Besides a proper multi-modal communication system that handles all that voice entails, what else will be needed in tomorrow’s Unified Communication system? The system of tomorrow will need to be able to handle new business communication needs deftly.
For instance, applications we all became familiar with in 2020 were the “curbside pickup” application or the “ready to come up for your appointment” application. Many businesses scrambled to deploy them.
And these applications needed to be tied into the communication system because they involved texting and maybe phone calls if there were questions. The ability of your system to create these applications linked to the UC system is critical for business success. Successful businesses discovered this. And successful companies are also thinking of ways to deploy other integrated applications to help them succeed even more.
Tomorrow’s reality for business communication includes multi-modal communication, where voice and video are essential, connecting to all types of networks is a reality, and tight integration with all your business communication functions saves you time and money. And it will also involve business efficiency and nimbleness. Make sure your UC system can do all of that and all of that well.
The post The Case for Applications Supplementing the UC System of Tomorrow appeared first on Sangoma.
In May, Omdia released their UC as a Service (UCaaS) Scorecard, ranking the top 10 UCaaS providers in North America. We are proud to say Sangoma not only made the list but earned the 5th spot. Omdia identified the leading service providers in terms of the number of seats for UCaaS in North America and then evaluated them based on the following four criteria:
- Financial stability
- Market share momentum
- Service development
- Customer reviews
Sangoma/Star2Star earned the 5th spot because we are in the top 10 in terms of the number of UCaaS seats in North America and because as a financially strong public company we received an excellent score on financial stability.
We will continue to do our very best to continue to place well in this report.
To read excerpts of the report, please go here.
The post Sangoma Proud to Claim 5th Spot on the Omdia North American UCaaS Scorecard appeared first on Sangoma.
The concept of the “digital workplace” has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially as necessity dictates that organizations must increasingly rely on cloud-based services. This form of “as-a-Service” software supports virtual rooms for collaborating, communicating, and sharing work with others during times when person-to-person contact is not practical or possible.
Generally speaking, a digital workplace includes solutions like connected workspaces that support the tasks companies need to conduct business from various devices and locations. Connected workspaces offer many of the common tools, apps, and shared elements for working together while apart, and feeling continuously connected while doing so.
Digital Workplace Security & Flexibility
These cutting-edge productivity tools also feature embedded security elements to protect mission-critical workflows, including sensitive files and communications. This aspect–defending against network penetration–is almost universally crucial across any corporate environment.
In spite of the importance of security, however, it is hardly the only necessary consideration for the remote workforce enterprise. Organizations require a collaborative environment that is device agnostic. Users need to be able to collaborate, regardless of their hardware – and, in some cases, software – of choice. A virtual workplace must also support specific, common connected worker apps and collaboration tools, while simultaneously backing up one’s vertical integration plans as the application is moved up the supply chain.
Finally, there is always the need for automated provisioning to reduce and eliminate complexity within the day-to-day work environment. No longer are workers’ bound by extensive binders of notes when collaborating with their peers. Today’s workforce can have access to all of the tools and resources needed to accomplish complex tasks, potentially from a device no larger than one’s cellphone.
Connected Workspaces Are The Future Of Work
Of course, the benefits to deploying such a package are far more extensive than simply easing the burden of one’s remote workforce. One of the most practical reasons to use the software is to save money. Enterprises continually point to cost-savings benefits by eliminating physical facilities, overhead, and travel expenses. Plus, employees tend to be more productive and happy when they save money on gas, tolls, vehicle wear-and-tear, and other incidentals of travel.
This comfort has the added benefit of bolstering employee productivity. With all of the necessary tools and resources made virtually available (in addition to the added benefit of a full night’s rest), staffers can simultaneously work faster and accomplish more, regardless of their physical location.
As a result, whether the organization faces restrictions from a global pandemic, or simply needing a more personal touch from across the miles, digital workplace options are an effective answer to extending versatility.
The post The Digital Workplace & Connected Workspace Technology appeared first on Sangoma.
We’re starting to see companies calling their remote workers back to work. Some have been doing it quietly, and some have been doing it more publicly. Take a drive at rush hour in your city, and you’ll see this is already happening. In Dallas, where I live, it seems like it’s back to 2019 already during rush hour.
Yes, if vaccinated, you likely feel better about going back to work and interacting with people outside ‘your bubble’ again. But for a while, I think, it won’t really feel like normal. Many companies will likely still limit the number of people in a conference room, and many companies will probably not ask you to be in 100% of the time.
We all know the benefits of Unified Communications when working remotely. Unified Communication systems that enable your office phone number to ring your smartphone and your laptop so you can interact with customers while remote along with chat and video will still play critical roles for remote workers.
But for employees at the office, UC still plays a significant role. You can “leave” your office to work at a nicer or quieter part of the building and not worry about missing phone calls. You can still have video meetings and collaborate with co-workers via sharing files, no matter where they are. Make the UC system you got to know so much better over the past 15 months work for you.
While Internet-based communication such as social media, chat, video, chatbots and push-to-talk are gaining ground, and will continue to gain ground each year, at this time still the primary real-time business communication mechanism is still voice. As referenced in an earlier blog, video is garnering all the headlines and video calls with partners and even some customers occur regularly now, and will certainly stay around to become a way to continue to communicate, but video-centricity as a way to communicate with customers is short-sighted. Because the primary real-time communication mechanism is voice.
