After more than 15 years of working in the telecommunications and IT industries, I’ve seen firsthand how people use technology to make a difference and change lives. While there are innovative uses of technology across all industries, nothing continues to impress me more than how collaboration technologies are reinventing education.
As we’ve seen time and time again technologies like video and mobile devices are enhancing 21st century learning. But no matter what technology schools and educators are using, the delivery of services matters. Thanks to the cloud, schools can deploy advanced collaboration technologies with increased financial and operational flexibility.
With Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), organizations can implement unified communication applications while saving money by switching from a capital expenditure model to an operational expenditure model. The flexibility of the cloud enables customers to accelerate rollouts, improve business agility, lower maintenance and utility costs all while continuously delivering services.
Take for example Perspectives Charter Schools, which serves more than 2,300 students across several Chicago communities. When Perspectives Charter Schools made the shift from an on-premise unified communications system to a cloud collaboration solution they lowered monthly costs, simplified system maintenance and improved administrative efficiency. With Cisco HCS, Perspectives’ monthly bill is now 25 percent less than their previous monthly costs for phone lines, maintenance, software support contracts and repairs. But while the total cost of ownership for communications has dropped, the quality of services hasn’t. The schools have added new collaboration capabilities such as voicemail-to-email and single number reach help make staff members more accessible.
And they’re not the only ones…
Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina made the same shift from on-premise to the cloud for voice services and experienced much of the same benefits. With Cisco HCS they’ve lowered the overall cost of their voice system by eliminated the need for one connection for each school and freeing up the IT team. Not only are they saving money, they are also increasing collaboration. The switch to the cloud gave students and faculty access to more advanced collaboration capabilities such as video and instant messaging.
Alamance-Burlington School System and Perspectives Charter Schools’ use of Cisco HCS are classic examples of doing more with less. Powered by the cloud they can both deliver the advantages of Cisco’s collaboration solutions with the financial, operational and strategic benefits associated with the cloud.
Is your school ready to start benefiting from the cloud?
Three Reasons: More Productivity, Revenues, and Savings
How can you control the connections and user experiences—and security—of BYOD and other mobile devices that access your business network? Maybe you or your IT staff have the expertise and time to do-it-yourself (DIY). Or, maybe not.
In my last blog,I outlined the benefits of mobility technologies and the hot bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend that is shaping the future of how business is done. When you consider the amazing things that happen when we connect people, process, data, and things, it’s no surprise to see the demand accelerating from employees, business leaders, and customers for mobile device connectivity.
So, how do you take care of it all—including security? Is DIY really the answer? The devil is in the details.
In this blog, I’ll give you two real-life examples of an alternative to DIY that has a high value proposition: engaging expert IT services for planning, building, and managing mobility—and quickly getting full ROI.
Example #1: Higher productivity, lower OpEx: A small business wanted to trim the large operating expense (OpEx) for its office space in the city by getting employees to work remotely. But the business also wanted to preserve its data security and employees’ feeling of working collaboratively. It decided to engage TekScape, a Cisco Premier Certified Partner, to come up with a solution.
TekScape specializes in “landscape technology”, its term for technology that facilitates more mobile and productive working environments. TekScape delivers and manages advanced IT solutions to help businesses increase employee productivity and reduce operating expenses. Its services include tailored design, implementation, and support of network integration, data center, unified collaboration, and mobility.
TekScape provided the 30-employee business with design and implementation services, as well as an ongoing managed service. The technology solution included Cisco collaboration and security products, and hosted communications services for mobile device apps and Cisco SMARTnet technical support service. To enhance the support, Cisco SMARTnet gives customers direct access to Cisco experts and online resources that can quickly resolve problems, lessen risk by detecting security issues, and keep customers’ IT staff up to date on technology advances and security threats. Solutions like this one position small businesses competitively for current and future mobility opportunities.
Following are the quantitative results:
Over 75 percent of the employees moved out of the office and now work from home or the site of their choice, using BYOD.
Their productivity immediately increased by 10 to 15 percent, due to less commuting, more flexible work hours, and the greater efficiency of participating in meetings in a videoconference format
The annual OpEx for office space shrank by more than $125,000
The business realized full ROI from its mobility products and services in less than a year
Example #2: Revenue and business continuity: A 200-employee business that provides medical records services had an ongoing contract with TekScape to monitor the performance of its network. The network equipment included a Cisco Unified Communications Manager platform and IP phones, and Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX)for client devices.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the business’s building on a Monday, 30 feet of water flooded two floors beneath the business. All power, Internet, and phone services for the building were knocked out.
Early the next morning,TekScape engineers wearing water boots showed up at the customer’s business, ready to help it resume operations. They quickly assessed that the utilities’ restoration of power and communications services to the building would take days (if not weeks), a delay the business could not endure due to client contracts and compliance requirements.
So TekScape devised an interim BYOD communications network solution, using the customers’ existing network equipment. TekScape engineers carried the communications platform to a co-location center, where they configured it for remote contact center agents, softphones, point-to-point video, and Cisco Jabber. The 200 employees quickly resumed work from locations all over the city, using their tablets, laptops, PCs, and smartphones to connect securely via VPNs.
It turned out that full restoration of operations at the site of the business’s building took two months, a delay that would have cost the customer $5 million in lost revenues.
The quantitative results: In less than a day, the customer realized full ROI from TekScape’s mobility services. And without them, the customer said, it would have gone out of business.
How could your business use expert mobility services to increase its productivity, revenues, or savings on operating expenses? The ROI from engaging expert IT services for planning, building, and managing mobility can be big and fast.
