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New and Improved QHC Range by Samsung Built to perform. Priced just right. Super fast, secure and full of essentials. Introducing QHC, Samsung’s sleekest display in the UHD Signage lineup, blending style with performance for a sophisticated business environment. As Google continues to release exceptional smartphones every year, we cannot help but get excited about the launch of their latest offering, the Google Pixel 7a. This device boasts impressive features and a pocket-friendly price tag making it a popular choice among customers worldwide. Equipped with the state-of-the-art camera, it takes exceptional photos and videos even in low-light conditions. The device is smaller and more compact than previous Pixel models, making it easier to hold and use with one hand. With a long-lasting battery, users can enjoy a full day of usage without the need for recharging. The Google Pixel 7a is an exceptional smartphone that offers users an impressive set of features, a compact design, and a competitive price. Contact your dedicated Exertis Account Manager today to learn more about how we can assist you with your purchase.
With a slim profile of just 28.5mm, QHC stands as the thinnest option in Samsung’s UHD series, seamlessly integrating into any setting with its hassle-free Slim Fit Wall Mount. This innovative display maximizes space utilization, offering an elegant addition to diverse business environments. QHC ensures a visually cohesive experience in any mode, featuring a consistent and even bezel on all four sides. Whether in landscape or portrait mode, the uniform bezel design eliminates visual discrepancies, maintaining a seamless and professional presentation. For added convenience, QHC boasts centered VESA holes, ensuring an evenly distributed weight for secure mounting. The strategically placed VESA holes facilitate
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Seeing is believing
enough, the announcements coming out of Zoomtopia should be enough for anyone to work out that embracing these technologies is a good idea. Even throughout the features in this issue, AI is a theme that runs through the pieces we have put together. Tracking within conferencing devices, sentiment analysis, and customer communications are all examples of AI being applied to good effect. On top of these features we have a profile with Zoho Communications who talked about their place in the UC industry, a review of how bolt on software is improving video conferencing solutions, as well as a look at how the haulage industry stays on track.
I’m writing this sat in the middle of Microsoft Envision, the Tech Giant’s AI event focussing on Business technologies. My headphones are blaring Counting Crows and I’m waiting for Satya Nadella to come on stage and share his view of the enterprise technology landscape from his ivory tower before writing up a report for our sister magazine News in the Channel . Naturally, the sessions today have been dominated by artificial intelligence and the different facets of business that generative AI models can be applied to. Fair play to Microsoft though, the suite of solutions that they have built around CoPilot and the plethora of enterprise applications, from Teams, to Dynamics, to Microsoft 365 will make a lot of jobs easier. Broadly speaking I find these events are always searching for a headline. Whether Cloud, Collaboration, or industry-specific events, the innovations or figures that act as the foundation on which a day of keynotes and sessions are built on can often feel confected or over embellished. Particularly thinking back to pre-pandemic presentations that reached for Big Data, Blockchain and Extended Reality in an attempt to rejuvenate an environment that was torn between the early adopters of Teams and Zoom and the nine-to-five traditionalists. So as the range of generative AI solutions started to come to the floor, I was hesitant to praise it immediately. Call it journalistic scepticism, natural wariness, or just being a misery guts, after emotionally investing in ideas like blockchain it’s hard to be excited about the next big thing when the typical hype-cycles are repeating themselves over Generative AI. All this being said, it’s clear to see that this big thing isn’t going anywhere. If the innovation coming out of Microsoft wasn’t
Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne Editor
And that will draw a line under 2023 for UC Advanced. A slightly earlier Christmas break for us as we prepare for an extremely busy 2024. Hopefully I’ll see lots of you in the new year and at the Stockies before then! As always, get in touch with stories, thoughts, and submissions. (firstname.lastname@example.org) I wouldn’t be able to put together
this magazine half the time if it wasn’t for the great content that has been sent my way this year and I can’t wait to get back to it in the new year!
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As we enter into the fourth year of mass hybrid working, how do our devices help us do our jobs?