Making a phone call! And the making of a phone call, while sounding simple, has much that goes into it. For instance, there is a difference in making a domestic and international phone call. The dialing plans are different and the carrier interconnects are different. And call routing and setting up those rules within the business is also difficult.
As such, when considering what type of UC platform to buy, choosing one with roots in voice, but that can also handle video, is critical right now. As discussed above, while video-based communication was all the rage in 2020, and as it continues to play a role going forward, your entire business needs to take into account its needs before your business marries a video-centric provider. Did you make that choice for your business for the long term, or are you doing it because it helped you this year? What about next year, when you need less video and more of voice and SMS?
The post Is a Video-centric Business Communication System the Right Way Forward? appeared first on Sangoma.
Sangoma Technologies Corporation, a trusted leader in delivering cloud-native Communications-as-a-Service solutions for businesses of all sizes, today announced that they were recognized as a 2021 Visionary Spotlight Award (VSA) winner by ChannelVision Magazine, presented by Beka Business Media.
The 2021 Visionary Spotlight Award winners were recognized for their unique ability to navigate change, adapt to shifting buying patterns, and remain operational despite the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Sangoma’s highlighting achievement in digital transformation includes the expansion of their complete cloud portfolio to become the industry’s most complete UCaaS solutions provider. Sangoma’s product suite includes leading remote work technologies, custom development and integration options, and VDI for seamless connectivity to mission-critical processes from anywhere.
“On behalf of ChannelVision, I would like to congratulate all of this year’s VSA winners,” said Beka Business Media President and CEO Berge Kaprelian. “The companies on this year’s list are highly resilient and resourceful, having made it through the pandemic while remaining on the cutting edge of innovation.”
“We are honored to be recognized as leaders in digital transformation, especially in the midst of such difficult circumstances,” said Jim Machi, VP of Product Management and Marketing, Sangoma. “We owe it to our incredible Partners, Customers, and dedicated Employees for keeping us going. Our mission is always to move forward and create new and better technologies that help businesses thrive. We are pleased to have accomplished that and are looking forward to more exciting things on the horizon!”
The post Sangoma Wins 2021 Visionary Spotlight Award For Digital Transformation appeared first on Sangoma.
Tomorrow I’ll be heading off to ITEXPO, an event I’ve been to countless times before. I may have even been to every single ITEXPO that TMC has ever held. Except this time, it will be different. There will be no shaking hands (for me anyway, still not quite there yet), and I’ll probably have a mask on much of the time. And many of the people I know well from being in this industry a long time and typically see a couple of times a year wouldn’t have seen since the last ITEXPO.
Because the last ITEXPO was the last event before we all shut down. And this ITEXPO is the first event since some semblance of normalcy is returning.
And in that respect, this ITEXPO will be the same as all the other ITEXPOs I’ve been to. I’ll be in a lot of business meetings. And I already have many business meetings set up. And I’ll try and go to a few talks when I have time. Just like all the other ITEXPOs.
I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to many more!
School’s out for summer, so this is the perfect time to reflect on the learning technologies that help students and teachers succeed. With the chaos of an abrupt switch to virtual learning behind us, there are many opportunities to learn how we can overcome past challenges in adopting new technology.
With the switch to remote learning in various stages of adoption across the country, cloud-native solutions were an obvious choice for many schools. Although the COVID-19 Pandemic sped up the process for many counties and school districts, there are still many unknowns for fully adopting new technologies.
Cloud Education Technology Integration
Students in a K-12 setting are still learning about their own individual learning styles, and cloud-native solutions allow them to explore different learning styles in a setting which can give them the best chance at success. While there are plenty of challenges in an entirely virtual environment, students are learning new ways to adapt. The ability to learn from home and not be tied to a physical classroom offers increased flexibility, fewer logistical distractions and challenges, and may even help motivated students to learn at more advanced levels.
A dual system, virtual and physical, can also be applied and with the help of CaaS. These systems of integration are important, not only for access to information, but also as a learning tool for the types of technologies that students will continue to encounter once they leave school. Familiarity with common technologies is a basic skill requirement for most workers.
More frequently than ever, people are entering higher education. As the number of students seeking higher education increases, the cost to both students and educational institutions follows suit. These costs are shouldered primarily by the students themselves, shown in increased tuition costs and debt. Cloud computing is a solution to this phenomenon, as it allows institutions to exponentially increase their offered technological solutions to their students and faculty with decreased costs rather than increased costs.
Technological solutions in higher education are now necessary; one of the major roadblocks for many higher education institutions is the necessary migration of their older systems to a newer, more streamlined and robust system. Fortunately, cloud-native platforms and knowledgeable solution providers can make the transition as painless as possible with little to no downtime.
The Ongoing Challenge
As more of the world turns to technology for its solutions to problems, the world of education is falling behind, struggling to keep up with emerging technologies. Both higher and lower educational institutions have not yet reached their full potential for technological advantages, let alone cloud computing.
As virtual learning has taken a front seat with the current events of the world at play, robust technological solutions are more important than ever. Students have access to technology that can help them learn even in stressful situations and the skills they learn in navigating those technologies will help them as they continue to grow and learn.
