UC Advanced - issue #2

Issue #2


News, analysis, insights and more

IMPACT 1000 Made for the New Open Office


Embracing Intelligence

CEOs alike say that innovation improves the opportunities for employees. Being in the written field that’s a relief, although after playing around with ChatGPT I think my career in feature writing will be safe at least. But while building this issue, it’s clear to me that artificial intelligence has captured the attention of the collaborations market in particular. Even in the legal features that we have on page 21 and 31 this month, artificial intelligence was spoken about when looking at threat detection for employees working from home, and drafting documents. It’ll be no surprise that Artificial Intelligence was also a theme running through our Contact Center pieces too. Thanks to the cloud (p15) call centers can reduce churn by filtering bad tempered callers, and tools overlapping video escalations (p27) is actually increasing brand loyalty. On top of this we have a review of Yealink’s Customer Experience Center in Canary Wharf (p41), and Ian Aitken, Managing Director of Ingram Micro’s UC division was kind enough to sit down and talk about how he sees the sector, which can be found on page 12.

Looking back six months, we were ending the year with redundancies and cut backs in big tech, which gave the impression the sector was in decline. Everyone from Meta to Samsung seemed to be scaling back their research and development, and any hype around the metaverse or, god forbid, hardware innovation was duly put on the back burner. Today, we’re still seeing these cutbacks, the most recent being Vodafone cutting 10,000 jobs. But since the turn of the year, the miracle of Artificial Intelligence has been discovered, and the giants on the west coast are once again readying for a bumper quarter. Of course, a lot of these technologies have been around for a while. Natural Language Processing has been efficient in directing customer service queries for some time, GMail has been finishing my sentences for years, and I haven’t transcribed a word myself in half a decade. What has changed is where this intelligence is being applied. No doubt the likes of Google, Apple, and Amazon would have ideally seen their artificial intelligent agents help consumers find a way home, message mum, and make dinner reservations, but it’s the corporate world where AI has shown its worth. Anyone who has the pleasure of sharing a video call with me will find an extra participant in the room transcribing everything that’s being said (providing everyone is happy with that), and any number of people I know confess to using ChatGPT to draft emails, write job descriptions, and help out with other pieces of written admin. Yet, as quickly as it came about, media attention is focussing on the post-apocalyptic potential of technology rather than the benefits in the workplace. There will always be concerns about jobs, but whenever I have asked that question, analysts and

Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne Editor

As always, please get in touch with any feedback you have, and look out for your opportunity to get involved next month where we’ll be tackling the Public Sector, Data Storage, and Corporate Social Responsibility. elliot@ucadvanced.com.


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News You should know p6 New in the Channel Hot products p10

Comms in the cloud. How a post-pandemic procession to the cloud is resulting in personalised service.


Interview Ian Aitken, Ingram Micro p12 Cloud Comms Cloud Contact Centres p15 Hybrid Law Home working for the legal industry p21 Video Comms Customer Service p27 Modernisation Law joins the cloud revolution p31 Bolt-On Services On the rise p34 Thought Leadership Meeting demographics p40 Profile: Yealink Avoiding churn p41 Q&A Iain Sinnott, Enreach p47 Thought Leadership Digital workplaces p50

As the workforce has spread to a hybrid set-up, how has the legal industry dealt with a demand to work from home?




Yealink has launched its Customer Experience Centres, so partners can show rather than tell.

Ian Aitken sat down with UC Advanced to discuss modern distribution, the AV opportunity, and how he defines success.


Bolt-On services have become a staple of modern solutions as customers demand simplicity.

Editorial Elliot Mulley- Goodbarne 07910 441 024 elliot@ucadvanced.com Dan Parton 07941 979 845 dan@ucadvanced.com Head of Sales Martin Jenner-Hall 07824 552 116 martin@ucadvanced.com Online Content Manager Harry Hendrie 07813 585 212 harry@ucadvanced.com Publishing Director Justin Penn 07816 573 186 justin@ucadvanced.com Written permission from the publisher is required before any part of UC Advanced can be reproduced. © 2023 In the Channel Media Ltd.



Seeing Clearly. Done with meetings, video is now on its way to revolutionising customer communications.

Legal is one of the more elusive industries for UC providers. So how is the Legal industry embracing the cloud?


Published by: In the Channel Media Ltd Company registration number: 14363401 Registered office address 14-18 Heddon Street,


Iain Sinnott, Head of International Carrier Sales at Enreach for Service Providers, shares his thoughts on the year so far.