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Proserv Property Services, a customer of Clark Integrated Technologies based in Aberdeen, Scotland, who recently implemented a Cisco Unified Communications solution designed for small business. From the moment that I arrived in town, I had a feeling that the trip was going to be an eye-opening experience. First of all, the weather condition was just a drastic change especially coming from California. Quickly, I had to adjust to the freezing temperature in Aberdeen and some light rain during the entire trip.
I pre-arranged a meeting to visit ProServ early the next morning so I could learn more about their business and the reasons why they’ve become so successful. I also wanted to know more about their day-to-day operations, their challenges and how they are using technology to serve their customer better. Walking into ProServ was like a breath of fresh air. I quickly understood where their true success lies… which I’ll come back to it as I wrap up this blog.
As planned, I was greeted by Morgan Cooper of Proserv and members of her team who were all eager to discuss their experience using Cisco technology. They shared how it helps them to be more productive such as- rerouting their calls directly to the technicians on the road– a process that used to take multiple steps to complete. Now, the calls are automatically sent to the technicians on the road informing them of their next customer visit. All of this was great for me to observe because being at the customer site offered me some perspective that is usually hard to grasp otherwise.
Next, I met with Austen Clark, Sales Director at Clark Integrated Technologies – a very successful IT solution provider who is a Cisco Select Partner. Austen and I started working together earlier in the year so it was nice to finally meet him in person. He quickly reinforced the benefits Proserv is gaining as a result of the new IT network. Additionally he explained how Cisco OnPlus allows him to monitor the devices on the network proactively and alerts the client of any issues before they affect the business. Again, a plus for me to aborb this in the real customer environment! Obviously, Austen is a great business partner of Cisco.
As if this wasn’t enough, Morgan arranged for me to visit one of their clients, David Lloyd Gym & Tennis Club. What an amazing club! Top notch facilities, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, studio, gym, state of the art cafeteria and best of all, Ross, the Managing Director, extended us such a warm welcome. He shared that when businesses like ProServ and Lloyd, that are focused on serving their customers, implement IT solutions that helps them provide an efficient and reliable service, it becomes a win-win situation for everyone.
Now, I’ll come back with my conclusion on what I think makes Proserv stand out from their competition. Of course, choosing the right IT solution provider who can give them the best advice on the technology they need to meet the business challenges- is always a plus. But in my opinion, their true success lies in the quality of the service they provide, their management, having a proactive mindset and most importantly the people who work at Proserv–they truly are all super stars!
Check it out for yourself. Watch and enjoy the video! And don’t forget to share it with others too!
Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right network technical support plan that can save you time, money and customers.
As a business owner, your top priorities are to grow your business, increase your employees’ efficiency, and serve your customers better. On top of that, small and medium-sized businesses like yours are looking to leverage a sophisticated IT network without dedicated or limited IT staff to support these goals. If this sounds like your business, you understand how increasingly reliant your company has become on your network.
As you realize the impact your network has on your success, you may also recognize the need to maintain the health of your network so that it’s always on and available for employees to connect, collaborate, and communicate with colleagues and customers alike. Network downtime can cost your business plenty in decreased productivity, tarnished reputation, and lost revenue. According to Infonetics Research, unplanned network downtime costs companies an average of 3.6% of their revenue every year. And this doesn’t even include potential damage to your reputation. In addition, dealing with unplanned IT network problems can also be very demanding on your IT staff, and time consuming.
There is a solution: If you want to reduce business-halting network downtime and stop reactively responding to IT network problems, consider purchasing a technical support plan or services from your solution provider, which can help you save time and money. A support plan gives you access to expert technical support engineers who can quickly resolve network issues, minimizing the time your network is down. Faster problem resolution and a more stable network also means your employees can stay productive. Finally, services offered by your solution provider may include additional services such as ongoing remote monitoring for proactive network management, helping to anticipate issues before they affect your business.
So before you make your decision regarding the plan that’s right for you, consider these factors when deciding which support plan best meets your needs.
Technical support. For companies looking to support new technologies while saving time and money on ongoing maintenance, a technical support plan may be the solution. These plans often provide such features as phone and online support, software updates, and hardware replacement if needed, like the Cisco Small Business Support Service. Some technical support plans like Cisco SMARTnet also offer more direct, anytime (24x7) access to support engineers to quickly resolve any network issues that may occur. Talk to your Cisco partner who can help to evaluate your current and near-future needs and determine which option is best for you.
Proactive IT service. Like large businesses, many smaller companies rely heavily on their network as a strategic advantage to serve customers, suppliers, and vendors around-the-clock—the network is their business. However, these companies often don’t have the in-house IT resources necessary to implement new technologies, let alone provide round-the-clock monitoring and rapid resolution should a problem arise. If this sounds familiar, your company would benefit from working with a managed service provider who offers more comprehensive services—one that provides real-time monitoring and alerting, troubleshooting, performance optimization, and routine maintenance.
Whether your company has 15 employees or 600, a support contract and your partner’s services can help ensure the reliability and security of your network so you can focus on your core business. To find a partner who can guide you, visit the Cisco partner locator
What features do you look for when evaluating support plans?
As the trend for delivering technology as a service continues, now more than ever, partners must evolve their business to support the demand for new consumption models such as cloud and managed services. In order to support our partner’s evolution, Cisco continues to evolve our Channel Partner Program to help partners profitably monetize the cloud and managed services opportunity.
In September, we announced an evolution of the Cloud Partner strategy to bring data center infrastructure and cloud into the mainstream of our partner program with the introduction of the Cisco Master Cloud Builder Specialization.
Today we are pleased to announce the next phase of our Cloud Partner strategy. Read More »