Remote learning technology is here to stay, and cloud computing is a growing industry that has already had an impact on educational facilities across the globe. Slowly but surely, the rest of the educational world will begin to adopt these new technologies and learn how to use them to benefit students and faculty alike.
The post The Continuing Journey Of Cloud Education Technology appeared first on Sangoma.
Why is communicating with customers and co-workers different? Let’s start with connecting with co-workers. In a work environment, we all have the same tools, so it’s easy to chat / instant message, go to the Intranet, or place calls. Indeed, we’ve all been on a lot of video calls.
You can say video calls have replaced what we used to call “conference calls.” It’s to the point where setting up video calls in meeting invites is now de rigueur. Also, you can quickly start conversations with chat that might seamlessly switch to video calls because we’re so used to it now. We’ve been on so many video calls lexicon such as “video meeting fatigue” has entered everyday usage.
With customers, it’s very different.
Customers don’t have the same connected tools as you do and aren’t behind your firewalls anyway. So, a click on the same tool is not so easy. Connecting with customers is more varied.
Many customers just want to make an appointment, call about an issue, or find out what time you are open (or even if you are open). As such, with customers, the name of the game is to offer as much self-help as possible and be available in real-time when needed. Thus, we see what at one time were genuine innovations such as phone apps, websites, and IVRs now become centerpieces of today’s customer communication.
But there is also a need for real-time communications, and we see the need for multi-modal forms of real-time communications such as texting, chat, and apps, in addition to voice. In this case, video is part of the overall picture but not nearly as front and center as intra-company communication. As such, real-time business communication is pretty nuanced, and video is not the centerpiece. In next week’s blog, we’ll examine why video not being the centerpiece of customer communications could present a problem if you choose a video-centric business communication system.
The post Connecting with Customers and Co-Workers in Today and Tomorrow’s Reality: Part 2 appeared first on Sangoma.
You might be a small business owner looking to upgrade your phone system, or perhaps an IT administrator tired of dealing with the headaches of maintaining an outdated legacy phone system. Or perhaps you’re a Unified Communications vendor looking for a solution that will help set you apart from the competition.
No matter the case, Switchvox is the best business phone system for small business owners looking to upgrade their communications set-up, and the perfect fit for vendors searching for a new competitive advantage.
Switchvox offers three key benefits that make it a perfect fit for both users and UC resellers:
#1: No à la carte business phone system pricing – all features are included for every user
One of the great benefits of Switchvox for both users and partners is that Switchvox features an all-inclusive pricing model. Traditionally phone systems would require individual feature licenses for major applications like voicemail, faxing, and IVRs, but with Switchvox you get mobile apps, call recording, desktop faxing, call routing, presence, and much more all at one affordable price. This is especially helpful for those who are new to the world of VoIP telephony and Unified Communications for business.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out all the features your business may or may not need in a phone system. Fortunately, with an all features included pricing model you get the freedom to choose the functionality you want and not have to worry about paying for add ons and additional licensing for features you may need down the road.
Switchvox’s all features included pricing model not only makes buying a new business phone system less stressful but also simplifies the purchase process. Instead of worrying about how much it’ll cost to add on something like call center functionality, all you have to do is choose which deployment (on-premise or Cloud) best fits your requirements and how many users and phones you’ll need. And this means no more lengthy line item quotes, which makes quoting super easy for resellers.
#2: Switchvox is both a scalable and flexible Unified Communications platform
Another benefit of Switchvox is that it offers flexibility to both users and partners. Sangoma recognizes that businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and that you need a phone system that can adapt as your business grows.
In order to accommodate a variety of businesses, Switchvox can be deployed as an on-premise phone system or as a hosted cloud phone system. This gives both users and partners plenty of options in terms of cost and phone system management. With an on-premise phone system deployment, businesses can pay for Switchvox as a capital expenditure and manage their phone system using their own IT staff.
Alternatively, if you’re not looking to pay an upfront capital expenditure and don’t feel comfortable managing your phone system, a hosted phone system deployment allows you to simply pay a monthly subscription and the vendor will manage your system in the Cloud.
If choosing between a cloud or on-premise deployment seems like uncharted territory for you, you’re in luck. Switchvox is not restricted to either an on-premise or cloud deployment. Fortunately, if you decide your company has outgrown a hosted deployment, you can move seamlessly from Switchvox Cloud to an on-premise solution with no set-up and no change to your user experience. Or, if you started out with a Switchvox on-premise system and down the road determined that a cloud system better fits your needs then you can easily switch and the interface and behavior of Switchvox will remain the same.
Choosing between on-premise and cloud isn’t the only aspect of the flexibility offered by Switchvox and Sangoma. Sangoma offers all of our own UC devices and network connectivity that you will need — including SBCs, SIP trunking, phones, headsets, and gateways. So, if you want to upgrade your phone system and utilize existing infrastructure, you still have options and compatibility. With the help of Sangoma gateways, you can avoid going through a third party vendor and use Switchvox while keeping your existing analog/PRI lines.
Plus, with Sangoma handling all your UC surround, you don’t have to worry about calling three different technical support teams for any issues or troubleshooting. It’s as simple as calling one number for all your support needs.