Mayfair, London, United Kingdom, W1B 4DA In conjunction with:




Google Duet Steals the shI/O

Google has announced the launch of Duet AI for Google Workspace, which brings artificial intelligence (AI) to the platform’s suite of applications to improve collaboration, productivity, and creativity. Duet AI uses generative AI to help users write, organise, visualise, accelerate workflows, and have richer meetings. The mobile version of Gmail now has Duet AI integration, allowing users to draft complete responses with just a few words as a prompt. Contextual assistance will also soon be added, enabling users to create professional replies that automatically fill in names and other relevant information. Duet AI has also been embedded into

Google Slides, enabling users to generate images with a few words. The AI’s image models can visualise something that has never existed before, making it easier for marketers, creative agencies, and other professionals to provide clear visual input early in the process. In Google Sheets, Duet AI helps users analyse and act on data with automated data classification and the creation of custom plans. Classification tools understand the context of data in a cell and can assign a label to it, saving time and effort in developing a clear and visually engaging analysis. The AI also creates custom plans for tasks, projects, or any activity that users want to track or manage, helping them get organised. Duet AI has been integrated into Google Meet, introducing the ability to generate unique backgrounds for video calls. The feature helps users express themselves and deepen connections during video calls while protecting the privacy of their surroundings. Finally, Google has also introduced upgraded neural models for grammar in Google Docs, allowing users to generate professional-grade writing in various languages. The AI offers proofreading suggestions for writing concisely, avoiding repetition, and leveraging a more formal or active voice, giving users more control over their writing.


8x8 boost revenues by $743 million in FY2023

Cloud communications platform provider 8x8, released its financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2023, ending on March 31, 2023. The company experienced a 2% year-over-year increase in total revenue for Q4 2023, reaching $184.5 million, including $26.9 million from Fuze revenue. Service revenue also saw a 2% rise to $176.6 million, including $26.7 million from Fuze revenue. In terms of operating profit, the company reported a significant improvement. The Q4 2023 GAAP operating profit was $3.5 million, a substantial shift from the GAAP operating loss of $40.5 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2022. Similarly, the non-GAAP operating profit for Q4 2023 was $24.8 million, accounting for 13.5% of the revenue, compared to $4.2 million, or 2.3% of revenue, in Q4 2022. For the entire fiscal year 2023, 8x8 achieved

a notable 17% YoY increase in total revenue, amounting to $743.9 million. Service revenue also grew by 18% YoY, reaching $710.0 million. The company reduced its GAAP operating loss to $66.3 million in fiscal 2023, compared to $154.1 million in fiscal 2022. Additionally, the non-GAAP operating profit for fiscal 2023 reached $62.4 million, accounting for 8.4% of the revenue, as opposed to $10.6 million, or 1.7% of revenue, in the previous fiscal year. “Fiscal 2023 was a year of milestones for 8x8 as we continued to invest in innovation while increasing our profitability and cash flow,” said Samuel Wilson, 8x8 Interim Chief Executive Officer. “We achieved record service and total revenue, completed the integration of Fuze operations, extended the global coverage of our communications platform, and introduced platform wide integration of generative AI from OpenAI.”

Samuel Wilson Interim Chief Executive Officer




Exertis Cloud goes green with Cloudist Partnership

Exertis, a major distributor, has partnered with Cloudist, a Swedish provider of green cloud services, to offer sustainable and predictable cloud solutions. Cloudist’s services are aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in the cloud services industry, which is contributing up to 3.7% of CO2 emissions. Cloudist delivers its services from one of the world’s most sustainable data centres, powered by green hydro energy, and is distinguished by its accessible and personalised 100% green sustainable cloud services, a white-label reseller portal with multi-tenancy functionality, and a pay-as-you-go model. The partnership between Exertis and Cloudist is a major step towards reducing the carbon footprint of the cloud services industry. Cloudist’s vision is to become the pioneer in green cloud services, with a motto of “Green Clouds Ahead.” The company’s offerings include

virtual servers, backup, S3 buckets, Microsoft 365 subscriptions, and disaster recovery as a service, all accessible through a unique portal. Daniel Söderström, General Manager, Exertis Enterprise Nordics, said, “Cloudist’s net positive, sustainable ethos supports our DCC-wide strategy and is an important element of future IT initiatives. We are proud to be the first distributor for Cloudist in mainland Europe and look forward to enabling them to expand into new regions. Exertis is Cloudist’s primary route to market and focuses on Sweden in the initial phase.” Jasenko Masic, CEO of Cloudist, said, “Joining forces with Exertis gives us the opportunity to continue full speed ahead to take Cloudist’s climate-positive cloud platform to a whole new level and new markets. Together, we will make the Nordic IT region the greenest in Europe. Our motto, ‘Green Clouds Ahead,’ is stronger than ever.”

