Thankful to Give Back to the Community

As Thanksgiving approaches, we’ve been thinking about the things we’re most grateful for as a company. We count our blessings, knowing it’s important to pass along some of our time, talent and treasure to the organizations that are making a positive impact on the communities and world around us. Whatever we can do to help promote those organizations is the most meaningful work we can be doing.

We are grateful to serve the organizations doing the most important work in the community.

Over our 50 years of serving the greater Chicago area’s communication needs, we’ve worked to ensure that some of the most vital organizations have easier access to the world’s leading telecommunications solutions through Mitel (formerly ShoreTel).

Chicago Community Trust

Since 2008, Chicago Community Trust has raised over $6.5 million to benefit 180 critical nonprofit organizations in Chicago. These organizations are the lifelines that help individuals and families with the necessities of life, shelter, food, clothing, health services and job training.

Chicago Community Trust uses a premise-based Mitel (formerly ShoreTel) phone system supported by Gregg Communications. With our added financial contributions and telephone system maintenance, Chicago Community Trust has a reliable way of connecting with their donors and the nonprofit organizations they partner with.

Pillars

Pillars is the largest nonprofit provider of mental health and social services in the western and southwestern suburbs of Chicago, serving 12,000 people each year with everything from mental health support to child and family services, community housing to assistance for domestic and sexual violence victims.

Using a Gregg Communications-supported, premise-based Mitel (formerly ShoreTel) phone system ensures that they have a reliable way to provide support and coordinate care for their clients no matter what their needs are. Pillars staff relies on the ShoreTel Call Center feature to field calls from domestic violence victims, so they can quickly match the victim and any children they have with the best shelter for them.

If you’re looking for a way to give back through donation, time or services, here are some other great organizations around the globe that we’ve had the pleasure supporting:

·         St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitals

·         Horizons for Youth

·         Seeds of Hope for La Victoria

·         Dreams to Reality

·         Chicago Lights

·         Mustard Seed Communities

·         Angelman Syndrome Foundation

·         Bright Pink

·         Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education efforts in Haiti

·         Second Sense

·         American Cancer Society

·         Aids Foundation of Chicago

·         Wayside Cross Ministries

With so much to be thankful for around Thanksgiving and the spirit of giving around Christmas, it’s easy to think about giving during this time of year. For all of us at Gregg Communications, it’s important to give back to the community year-round. We’re committed to supporting community organizations that enrich the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. We encourage you to do the same in the spirit of the season. Thank you for your support.

What is Hosted VoIP and How Can it Set Your Business Communications Free?

When you combine business communications, mobility and the cloud, something wonderful happens: borders disappear, barriers collapse, costs drop, and productivity rises. It’s happening today at businesses around the globe through the power of cloud communications. If this sounds like the kind of business you want, it’s time to move your voice, collaboration and customer service to the cloud.

Hosted VoIP: What is it?

Hosted VoIP. Cloud IP. Virtual office phone system. There are a lot of names for this newest advancement in telecommunications technology. Basically, a hosted VoIP phone system is just like a high-end, on-premises PBX—only the infrastructure and hardware that makes it work are taken care of by a hosted VoIP service provider.

Who uses it?

To understand cloud-based VoIP service, you have to start by understanding the cloud. You’ve probably heard of the cloud before—it’s that thing that exists in a faraway galaxy, only accessible by IT geniuses. Actually, not so much. The cloud is just a network of servers, each designated to perform a specific function or set of functions. If you’ve ever used email or any kind of social media, you’ve used the cloud. When information is stored somewhere other than a physical device, it’s stored in the cloud.

What can it do?

Cloud technology can also provide online services. In the application of a cloud-based phone system, your day-to-day business communications are handled remotely by secure servers. That means you don’t have to worry about any physical equipment or hardware. Hosted VoIP phone systems give you the freedom to grow at your own pace.  As a VoIP cloud provider, we take care of the infrastructure—and you’re free to use as much or as little as you need.

How does it work?

In short, it works like a dream. That is if you dream of a business phone system with full-range scalability, advanced capabilities and no maintenance—all at one low monthly cost.

More specifically, it works by converting analog voice signals to digital packets so voice traffic runs on the same high-speed network as your existing data and internet traffic. And because today’s cloud servers are incredibly fast, highly redundant and use advanced encryption, voice and data traffic are reliable, crystal clear and secure.

A hosted VoIP solution may be just what your business needs.

Capabilities & features

You get access to a slew of unique features and functions with a cloud-based phone system—capabilities previously unavailable and unimaginable to traditional phone systems. With cloud technology, your business phone system can go even further. That means it can take your business further. These days, telecommunications doesn’t just refer to voice anymore. A hosted VoIP phone system gives you complete communication integration—that means you get all the powerful tools a modern business needs. Mitel’s cloud service includes:

  • Web conferencing
  • Video conferencing
  • Screen sharing
  • Receive voicemails as emails
  • Voice-to-text technology

Benefits of the cloud

Cloud-based VoIP service gives businesses of any size and with any budget the same outstanding capabilities previously available exclusively to large businesses. A hosted VoIP solution gives your business the tools it needs to gain a competitive edge for a fixed, monthly cost it can afford.