#3: Switchvox offers advanced business phone system features and is easy to use
Part of what makes Switchvox a great solution for users and resellers is the fact that it offers advanced phone system features and functionality without sacrificing ease of use. Oftentimes people are hesitant to get a new phone system because they don’t want to deal with a cumbersome installation process or the headache of learning how to use a new phone system.
Fortunately, Switchvox is easy to deploy and can be scaled up or down with our pre-provisioned phones. This means you don’t have to worry about contacting us or your Sangoma reseller for help adding a new user or moving an employee from one office to another. It’s as simple as plugging in your new phone or unplugging your existing phone and moving it to another office. However, if you do have any trouble setting up or using your phone system, we have a dedicated support team to ensure you receive the support and installation services you need.
Once you’ve got Switchvox set-up, we make it easy to learn your new phone system. Sangoma offers lots of free training available to both our users and partners so that you don’t have to spend weeks trying to learn your new phone system. In addition to our free training and demo center, we offer in-depth online and classroom training courses available to our partners and customers through Sangoma University.
These are just a few of the many features and benefits that Switchvox offers to both users and resellers. If you’re interested in learning more about Switchvox, phone system deployment options, or partnering with Sangoma be sure to check out these links below:
- What is a Switchvox Phone System?
- Hosted vs. On-Premise UC: Which is right for you?
- Why Partner with Sangoma?
The post Why is Switchvox the Best Business Phone System for SMB Customers and Resellers? appeared first on Sangoma.
We’ve all been on more than our fair share of video calls the past 14 months. And we’ve probably used all the different video calling platforms (including Sangoma Meet). Sometimes, we get some video quality issues such as the frames freezing or blocking out due to bandwidth reasons, especially when sharing documents. We’ve learned to live with the occasional problem. To me, this shows just how far IP communications have come in such a short period. What a long way from the early VoIP days in 1998. Even back then, we had visions of video and voice on the same call.
I’m sure we’ve all been on a call with over 50 video users with unbelievable video and voice and file sharing quality! Even just a couple of years ago, we couldn’t have proceeded like we’ve proceeded the past 14 months.
But the other day on a call was the first time I’ve experienced voice quality issues on such a call. These days, due to HD codecs and adaptive codecs, voice has stayed sounding consistently good. Really, voice sounds better than PSTN calls on all these video calls (if anyone even remembers what a PSTN call over G.711 sounded like anymore).
On this call, I was talking from my house to someone at one of our offices. I have 1 Gig at my home, and I’m usually pretty good with quality. And obviously, we have good internet going into an office. It turned out the office was experiencing some wifi issue in the building, so it had nothing to do with the video calling platform I was using (Sangoma Meet). And I have to say; even when the video went black, the voice kept going. It got wonky and such, but it kept on going. That’s because voice requires much less bandwidth. Voice will continue to be essential.
In part one of this series, we covered how organizations are now looking ahead to the next phase of the pandemic. Many changes are taking place, with more companies starting to roll out permanent hybrid and remote work models.
One industry that’s going through significant post-COVID transformation is retail, a sector that was hit very hard by the pandemic.
Retailers that are still standing after last year are now looking for new ways to improve resiliency, maximize profits, streamline operations, and reduce risk. In doing so, many are turning to cloud technologies to bolster themselves.
Let’s take a closer look at the role that the cloud is playing in this new era of retail.
Enabling Communication & Collaboration
Communication is critical for success in the post-COVID era. This is especially important for large retailers with hundreds or thousands of branches that are spread across different regions.
There needs to be a clear and open line of communication between corporate administrators and store managers to keep operations running smoothly and maintain compliance.
As such, many retailers are using cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platforms to provide real-time updates, answer questions, and keep a closer eye on what stores are doing on a daily basis.
This is also proving to be useful for on-site employees, especially those who are working short-staffed or in hybrid environments.
Managing Supply Chains
The early days of the pandemic presented many logistical issues, resulting in widespread supply chain inefficiency and product shortages.
Now, retailers are streamlining their supply chains with cloud-based technologies that make it faster and easier to exchange data, provide updates, and strategize.
The pandemic is forcing retailers to rethink their technology spend and look for ways to reduce backend costs.
Cloud communications technologies can help companies operate leaner and more efficiently. Switching to the cloud can lower monthly voice costs, while also making it easier to scale up or down depending on need.
Improve Customer Service
Retailers are also getting creative about how they connect with customers.
For example, a growing number of companies are using cloud-based curbside service apps to communicate with customers, process orders, and answer questions. A curbside service app can serve as a one-stop-shop for customer communication and order management.
The post Returning Back To Normal: Part Two – How The Cloud Is Enabling Retail appeared first on Sangoma.
In late March, once the Star2Star deal closed, Sangoma’s CEO, Bill Wignall, did a podcast with Dave Michels and Evan Kirstel. According to Dave, “You may not be that familiar with Bill or Sangoma, but both are industry giants that have outperformed their peers and the broader industry. Bill has guided Sangoma through tremendous growth and transformation, largely through acquisitions”. You can listen to the TalkingHeadz Podcast here. It’s a pretty all-encompassing discussion about Sangoma, but in particular, you can hear Bill riff on:
- Telecom divestiture
- Bill’s life on social media
- M&A in general and M&A for Sangoma
- Why he felt this deal with Star2Star was truly transformational for Sangoma
- How are we going to go about integration
- Why Sangoma has been “under the radar,” even though now we are by all accounts a top 10 player in UCaaS. With well over 2M UC seats, including our prem solutions.