News You should know p6 Zoom Zoomtopia leads the way p10 AI Service Improving customer experience p14 Products AI for every need p24 Sound and Vision Devices helping our jobs p25 Distribution Exertis NDC p28 Plug-Ins Video Conferencing innovation p32 Products Connect, Communicate, Succeed p36 Thought... Video-first culture p38 Customer Experience Small things make a difference p42 Calling Quality customer service p44 Comms in Haulage Marginal gains p48
Experiencing better Intelligence... How AI is improving the Customer Experience.
The drive for ever-increasing efficiency shows no sign of slowing down in the haulage sector.
How Zoomtopia may tread a path for the rest of the collaboration industry.
As we all become more familiar with Video Conferencing, where will the next round of innovation come from?
Editorial Elliot Mulley- Goodbarne 07910 441 024 email@example.com Dan Parton 07941 979 845 firstname.lastname@example.org Head of Sales Martin Jenner-Hall 07824 552 116 email@example.com Publishing Director Justin Penn 07816 573 186 firstname.lastname@example.org Written permission from the publisher is required before any part of UC Advanced can be reproduced. © 2023 In the Channel Media Ltd.
From removing friction to enabling agents, how AI is turning around the reputation of the contact centre.
Small things that make a big difference to the CX.
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Zoom Unveils AI-Powered Innovations at Zoomtopia 2023 to Revolutionise Collaboration and Hybrid Work
At the annual Zoomtopia event, Zoom has introduced a range of innovative features, including Zoom Docs, an AI-driven workspace for enhanced collaboration, and upgrades to the Zoom AI Companion. These innovations are geared towards streamlining the workday, supporting hybrid work, and boosting employee engagement. Zoom also revealed AI-powered customer experience solutions to enhance customer engagement. Zoom Docs At the heart of these innovations is Zoom Docs, a futuristic collaboration tool built entirely on AI technology. Not only does this new platform integrate seamlessly with Zoom and various third-party apps, but it also
provides a flexible workspace for creating, managing projects, and staying organised. From populating documents with content from Zoom Meetings to generating content with the Zoom AI Companion, the tool is designed to streamline tasks and enhance productivity. These features accompany traditional document capabilities, wikis, and a drag-and-drop interface for tables, charts, and images. Zoom’s New Assistant This AI Companion only allows users to catch up on meetings, summarise lengthy chat threads, compose emails in Zoom Mail, and now helps generate ideas on a digital whiteboard. On top of this, Zoom added Meeting and Team Chat summarisation capabilities. Enhancing Employee Engagement and Hybrid Work Zoom also announced several platform innovations aimed at improving employee engagement and facilitating hybrid work. One such innovation, Workvivo, an employee engagement and communications solution acquired by Zoom earlier this year, will soon be accessible directly from the Zoom desktop client. New features like Workspace Reservation and My Office View in Huddles, were also announced. These features aim to make the transition between working remotely and in the office smoother and more efficient.
Vodafone to Sell Vodafone Spain to Zegona Communications in €5 Billion Deal
Vodafone Group has made a significant strategic move by announcing the sale of Vodafone Spain to Zegona Communications for an enterprise value of €5 billion. The deal includes a cash component of at least €4.1 billion and Redeemable Preference Shares (RPS) worth up to €0.9 billion.
Vodafone’s decision to divest its Spanish subsidiary aligns with its strategy to refocus resources on markets with sustainable structures and local scale. The transaction is expected to conclude in the first half of 2024, subject to regulatory approvals, and sets the stage for a new era in Spain’s telecom landscape.
Morph Joins Forces with Gamma to Alert UK Businesses About PSTN Switch-Off
FIND OUT MORE
Gamma has enlisted the help of the beloved Aardman character, Morph, to raise awareness about the imminent PSTN switch- off among UK businesses. A recent study uncovered that nearly 29% of UK businesses are unaware of Openreach’s plan to discontinue traditional PSTN lines by December 2025, which could disrupt business continuity. The collaboration between Gamma and Morph aims to simplify this complex issue,
inform businesses about their options, and emphasise the
benefits of embracing the technological transition. Morph’s unique charm and communication style make him the perfect messenger for this critical campaign, ensuring that UK businesses are well-prepared for the upcoming transition.