Jasenko Masic CEO


UK Businesses Face Imminent Disruption as PSTN Switch-Off Looms

A recent survey conducted by M247, a global cloud and connectivity provider, has revealed that a staggering 88% of UK businesses still heavily rely on the public switched telephone network (PSTN) for crucial services, including analogue phone lines, broadband, alarm systems, and CCTV cameras. This is despite the impending PSTN stop- sell scheduled for September 2023, which will immediately halt the sale of all new PSTN-related products, followed by a complete deactivation of the network by December 31, 2025. The PSTN, a network of copper wires that has kept the UK connected since the 1800s, is owned by Openreach. The decision to switch off the network in December 2025 stems from the mounting challenges associated with maintaining the ageing infrastructure and the changing communication patterns and preferences of modern times. The discontinuation will have a profound impact on UK businesses, rendering analogue phone lines, older broadband connections, lift lines, EPOS systems, and CCTV cameras unusable – news that may come as a surprise to business owners who are unaware that these services rely on PSTN lines. M247 commissioned a survey of 500 UK-

based IT decision-makers to gauge the current state of PSTN usage among businesses. The findings indicate that while 77% of respondents are aware of the impending switch-off by 2025, a stop-sell deadline in September this year has been largely overlooked. This means businesses will be unable to place new orders for PSTN services or make significant changes to existing services. Despite equal awareness of the PSTN stop-sell (76%), the majority of businesses have yet to take any action. Only 29% of respondents consider the PSTN switch- off a top priority, trailing behind concerns such as the escalating cybersecurity threats (50%) and investment in cloud migration (47%). Among the businesses reliant on the PSTN, 33% have more than 100 devices connected, with 51% indicating they would experience significant disruption if the network were to be switched off before they completed migration. An alarming 80% of respondents believe that transitioning from PSTN services would take up to six months to complete, and 23% fear that the disruption caused by the switch-off would result in business losses. These statistics underscore the urgency for businesses to take action promptly.

Liz Hawke Product Manager





Exertis announce AI Summit Appearance

Exertis, a value-added enterprise IT distributor, is dedicated to providing cutting-edge AI technologies to businesses of all sizes. With a mission to empower businesses to harness the power of AI and gain a competitive edge in the market, Exertis is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in AI and machine learning. The company believes that AI has the power to transform the way businesses operate, from streamlining processes to enhancing customer experiences. Exertis’ experts are dedicated to helping clients navigate the complex world of AI, from selecting the right technology to implementing it seamlessly into their operations. Exertis is set to attend the AI Summit in Tobacco Docks, London in June. At the event, the company will showcase its latest range

of AI-powered solutions to help businesses stay ahead of the competition. With a focus on innovation and cutting-edge technologies, Exertis is committed to providing its customers with the best possible products and services. The AI Summit is a great opportunity for Exertis to network with industry leaders, share knowledge and insights, and explore new business opportunities. Simon Regan, one of Exertis’ AI experts, is attending the event and will be speaking on the Exertis panel. The event is set to take place on June 14-15 at Tobacco Dock, with Exertis’ stand located at EM302. Businesses interested in learning more about Exertis’ AI solutions are encouraged to attend and speak with the company’s experts. Exertis’ dedication to providing innovative and effective AI solutions makes them the go-to partner for businesses looking to leverage the power of AI to transform their operations and drive growth.

June 14-15 at Tobacco Dock, Exertis stand EM302

New Study Reveals Limited Impact of Technology on Productivity in Hybrid Work Environments

Doherty Associates, a prominent IT consultancy and services provider, has

the necessary information and data required for their jobs, with 15 percent encountering this issue on a daily basis. Founder and CEO of Doherty Associates, Terry Doherty emphasised the importance of conducting technology audits and gathering feedback to identify what is effective and what is not, while establishing clear processes that prioritise the human element. The shift toward hybrid working is still in progress, as indicated by the research, which revealed that 54 percent of Capital Market workers reported changes to their hybrid working policies in the past year, with four percent altering their policies within the last month. With a meagre 37 percent of workers deeming hybrid working and collaboration tools highly effective, the study underscores the critical need for leaders to scrutinise their processes and policies. Commenting on the findings, Doherty said “It’s evident that the technology being utilised to support hybrid working fails to meet the needs of employees across all levels of an organisation. Business leaders aim to enhance productivity and foster collaboration among their teams, regardless of their location, but the reality is that employees are grappling with these new tools.”

released new research indicating that despite widespread implementation of new technology to support hybrid working, the desired boost in productivity has not been achieved. The study, conducted among 889 employees in the UK Capital Markets and Legal industries, found that a mere 18 percent of workers reported substantial improvements in productivity as a result of these tools. While a significant 78 percent of workers acknowledged that their companies had introduced new technology to facilitate hybrid work, the research discovered that these solutions were actually hindering employees rather than helping them. IT decision-makers mirrored this perception, with only 25 percent noting a substantial increase in productivity following the adoption of hybrid working practices. The overwhelming sentiment among workers is one of overwhelm and frustration due to the influx of new technology tools. Approximately 23 percent of respondents believed they had too many different tools, which impeded their ability to be productive. Furthermore, 35 percent struggled to access

