Decentralization – Another Sign You’re Ready for UC

As noted earlier in this series, compared to VoIP, the signs aren’t as obvious with UC that your business is ready for the move. At least with VoIP, the hard dollar savings are plain to see, and they flow to the bottom line almost immediately. Also, when moving from legacy to IP, the phone systems are pretty similar, so there’s a high degree of familiarity. Not so much with UC, and the reasons have been addressed in previous posts.

When thinking about the business case for UC, some examples are self-evident, while others are not. This depends largely on your point of view, and that’s why this series is being written. Those having an IT-centric perspective will see UC as a technology and/or a network-related solution. Fair enough, but management will be listening for different selling points, especially around productivity. There are several ways to frame that for management, and one of them is presented below.

Sign #3 – operations are decentralizing

There are times when you are willing/able to be proactive and anticipate how needs are changing. In terms of earning accolades with UC, these are the best scenarios, but they don’t happen very often. This approach isn’t part of IT’s job description, especially when it comes to making a call on something as amorphous as UC. Not to mention the fact that IT is usually in ongoing crisis mode, with few cycles available to plan ahead.

More likely, you’re largely confined to being reactive, and hopefully in ways that are just a step or two behind the curve, rather than off the curve altogether. Think about BYOD, and how ill-prepared most companies are in dealing with it. Even when IT saw BYOD coming, it was already too late. When end users have this much influence over network resources, IT simply has to go along and figure it out on the fly.

UC isn’t quite so disruptive, but decentralization is another big trend where these capabilities can solve a lot of problems. The main issue here is that businesses are decentralizing on two levels. First is operationally, where globalization is requiring businesses to establish more local presence to support customers.

Related to this is the fact that as our economy shifts from being manufacturing-based to being knowledge-based, there is less need to maintain the traditional business model where all operations were centrally located around the production facilities. This means that businesses can build up their workforce around where the skills are, and it’s not unusual to have operations spread out over a broad geography. For example, R&D could be located near a cluster of schools that have a particular focus the business needs, back office operations can be based in lower cost locations, and sales offices can be based close by to major customers or target markets.

On a secondary level, there is growing decentralization among employees on an individual level. Working from home has become a major lifestyle choice for some people, and if they have the right skills, businesses are happy to accommodate them. Others are constantly on the road as a matter of course, and many have next to no reason to have a regular office to call home. Add in everyday mobility enabled by mobile devices, and it’s clear that fewer and fewer people spend their full days in the same location or even cubicle any more.

Enter UC

Classical management styles are built around the command-and-control model, but that’s getting harder to sustain with all these changes.  Most of these trends should be familiar, and if so, this should be your clue to start looking at UC as being part of the solution. Management will support these trends so long as they help reduce costs and allow them to maintain reasonable control over the operation. Try as they might, these trends will be very difficult to reverse, and the old model isn’t coming back.

As such, this presents a great opportunity for IT to show how UC can be a win-win all around. Whereas you may not have seen a good reason for UC before, decentralization presents one now, and you just have to connect the dots. Decentralization can be very good for business, but the more disparate the workforce, the more essential it becomes to have a robust communications platform to hold everyone together.

UC truly is the lynchpin, especially since most of the applications are real time. When you haven to bring a team together from multiple time zones to share data and collaborate on projects, there is no better way than with UC. I’m sure you can think of other examples, but the main idea is to position UC as a solution to ensure that decentralization can continue unfolding in a way that aligns with management’s objectives, along with allowing employees to feel engaged from wherever they’re based.

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Part 2: Channel Partners-10 Reasons to Recruit ADTRAN’s ProCloud Wi-Fi

Last week, we introduced a channel-value perspective of ADTRAN’s ProCloud Wi-Fi, the industry’s first no-worry business-class wireless managed service. 10 Reasons to Recruit ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi. I referenced four reasons (from a list of 10) as to why ProCloud Wi-Fi has the greatest intrinsic value for a managed cloud-based WLAN solution, emphasizing 99.99% reliability and customer-pleasing simplicity – even if your organization doesn’t have a wireless discipline!

This week, as the second post to a 3-part blog series, I’d like to review three new, yet definitely unique reasons why ProCloud Wi-Fi is the best choice for the channel solution provider, the customer, and the customer’s customer; all essential stakeholders in addressing BYOD challenges. Let’s take a look at what I would suggest are extraordinarily unique and important channel partner options (benefits) which collectively, you won’t find from any other vendor.