- What Sangoma provides that is different than our competition. Note: It’s about overall value, providing an end-to-end solution, having both Prem and Cloud, and caring immensely about our channel. And we also offer an entire Communication as a Service Portfolio (UCaaS, TaaS, FaaS, CPaaS, VMaaS, Desktop as a Service, CCaaS, ACaaS).
- Bill also talks about our vision of seeing the PBX / UC platform as basically the hub of business real-time communications, not just limited to voice or video. And why we’re getting into the Access Control market and other IoT innovations going forward.
It’s a good listen if you want to understand more about Bill and Sangoma.
The Digium Phone Module for Asterisk or DPMA for short is an Asterisk software module that provides a secure communications channel between D-Series phones and Asterisk. This secure channel is used to ensure an easy installation process and offers direct integration with many Asterisk capabilities, including presence, voicemail, call parking, and call recording. The DPMA is utilized in stand-alone Asterisk systems, in FreePBX systems, and Switchvox systems.
The D-Series telephones possess an embedded root certificate used to encrypt communications between the D-phone and the DPMA. This certificate was created during the initial development of the D-Series phones in 2011 and had a ten-year lifetime.
As a result, the certificate will expire and become invalid on Friday, May 28, 2021, at 4:45 pm Eastern Daylight Time.
The effect of this certificate expiring is that after May 28, any D-phones already in use will experience application loading errors, which affects voicemail, status, parking, and queues. Any new D-phones that are started anew or rebooted will be unable to connect to and provision. The D-phone will attempt to “contact proxy,” and it will never succeed.
However, we do know how to fix it.
Sangoma has produced new versions of DPMA, Proxy, D-Series telephone firmware, and Switchvox mobile softphone that remediate the problem. Administrators (except Switchvox Cloud and PBXact UCC) MUST take action before the expiration date. For Switchvox users on 7.x, the new firmware is included in Switchvox version 7.6.2. For Switchvox users on 6.x or 5.x, the latest releases are 6.8 and 5.12, respectively.
Steps to take…
Sangoma has developed quick to implement and future-proof solutions. Please visit the resource page for complete information on how to resolve the issue.
Since the certification expires on May 28, 2021, this is a time-sensitive issue that requires immediate action to be taken. Please visit the resource page for complete information on how to resolve this issue.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about video calling and starting calls with video. I got a few questions and comments about that, some saying “The future is all video all the time!” while some agreed with my point of view of “That’s not going to happen all the time”. So, let me write a little more about this.
First, in that blog, I did talk about differentiation of use case. In the case of a calendared meeting, where a link can go into your calendar, many meetings we’ve all been on in the last 12 months start this way. You click on the link; you go to the video meeting. You have a nice shirt on but maybe shorts or PJs, not that I’ve done that. But these are internal meetings, or meetings with partners and even key customers, and many people forget this is NOT the entirety of communications in a business. These are simply meetings where 3 years ago, we’d calendar a “conference call”. They are important parts of your communication plan but not the only way to communicate.
People also said, “Hey I use video when I talk through my collaboration client”. Presumably these are to other employees, or to key partners. I remember “in the old days” I’d use Skype to talk to some of my partners in Europe. But you start with presence / instant message and then you move to a call. Many times the call is still voice, and sometimes it’s also video. I guess it depends on the person. But in any of these use case scenarios, you are not leading with video!
What I’m really talking about though is interaction with your customers or prospects. These are people that are going to call your business to schedule an appointment, get a service person to your house, etc. Sure, because of the internet and having web pages, over the last 25 years, there has been less voice interaction / calls with this group. But with this group, a real call control / call routing engine like exists in UC platforms is really required. There are incoming calls that need routing, there are external calls (or texts) that need scheduling. These cannot be done via scheduling a meeting on a calendar. You need a real IVR, you need contact center features, you need voice mail, you need find me / follow me. You get the picture.
To run a business and interact with external customers, a video first platform just won’t cut it.
A Unified Communication system that knows how to handle phone numbers, and texting, and all kinds of call control as is found in a “PBX” is required.
The post You’re “Always” Starting a Call with Video, Really? appeared first on Sangoma.
WebRTC is…everywhere. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a technology that allows Web browsers to stream audio or video media, as well as to exchange useful data between browsers, mobile platforms, and IoT devices without requiring an intermediary such as a server.
The need to connect virtually and to have video conferences and communications via the web has been around for a while. In the past, you had to rely on plug-ins or an installable application on your PC – not just your web browser. This was very inconvenient as users were required to install additional, incompatible apps, and developers had to study complex stacks and protocols to make the magic happen.
Photo: Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander uses an Ericsson video to speak with Lennart Hyland, a popular TV show host (1969). Image via Wikipedia.
WebRTC Was Born
Many of WebRTC technology’s underpinnings were first developed by Global IP Solutions (or GIPS), a company founded around 1999 in Sweden. In 2011, GIPS was acquired by Google, and the W3C started to work on a standard for WebRTC (real-time communication). WebTRC specifies a series of APIs for real-time communications (RTC) targeted at browsers. Since 2011, Google and other major players in the web-browser market, such as Mozilla and Opera, have been actively supporting WebRTC.