  • Save money with hosted VoIP. Get the same great voice quality and features you’ve come to expect out of a communications and collaboration system without all the hardware and maintenance costs—just a predictable, low, fixed monthly cost.
  • Public, private and hybrid cloud communications. Cloud communications isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor. There are several deployment models you can choose from depending on your business’s unique situation, and you can shift from one approach to another over time.
  • Replacing, expanding and upgrading hosted VoIP is a nonissue. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate. And business communications systems are not immune from this. With a hosted VoIP phone system, you don’t need to worry about maintenance or upgrades—we take care of that.
  • Customer experience tools. Help your business deliver exceptional customer service on every call with a cloud-based contact center solution. Plus, take advantage of unlimited scalability, seamless mobility and integrated technology that brings business communications and business intelligence together.
  • Support BYOD with your cloud-based VoIP solution. With more flexible work arrangements and more powerful electronics available to the general public, users are getting more and more insistent on using their own devices. And new devices with new capabilities are released all the time. A smart cloud communications provider like Mitel can pool resources from all of its subscribers to work on common compatibility requests, so you’re never out of date.
  • Simply manage phone system integration across multiple locations. With a virtual office phone system, you benefit from standardized capabilities and total interoperability across locations. When upgrades happen, they happen everywhere simultaneously. Maintenance is outsourced to the hosted PBX provider and far fewer resources are required to understand and use systems across the business. And processes and procedures can be standardized for greater efficiency.
  • Create a cloud-enabled workforce. We work in a mobile world where smartphones, mobile apps and the cloud have replaced traditional business tools. With a cloud-based VoIP phone system, your business can turn your communications into a competitive advantage that drives productivity and delivers an exceptional customer experience.

Learn more

If you find yourself wanting to learn more about cloud communications,

Gregg Communications can help.  You can contact us at 630-706-8222 for a

free consultation session.

 

How to Make the Business Case for Cloud Communications

When trying to determine which communications option – on-premises or cloud‐based – is right for your business, ROI (return on investment) and TCO (total cost of ownership) comparisons inevitably come into play. Which type of solution drives better value for your business? Unfortunately, this can be a difficult question to answer.

ROI and TCO models are typically designed to compare similar options—for

example, two similar on-premises communications systems built by two

competing vendors.

On-premises and cloud‐based communications solutions are NOT similar options. Plus, there are lots of costs and assumptions that you must determine when evaluating your options. Ultimately, the answer to the question “Which solution is better for our business?” may depend on more subjective measures, like the value your organization places on flexibility and risk avoidance.

It’s somewhat analogous to purchasing an airline ticket: Which is better? A non‐refundable $325 ticket, or a refundable $466 ticket that can be changed for a nominal fee?

The answer largely depends on the amount of flexibility your travel plans require and the level of risk you’re willing to assume that your travel plans won’t change.

Making a large capital investment in technology, like an on-premises communications and collaboration system, requires a commitment to a particular path.

But how do you know that the technology or solution you’ve committed to is the right choice? How will the technology change over the next 18 to 24 months? What new innovations will be introduced to the market during that time that may benefit your organization?

The answer to that question is hard enough, but most financial models depreciate capital technology investments over five or seven years, so you’ll need to really shine your crystal ball to see five to seven years into the future!

 

Beyond predicting the future of a particular technology, a premises‐based

decision also requires you to see the future of your organization.

How much growth will occur over the next five to seven years? Incremental growth over the next 12 to 24 months may be relatively easy to forecast, but any projections beyond that time frame become increasingly challenging.

If your company experiences rapid growth, the premises‐based communications system you invest in today may be woefully inadequate, requiring costly upgrades. Or, if your company undergoes a merger or acquisition, how difficult will it be to integrate with the other organizations involved in the deal?

Finally, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I know that the solution I’m investing in will still be around in five to seven years? It’s hard enough to predict how my own company will be doing in five to seven years, let alone how a vendor will be doing.
  • What is the vendor’s product roadmap for the solution I’ve selected?
  • Is the vendor financially soluble? Will it put its source code in escrow for me, and does my company have the resources to maintain the source code if the escrow is released?
  • Is the vendor the target of a merger or acquisition? If it is acquired, will the solution I’m purchasing be supported for the foreseeable future?
  • Will new development on the solution continue? Or will the parent company kill off the solution as a competing product line?

None of this is to say that ROI and TCO models aren’t valid. You just need to understand the limitations of these models and how cloud‐based technologies change the paradigm.

 

A cloud‐based communications solution typically doesn’t require a large

capital investment because it’s a subscription‐based, “pay‐as‐you go”

service.

The solution can be easily scaled up or down as your business requirements change. Switching to another cloud service provider, whether due to a change in technology (if your cloud communications provider doesn’t support the new technology), a change in your business requirements (perhaps due to a merger/acquisition), or a change in your relationship with your cloud communications provider (possibly due to a change in terms or poor customer service, financial insolvency, or a change in strategic direction) — though not necessarily easy — is relatively painless when compared to switching from an on-premises communications system that requires significant reinvestment.

Understanding cloud communications costs and assumptions

According to Transparency Market Research, the unified communications market is expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 percent. Revenue is expected to grow to $61.9 billion by 2018.