Colt Technology Services Completes $1.8 Billion Acquisition of Lumen EMEA
Colt Technology Services has successfully concluded its $1.8 billion acquisition of Lumen EMEA, a pivotal move that cements Colt’s position as one of the world’s largest business- to-business telecoms companies. This strategic acquisition not only expands Colt’s global capabilities but also extends its technology portfolio and reach into new markets across Eastern Europe, the UAE, and parts of Africa. As part of the acquisition, Colt and Lumen Technologies have entered into a partnership that brings the benefits of Colt’s award-winning digital infrastructure to North American businesses, both within and outside of North America. Colt’s CEO, Keri Gilder,
emphasised the company’s commitment to providing sustainable networks and driving meaningful industry change. Colt’s customers can look forward to an extended portfolio of services, including new security technologies, market-leading SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) products, managed hosting, and professional services. The acquisition also opens up new markets for Colt, with Points of Presence (PoPs) in key locations, aligning with the growing trend of businesses expanding their digital infrastructure beyond their existing markets. This milestone marks a transformative moment for Colt and the broader digital infrastructure industry.
Keri Gilder CEO
Closing this acquisition brings us to a momentous point in our growth journey and marks our deep commitment to our customers, helping them scale and grow. Keri Gilder
8x8 Report Highlights Conversational AI as the Future of Contact Centres
8x8 unveiled insights from its 2023 State of Conversational AI in the Contact Center report, underscoring the significance of conversational artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact centre’s future. Key findings from the survey of over 300 IT and contact centre business leaders indicate that conversational AI is poised to play a pivotal role in contact centre operations. An impressive 80% believe these capabilities will be indispensable in the near future, while 41% assert that companies not adopting these technologies will lag behind.
revolutionise business communications, and 72% foreseeing increased company profitability and revenue coupled with lower risks.
l Automation Enhancing Customer Experience: Contact centre and IT
leaders are increasingly relying on AI and automation to address challenges like rising support volume, staffing issues, and cost-efficiency. l Human-AI Synergy: Organisations are employing conversational AI to improve customer service (62%), streamline internal workflows (42%), enhance customer satisfaction (36%), and reduce customer wait times. l Trust Remains a Challenge for Generative AI: Although nearly one- third of organisations are currently using generative AI in the contact centre, trust remains a challenge. The report findings align with Metrigy’s research, which indicates that investing in AI for customer engagement yields substantial benefits, including increased revenue, agent efficiency, customer ratings, and reduced operational costs. Hunter Middleton, Chief Product Officer at 8x8, emphasised the company’s commitment to delivering AI-driven tools and resources to aid organisations in their digital transformation and business success endeavours.
Hunter Middleton Chief Product Officer
The report highlights key takeaways: Prioritising Contact Center Automation: Nearly all organisations (99%) plan to allocate more resources to their contact centre operations over the next year, with a major focus on adopting or expanding automation. l Conversational AI Boosting Productivity and Profitability: Respondents have high expectations for conversational AI and chatbots, with 87% believing they enhance productivity, 76% indicating they
“AI Anxiety” Emerges Among UK Employees as Survey Reveals Mixed Views on AI in the Workplace
The annual State of Hybrid Work Report by Owl Labs has exposed a growing “AI anxiety” among UK workers as artificial
intelligence gains prominence in tech firms. While 32% of employees believe AI will enhance job efficiency, 22% see it as an opportunity for job creation. However, 17% fear job loss due to AI. There’s also a generational gap in AI perception, with Gen Z holding more optimism but also more anxiety. The report underscores the need for clear communication about AI implementation. Additionally, it highlights the tech expectations of UK workers, with many desiring improved video conferencing tools and mixed reality devices at work.