Today companies trust WebRTC to offer them the leverage they need to deliver the user experience they strive for.
Examples of WebTRC
WebRTC is a set of plugin-free APIs that can be used in both desktop and mobile browsers. WebRTC does not need any native apps for audio and video communication as it allows peer-to-peer communication on the web pages. Some of the top companies like Amazon and Facebook are all leveraging this, but Google Meet (or more accurately, Hangouts) is probably one of the main reasons we have WebRTC today.
Google had their own video conferencing service, working from Gmail, but it needed a plugin. Real-time video just wasn’t there in the browser, which is where and why WebRTC started.
There are so many interesting use cases for WebRTC, but here are a few popular ones you may not have considered:
- Simple collaboration: How many times have you been invited to a meeting, and as soon as you clicked on the link, it asked you to sign up or download an app before you could join the call? It can be frustrating to open an account or download a platform to engage in a business meeting. WebRTC removes this barrier, providing a seamless, non-invasive way to connect and collaborate. Using WebRTC when communicating with colleagues, clients, and business partners is easier, simpler, and more convenient.
- Contextual applications: You can use a third party API like OAuth to pull data from services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. This API type makes it possible for customers to leverage their own social graph data to augment their experience within your websites and applications. You can then couple this data with WebRTC-powered features to enable rich contextual communications. This could enable easy sharing of the person’s Twitter handle, email address, or other public profile information, along with links to their most recent tweets or Facebook posts.
- File sharing: Suppose you want to send a massive file to a colleague while working on a project. Instead of emailing the file or uploading it to a third-party cloud storage system (and waiting several minutes for the transfer to complete), you could send it directly through your web browser using WebRTC’s data channel, with very low-latency and the benefit of full encryption between the two endpoints.
- Embedded endpoints: ATMs. Vending machines. Bus stops. Retail store kiosks. All of these endpoints can be embedded with WebRTC engines. It’s an easy way to connect customers with live agents while they are on-the-go.
- Sales enablement: Websites and applications are key tools for sales enablement. Customers rarely make important purchases on impulse. Decisions are often made after speaking with a sales associate. Providing a website or application with a WebRTC audio or video contact channel is a great way to provide ongoing assistance throughout the purchasing process.
- Emergency response: In some cases, WebRTC is being used to increase public safety. SaferMobility streamlines real-time interactions with authorities by enabling video, audio, and text communications while utilizing location-based awareness. This use of the WebRTC data channel allows responding personnel to have deeper insight and better information by circumventing previously existing communication barriers when responding to emergency calls.
- Patient management: Many health clinics are now using WebRTC based solutions to reduce in-office patient visits. This can be helpful during a pandemic like what we are living right now when doctors can perform check-ups over Web browsers. This allows them to allocate more time to higher priority patients while staying safe. WebRTC is also a great way for clinic staff to communicate with patients in-between visits as all the patient needs is a web browser and a URL.
- Enhanced audience participation: Tap to Speak recently developed a solution that turns smartphones into microphones during live events. The application was designed to improve communication between audience members and presenters, as it eliminates having to pass a traditional microphone around a room.
In summary, pretty much any application that wants to share data or video between peers can use WebRTC. The reason for this massive adoption is that browser to browser communication is significantly cheaper than going through a server (up to 90% cheaper from Video Banking and the Economics of the Retail Business). Furthermore, users will no longer need to rely on dedicated hardware sets and applications to join a meeting and have a video conference call; browsers are always accessible to everyone!
Sangoma Meet a Great Example of Adopting WebTRC
Sangoma Meet was launched in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help everyone stay connected and get through this period. With WebTRC technology behind it, Sangoma Meet allows users to start a video call without downloading a plugin or installing an application. Unlike Zoom or GoToMeeting, where you have to install a plugin or an application, Sangoma Meet is simply using your browser to establish a connection with another peer.
The ease of use and compatibility with common browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera makes it a great choice for different industries to adopt in different use cases, as mentioned earlier. Features like multiple participants video conferencing, 1:1 video calls, phone dial-in, screen sharing, recording the meeting (available on V3.0 and above), waiting room (coming soon), local chat, and moderation tools are all running on the web, and users can join the meetings from their mobile devices, laptop or simply from any device which supports web browsers.
Have you tried Sangoma Meet yet? Check out this page and enjoy having a hassle-free call with your friends, family, and colleagues.
We all owe a great deal of debt to the frontline/essential workers who are not able to work from home for the past 13 months, as a way of limiting their Covid exposure. Technology, and Unified Communications, has played a role in the past 13 months in the able to work from home crowd, due to the mobility (desktop and smartphone) aspects of UC. But it has also helped in unexpected, if only sometimes small, ways in limiting the exposure of essential workers, even as this group went to work.
Like many of you, I’ve experienced various new procedures for things I took for granted my whole life. For instance, when going to the dentist I now get a text messaging telling me to come in. The dentist has a small waiting room and doesn’t want patients and their employees getting bottled up together. There are now pretty sophisticated curbside pickup apps that I, and most likely you, have used. I’ve also shown video to contractors who needed to work on my house – they looked at things on the video so they didn’t have to come in contact with me and are able to give me quotes like that. I even did a service call over video (successfully!) when in my city the pandemic was at its worst. I’ve also gotten a text message about an ‘event’ cancellation, even if the ‘event’ was an outside dinner at a restaurant and they sent a mass notification to those who had reservations.