So what’s driving unified communications growth? In a recent Webtorials State‐of‐the Market report, companies cited each of the following benefits as factors in their ROI calculations:

  • Savings on conferencing services (53 percent)
  • User productivity gains in the office (50 percent)
  • User productivity gains while mobile (46 percent)
  • Reduced travel expenses (55 percent)

 

Tough questions and clear answers about communications systems

 

Expect your CFO to push for answers on the following:

Q: What are the CapEx vs. OpEx implications of investing in cloud communications?

A: If we use the cloud in a managed services model, costs will shift squarely to OpEx and can predictably scale up or down based on the needs of the business.

Q: Are there service level agreements (SLAs) that protect core business processes—and revenue?

A: Reputable cloud communications providers use their own third‐party data facilities with SLAs covering uptime and availability, business continuity, disaster recovery timetables, support for demand spikes, mean time to resolution (MTTR) of issues, and more.

Q: Will cloud communications be a forklift upgrade that makes key investments in the IT infrastructure over the last three to four years obsolete ahead of depreciation schedules?

A: No. The right cloud communications solutions not only support, but also leverage, currently installed platforms and the latest IT frameworks. They integrate seamlessly with virtualization, cloud computing, customer relationship management (CRM) applications and more.

Addressing business continuity with cloud communications

Cloud communications can be an integral part of business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Cloud service providers typically build highly redundant systems in robust, geographically dispersed data centers with multiple points of presence across the Internet. Failover in a cloud environment can be seamless to cloud subscribers, helping businesses continue functioning normally through various contingencies.

Assigning value to flexibility and risk

The value of flexibility is difficult to quantify and varies widely among different businesses—even among those of comparable size and in the same industry.

"A Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) study prepared for Mitel defines flexibility as representing “an investment in additional capacity that could be turned into business benefit for some future additional investment.”

For example, cloud communications might provide an organization with the ability to extend business communications to a mobile workforce, enable remote worker setups for contact center personnel to work from home, or use application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate or develop third‐party mobile apps and plugins.

Technology changes very quickly, often making large multiyear investments

obsolete.

For this reason, flexibility with regard to a communications investment can be extremely valuable to a business. Plus, risk avoidance is valuable. In a cloud communications model, the service provider assumes most of the risk, including buildout costs, licensing, training, adoption of the technology, and obsolescence.

With cloud communications, you have the flexibility to grow at your own pace. For example:

  • Are you a seasonal business? Cloud communications makes it easy to add employees to the conversation and scale back again when the season is over.
  • Is your 9‐to‐5 customer care center shutting out 30 percent of your sales? With the cloud, you can easily route calls to mobile devices to extend your hours without extending your office space.

 

To learn more, contact Gregg Communications at 630-706-8222 for a free

consultation.

 

Cloud Communications Basics: What You Need to Know

Looking at the core features of cloud communications

The way that you communicate says a lot about your business and who you are as an individual. And yet many business communications systems are anything but personal. They’re one‐size‐fits‐all solutions that your business probably outgrew more than a decade ago.

Moving your communications to the cloud can help your business build your

communications around the way you work, and not the other way around.

For example, cloud communications can:

  • Deliver the same phone features of a Fortune 500 company: Mobile‐friendly communications, broad selection of endpoints, automated callbacks, announced queue times, and more—at a cost that businesses of all sizes can afford
  • Ensure a better customer experience: With intelligent call routing that sends customers to the right agent, with the right information, right away
  • Provide deployment flexibility: Only pay for the features that you need, where they’re needed, and custom bundle features as your needs require
  • Enable versatile communications: Employees access their phones, unified messaging, chats, apps, and more—on any device

Integrating advanced applications with your communications system

Have you ever stopped to think that voice is just another application—albeit,

an extremely critical application—that runs over a data network just like

email?

Voice communications can be integrated into multiple aspects of your various business processes. Communications shouldn’t just start and stop on your desk phone.

Critical business applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, that support key business processes need to be communications-enabled so that your mobile workforce can be productive no matter where they are and what device they’re using. Examples of communications-enabled business applications and integrated capabilities include the following:

  • Salesforce.com (for example, click to dial, inbound calls auto pop customer records, find contacts via directory search, capture notes and call details to the record)
  • Microsoft Office 365 (for example, calendar-based presence notifications, click to dial, auto create calendar invitations, voicemail to email integration)
  • Google Apps (for example, click to dial, in-call management options, and inbound call notifications)

Choosing communications deployment models

Until recently, there weren’t many options for deploying business communications systems. For most businesses, the traditional deployment model required a substantial investment in on‐premises private branch exchange (PBX) systems. This model put all of the risk on the buyer because it was a long‐term strategic decision that, among other things, potentially impacted:

  • Future business growth and scalability
  • Expandability to multiple locations
  • Agility and ability to support new features and capabilities in communications‐enabled business processes (CEBPs)

During the 1990s and early 2000s, many organizations replaced their legacy PBX systems with more flexible on-premises unified communications (UC) systems, enabling these organizations to converge their voice and data networks and leverage many standard networking components in their telephony infrastructure, while offering advanced unified communications and collaboration capabilities to their users.

Cloud communications, also known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS) or hosted communications, is the newest option in business communications and is one of the fastest growing market segments in technology.

Cloud communications is growing roughly 25 percent year over year.