Nuvias UC Appoints Wayne Gratton as Chief Commercial Officer to Drive Growth and Innovation
Nuvias UC, a prominent player in the unified communications sector, has announced the appointment of Wayne Gratton as its new Chief Commercial Officer. With a career spanning over 25 years and a proven record of strategic leadership, Gratton is set to usher in a new era of growth and innovation for the company. Wayne Gratton, a veteran in the distribution industry, previously associated with Infinigate and co-founder of Clarity Technology, joins Nuvias UC with a wealth of experience. During his career, he co-founded and nurtured Clarity Technology into a thriving £200 million business within just eight years. In his new role, Gratton’s primary focus will be on fostering innovative solutions to drive market growth and uncover fresh opportunities within Nuvias UC’s portfolio. He
plans to leverage data and business analytics to support and propel the development of partnerships within the company. Expressing his excitement about joining Nuvias UC, Gratton emphasised the evolving landscape and the potential for reseller and vendor partners to explore high-growth opportunities. He reaffirmed the company’s commitment to delivering exceptional service, cultivating meaningful relationships, and accessing growth markets. Joel Chimoindes, CEO of Nuvias UC, praised Gratton’s remarkable track record in accelerating growth. He noted that Gratton’s experience aligns perfectly with the strategic vision of Nuvias UC, underscoring the positive impact this appointment is expected to have on the company’s future.
Wayne Gratton Chief Commercial Officer
Content Guru and Exchange Communications Form Exclusive UK Partnership for Cloud Contact Centre Solutions
Content Guru has joined forces with Exchange Communications, a prominent cloud and digital transformation specialist, to establish a unique strategic partnership in the UK. This collaboration empowers Exchange Communications to offer Content Guru’s storm® solution to its clients, expanding its cloud-based Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) offerings within its portfolio. By integrating Content Guru’s capabilities with Exchange Communications’ market expertise, the partnership further solidifies Exchange’s position as an industry leader. Through the partnership, Content Guru will deliver scalable, reliable, and efficient cloud contact centre functionalities via storm, while
also offering additional capabilities such as Workforce Management (WFM), Workforce Optimisation (WFO), and data insights through its Customer Data Platform, storm® CKS®. This comprehensive suite ensures customers can access an end-to-end cloud solution. Exchange Communications, headquartered in Scotland with a strong UK-wide presence, delivers telecommunication and connectivity solutions to organisations in over 100 countries, across various sectors in the UK, Europe, and the US. By working closely with Exchange Communications, Content Guru aims to extend its global reach and leverage Exchange’s industry and sector-specific expertise.
Word on the Sheets
How Zoomtopia may tread a path for the rest of the collaboration industry.
Scrolling through Instagram recently I happened upon a post that claimed that a town in Italy is willing to pay up to $26,000 for people to move there, in the hope it would breathe new life into the community. Naturally, I went on to cook a delicious pasta dish that night and booked my next trip to that wonderful land, but it also got me thinking about the selling process, particularly how we persuade people to ditch the familiar things they are used to in favour of something new. In the collaboration market, that familiar solution for many is of course Microsoft Teams. This year Microsoft Teams user numbers are reported to have hit 300 million, dwarfing the 200,000 business users that Zoom claims to hold, even if they are slightly different statistics. It is no surprise then that Zoom seems to be targeting 2024 as a year to win back some share of the collaborations and communications market, as it launches a word processing application, a vastly improved AI companion, along with improvements to its customer experience solution.