But more importantly, I’ve also seen some of the workers in my neighborhood at other houses come armed with mobile apps, where they didn’t have them before. Seems there is more info for them on the app, from when the appointment was set up, which ultimately limited their interaction with the homeowner. Safer for both parties.
These are all small examples. But every interaction to limit exposure is important. But will these kinds of procedures continue in the future? If it helps with reducing costs or becoming more efficient, I would say yes. For example, curbside pickup is great. Sometimes restaurants get crowded so sifting through all the people to go pick up your order takes time from both parties. I’d say yes. Also, anything to reduce a service call – so use of video – yes, I’d say that will continue if possible. It certainly saves time and money for the business. And the example of the service person having more complete info on the service app – for sure that will continue. It’s faster, and maybe even more accurate as well.
Sangoma offers a variety of UC systems to help you work remotely. And with our recent acquisition of Star2Star we pick up some connected worker applications such as Curbside Pickup and Mass Notification.
The post The Role of UC in Limiting Exposure for Essential Workers appeared first on Sangoma.
It’s impossible to say for certain that the pandemic is winding down. At this point, health experts are still trying to reign in COVID-19 and distribute vaccines to the public. The return “back to normal” is in sight, but we’re still in the thick of it. And in this period of transition, there is considerable debate over what “normal” will look like.
Most businesses are looking forward and forming strategies to safely resume some in-person operations. This two-part series will explore some of the structural changes that are taking place across various industries, as companies pivot to the “next” normal of the pandemic.
Back To Normal With A Twist: Shifting To Hybrid Work
Despite the rocky transition to remote work at the onset of the pandemic, feelings about the trend appear to be mostly positive across the board. In a recent benchmark survey from PwC, 83% of employers said the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, up from 73% in June 2020.
Most companies have established at least base level remote connectivity and security, and are now in the process of upgrading their services and laying the groundwork for permanent remote work.
That said, the future of remote work will most likely be much different. A gradual shift to hybrid work is already starting to take place, which is expected to accelerate in the coming months as more people get vaccinated. Eventually, hybrid work will be the new normal.
Consider the fact that in PwC’s survey, only 13 percent of executives claimed they are ready to permanently ditch their offices. And 75 percent of executives believe at least half of their office employees will return to the office by June 2021.
It’s clear that executives will need to tread lightly when asking employees to resume on-site operations though, or pushback will occur. PwC found that employees want to return back to normal more slowly than employers in regards to in-office operations, with 61% of employees expecting to spend half their time on-site by July. Hybrid work acceleration will largely depend on how the next few months pan out.
Retrofitting Offices for Hybrid Work
PwC also found that U.S. executives are planning many new investments to support hybrid work. Some of the top investments include tools for virtual collaboration (72%), IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity (70%) and training for managers to manage a more virtual workspace (64%). Additional investments include fitting conference rooms with enhanced virtual connectivity, and hoteling applications, among others.
Many companies have been forced to retrofit their office environments to enable social distancing. The majority of companies will also be using scheduling systems to limit on-site workers and reduce the spread of germs.
Further, social distancing requirements are increasing demand for mobile solutions that enable workers to move around throughout the day, instead of being tethered to their desks. Some companies are also implementing hardware with antimicrobial components to limit the spread of COVID-19 on shared surfaces.
Surging Cloud Adoption
The cloud is more important than ever, as companies prepare for the “work from anywhere” trend that has become a standard business requirement in getting back to normal.
Two trends to watch include multi-cloud adoption, which increased by 70% year over year during COVID-19, and cloud native growth. Many organizations are embracing modern cloud architectures built with microservices, which make it easier and cost-effective to build and manage applications.
In addition, there is skyrocketing demand for UCaaS, which keeps teams connected and secure regardless of their location. By implementing UCaaS, companies can achieve reliable communication at all times for both on-site and remote workers.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, which will focus on cloud computing and the return of retail in the transition of returning back to normal.
I’m sure we can all agree that the year 2020 changed all of us in different ways, and for many of us it changed the way we communicate. It’s not uncommon for me to have multiple video meetings every single day. We get those video meeting invites in our calendar and we just go to them. We start in video and end in video. While I used to be on many audio conference calls, those are becoming less frequent and a thing of the past. I am on our video meeting platform, Sangoma Meet, all the time. It’s now like my best friend. I know its personality.
And since it’s so integral to communications these days, that is why we are incorporating our video meeting platform, Sangoma Meet, into our mobile and desktop client, Sangoma Connect. Sangoma Connect will incorporate a talk aspect, a collaborate aspect, and a video meeting aspect. You’ll be able to move seamlessly between all three and launch a video call from our collaborate app for instance. It’s critical that we offer our customers the ability to communicate via voice, chat, or video. And to have our customers choose which one they want to “start” with.
To me, this is just an evolution of the PBX. While the PBX notion is very voice centric, as Unified Communication features started to get incorporated, such as mobility, and the ability for the office phone number to ring on your smartphone or desktop, the notion of a “PBX” became antiquated. Unified Communication systems are what this industry has evolved to. And if the UC vendors want to survive, the UC systems will continue to need to evolve. And that means integrating video and chat as if it is native voice. And that is what we are doing. You want voice. Check. You want chat. Check. You want video. Check.