Terry Doherty Founder and CEO




Manchester Chosen to Unite the Tech Sector

Leading technology experts from across the country are gathering in Manchester next month to pave the way for a new era of innovation, drawing inspiration from a dynamic duo of father and son entrepreneurs. Ian Taylor, the driving force behind disruptive ITC consultancy firm TECHGIANT Workplace, alongside his 20-year-old son Oliver, will be hosting a digital transformation insight event on June 8th at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. Recently recognised as one of the top 100 SME businesses in the UK, TECHGIANT Workplace aims to shape the future of technology through this event. Themed “Foundations of Change,” the conference will feature guest speakers from renowned tech companies, coming together to inspire and educate participants on various topics such as cloud-based communications, cybersecurity, devices, infrastructure, and AI. The event has garnered support from major industry players including Aryaka, Jabra, 8x8, Sundown Solutions, and eSentire, who are serving as sponsors.

According to Ian Taylor, the choice of Manchester as the event’s location is significant due to the city’s rich industrial heritage and reputation for innovation. He believes that Manchester provides the perfect backdrop to inspire new approaches to work and nurture the next generation of technology leaders. “Manchester’s industrial heritage and rich reputation for innovation makes this the perfect place to inspire new ways of working and the next generation of technology leaders,” Ian explained. “This is a conference all about UK digital transformation and aims to provide great insight into the ways in which companies can adopt technology to bring them into the 21st century, allowing them to compete on both a domestic and international stage. “My son is just 20 (fellow Director and Shareholder), and brings in the understanding and knowledge of just what the next generation (Gen Z) expect from the work environment, therefore helping direct the pillars of change across business enterprises.”

Ian & Oliver Taylor


Cirrus and CallMiner Partner to Improve CX

Cirrus and CallMiner have joined forces to offer an advanced solution that helps contact centres deliver exceptional customer experiences in today’s fast-paced business environment. This partnership combines the expertise of leading contact centre as a service (CCaaS) provider Cirrus and conversation intelligence provider CallMiner to leverage AI and machine learning technologies for deep customer insights and operational efficiency. The partnership brings together joint omnichannel capabilities and advanced data analytics, allowing organisations to capture and analyse customer data and feedback from various channels. This comprehensive solution empowers organisations to take quick action and improve key contact centre metrics such as average handle time and silence, as well as broader initiatives like customer experience, sales effectiveness, and product innovation. By harnessing the power of AI and ML, the solution automates processes such as generating and inserting interaction

summaries into systems of record, such as Salesforce. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also provides direct support for customer-facing operatives through AI-assisted coaching, enabling agents to monitor their performance, receive feedback, and improve their skills over time. The Cirrus-CallMiner partnership offers unlimited customization and sector- agnostic features, allowing organisations to understand customer sentiment throughout the entire journey. It enables the identification of trends, building of prediction models, and identification of impactful insights to enhance effectiveness, efficiency, and compliance. Commenting on the partnership, Cirrus CEO Jason Roos said, “Analytics is an increasing demand amongst our customers, as contact centres search for new ways to enhance their CX delivery. CallMiner’s market-leading capabilities allow us to meet and exceed customer expectations, and we’re fully confident that our partnership will continue to strengthen and evolve to align with existing and future customer needs.”

Jason Roos CEO





RingCentral reveals latest Teams Integration

preferred customer communication channel, surpassing email. While Microsoft Teams users often lack integrated calling capabilities, RingCentral offers a cost-effective solution by including telephony with all licences. This provides advanced telephony features, custom call queues, call routing, and over 330 pre-built integrations. Organisations in industries where customer engagement is crucial have already chosen RingCentral for Microsoft Teams for its reliability, advanced telephony capabilities, analytics, and app integrations. The latest version offers faster load times, a streamlined user interface, and improved user experience. It also includes features like bi-directional presence sync, unified contact searching, out-of-the-box analytics, extensive telephony app integrations, deep mobile app integration, and a certified contact centre solution.

RingCentral has unveiled RingCentral for Microsoft Teams 2.0, the next generation of its integration with the popular collaboration platform. The solution brings RingCentral’s powerful cloud PBX capabilities directly into Microsoft Teams, offering a fully native experience without the need for a separate application. Users can now access RingCentral’s reliable and feature-rich communication services within Teams’ interface. RingCentral for Microsoft Teams 2.0 introduces several enhanced features designed to boost productivity. These include voicemail transcription, call recording, bi- directional presence sync, and unified contact search. The solution can also be combined with RingCentral Contact Centre, further expanding its capabilities. Telephony remains a critical aspect of hybrid work communications, with a recent study revealing that the phone has become the


Boom Collaboration puts faith in GEMINI

Boom Collaboration, a rapidly growing video conferencing manufacturer, has unveiled an innovative wireless audio solution, the Boom GEMINI, aimed at enhancing meeting experiences with greater flexibility. The portable dual unit system is equipped with four omnidirectional microphones on each device, boasting an impressive range of up to eight metres. By combining dynamic noise reduction, automatic echo cancellation, and wideband audio, the Boom GEMINI delivers

outstanding plug-and-play performance. Boom GEMINI offers the capability to double the audio and microphone capacity, catering to medium to large meeting rooms as well as versatile spaces. Offering 10 hours of talk time and 90 days in standby, the Boom GEMINI charges via USB and can also connect and call over USB as an alternative to battery power. With Bluetooth 5.0 and a BT dongle for easy pairing, the device provides seamless wireless connectivity.