“Today’s workforce really expects simple tools that don’t require a ton of training, and they want to access the tools they need from one place,” said Chong. “That’s why Zoom is reimagining connection and collaboration, and bringing that employee and customer experience together in this all-in-one intelligent platform that people love to use. “Simply put, Zoom is one platform delivering limitless human connection, and we are super grounded, as part of our DNA, in doing what’s right for our customers. Through these ongoing conversations and customer feedback, we continue to channel our collective ingenuity, creativity and compassion to develop Zoom’s platform in ways that empower limitless connection.” Keeping up with the Competition While Zoom can provide businesses with the ability to connect and collaborate with colleagues, the missing piece of the puzzle is the productivity suite that Microsoft and Google can provide. As a result, Dave Michels, lead analyst at Talking Pointz, described Zoom Docs as a “profound” announcement, adding that Zoom needs a solution like this to move customers away from Microsoft or Google. “The biggest announcement at Zoomtopia was Zoom Docs, which I think is a very significant and profound announcement for a couple of reasons. “One is Zoom needs something like this if it wants to have accounts that don’t have Microsoft or Google, most accounts have one or the other and if they are in the account, then a company like Zoom has to not only sell them to use their meeting solution, but they also have to sell them on not using the meeting solution they already have access to.” Patrick Watson, Head of Research at Cavell Group, agreed that the presence of Microsoft and Google in the productivity space would have been a key motivator for the launch of Zoom Docs, but questioned how far Zoom are
Joseph Chong Head of Product Solutions and Industry Marketing
Catering to the Market These improvements are set to bring the solutions that Zoom believes the market is crying out for. During the pre-briefing for Zoomtopia, Joseph Chong, Head of Product, Solutions, and Industry Marketing at Zoom said that employee experience, seamless collaboration, and ease of use across applications are at the top of customer priorities.
prepared to go to emulate the respective suites of applications. “The announcement of
Maximising Resources On top of the potential gamble of Zoom Docs, Watson picked up on the improvements to the Zoom Assistant. Zoom may have taken a leaf out of Apple, Disney, or even Microsoft’s book by attempting to entice customers with an initial free offering. However, Watson noted the cost the AI has associated with it, adding “Maybe Zoom sees more value in AI in the Productivity Suite. “I think a big difference if you have to look at the strategies around AI in terms of the commercials. CoPilot is $30 per user per month for a start and it’s only available on
Zoom Docs and some additional stuff in the contact centre is spreading their reach across the enterprise software stack, outside of communications into more of what you might think of the Microsoft space, across productivity applications. “I think that is an interesting decision, and the question is, how far do they go with that? Do they keep going into productivity? Do they develop an Excel equivalent? Or a presentation equivalent? From a personal perspective, I’m not sure how viable a strategy that is. Are you going to compete with Microsoft 365 on productivity and Google on Google Docs starting from now? Even though Zoom does have a user base, I’m not sure about that. “I would assume, although they didn’t talk about this, Zoom must have had some internal demand for a native word processing application, but they integrate into both the Microsoft 365 and Google Docs suite, so I’m not sure about that as a strategy. “I’m not sure if it is a bit of a waste of time and resources. I think the question is, how far will they go to the productivity side as well, in terms of trying to round the whole suite?”
Dave Michels Lead Analyst
Outside of Docs
Zoom’s New Assistant Another key innovation is the Zoom AI Companion, a generative AI digital assistant. This AI Companion not only allows users to catch up on meetings and summarise lengthy chat threads, but also composes emails in Zoom Mail, and now, helps generate ideas on a digital whiteboard. This AI-powered
Enhancing Employee Engagement and Hybrid Work Zoom also announced several platform innovations aimed at improving employee engagement and facilitating hybrid work. One such innovation, Workvivo, an employee engagement and communications solution acquired by Zoom earlier this year, will soon be accessible directly from the Zoom desktop client. For facilitating hybrid work, Zoom introduced new features like Workspace Reservation, My Office View in Huddles, and more. These features aim to make the transition between working remotely and in the office smoother and more efficient.
assistant is poised to be a game-changer for industries like higher education and healthcare, with new Meeting and Team Chat summarisation capabilities.