But what about this concept of “video first” that I described in the first paragraph? I think in some use cases, like I was describing above with internal employee team calls, or calls with your channel, sure video meetings are good, and you will start and end with that.
But for many small businesses, their customers are people – someone wanting to make an appointment or order something or whatever. Calling is efficient, so they call, or maybe use a self-service portal and maybe text. And that’s why a company with a sole focus on video meetings or video calling won’t be able to service a small and medium business. A Unified Communication system, that knows how to handle phone numbers, and texting, and all kinds of call control as is found in a “PBX” is required.
The post Why Video Can’t Be Your Sole “Go-to” Communications Platform appeared first on Sangoma.
Communication and collaboration platforms skyrocketed in use following the outbreak of Covid-19, among organizations across all verticals.
For example, by March 2020, Microsoft Teams, an integration option that Star2Star, A Sangoma Company offers, shot up to 44 million users. By April 2020, Teams reached 75 million users. And by October, it climbed to 115 million — and remains one of the leading enterprise platforms for connecting users across remote locations. Organizations are also relying heavily on programs like Zoom, Slack and Webex to keep team members in touch and productive.
At this point, your organization may be considering migrating to one of these platforms. Yet, there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure optimal results.
1. Round Up Your Admins & Users
Chances are your enterprise has a fragmented messaging framework in place, with teams utilizing a variety of platforms to communicate. This is a good time to do a gut check and determine what your organization is currently using, and where and if any of these solutions can be extended. For example, sales may be using Zoom for video, while customer support uses Microsoft Teams for chat collaboration, and you may have yet another solution for your voice communications. You may be able to leverage a full suite of communications and collaboration from these vendors versus single solutions once you understand the use cases. A proposed tool may or may not be the most cost-effective solution so it’s essential to understand how your business needs to communicate and collaborate.
Bring your users and IT administrators together and form a deployment committee to determine where various platforms could make sense in the enterprise. You may find that some platforms perform better in certain environments and user groups than others.
For example, some teams may be able to get by using a bare-bones platform with limited tools. Other teams may require advanced collaboration hubs for sharing files and notes and collaborating with each other.
During this meeting, you should also outline potential friction points and technical considerations to ensure a smooth migration.
2. Set Policies
You may wind up with a situation where multiple teams can create and manage deployments. Set clear governance policies to avoid running into operational and security issues down the road.
For example, Microsoft provides various governance tools for Teams, enabling you to control things like how Teams are named and classified, who can create Teams, and whether guests are allowed. Competitive solutions may offer greater or lesser capabilities, so it’s important to decide what kind of oversight you will need prior to evaluating tools.
3. Optimize & Secure Your Cloud
Next, you’ll want to analyze and optimize your overall cloud environment. Talk to your admins about where emails and files live — and consider correlating specific platforms with appropriate cloud systems. Make sure your new platform has the right supporting cloud environment. If you still have applications you are hosting in your own data center or in a third-party data center that require your employees to VPN to access, there may be a better way to enable their productivity.
If this is the case you should consider using a desktop as a service (DaaS) solution to securely deliver your app to any location. This way, end-users can log into a secure portal and access apps and data instead of having them live on their machines or by leveraging complicated secure VPNs to access.
4. Upgrade Your Voice Quality, Workflow Integrations & More
Look for opportunities to enhance the platform for better results. For example, Microsoft makes it very easy to integrate additional services into Teams and there are hundreds of apps to explore. One thing to consider is that the platform doesn’t offer great native voice functionality, and users often complain about poor quality on calls. We’ve found that you can easily augment Teams by using third-party enterprise business voice services in conjunction with Microsoft’s infrastructure. In doing so, you can ensure crystal clear calls and achieve much greater flexibility.
It’s also important to understand if you need any IoT integrations to manage your business. This could be anything from integration with overhead paging systems, to door strike/telephony integrations, or integration to older analog devices. While these may not come natively in a potential solution, if you need to support these, they can be managed by choosing a telephony partner that works with the solution you end up choosing.
Connected worker apps may include urgent notifications, mass notifications, employee alerts, curbside service, and CRM integrations, and are designed to provide better control over your unique workflows via your communications. These applications are not necessarily natively supported in your solution of choice. However, by leveraging solutions from companies that work to integrate tools, you can further extend productivity and responsiveness for your business.
5. Test Your Platform Before Deploying
Before deploying a platform across the enterprise, it’s a good idea to test it in a small and controlled setting.
Approach various user groups, and identify users that may benefit from the new platform. Have your IT department deploy it, and test the platform for quality and reliability.
If the platform is a success and the users enjoy the experience, consider integrating the platform into that unit and move onto another one. This accomplishes a few things. First, it lets your IT team educate users and explain the reason for the migration and the benefits that the platform offers. It also gives administrators the ability to identify possible areas of friction and make changes to avoid potential disruptions.
Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, the only thing left to do is deploy across your entire organization. Your employees will be more comfortable and productive when you take the time to migrate to a new collaboration solution according to these guidelines. And for the long term, you will have set up your business for ongoing success as remote work and team collaboration become even more critical to daily operations.
Article originally featured on Forbes.com.