NTA Launch C33 Handset

NTA, a leading telecommunications company, has launched the C33 Handset, a powerful and reliable IP phone that is set to become a popular option among businesses looking to upgrade their communication systems. Many businesses hesitate to upgrade their equipment due to the high cost, but the C33 Handset offers a range of advanced capabilities that make it the perfect choice for businesses of all sizes. Some of the key features of the C33 include 500 additional local phonebook entries, built-in Bluetooth,

Wi-Fi compatibility, three-times more SIP Lines available, and two more DSS Keys, including a new page control key. The C33’s exceptional sound quality is also a key benefit, with HD audio and a built-in speakerphone that makes it easy to hear and be heard during calls. In addition to its core features, the C33 also offers a large 2.8-inch colour screen that makes it easy to navigate menus and access features. It can be auto-provisioned in a matter of minutes, ensuring seamless integration with the NTA platform.






Mastering Value-Added Distribution As he moves past a year and a half in the job, Ingram Micro General Manager for Unified Comms and Collaboration, Ian Aitken sat down with UC Advanced to discuss modern distribution, the AV opportunity, and how he defines success.

The world of distribution has gone through a change in recent years. From box shifters sending out products, the introduction of OpEx and subscription models has opened up an opportunity to wrap services around warehouse stock. This may not be as drastic as the ‘aaS’ movement that resellers have had to contend with, which is expected to grow into a global market worth $2,378 billion by 2029, but nevertheless supplying products is now seen as the bare minimum that is expected of distributors. The unified communications and collaboration (UCC) industry is no different, and as Ingram Micro General Manager for Unified Comms and Collaboration, Ian Aitken, explains, there is a huge opportunity for upgrading meeting rooms and wrapping services around that solution. “Like the reseller market, if all you do is shift products from A to B at a low margin, your business model is going to be compromised and you’re going to suffer unless you find a way of adding value,” said Aitken. “As a distributor, we have found ways to not only be more valuable to our resellers but our vendors, too. “Historically, IT Distribution has been essentially a simple business. We sit right in the middle of a sales process that brings everything together for our vendor partners and our customers. Our job is to have the right product, at the right time, on the shelf at the right price to sell to our customers. “But what we’re finding now, particularly with SMB resellers, is that they’re getting asked questions by their end users that they cannot always answer. We cannot rely on our resellers to know everything, so we are adding elements of distribution consultancy to the sale.”

Alongside providing products, Aitken says that Ingram Micro can help its resellers every step along the road of a sale, from design and installation, to after-sale services. “Ingram Micro has been working to refine and develop these services for UCC customers. I think that makes us a lot more valuable to our customers and our vendors with the ability to spec, design, consult, demo, or do proof of concept as additional services we want to offer for the benefit of our customers. “We’re developing stronger relationships with customers, finding new opportunities in the market, and receiving a clear message from our customers who embrace the value- added services we’re bringing to the table.” Leaning on experience One of the biggest post-pandemic trends has been the incorporation of audio and visual products into UCC solutions –a trend that some might say has played into the hands of Aitken. Ingram Micro’s General Manager for UCC cut his teeth at Exertis for close to 10 years, making his way up to Director of its AV division. Now heading up Unified Communications and Collaboration at Ingram Micro, Aitken said his focus is on bringing AV into the UCC solutions that the distributor provides to its customers. “Our focus is on creating relationships with vendors in order to be able to offer end- to-end solutions,” said Aitken, “and we’re continuing to bring more of the AV and UCC solutions as one. “On top of that, we’re bringing more financial services to market in order to offer customers the ability to buy the solutions on an OpEx rather than CapEx arrangement.

Ian Aitken General Manager

for Unified Comms and Collaboration

uk-new.ingrammicro. com


We’re developing stronger relationships with customers, finding new opportunities in the market, and receiving a clear message from our customers who embrace the value-added services we’re bringing to the table.

We’ve found that, after the installation, if we offer a free training service on how best to use the room, that in itself can be the best promotion of the technology.