However, there’s more than one path to cloud communications, and different size businesses have different requirements that drive their decisions on which cloud model to adopt:

  • Small business (1 to 100 employees):
    • Some integration into other key applications like Salesforce.com and basic contact center may be required
    • Ideal consumers of mobile and public cloud solutions displacing small-end customer on-premises platforms
  • Mid‐market (100 to 2,500 employees):
    • Often have sophisticated business process integrations and contact center requirements
    • Interested in public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions preferring private networking instead of over-the‐top (OTT) solutions
  • Large enterprise (2,500 to 10,000 employees):
    • High interest in private cloud migration and hybrid cloud solutions to leverage existing investment
    • Integration into larger IT framework is a key consideration
  • Extra‐large enterprise (10,000‐plus employees):
    • Focused on solutions that can be effectively deployed to a large user community by emphasizing role‐based user types and multiple location scalability
    • Security, scalability, and third‐party integrations are key considerations
    • High interest in private and hybrid cloud migration strategies

Public cloud

Public cloud is the primary cloud communications deployment model for small and medium businesses (SMBs) and is the most popular option. It can be easily procured on a per-user, per-month basis and can be combined with private network connections, although it’s often used over a basic Internet connection or runs on an “over the top” (OTT) service. Most public cloud communications services include contact center features and integrate with popular business applications.

Public cloud communications offerings can be delivered with private networking for increased security and reliability.

Private cloud

Private cloud communications deployment models are most popular with large enterprises, key verticals, and government agencies. Private cloud communications take advantage of cloud benefits while achieving maximum levels of security and control for the organization.

Private cloud communications can be managed by a solution provider and often includes recurring cloud revenue components. Some executive decision makers may prefer the CapEx investments and perpetual licensing in private cloud models, instead of the recurring OpEx and licensing fees in public cloud models, for various financial reasons.

Hybrid cloud

The hybrid cloud leverages existing on‐premises communications investments, increases resiliency, and enables cloud management benefits and efficiencies of scale. A hybrid cloud communications strategy is often adopted by organizations as part of a transition strategy, from a traditional on‐premises phone system to a more robust cloud‐based unified communications solution that provides unlimited scalability and advanced business capabilities.

A hybrid cloud communications strategy can also be adopted as an end strategy, rather than simply a transition strategy, offering organizations the advantages of both public and private clouds. For example, an organization may choose to maintain complete control of certain aspects of its communications infrastructure while leveraging the resiliency, management, and scalability benefits of the cloud. In these cases, primary communications functions may be handled on‐premises in a private cloud deployment, while overflow call volume and business continuity/disaster recovery is handled in the public cloud.

Hybrid cloud communications favor large campus environments with geographically distributed locations. This model is embraced by IT organizations with limited resources and coverage, as it provides unified management tools to manage users across all sites.

The benefits of cloud communications include:

✓ Cost savings from reduced communications complexity and operational expenses and an overall lower cost per user compared to legacy PBX systems

✓ Improved employee productivity through a rich suite of easy‐to‐deploy communications capabilities

✓ A truly mobile workforce connected with communications tools and virtual systems across multiple locations that give employees access to resources from anywhere

Cloud computing and outsourcing aren’t the same thing

The old IT outsourcing adage was that outsourcing allowed firms to focus on their core business, rather than on technology. While that seemed like a reasonable proposition at the time, the mistake that many firms made was in giving up the control of their technology and their ability to differentiate themselves in a competitive global market. This is particularly true of firms that went well beyond IT outsourcing to farm out their customer service, sales, design and, in some cases, manufacturing processes.

Cloud computing (more specifically cloud communications) outsources the communications infrastructure, not the business processes. By simplifying network operations—such as managing firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), and session initiation protocol (SIP) trunks—and eliminating server administration, moving to a cloud communications provider enables businesses to reallocate IT staff to more value‐added projects and business-critical responsibilities that actually do create competitive differentiation.

Learn more about our cloud communications systems.  Contact Gregg

Communications at 630-706-8222 for a free consultation.

 

10 Reasons Companies are Moving Communications to the Cloud in 2017

There’s lots of buzz around the cloud these days and cloud communications is no exception. But buzz isn’t always an indicator of a business case for technology purchases. Smart businesses are asking what’s driving the rush to the cloud—and they’re getting solid answers. So why are so many businesses moving communications to the cloud today? Here are 10 real-world reasons.

1. Cost

Predictable monthly costs. This may seem like old news, but many companies don’t realize just how much they can save by moving their communications to the cloud. By hosting a phone system over the Internet, businesses are charged on an “as needed” basis, paying only for what they use. That makes cloud-based communication systems especially cost-effective for small businesses—eliminating the need to pay for the installation and maintenance of a traditional phone system.

2. Management

Outsource IT support to the provider. The management of an on-premise solution can be very expensive. Because of the complexity of today’s communications systems, it can often takes an entire IT department to manage. Cloud-based communications can help alleviate the burden by eliminating maintenance, IT work load and some of the more costly internal infrastructure, including servers and storage systems.

3. Scalability

Scale up or down based on users. Anyone who has moved or expanded an on-premise phone system knows just how difficult it can be. Whether a business is growing, moving or sizing down, the cloud provides the flexibility and scalability the business needs now and in the future. And with cloud-based systems, businesses can access and add new features without any new hardware requirements.