1.  Partner Cloud: Ok, so ProCloud Wi-Fi is a cloud-based wireless infrastructure service which ADTRAN manages with a guaranteed uptime of 99.99%. Got it! However, based upon your organization’s wireless experience, another option you (channel partner) may want to consider aside from ProCloud Wi-Fi is ProCloud Wi-Fi Private Label; the difference is that you would manage the wireless infrastructure on behalf of your customer, while ADTRAN continues to host the cloud-based software controller. In essence, you design your own unique and compelling managed services model, while we continue to take care of all the datacenter requirements. With ProCloud Wi-Fi Private Label, you not only gain greater flexibility and recognize stronger margins; you’re also able to market and sell the service behind your own company brand name and logo. See, what did I tell you? But wait, it gets better.

2.  Freedom to Migrate: ADTRAN leads the industry with the only wireless infrastructure service that allows the channel to migrate their wireless service model from one market entry point to another. “Anderson, what the heck are you talking about?” Let’s fast forward the tape 4-6 months and hypothetically say you’ve been promoting ADTRAN’s no-worry ProCloud Wi-Fi managed services. Of course, your customers just absolutely love it and your sales people find it incredibly easy to sell! Then later, you and your team decide that wireless is a piece of cake and believe ProCloud Wi-Fi Private Label is a much better fit. No problem. With ADTRAN, you have the freedom to migrate your customer base to ProCloud Wi-Fi Private Label – at any time – and continue to market and sell your newly branded managed wireless service. But wait, it gets better!

In a different scenario, let’s say you’re selling ProCloud Wi-Fi Private Label and are just crushing the competition. Yet, later you determine cloud-based wireless infrastructure services is a “walk in the park” and not only can your team manage it with their eyes closed, but could manage and host the software controller (ADTRAN vWLAN virtualized on a VMware hypervisor), essentially offering a public cloud wireless infrastructure service – behind your brand name and logo. Well, with ADTRAN you can do that!  You have the flexibility to transition your customer base to the datacenter of your choice and begin selling your own cloud-based Wi-Fi service! Now, as they say in our Burlington, MA office; “That’s wicked cool!”

3.  ADTRAN ProServices: From time-to-time, as a result of mounting customer service tickets, your network ops team may be over-booked which can lead to low employee morale if additional resources aren’t secured. If this is the case, we have a great solution called ADTRAN ProServices. In the context of ProCloud Wi-Fi, one of the ProServices offerings which can come in quite handily is ADTRAN ProStart.  With ProStart, you have a broad selection of services to choose from to help (a) evaluate, design and plan an enterprise customer’s wireless infrastructure which ranges from remote predicative site survey, to pre-installation onsite wireless site survey, to onsite readiness assessment, and then, (b) assist with the implementation of the wireless infrastructure design, which includes ProStart Express, ProStart Remote, and ProStart Onsite. All of these great ADTRAN ProStart options are described further with more information at ADTRAN ProServices, and several of them can be ordered as a private label version under your company’s unique brand name and logo.

I trust you now realize why ProCloud Wi-Fi is the preferred wireless infrastructure choice of channel partners and carriers around the globe. I’ll provide the final three “channel partner value” tenets of ProCloud Wi-Fi next week. One of them was just announced this week in a press release; ADTRAN ProCare Help Desk.

Stay tuned and learn more.

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PBX Usage – Another Sign You’re Ready for UC

As this series continues, I’ll be exploring five different indicators that your organization is ready for UC. The need for UC is not that obvious, and won’t be as easy to pinpoint as with VoIP. This comparison is relevant since VoIP is the critical first step along the IP path that the vendors hope will bring you to UC. Most businesses by now know about VoIP, and the business case is usually pretty strong. UC, on the other hand, is somewhat of a moving target, with an ROI that’s more inferred than carved in stone.

My last post provided the starting point for the journey to UC. As any marketing primer will tell you, creating awareness is a necessary condition for generating sales, and that was sign #1. As noted earlier, the “UC” moniker is rather vague, so somehow you need to know what it is before you can realize that it’s something you need. The point of my last post was simply that if you know what UC is, that’s a good sign you’re probably ready for it. After all, UC doesn’t solve any immediate problem, so you have to look at it differently than other technology solutions.

Sign #2 – changing PBX usage

With sign #1, you’re now aware of UC, which means you’ll become attuned to things going on in your environment that could benefit from UC. In that regard, you have to start with the phone system – and that’s certainly where most UC vendors would want you to be looking. UC is really a line extension for the PBX vendors in that they know the upside for standalone phone systems is limited with the advent of VoIP. To ensure continued relevance for enterprise customers, their value proposition needs to evolve, and for the most part, that brings us to UC.