We’re focusing on the expansion of the solution element of our business, so instead of only providing the hardware, we are providing products together with software and service solutions.” Supporting Partners These services revolve around the ability to be there for reseller partners and provide a “cradle to grave” service from initial proof of concept through to installation. “We deal with a mix of customers,” said Aitken. “For example, we deal with experienced systems integrators and AV integrators that don’t need us to be the experts. But sometimes they might need us to check if two products are compatible or maybe brainstorm with our technical team about a solution or project, which we are happy to do. “But for the SMB IT providers who have an end-user customer who wants a Teams Room, we can provide a tech solutions team that can support the end user for the day, and talk to

the end-user on the partner’s behalf. “That conversation can start as just a proof- of-concept conversation – brainstorming a few ideas, but move into consultancy services, working with our customer to help with the design of systems, schematics, room builds, and demonstrations, either virtually or on- site, in order to help build the quotes on our partner’s behalf.” The service doesn’t stop there, as Aitken details, after the sale there can often be teething problems which can detract from the success of a solution. That’s where Comms- Care, Ingram Micro’s IT Solutions and Services provider, can help the partner and its end users make the most of the technology they have invested in. “There’s nothing worse than going into any meeting room, trying to plug cables in and nothing is working; it’s hugely frustrating. We’ve found that, after the installation, if we offer a free training service on how best to use the room, that in itself can be the best promotion of the technology.”





The 95% This strategy of being a helping hand to those who need it has served Ingram Micro well so far. “We are assisting our resellers with retrofitting a lot of end-user boardrooms, training rooms and meeting rooms that were perfectly capable of on-site meetings but when it came to dialling somebody in, the solution was to huddle around a laptop. “Headsets, for example, is a market that’s saturated but now dominated by replacement. The evolutions in technology, such as noise cancellation, mean everyone’s always going to want the next best thing. “We believe that 95% of UK meeting rooms are not video enabled. That’s a market we are targeting. That doesn’t mean a total refit of a boardroom, but finding ways to effectively use a screen, attaching video to it, a HD camera, a good quality microphone and speaker system; – whatever it may be to allow businesses to communicate with employees that might be at home, or outside of the office. “It’s the retrofitting of those meeting rooms that we’re seeing a big demand for.” Complimentary Partnerships Seeing the opportunity is one thing, but being able to provide the solutions to capitalise on it is another. Since Aitken has come aboard, Ingram Micro has announced an expansion of its distribution relationships with its key vendor partners and brands in the UCC sector, including Microsoft, HP, EPOS and Cisco. Aitken said that his focus is also on making the most out of current vendor relationships. “I want to make sure that we develop the relationships we have, fully utilising each opportunity. We continually ask questions like, ‘What products are we missing? What complementary products do we need to add to that portfolio? How can we deliver more encompassing solutions to our reseller partners?’” “We have added and will continue to add complementary products that allow us to support even more deals and provide solutions for the benefit of our resellers and their customers.”

Measuring Success Naturally shared benefits for vendors, partners, and Ingram Micro is not the only growth that Aitken is interested in. Although he is clearly focused on making the distributor a vital part of the market and selling products and solutions to reseller partners, we all have KPIs to work to, and general managers are not exempt. But when asked about his ambitions, Aitken said that partner numbers would personally be a better indicator of success, as well as how “sticky” Ingram Micro is to them. “For me, the biggest factor for success is selling more products to more customers because that’s a big compliment to what we’re doing and means that they trust and have confidence in what we’re doing. “Another determining key factor is understanding how our vendors feel about what we’re doing: ‘Are we growing our market share with our vendors? Are our vendors pleased with what we’re doing? Are we adding value in terms of selling the products they want us to sell? Are we attracting interest from new vendors?’ These questions are good indicators of whether we’re doing something right.” “On top of that, I want to have a happy team that works for me and enjoys what they do. I think that if a business is to be successful, the people


We have added and will continue to add complementary products that allow us to support even more deals and provide solutions for the benefit of our resellers and their customers.

inside have to be motivated by what they do and they have to buy into the strategy. They need a sense of purpose. That is a great determinant

of success. If I have people who want to work for me and be part of the journey and enjoy coming to work every day, that means I’m doing a good job.”



Comms in the Cloud How a post-pandemic procession to the cloud is resulting in personalised service

I don’t know about you but the idea of a career in customer service has never appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my fair share of work behind a bar and had chefs shout at me while I have a plate with a “cold,” yet half- eaten, burger in my hand. But my ambitions of working in a public-facing job took a dive when I was fired for pouring tea wrong. It is for this reason that I have the utmost respect for those on the other end of the phone when I’m inevitably too stupid to sort out my own problems and have to consult customer service. The old image of a call centre is changing now though; for one, it has been rebranded as a contact centre. But the image of a grey room organised into rows of computers with headsets coming out of them has been replaced by laptops on the kitchen island or home office, as the agents have dispersed. As a result, according to Head of International Carrier Sales at Enreach for Service Providers, Iain Sinnott, the call centre as we used to know it “seems to be at an end.” “Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) technology has revolutionised the contact centre agent at-home experience, simplifying the way that customers can be served by agents, regardless of device, location, or network.