4. Vendor management

One vendor for everything. With cloud communications, a vendor manages communication systems off-site, and IT departments are freed up to focus on other high-priority issues.  (Let IT get back to that email fix!)

5. Technology

Instant updates. With cloud communications, service is outsourced, and upgrades are deployed through automatic software updates. This allows organizations to stay focused on their business and leave the upgrades to the cloud communications vendor.

6. Quality of service

Maximize uptime and downtime coverage. For many businesses, uptime is pivotal. To keep things running, they rely on the ability to scale and leverage remote work teams or serve customers from anywhere.  For these kinds of businesses, cloud communications maximizes uptime and coverage through multiple, remotely hosted data centers, helping them avoid costly interruptions and downtime.

7. Affordable Redundancy

Leverage shared resources. With an on-premise communication system, hardware and software geographic redundancy can be challenging to deliver. But when multiple businesses share resources in a cloud environment, they get access to a level of redundancy that would be too expensive to procure with an on-premises solution.

8. Disaster recovery

Business continuity made easy. Businesses are using the cloud to protect themselves from the effects of disasters. With cloud communications, they can get up and running quickly after a disaster, or in some cases, continue running the entire time. Some reroute calls to remote locations and cell phones. Others rely on remote access to voicemail or use cloud-based auto attendants continue taking calls and providing information. It’s a hard-to-resist combination of reliability, resiliency and redundancy.

9. Access to customized cloud-based applications

When businesses are connected to a cloud communications platform, they get access to the latest communications applications and developments, like customizable business workflows. These applications help boost productivity and revenue streams for their businesses in ways that traditional communications programs cannot.

10. Future-proofing

Digital transformation is here. Most companies have started transitioning to the cloud in one form or another to future-proof their businesses, as most applications today are being constructed in the cloud. Making the most of new applications requires the ability to integrate fluidly with business communications system. Integrating cloud-based applications with a cloud-based communications system is significantly easier than integrating cloud-based applications with an on-premises one, so businesses looking to future-proof their operations are moving to the cloud.

Making your own call

Is cloud-based communication right for you? Maybe so. Maybe not. But it is right for the 1.6 million business people who rely on our cloud communication technology day in and day out. If you’re not sure, you can always check out our latest white paper on when cloud communications makes sense.

 

If you would like to learn more, contact Gregg Communications at 630-706-

8222 for a free consultation.

6 Ways to Calculate the Real Impact of Your Collaboration Software

In a global study on connected enterprises, Dimension Data found that only four percent of companies viewed return on investment as the main measure of success for collaboration technologies, while 25 percent of IT departments measure success of collaboration software in terms of ease of implementation.

Collaboration tools tout productivity gains as a no-brainer, and most of us take it for granted that our tools help our teams. But are you actually measuring whether your tools are helping or hurting?

Instead of measuring effectiveness by looking at success of implementation, which is backward-facing at best, we need to look forward, to the user experience and its ultimate effect on revenue.

1. Do you have a training program in place?

First things first: no matter what collaboration software you’re using, if there’s no consistent onboarding process for new technology (or new people to the technology, as in new hires), your employees are wasting time. To alleviate IT help desk tickets, establish a well thought-out training for your team to explain the ins and outs of your new software. It’s a good idea to provide both a training video and slide deck as well as a quick reference guide with enough detail to train video-resistant employees.

2. Are you using the right collaboration tool for the right purpose?

All collaboration tools are not created equal. Your audioconferencing tool may not be able to handle the load of videoconferencing add-ons, and your chat systems may not work when employees are operating in vastly differing time zones. Assess where, when and how your employees are communicating, and look at whether the collaboration tool you’re using was designed to handle that type of task.

3. How many external applications are your employees using?

Shadow IT is pervasive (not to mention costly), and some enterprises are adapting by allowing for consumer-grade applications at the individual and department level. While this may work for some companies, it poses a real security and productivity threat. How much time is your IT team wasting trying to learn how to fix bugs in user-downloaded applications?

Take a moment to survey some of your key user types, taking care to get feedback from your three categories of users:

  • C-suite and upper management
  • Middle-management and information workers
  • On-the-ground workers, field representatives, etc.

Identify how many apps each level of user is implementing, and find out why they prefer these applications to the company-provided and approved ones. The feedback on app usage will vary dramatically between user types, and themes between these will help identify where you’re having .

4. Keep track of your IT requests.

This feeds off tracking external application usage: how much time is your IT team spending each day on requests for non-company-approved applications? How many requests are you getting about your company-approved ones? Get some hard numbers from your help desk tickets to determine whether your current collaboration system – or the range of consumer-grade applications your team are using – are costing your company.

5. Bring it back to revenue.

Linking the technology your team uses with revenue sounds complicated, and sometimes it can be. But for back of the envelope calculations, you can boil it down to a few key factors:

  • What is your average office worker’s hourly cost to your business? In other words, how much is their time worth in real dollars?
  • How much time is your collaboration system saving/costing an employee in a given day?
  • Multiply the hourly cost by the time saved per day (in hours) and scale that back up to yearly figures.

For example, the average annual loss for companies with a poor mobile collaboration strategy is $36 million. We break down the numbers in this infographic on cutting costs and boosting profits with team collaboration.