the Enterprise skews if you’ve got above 300 users. Microsoft will have done their internal calculations because what a lot of people forget, or what a lot of people neglect, is the back-end cost associated with AI in terms of computing resources. “For CoPilot to be auto summarising meetings, there is a not insignificant compute cost associated with that. Microsoft has realised the breadth of CoPilot’s capability because it goes right across the Microsoft stack. “The range of things that you and I can ask it to do is so huge that it’s difficult for them to predict exactly what the compute cost is going to be across all of those enterprises with copilot. Microsoft has made an internal calculation that is the most viable option for them in large enterprises and at that price point. “Zoom is probably able to predict better what the usage is going to be, and they’ve made a calculation that even though there’s a cost associated with this, they can effectively have the AI tech in those particular use cases as a sort of not a loss leader, but a value add for the solution. Whether in the long run, as they expanded their portfolio and the breadth of what you could be using that AI for expands, so do the potential associated compute costs.” A Blank Canvas While costs remain a question, Michel added that the Docs solution may be a nod to the future of collaborations, as businesses favour
canvas-style solutions, rather than specific applications for writing, presenting, and spreadsheet-ing. “The Office Productivity Suite paradigm, whether it be Microsoft Office or Google Workspace, has been going on for 30 years but it’s not the future. I think it has lived a very impressive life but the future appears to be more of what we call these Canvas products. “There’s several of them out there. Slack introduced [Canvas] and the one that’s kind of cut through the noise and getting traction is Notion, which is inherently a database, but it’s also a canvas and you can do all kinds of things with it. “With traditional productivity tools, there are barriers between different kinds of documents and content, but you put objects in a Notion document or a Notion workspace and everything is there. It’s fairly easy to customise, the ecosystem is growing with people making templates available, and it’s something that Silicon Valley can’t ignore anymore. “Zoom was figuring out they need some sort of Office Productivity Suite. They’re not going to build another set of word processors and spreadsheets. They’re starting with Zoom Docs and they’re going to create more like a canvas type of tool. “This next- generation
Patrick Watson Head of Research
Revolutionising Customer Relationships Zoom also unveiled AI- powered customer experience solutions designed to help customer-facing teams support and engage clients more effectively. Innovations like AI Expert Assist and integrations with popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger aim to streamline workflows, improve customer service, and ultimately strengthen customer relationships.
tool works in combination
with the Zoom AI companion and together, the value proposition of Office Productivity is changing. I think that’s what is important about what Zoom is doing.”
Experiencing better Intelligence
How AI is improving the Customer Experience.
One of the trends I’m happier to see in the marketplace at the moment is the emphasis on customer experience. For a long time, selling in the consumer world has seemed to be about getting it done as soon as possible and moving on to the next one. On top of this, the move to the cloud has meant that building relationships with salespeople is less important in the enterprise space, as anyone can create an account and get started. Now, being a former barman dealing with lads full of Dutch courage and the odd teenager trying to pass off a bus pass as a valid form of ID, I’m not advocating for a ‘customers always right’ policy. But the idea of providing a service is now a key focus in more or less every industry; and is one that I tried to emulate even if I did laugh every time I saw a date of birth written in biro. But while the aim of providing better service is an admirable one, putting that into action can be somewhat of a challenge as businesses deal with rising costs and customer demands. As a result, generative
AI has provided an efficient way to manage the customer experience according to Jonathan McKenzie, Sr. Contact Center Product Manager at 8x8. “The landscape of customer service is evolving rapidly, driven by the imperative to balance tightening budgets and the increasing difficulty of securing sales. In this shifting environment, ensuring top-notch customer service has become a paramount concern for businesses worldwide. While the human touch remains valuable, the initial point of contact, whether via phone, messaging, or email, is increasingly powered by artificial intelligence. “Crucially, it’s important to not see
Jonathan McKenzie Sr. Contact Center Product Manager
automation as something that is replacing the human touch but rather complementing it. Customer self-service, despite decades of innovation, often falls short of expectations – ineffective menus, limited options, and the frustration of repeating information to live
While the human touch remains valuable, the initial point of contact... ...is increasingly powered by artificial intelligence
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As Google continues to release exceptional smartphones every year, we cannot help but get excited about the launch of their latest offering, the Google Pixel 7a. This device boasts impressive features and a pocket-friendly price tag making it a popular choice among customers worldwide. Equipped with the state-of-the-art camera, it takes exceptional photos and videos even in low-light conditions. The device is smaller and more compact than previous Pixel models, making it easier to hold and use with one hand. With a long-lasting battery, users can enjoy a full day of usage without the need for recharging. The Google Pixel 7a is an exceptional smartphone that offers users an impressive set of features, a compact design, and a competitive price. Contact your dedicated Exertis Account Manager today to learn more about how we can assist you with your purchase.