“While some large organisations still require and want dedicated contact centre solutions, many also require what is increasingly referred to as ‘casual contact’ centre features, which are delivered as part of a UC platform, and are part of the increasing convergence between CCaaS and UCaaS. “In other words, contact-centre style features can be added to the overall user environment, accessible from existing apps, rather than requiring a complete additional system. And, by integrating customer contact with, for instance, a CRM system, a more holistic 360 view of the customer relationship is visible.” That holistic view of the contact centre also extends to the agents as Hilary Oliver, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Tollring, explains: “Cloud deployments of call centre solutions have enabled greater accessibility to systems and continuation of customer service. “Customer expectations do not waiver when agents are working remotely and the cloud enables customer service levels to be managed, measured and maintained. Internally, agents can work effectively using the tools provided, whilst supervisors can manage their teams and drive performance, no matter where they are located.”

Iain Sinnott Head of International Carrier Sales


Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) technology has revolutionised the contact centre agent at- home experience, simplifying the way that customers can be served by agents...





We are excited to introduce our Exertis Sustainable Recycling Programme, which offers our channel partners and their customers the opportunity to save time, reduce waste, and maximise the value of any unwanted assets. Our programme follows the principle of true lifecycle sustainable recycling, with 98% of all materials being truly recycled. We believe that asset disposal is not just waste disposal, which is why we offer a cash payment to our partners for outdated or unwanted tech assets. At Exertis, we believe in going above and beyond… So, for items that cannot be refurbished, we harvest components in line with regulations, ensuring that no materials are wasted. Data cleansing is an essential part of our programme, and we provide required certificates for partners to ensure compliance with data protection laws. Our recycling programme has a positive impact on the environment, as we are able to extract precious metals from circuit boards and chips, reducing the need to mine new raw materials and further reducing waste in landfill. Join us in our sustainability journey… THE TIME IS NOW!



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Our Exertis Sustainable Recycling Programme doesn’t stop there! We have seamlessly partnered with Poly’s Video Trade In Program, a game- changing opportunity that offers our partners a comprehensive, sustainable, and financially beneficial solution. Partners can receive an upfront discount on qualifying Poly video end points when removing old video systems. Curious about what you can trade in through Poly’s Video Trade In Program?


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Hilary Oliver Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer

Maintaining Standards Given the people who they interact with, maintaining agents ability to provide a quality service whilst outside of a call centre will have been at the front of managers minds when making this transition. Out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind, and not being able to see agents and how they are working can be a stressful experience for the team leaders responsible for them. However a key way to maintain standards, according to Oliver, is to set key performance indicators (KPI) for agents to measure their own success on. “Monitoring and measuring performance is critical, but with agents working remotely there is more reliance on systems for visibility, collaboration and access to information,” said Oliver. “As a result, agents are more empowered with access to more information than ever before. “Cloud-based solutions empower agents with the knowledge to improve their own performance, and visibility of how well they are achieving this, against personal, team and business KPIs. They can now effectively influence outcomes, and feed back information to improve processes, for example script optimisation or call scheduling. “New collaborative workspaces, empowered by analytics, enable supervisors to understand customer interactions, predict trends, and influence the performance of their agents, whilst agents on the front line have control over customer communications and access to performance views to ensure they can consistently deliver the best customer experience.”

This ability to mark their own homework leads to a more empowered workforce according to Chris Angus, Vice President of Commercial Sales within 8x8 for EMEA, which leads to more investment in the workforce. “When agents are more empowered and more successful, it’s easier for business owners to invest in these people’s development and careers,” said Angus. “The cloud contact centre is what really gives people the opportunity to do that, and ultimately the aim of the contact centre is to improve customer satisfaction, increase agent retention and increase operational efficiency. If you can tick those three boxes, every business owner is going to be laughing, and the cloud contact centre gives them the option to achieve this.” Agent satisfaction The old adage about doing what you love and not working a day in your life might not apply to customer service agents, but churn of these people can be an issue for call centres. The estimated recruitment fee for sourcing a single customer service agent is £3,158, while the average cost of agent turnover is estimated at £202,125 per year for a typical contact centre. It’s no wonder, as talking to people who can be impatient, angry and, frankly, rude from nine to five on top of the stress of paying rent, picking up the kids, and working out what’s for dinner must be exhausting. “If you think about the reasons why people leave businesses, a lot of the time it’s because these people don’t have the skills or the training to be successful in their role,” said


Monitoring and measuring performance is critical, but with agents working remotely there is more reliance on systems for visibility, collaboration and access to information.