6. Do you have a unified communications strategy in place?

With nearly 40 percent of businesses lacking a unified communications strategy, it’s not surprising so few attempt to connect their collaboration technologies back to ROI.

Having a strategy for unified communications helps shave off unproductive activities (e.g. does adding a consumer-level file sharing application fit the unified communication strategy for data security for a multinational enterprise?) and keep your team running efficiently. It also gives you a benchmark from which to make future decisions. Once you’ve created a strategy, year over year you can tweak and compare decisions, to help narrow down the real-life impact of your tech.

Bottom line

In today’s mobile workforce, collaboration technologies are a given. But that doesn’t mean that their impact on your company should be. With a unified communications strategy in place and hard numbers to support you, you will be able to quantify whether your collaboration tools are helping your business, or costing you time and money.

Looking for a few more ways to streamline your communications and make

your teams run smoother? Contact Gregg Communications at 630-706-8222

for a free consultation.

4 Valuable Cloud Communications Benefits You Should Know

1. How you can enable a mobile workforce with cloud communications

We’re all busy today. But we’re not always productive. For example, we spend several hours every week checking emails, schedules, text messages, and voicemails in multiple applications and on multiple devices just to make sure we’re not missing something. But ironically, managing multiple collaboration tools on multiple devices is a sure way to miss something.

Cloud communications opens up and unifies collaboration so businesses

begin thinking outside their inboxes.

It brings employees, customers, and partners into the conversation from wherever they are, on whatever device they’re on. And it lets them pick up the conversation quickly, by organizing everything into a single cloud‐based application where voicemails, videos, chats, and more can be stored and easily accessed whenever they’re needed.

The key to better collaboration is through your mobile phone. If you’re like most of us, it’s the first thing you check in the morning, the last thing you see at night, and it goes wherever you go. That’s a far cry from where most legacy phone systems are today, which were designed well before the mobile era and handle mobile communications as an afterthought.

The rise of the mobile workforce has challenged modern perceptions of what

a traditional office environment should be.

Gone are the large spaces filled with wall‐to‐wall cubicle farms. Instead, they’ve been replaced with functional work spaces where people collaborate and are more productive, and mobile working, once seen as a major hassle for organizations, is no longer considered a compromise for businesses trying to accommodate unique work situations like flexible working schedules and office closings due to severe weather. Today, everything is digital, and remote employees—equipped with the right communications tools—can be as productive outside the office as they are in the office.

Consider the following mobile workforce trends:

  •  Nearly 70 percent of employees use their personal device for email
  •  26 percent of employees are productive while outside the office or home
  • 36 percent of employees use up to three mobile devices to do their work

Cloud communications also means no mobile app gets left behind. Your business apps are integrated into the communications fabric so you can share information, ideas, and images from a single screen without constantly opening and closing apps or worrying about interoperability.

Regardless of how your organization compares with other forward‐looking mobile organizations, your business is constantly moving. Work is done while eating breakfast at home, riding in a car, walking to lunch, sitting in a hotel lobby, or waiting in line at the airport. Your employees work remotely—blasting out emails and text messages, and answering calls from customers and clients (or prospective customers and clients) at all hours of the day and night, whenever and wherever they’re needed—regardless of whether they’re “at work.”

Life is mobile, and your communications system should be too. You should be able to be as productive on your mobile phone as you are at your desk.

2. Supporting multiple locations with cloud communications

In addition to supporting mobile workers from any location, modern business communications systems need to support remote workers from multiple locations. Unlike mobile workers, remote workers perform their work from a fixed location—it’s just not located at your main campus or headquarters. Perhaps it’s a branch office located in another city or country, or a temporary office setup to support a new project, or even a home office for a teleworker.

Regardless of the specific situation, remote workers all have unique communications requirements that are often similar to deskbound workers at your main office location, but without the same resources—equipment, connectivity, and support.

Legacy private branch exchange (PBX) systems are usually cost prohibitive for

smaller remote locations consisting of fewer than ten users.

For this reason, remote workers at smaller locations are often equipped with Centrex phone systems, analog lines, or residential phone services that lack the features and functionality of a business communications system. They may also be required to connect to the main office over a virtual private network (VPN) connection, which can negatively impact voice quality.

Cloud communications effectively creates a virtual communications system across all remote locations for an organization, extending the solutions available for both mobile and remote workers, to include:

  • Mobile phones
  • Desk (hard) phones
  • PC (soft) phones
  • Contact center agents

Both on‐premises and cloud communications systems support mobile and remote workers. However, on‐premises systems treat these workers as the exception: Mobile/remote access has to be approved and set up, a VPN or other similar security measures need to be configured, and additional network bandwidth may need to be provisioned (for remote access).

Cloud communications treats office, mobile, and remote workers all the

same.

It completely eliminates location from the equation and provides users with the same set of features that they have in the office, regardless of their location.

3. Reducing costs with cloud communications

Not all dollars cost the same. A dollar invested in a technology project that has a low return on investment (ROI) has opportunity costs that may amount to far more than the initial investment itself. Similarly, many technology projects require ongoing commitments—sunk costs—that further erode profitability for a business: the proverbial “throwing good money after bad.”

Large investments involve risk.