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agents have been sources of discontent for many. “This is where automation comes in, delivering personalised dialogues and reshaping customer interactions to allow agents to focus on other priorities. This is why 84% of contact centre and IT leaders consider automation to be an extremely important focus for their business.” David Morton, chief revenue and customer officer at HGS UK agreed, adding: “Businesses are increasingly looking at ways to improve efficiency against the challenging backdrop of trying to reduce costs. “The CX industry is no different. With a large proportion of the CX market being delivered by outsource providers who are functioning on tighter margins than most other industries, as well as operating in a highly competitive landscape, any tools which can support efficiency gains are of course of significant interest. “AI is one such tool which can deliver efficiencies and is therefore set to be a solution which could change, or moreover, be a part of a solution which delivers improved customer service. “Of course, as AI is a digital solution, it could conceivably replace an entire contact centre operation using intuitive large language
CONTINUED “Customers recognise a brand’s ‘tone of voice’ and they’re much more likely to engage with a chatbot if it feels like an ‘authentic’ experience,” said Budka. “This has impacted us in a couple of ways. “Firstly, the advent of Generative AI moved the conversation into the realm of marketing agencies, as a lot of our clients have started approaching it from a branding and tone of voice perspective, rather than a tech perspective. We’re now working on fine-tuned GPT models, for example, containing loads of before and after tone of voice examples. “This is a job for linguists as there models (LLMs), integrating into a back-office system to deliver outcomes. However, if you then introduce the complexity of multichannel engagement, including voice, then a dependency on live agents still exists. Here we see ‘human in the loop’ becoming the rounded solution, working in conjunction with technology such as AI to deliver operational efficiency and intuitive next best action.” The Personal Touch As Morton hints at, one of the ways the public seems to rally against the new form of Artificial Intelligence is by arguing that these machines will take our jobs. An aspect in which this could be true is the way that Generative AI has paved the way for a more personal touch through interactive chatbots and Interactive Voice Responses, as Steve Rafferty, VP International from RingCentral, explains. “Since the introduction of Chatbots and IVRs, we have seen more personalised customer experiences with the rise of AI- driven analytics in providing accurate and precise customer data. “As customer data sets become larger, Chatbots and IVRs will continue to gain new capabilities such as sentiment analysis that allows for real-time adjustment of communication strategies, resulting in deeper forms of customer engagement.” It’s not just the AI tools that are capable of sensing tone, funnily enough, consumers are, with Luke Budka, AI strategist at brand and comms agency Definition, points out.
David Morton Chief Revenue and Customer Officer
are language rules pertaining to verbiage, emotional tone, perspective, adjective use and clause length during the construction of every filter. It takes a writer to explain Latinate vs Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, or the intricacies of the active voice, or the difference between abstract and concrete nouns. “No one wants to sound the same and given the chatbot market is predicted to enjoy a CAGR of over 19% in the next decade, this problem is only going to be exacerbated. In January the former director of AI at Tesla, Andrej Karpathy, tweeted “The hottest new programming language is English“, to be honest, I thought, ‘Yeah, good one’ at the time, given naysayers predicting the end of all human language output in every form because of GenAI, but ironically, given the demand we’re seeing for our language team, it would appear Karpathy was on to something.” Coming to Customer Although the idea of an artificial human voice may be disconcerting to some, it may have the opposite effect on the vast majority of customers, as brands become more relatable. According to Raffety, this may not necessarily be in the form of imitating real people, instead, guide agents to the best solution. “The huge rise of AI continues to shape the way businesses deliver customer service. AI now stands at the forefront of human- machine interactions, accessible to both the broader workforce and consumers alike. Not only can AI-powered solutions automate time-consuming tasks, such as updating CRM logs and sending follow-up emails to free up agents, but AI can also assist with direct customer interactions, guiding agents on what to say to improve and personalise customer support experiences.” “Businesses using AI should enhance self- service tools to help speed up the customer service process. Usually, customers just want to get help quickly without waiting on hold for a live agent or having to navigate complex menu options. With AI, chatbots can better provide intelligent instant responses to simple customer queries or automatically gather information upfront before transferring to a live agent. Using AI to prioritise customer support tickets is a great way to ensure customers get the service they need when they need it.”