This matters more for their business strategy than your IT needs, so to get the right clues, you need to take a closer look at how your IP PBX is actually being used. Here are some examples to tell you there’s a disconnect between that and what the phone system was built for:

  • Desk phones aren’t ringing as often as they used to
  • Mobile phones are ringing more often and these calls are often business-related
  • Employees aren’t using their desk phones as often as they used to
  • When the phone rings, employees keep working on their PCs and let the calls go through to voicemail
  • When employees do pick up the phone to take a call, they shift over back to their PC and continue what they were doing before – with the handset cradled on their shoulder to keep the call going
  • Even while sitting next to their desk phone, employees are both receiving and making business calls on their mobile devices

These are likely familiar scenes and I’m sure you can think of others. If they’re not familiar, you probably just need to observe everyday workflows a little closer. Legacy telephony has been deeply entrenched for so long, it’s easy to take your phone system for granted and not pay heed to how patterns are changing. After all, your IP PBX is highly reliable, and if it’s fully paid for, you probably just view it as a passive asset – albeit one that employees use every day.

While the phone system may be a steady workhorse, its utility is in terminal decline. The hub of communication has shifted from the desk phone to the PC, and more recently also to the mobile devices. Voice is giving way to data, and hand sets are giving way to screens. Employees are engaging with different tools, different endpoints and different modes of communicating. In short, with VoIP, telephony is just another data application – and one that becomes more valuable when integrated with other data applications.

At face value, it may look like the phone system is simply less convenient than using other devices or endpoints. This may well be the case, but there’s a bigger change underway. Your phone system was always designed for one thing – telephony, and before VoIP, it lived in a parallel world alongside everything else used to communicate. That model worked well in legacy times, but is antithetical to the UC concept.

Now that you know what UC is, even a casual observance of how employees are using your phone system will provide some clues as to how things could be done better. Of course, you can just monitor traffic activity for the IP PBX on the LAN, but this data will only tell you so much. You need to see the bigger picture of how telephony intersects with the other communications modes in everyday use, and once that happens, the promise of UC will start to make more sense.

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Channel Partners: 10 Reasons to Recruit ADTRAN’s ProCloud Wi-Fi

We realize that as a Value Added Reseller (VAR), you’re constantly reevaluating your line card portfolio to remain parallel with changes in the market. Many times, the relevant costs outweigh potential business opportunities because “their technology” hasn’t kept up with industry innovation. And with the proliferation of mobile devices, it’s quite possible that particular wireless vendors have . . . not kept up.  And when you begin to look at different choices relative to cloud-based wireless solutions – well, it gets complicated.

At ADTRAN, we simply offer a no-worry cloud-based WLAN solution that we manage called ProCloud Wi-Fi. Our cloud is not just a buzzword; it’s the most affordable business-class wireless offering for customers at either one or one thousand locations. And it’s so simple, that you can start selling ProCloud Wi-Fi today.

What if my company doesn’t have a discipline in wireless infrastructure?” No worries. With ProCloud Wi-Fi, we’ll help you look like a Wi-Fi hero. In fact, we have ten different reasons why ProCloud Wi-Fi is the best channel solution to build a wireless practice around. In this three-part blog series starting with today’s post, I’ll share with you how easy it is to become a leading market expert in wireless infrastructure.  Here are the first four:

  1.  Simple and Easy:  We understand how busy your network admin resources are. Let us help! With ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi, you can virtually support all of your customer’s Wi-Fi network requirements by leveraging our managed services. Think of ADTRAN as an extension of your network operations team. How? We manage customer’s wireless infrastructure. We respond to alarms and notifications.  We staff the industry’s top networking experts. We take care of automatic software updates (afterhours and transparent). And then we also take care of all that datacenter stuff with a guaranteed uptime of 99.99%. How cool is that?
  2. Go to Market Quicker:  ProCloud Wi-Fi allows you, your customer, or prospective customer to respond more effectively to wireless infrastructure needs and multi-site deployments as there’s never a hassle to install a hardware controller – ever. And with the surge of BYOD, you never have to worry about installing incremental controllers or servers or server software – which by the way takes time, money and resources. With ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi, you simply deploy the necessary access points, point them to our cloud service and viola; you have wireless my friend!
  3. Disaster Recovery: ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi ensures your customers have an always-on wireless network with innovative High-availability (HA) architecture providing zero-packet-loss. Couple that with redundant datacenter infrastructure and you have 99.99% reliability – guaranteed. With ProCloud Wi-Fi, you can now promote industry-leading SLAs (NBD or 4-hour hardware replacement; 1-hour or 30-min phone response) to your clients and new prospects. Like, today!
  4. Unmatched Security: You’ll sleep better knowing your customers have a secure business-class wireless networking environment with ProCloud Wi-Fi. With our intelligent APs, you won’t have to worry about intruding hacker threats; our APs have built-in firewalls to detect and turn-away malicious attacks at the edge. And with role based access we can help segment guest and employee traffic from the customer’s operational traffic with encrypted tunnels between the APs and the cloud-based controller. Now you can go back to bed!