Not only is there a heavy financial stake, but also the organization is essentially placing a series of bets on the investment:

  • Is this the right technology for our business? How will the technology change over the next three, five, and 10 years?
  • Is this the right vendor to partner with for our business? Will they be around in three, five, or 10 years?
  • How quickly will our business grow over the next three, five, and 10 years? Will this investment scale to support that growth?

Capital budgeting is always a very subjective process. A capital expenditure (CapEx) is usually defined by a minimum investment threshold, for example one thousand dollars, and the investment must have a valuable life of more than one year.

CapEx may, in some cases, include bundled equipment, installation and project management costs, implementation services, freight expenses, and initial training costs, among others. Businesses can depreciate a capital investment, typically over a five‐ or seven‐year period, but they must also pay property taxes and maintain fixed asset records on all capital investments throughout the useful life of the investments.

And of course, most technology today is obsolete well before its five‐ or

seven‐year depreciation period.

It all gets extremely complicated, extremely quickly.

For these and many other reasons, most businesses prefer operating expenses (OpEx) instead of CapEx. OpEx costs—like utilities, rent, perpetual licensing fees, and software maintenance—are typically lower (in the short term) than CapEx costs. This is particularly true in terms of upfront costs required, which frees up cash for other projects that drive revenue and growth for the business.

OpEx costs are typically more stable and predictable than CapEx costs and

provide more flexibility for a business should requirements change.

For example, a service provider will usually charge a known recurring rate for a given level of usage, a per‐user (or per‐seat) fee, or a monthly subscriber fee.

The original thought behind premises‐based communications systems was to keep costs down by owning the solution. But as those systems have aged, businesses find themselves owning the problem of maintaining, upgrading, and expanding those systems.

The cloud offers a better path for growth.

It not only saves you money through economy of scale, but also it scales cost-effectively as you grow. You never have to worry about adding more servers and switches as you add more employees. You simply add another seat in the cloud at a fixed monthly cost and have the assurance that new employees are connected into all of your business communications from day one.

If you’re looking to reduce communications costs, cloud communications can save you money:

  • No costly, upfront investments in servers, switches, and PBXs
  • No budget “surprises” with consistent or predictable calling plans
  • No costly, across‐the‐board software upgrades as new features and versions are released — you get the latest versions immediately, automatically
  • No wasted money on overprovisioned trunks or underutilized hardware
  • No high energy and cooling costs to run a roomful of equipment, and rent to store it all

As part of your ROI analysis, you should compare the total cost of ownership

(TCO) of cloud‐based and premises‐based communications solutions.

Remember, a cloud‐based solution consists almost entirely of OpEx costs, whereas a premises-based solution requires both CapEx and OpEx (in the form of ongoing software assurance and upgrades).

4. Focusing on business, not infrastructure

Technology has the ability to transform your business and drive innovation. But it can also drive you crazy if all you’re doing is putting out fires to maintain the status quo. Think of it this way: Would you rather have your engineers fixing the phones or finding new ways to delight your customers?

Cloud‐based communications solutions are exactly that: solutions. Fixing bugs and repairing hardware are the cloud provider’s problems, and most of them make sure it never becomes a problem for their customers—even going so far as to guarantee systems uptime and availability in their service level agreements (SLAs).

While you never have to worry about losing dial tone, your IT department can

focus on making sure you don’t lose your competitive edge in the market.

Innovation is the key to continued growth in today’s business environment. Cloud‐based communications ensure your business is on the leading edge and in tune with the millennial workforce that will drive your business into the future.

Learn more about our cloud communications systems.  Contact Gregg

Communications at 630-706-8222 for a free consultation.

 

What the ShoreTel Acquisition by Mitel Means to Your Business

The very foundation of running a business is to believe in the product you are offering. That's why we, along with 40,000 end-user companies worldwide, are proud to be in a “true” partnership with ShoreTel.

Gregg's partnership with ShoreTel has helped the company grow in the telecommunications industry by offering services that put value for its customers and a commitment to staying at the top of the industry a priority.

Since 2005, Gregg Communications has been a ShoreTel Partner, and was the first ShoreTel Partner in the Chicago area to earn ShoreTel’s Certified Gold Champion Partner status.  Gregg was also the first Partner in the Chicago area to be contact center/call center certified, having installed more than 800 call centers nationwide. We include extensive ShoreTel system training for end users and administrators, offering unparalleled ShoreTel system ongoing support.

Gregg Communications CEO, Tom Rickert, has served as a member of ShoreTel’s Partner Advisory Council.

“We have promoted ShoreTel as the last telephone system a company would need to purchase because the ShoreTel product grows with you and does not become obsolete,” Rickert said.

For instance, included with the ShoreTel support agreement, all customers are entitled to software upgrades, which Gregg normally provides for clients at least once per year without any additional charges. This enables our company to keep our customers up to date with the latest enhancements to their communications systems.

Additionally, ShoreTel has recently introduced a totally new platform called Connect, which ShoreTel has also included as part of customer support agreements.  Existing customers can migrate to this new software at no additional cost.  Most other manufacturers in our industry would require a “forklift upgrade” which would carry a significant cost for replacing equipment, installation, business process changes, and training staff.

Come late September when ShoreTel officially transitions to Mitel, Gregg customers will continue to receive excellent products and services that are backed by an all-star reputation.

“ShoreTel is the number one player world-wide for small to medium size businesses.  They have been a fantastic supplier for us and for our clients," Rickert said.

