of RingCentral. Visit ww2.frost.com for more details.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RINGCENTRAL HERE

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UCaaS
The cloud can help you meet the changing, and often critical, needs of your customers, helping to keep them happy while using your product or service. As more companies begin their migration to the cloud, enabling them to provide superior customer service, don’t let your competition and your customers pass you by. What are you waiting for?

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UCaaS

This article was originally published by ATI partner Mitel on Mitel’s Blog.

Whether you work in a multi-hospital healthcare system or a private dentist’s office, protecting personal health information (PHI) is essential. HIPAA’s rules and requirements are clear — no matter what, PHI must be kept completely confidential.

This has become increasingly important as more and more health care providers (or “covered entities,” in HIPAA language) use the cloud to store data and run software. Among other things, this means the vendors who provide those services must be certified HIPAA-compliant.

What does that mean for a cloud service provider? Or for a vendor offering business VoIP services? What if the data is encrypted so that cloud providers? Do they still need to be certified HIPAA-compliant? What is their responsibility when security breaches occur, or during natural disasters? What happens to the data when a healthcare provider terminates the vendor relationship?

Is your head spinning yet? Obviously, using a third-party to handle sensitive patient data requires a lot of careful thought.

HIPAA: The Basics

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers and their vendors to establish three types of controls when handling PHI (or “ePHI” for electronic patient data): administrative, physical and technical. Policies and procedures are examples of administrative controls. Protecting hardware is a physical control. Implementing data encryption is an administrative control.

Covered entities need technical vendors that offer multi-layer security frameworks with physical and technical safeguards enforced by stringent administrative policies. They should be certified HIPAA-compliant and offer a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Thus, as a best practice, it’s a good idea to work with vendors who offer HIPAA-compliant solutions like MiCloud Connect, built on Google Cloud.

Business Associates

In fact, the law is quite clear when it comes to the responsibility of third-party vendors like cloud providers providing technical services to healthcare providers. The Guidance on HIPAA & Cloud Computing published on HHS.gov explains the obligations of Business Associates:

“When a covered entity engages the services of a CSP [cloud service provider] to create, receive, maintain, or transmit ePHI (such as to process and/or store ePHI), on its behalf, the CSP is a business associate under HIPAA. Further, when a business associate subcontracts with a CSP to create, receive, maintain, or transmit ePHI on its behalf, the CSP subcontractor itself is a business associate.
“As a result, the covered entity (or business associate) and the CSP must enter into a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement (BAA), and the CSP is…directly liable for compliance with the applicable requirements of the HIPAA Rules.
“If a covered entity (or business associate) uses a CSP to maintain (e.g., to process or store) electronic protected health information (ePHI) without entering into a BAA with the CSP, the covered entity (or business associate) is in violation of the HIPAA Rules.”

The bottom line: Any vendor you choose to handle your ePHI must provide a BAA that spells out in detail each party’s responsibilities. The agreement can specify how the data will be used, stored, protected and transmitted; what will happen in case of a security breach or natural disaster; disposition of data at termination of contract; and any other requirements or conditions the covered entity deems important.

In addition to the BAA, clients can include provisions in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to address HIPAA concerns, such as backup and data recovery. Whether you’re concerned about a hack or a natural disaster, ask the vendor what plan it has in place to protect and recover your data.

Use the SLA to specify the vendor’s security responsibilities. HIPAA regulations require that both covered entities and business associates abide by the Security Rule. Even when clients control access to the data via encryption, vendors still must be HIPAA-compliant. Consider requiring vendors to demonstrate how they remain current with the latest encryption standards.

As part of the agreement, be sure to cover what happens when the relationship ends. How will the data be returned to the healthcare provider? Under the Privacy Rule, HIPAA regulations requires business associates to return or destroy all PHI at a contract’s termination.

HIPAA Certification

When evaluating vendors, look for partners that are certified HIPAA-compliant. Confirm that they’ve engaged a third-party organization to verify their compliance using the most recent Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Audit Protocol. Since HIPAA rules can change over time, certification is not a one-time deal.

All covered entities are responsible for their HIPAA compliance and open to audit. Consequently, your vendor should conduct regular internal checks. Ask each prospective partner how often its audits their processes and procedures.

Also, find out if the vendor has an internal, dedicated information security team responsible that monitors and HIPAA protocols on an ongoing basis. And make sure the vendor’s employees receive ongoing training to keep up with changes in HIPAA rules.

Risk Analysis

Whether you’re a healthcare provider or a business associate, HIPAA requires you to conduct risk analyses of potential threats and vulnerabilities to ePHI.

A recent study by CynergisTek found that third-party vendors were responsible for 23 percent of 2018’s healthcare data breaches. One reason: Many providers lack processes to address – and predict – risks.

David Rauschendorfer, senior director of CynergisTek’s Security Services Operations, highlights this finding. “Vendors lack activities that identify threats as well as the potential business impacts of identified vulnerabilities,” he explains. “These high-risk vendors often lack established or formally documented methodologies to prioritize and address identified risks.”

Ask your vendor about its procedures for not just protecting ePHI, but also identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities. You always want to be proactive, not reactive.

Breach Notification

If a security incident does occur, HIPAA is quite clear on the vendor’s responsibilities. The Security Rule requires business associates to “identify and respond to suspected or known security incidents; mitigate, to the extent practicable, harmful effects of security incidents that are known to the business associate; and document security incidents and their outcomes.” The Breach Notification Rule spells out the content, timing and other requirements for business associates to follow when reporting incidents to the covered entity.

Ask each potential vendor what policies and procedures it has in place to address and document data breaches or an attack on its systems. In particular, how does it discover data breaches? How does it identify the problem’s source, and what remediation steps does it take to limit damage? Require specific timing for notification and resolution.

All Secure In One Place

When choosing your cloud vendor, consider how it will enable your organization to access and use essential patient information while remaining compliant with HIPAA regulations. Ultimately, you have to store information in a way that’s both secure and accessible so that medical professionals can share and collaborate while patients can manage their healthcare.

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UCaaS
Although unified communications as a service (UCaaS) systems and contact center solutions have previously been thought of as separate entities, cloud technology has increasingly facilitated collaboration between the two. The Cloud removed the restrictions of on-prem hardware which enables the contact center solution’s remarkable versatility and fluidity – both crucial strengths required to provide the increasingly personalized and convenient services demanded by customers in the digital age.

CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) solutions are gradually being recognized as valuable tools to help modern businesses provide exceptional customer service, as evidenced by the CCaaS market’s expected rise to an estimated nearly $16 billion by 2021. Any organization that prioritizes customer experience should take advantage of CCaaS functionality to improve customer engagement and satisfaction.

For organizations that currently have a UC solution in place, augmenting the foundation of cloud communications with a CCaaS solution (an actual contact center is NOT required!) can substantially increase the benefits of both solutions, increasing productivity and improving overall customer service. UCaaS is able to integrate different mediums of communication into a single focal point accessible by any department, eliminating dialogue gaps between them.

CCaaS functionality like intelligent routing and CRM sync make it so customers can transition between departments without changing their mode of contact or initiating interactions more than once, and various employees are able access any relevant data before being connected with that customer. Customers themselves have grown to expect brand experiences that are both effortless as well as seamless—no matter the location, time or touchpoint. 84% of customers are dissatisfied with their contact center experiences, so there is plenty of room for improvement across a broad range of verticals and business types.
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