Hopefully, you’re beginning to realize why ProCloud Wi-Fi is the preferred reliable choice of channel partners and carriers around the globe and why they trust ADTRAN to manage their customer’s wireless infrastructure in the cloud. I’ll provide additional insight into the “channel partner value” of ProCloud Wi-Fi next week. Stay tuned and learn more.

For more information, email bob(period)

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The First Sign Your Business is Ready for UC

I began this series by talking about the legacy of legacy telephony. The idea there was that legacy set the bar very high for telephony, and over the years, VoIP has come to be a bona fide replacement. We all know that VoIP will eventually supplant TDM, but that’s a few years away yet. More importantly, it has matured to the point where today, businesses of all sizes can go all-in with VoIP. That’s a major vote of confidence, not just for VoIP, but UC as well.

As such, this “legacy” is a good starting point for my series, which analyzes five indicators that your business is ready for UC. Accepting the validity of VoIP is the cornerstone for any UC deployment, and now let’s continuing by looking at the first sign.

Sign #1 – you know what UC is

Do you remember when you first learned about VoIP? Depending how far back you go, this may have seemed like a radical concept, but with zero business utility. That’s no longer the case, but once you saw the potential benefits for business, it became easier to justify giving it a try. A key part of that is VoIP’s familiarity – it was pretty much a total overlay for TDM. You used it exactly the same way, nobody had to learn anything new, and end users didn’t even have to be told about it.

The key challenge, of course, was the absence of a pressing problem for this new solution to address. In most cases, the move to VoIP was made because you wanted to, not because you had to. Nothing was broken, and your legacy phone system could probably have lasted a few more years. Overall, however, the simple economics of VoIP made it too good to pass on, and trumped what would otherwise be valid reasons to stick with TDM.

Once VoIP was successfully deployed, the richer benefits would in time be realized, both by IT and end users. These were not generally the drivers for making the go-ahead decision, but sure were nice to have. This is important for UC, as VoIP needs to be understood as being more than a straight-up replication of TDM. At face value, this is the expectation, but as you know, VoIP is much more than that.

In holistic terms, the true value of VoIP lies in its ability to integrate with other applications and enable voice in new ways that make the business more productive. Basic telephony is really just a means with VoIP, not the end.

With that thinking in mind, we now come to UC. If you thought VoIP was a solution looking for a problem, UC is an order of magnitude greater challenge. At least with VoIP there is a clear-cut economic benefit, and that’s usually enough for most businesses to base a decision on. UC, on the other hand, is not sold as a way to cut costs, as the real benefits are tied to productivity gains, which are difficult to quantify.

Similar to VoIP, UC does not address a known problem or fix anything that’s broken. However, all businesses strive for productivity gains, and even if you don’t have a way to measure these, a case can be made on this basis. Consider situations where a business has tried many approaches to boost productivity but without success. The harder management leans on everyone for these gains, the greater the urgency to find a way. When you’re in a situation like this, any solution will get your attention, especially if you feel like your job is on the line. This is especially relevant for IT, where the pressure from management to outsource is constant, and the expectations are intense for getting a better ROI on technology.

In this context, you really do have a problem, and the more you hear about UC, the more attention you start to pay. As you know, UC is a vendor-generated term that IT departments would never discover on their own. After all, UC integrates a multitude of communications applications, all of which are already in everyday use. UC isn’t about adding new communications tools, and one can easily argue that your employees have too many tools as it is to manage.

In these cases, UC’s value is not intuitive – you really have think beyond the tools to see the broader impact, especially for how UC enables better collaboration. This may seem a bit abstract, but if you believe that communications is a key driver of productivity, it becomes easier to see how UC can be a solution to the “problem” outlined herein.

As such, when you’ve reached a point where you actually know what UC is, you will in fact, have passed all these checkpoints. Given your everyday pressures, you become highly attuned to things you may not normally notice. Now, when vendors pitch their UC story, or you read about it in the media, you may surprise yourself by how quickly you connect the dots. When that happens, you’ll you’re ready for UC.


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