As ShoreTel transitions into Mitel, we will continue to provide the same level of unified communication support and service to our clients for which Gregg has been well known and recognized over the past 50 years. You can count on our commitment to improved business communications and customer satisfaction for your business without interruption.

Independent surveys and client feedback agree: our obsession for satisfaction sets the industry standard for customer care. Contact Gregg today to learn more

ShoreTel Honored with Industry Accolades

September 21, 2017

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Sept. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- ShoreTel® (SHOR), a leading provider of communication solutions that make interactions simple, was recently honored with multiple awards recognizing the company's senior leadership, go to market approach and innovative technology solutions.

Mark Roberts Named Top Midmarket IT Vendor Executive by The Channel Company for Fourth Consecutive Year

The Channel Company annually recognizes influential vendor executives who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the needs of CIOs and IT leaders in the midmarket, one of the IT industry's fastest-growing sectors.

ShoreTel chief marketing officer, Mark Roberts, was named a 2017 Top Midmarket Vendor Executive for the fourth year in a row.

"It is an honor to be recognized again by The Channel Company and to represent ShoreTel's focus on the midmarket," said Roberts. "Midmarket organizations often need more than just an off-the-shelf solution but don't always have the resources to support excess complexity. The simplicity of ShoreTel Connect paired with the flexibility of our ShoreTel Summit CPaaS solution really creates an ideal combination for this market."

ShoreTel Takes Back-to-Back Awards for Best Vendor Spotlight at Midsize Enterprise Summit

Midsize Enterprise SummitTM is an event for midmarket IT executives, offering IT decision makers access to top vendors, seasoned analysts and peers. At the event this week, the ShoreTel team took home the Xcellence Award for Best Vendor Spotlight, which honors the top-performing technology solution providers based on IT decision makers' perceptions during the event.

ShoreTel also received the Best Vendor Spotlight at the spring Midsize Enterprise Summit earlier this year.

ShoreTel Connect CLOUD Wins Hosted VoIP Excellence Award

The INTERNET TELEPHONY Hosted VoIP Excellence Awards honor services that have demonstrated innovation, unique features and noteworthy developments – improving functionality and usability for their customers.

For the second year in a row, ShoreTel Connect CLOUD was named a winner for innovation in IP solutions.

ShoreTel Honored with Award for Best Telecommunication Website

ShoreTel also recently received top honors for its digital marketing with a 2017 WebAward for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development from the Web Marketing Association. ShoreTel's corporate site won for Best Telecommunication Website.

Winners in the WebAward Competition are chosen by independent judges based on seven criteria – design, ease of use, copywriting, interactivity, use of technology, innovation and content.

Gregg Communications comes highly recommended via Net Promotor Score®

It’s easy to choose which cafe to go grab coffee, and which office supplies vendor to restock printer cartridges, or even which company to purchase new computers. But, when you’re a company looking to install phone systems or call centers, where do you go? How do you choose what company would be right for you to bring your business?

That’s where the Net Promoter Score® comes in. Consider it like a Yelp for businesses. It’s a useful way for customers to state their overall satisfaction.

Gregg Communications, a Chicago-based telecommunications company that has been serving customers in an extensive range of industries for 50 years, has a Net Promoter Score® of 92. This kind of score is not only difficult to achieve, but also to maintain—and Gregg has done so for the last 12 years, placing the company in the top 1% of partners world-wide for customer satisfaction.

When looking for additional resources, it’s important to look to fellow customers and peers for recommendations on which company to choose. For businesses looking to implement VoIP telephone systems, call centers or the many other services Gregg provides, well, the choice is easy.

"Gregg Communications' score exceeds what is considered a world-class level of professionalism and customer care in the industry," Don Joos, CEO of ShoreTel said. “Gregg's consistent performance in delivering an exceptional all-around customer experience is a tribute to its dedication to customers. It is Partners, like Gregg, that ensure customers are not only satisfied, but delighted with ShoreTel products and services."

The Net Promoter Score® is an index ranging from -100 to 100 based on customer surveys that reflect their desire to recommend a company's products and services. It is calculated by a simple, two-question survey that is circulated and distributed.

1.     Customers are asked to choose a number on a scale of 1 to 10 of “how likely is it you would recommend this company to a colleague?”

2.     Then they are asked “what is the reason for your score”--an open text field where they can submit comments.

It's simple, yet straightforward and highly useful to companies looking for goods and services, especially a complex solution like a phone system. A small amount of time submitting your feedback can go a long way for companies looking to attract new clientele and customers. And it helps companies who are looking for independent feedback before choosing a new solution for their business.

Tom Rickert, CEO of Gregg Communications gratefully stated, "Earning this distinction for the 49th consecutive quarter is a tremendous honor, and a testament to the commitment and dedication of our entire staff to provide the best possible customer experience for our clients. We look forward to continuing with our quest to make each and every interaction with our client base fulfill our vision of e3 - experience excellence from experts."

Gregg Communications is one of the nation's premier suppliers of premise based and hosted VoIP business telephone systems with offices in Chicago and Lombard, IL.

Gregg has been recognized for the quality of the experience and expertise it provides to its clients from the consultative sales process, through the implementation, training and on-going support of its products.

For more information, go to http://greggcomm.com.