service doesn’t change just because we’ve found a new tool to add to our already extensive kitbag.
Installing into Business Whilst the capabilities are intriguing, and potentially timesaving, installation is one of those hurdles we all have to come up against. We all know the statistics about ChatGPT adoption, and saw the embarrassing headlines that followed. As a result, Morton says that businesses should have a particular problem that needs solving in mind before looking to add AI to the CX stack. “Let’s not forget how AI actually works, as well as the importance of being cognisant of public and private data sources, both of which are vitally important aspects of how we can deploy AI. It is my prediction that clients will look to ‘private AI’ solutions and, as such, ‘AI in a box’ will become a service offering in the market. “What AI is great at is intuitively sourcing data. But what it’s not so good at is nuance, tone, sentiment, empathy or brand value. Great customer service doesn’t change just because we’ve found a new tool to add to our already extensive kitbag. Customer journey mapping will still be as relevant tomorrow as it was yesterday. “As such when deploying any new tools, including those which are eminently intuitive and compelling, remembering what problem we are trying to solve, how the solution will address the customers enquiry, and how do we want our brand to be portrayed, must remain front of mind and not become secondary to the latest technology.”
Steve Rafferty VP International
be looking forward to the day that AI has a human voice. “Leading organisations will use future AI innovations to inject the voice of the customer into all corners of their business; and as AI- powered technologies continue to develop, building customer-centric organisations will truly become a reality,” said Rafferty. “We’ve only scratched the surface of AI’s potential and while many of today’s AI solutions can provide smarter self- service interactions and real-time agent assistance tools, future AI innovations such as conversational insights will create an increased awareness of customer sentiment – not just in sales and marketing, but for all departments.” In the meantime, Morton predicts that the next year will see complete digitisation of the contact centre. “In the next 12 months, it’s likely we will see fully AI contact centre solutions which exclusively engage through digital channels. “Nevertheless, this model will only be appropriate for certain service lines, such as tech support or Where Is My Order (WISMO), which is one of the main reasons for calling retailers.”
Luke Budka AI Strategist
The Future One problem that a lot of AI experts see is the mimicking of real people. Although it can be reduced to a far-off problem, we only have to look at the technology used to screen a call on iPhone and certain Android devices, to see how Artificial intelligence can pass off as a real person. According to Rafferty, businesses may
Urgency to Harness AI Power: UK Businesses’ Race Against Time
In an age of unstoppable technological progress, it appears that over half of UK business leaders (52%) feel the pressure to establish the UK as a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI). This comes as AI continues to evolve rapidly, including the advent of large language models (LLM), reshaping employment and business models. However, a study by YouGov for Microsoft highlights that 54% of these leaders worry their workforce may not have the skills to take advantage of this AI revolution. Despite this urgency, only a quarter of these leaders (25%) have plans to hire the right talent to implement AI throughout their organisations. Even fewer, just 26%, have undertaken training to enhance their knowledge about AI use in their job. To overcome these obstacles, Microsoft is extending its UK skilling initiative, Get On, aiming to equip a million people with the necessary skills for an AI-influenced economy. Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, said “The UK has a very real opportunity to be a leader in the era of AI, but as our research shows, there are barriers stopping the UK from turning its ambition into action.” Barclay also emphasised the importance of innovation, stating that every job will soon require AI support, necessitating a workforce with the right skills. She announced
Microsoft’s plan to help one million people acquire the AI skills needed to kick-start or advance their tech careers by 2025.
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