Angus, “but the adoption of cloud contact centres, as an industry, is key to changing that. “Staff retention is really important, because it’s far more expensive to hire somebody new than it is to retain staff. “If you think about the world we live in today, businesses are concerned with agent’s satisfaction, their mental health, how they’re handling the stresses and pressures of having the role, as well as physical health and their output. “Agents in the contact centre are now balancing home life and work which can be tough. So being able to provide an agent experience that has improved, takes one of those pressures away which allows them to be more satisfied and more fulfilled in their job.” Working from home is a key improvement to the conditions agents find themselves in when talking to customers. That, according to Martin Taylor, Co-Founder and Deputy CEO of Content Guru, could not have happened without the cloud. “The cloud has unlocked the potential of hybrid working on the contact centre. The

in a larger pool of talent and increased flexibility.”

Better Resolution “The experience for both the customer and the agent has changed significantly,” continued Tripathi. “Customers can now receive support from agents located anywhere in the world, resulting in faster response times and increased availability.” This decrease in resolution time is a key performance indicator that agents have hit since the turn of the decade. With Sinnott adding that flexibility of the cloud is allowing agents to make themselves available and to take calls around their day-to-day lives. “Since cloud-based contact centre technology enables staff to engage with external audiences from anywhere and at any time, customers can expect more timely responses. With the customer experience increasingly the main differentiator in many markets, this quality of customer service makes a huge difference. “Employees, on the other hand, can enjoy greater flexibility around their working days, for instance, choosing to respond to incoming customer enquiries when

Chris Angus Vice President of Commercial Sales


cloud has enabled agents to be a part of the contact centre from

anywhere, and not just a central location. Agents can simply log in via a web browser or mobile app and have access to all the tools they

working from home, while waiting to pick up the kids from the

school gate, or on route to the gym.”

would use when physically in the workplace.

This maintenance of standards is key according to Taylor, who simply said: “Customers should notice no change and it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to determine if

“Having learnt new

behaviours, office workers in general now expect their employers to provide hybrid working, and call

centre agents are no different. Agents expect flexibility and this has become a key differentiator in deciding where to work. “The higher satisfaction derived from the hybrid workplace is then passed directly onto customers in the service they receive. At the same time, the business’ expensive property assets can be worked harder for longer.” On top of this Piyush Tripathi Lead Engineer at Square points out that the talent pool has also increased: “Almost 56% of US call centres have implemented remote work due to the Cloud. This has allowed call centres to hire agents from anywhere in the world, resulting

an agent was in an office environment or working remotely.”

Martin Taylor Co-founder & Deputy CEO

Combining Channels Improving customer experience is not just limited to customer calls though. As customer interaction methods change, so too does the requirement to be available where customers would like to communicate with brands. According to Sinnott, the cloud is a great enabler for businesses to be able to interact with their customers across different channels, adding: “Cloud is a major contributor to converged contact. “Fixed voice, mobile, video, chat, email,







Piyush Tripathi Lead Engineer


Personal Experience Being able to address people where they prefer to interact is a key advantage of the cloud systems as systems enable brands to provide a personalised service, which only increases brand loyalty. “The personalisation of how customers engage with businesses is key,” said Angus. “With a cloud contact centre businesses can personalise each customer experience based on why they’re calling or emailing which is key. “Based on whether someone is getting in contact digitally or using voice, businesses can tailor the vehicle that a person takes into the business based on what the individual customer would prefer. “I’m still voice-first because I like to articulate the problem and explain what’s wrong. With cloud contact centres, businesses can tailor my experience to my preferences. On top of that, omni-channel allow multiple agents to do multiple things. “Every single business at the moment is trying to do more with less. If you have highly skilled agents who are able to handle voice, email, SMS, WhatsApp or Twitter, you can handle multiple interactions at the same time. If you add a chatbot there, you take a tonne of those interactions away from an agent which is another way businesses can optimise their commercial output and provide a better service.”

SMS, social channels and more can be blended into one, seamlessly integrated, user-controlled, context-based and flexible environment. “We can expect to see more forms of contact being blended into the cloud contact centre. Voice is important, but it is just one way in which to engage with customers, who increasingly want SMS, chat, and other options. “This benefits businesses too, because most of those channels lend themselves well to automation, meaning that customers get fast answers and human interaction is saved for when needed, saving valuable staff time.” Taylor added that being able to support converged contact, otherwise known as omni-channel communications, is a distinct advantage of embracing cloud. “Cloud is powering the CCaaS model, which overcomes fundamental challenges presented by legacy, on-premise solutions by providing rich omni-channel features to suit today’s digital customer. “Omni-channel communications mean customers and agents can effortlessly maintain interactions across phone, webchat, instant messaging, email and social media, which is simply not achievable through a legacy telephone system. “Multiple touchpoints from the same customer are ‘orchestrated’ into a 360-degree view of that individual’s interaction and transaction history at the point of contact.”

With a Cloud Contact Centre businesses can personalise each customer experience based on why they’re calling

or emailing which is key


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