Office Space Trends Point to Less Hotdesking

In recent years, open floor plans have all but taken over corporate workspaces.   Driven by a millennial workforce that values fun and collaboration over privacy, a majority of offices in the United States have adopted this mode of working.  According to Forbes, this design promotes transparency and fairness: Fewer walls and doors make management seem more approachable and encourage information to flow freely.

Due to this trend, one of the most asked-about features in the business phone system market has been hotdesking, an extreme version of open floor plan working where people sit wherever they want in the work place, moving their equipment around with them.   In the PBX context, this means that a worker can sit down at any desk and have all calls and calling features available at whatever handset happens to be at the desk, simply by logging-in.

According to the BBC, however, hotdesking may become less important as the Millennial generation starts to age and the pendulum begins to swing in the direction of privacy.  A recent story published by BBC Online reports a backlash against open floor plans.  According to the article workers are 15% less productive, have immense trouble concentrating and are twice as likely to get sick in open working spaces.  Support for this assertion is building.  A recent study found that nearly 40% of employees in an open office wish they had more privacy. Another study concluded workers in an open office are less focused and experience higher levels of stress.  The BBC story goes on to detail the many other downsides of an open work space.

While the SkySwitch Web Centrex platform supports hotdesking (sometimes called hoteling) among hundreds of other hosted PBX features, the important lesson to take away from this article is that working trends change.  Especially in the UCaaS world, it’s important to have a system that’s sufficiently flexible to change with the times.

 

In 2016 Mobile VoIP Clients Still Lacked UC Integration

Here is an interesting article from Tech Target that discusses the current state of UC integration with mobile clients.

As I previously opined, things improved in 2016 when Apple introduced a CallKit API in iOS10. Unfortunately, more needs to be done before mobile apps can truly replace the desk phone.

Nearly all unified communications vendors offer an iOS mobile application for iPhone and iPad. But Nemertes Research has found that use of such UC mobile apps is low. Why? Largely because UC mobile apps lack integration with Apple’s native apps and operating system, creating a poor user experience.

For example, users could not answer a UC call without unlocking the phone, they cannot make a UC call from Apple’s contacts app and UC calls drop when a cellular call arrives.

Given this poor experience, most people have relied on their native dialer and contacts apps, which means calls aren’t routed through the enterprise UC platform, aren’t logged in call data records and can’t be associated with enterprise customer relationship management applications.

But, earlier this year, Apple made its CallKit APIs available within iOS 10. As a result, IT leaders could potentially improve UC mobile apps on iOS devices.

UC vendors step up Apple integration
CallKit allows iPhone and iPad users to place UC calls via Siri or via a call button in their contacts app, as well as answer incoming UC calls without unlocking the phone and see UC call history in their recent-calls list. If users are on a UC call and a cellular call arrives, they can switch between calls or decide not to answer the cellular call. Users can also designate UC contacts as favorites to enable quick dial.

CallKit doesn’t solve all the challenges of UC mobile apps.
Cisco was the first UC provider to offer CallKit integration. Its Spark app, demonstrated at its Cisco Live customer event in July, added Spark calling information to iPhone contacts and enabled iPhone users to place calls via Spark using Siri, or by tapping on Spark numbers within contacts. Cisco does not yet provide CallKit support for its Jabber UC client.

Following in Cisco’s footsteps, Microsoft announced CallKit support for its Skype for Business iOS app at its September customer conference. Vonage, too, announced CallKit support for its UC-as-a-service offering. Other UC vendors will probably follow suit by delivering CallKit support in the next several months.

But CallKit doesn’t solve all the challenges of UC mobile apps.

Still lacking full UC integration
Users still can’t route certain calls through their enterprise UC platform, such as calls made via the native dialer or calls to numbers not in the corporate directory. To do that, companies would need to invest in something like Tango Networks’ Kinetic Communications Platform or Verizon’s recently announced One Talk, an integrated cellular and wireline service.

CallKit also doesn’t support integration with Apple’s native messaging app, which means accessing corporate instant messaging still requires launching a dedicated app.

Still, with more than 50% of companies either deploying or planning to deploy UC mobile apps by 2017, Apple’s CallKit is a step toward providing a better user experience for iPhone owners, even if it doesn’t yet offer full UC integration.

Metaswitch or Boat Anchor?

A post on the Voice Ops mailing list provides a stark reminder that technology risk is real.

voice-ops-boat-anchor

This is just one of the many reasons why the White Label business model is so powerful. If you are thinking about providing hosted voice services, sidestep the very real risk of betting on the wrong technology horse. Consider a white label provider with a proven track record of managing technology.

What to Make of BSFT’s Acquisition of VoIP Logic

Broadsoft (BSFT), the leading maker of UCaaS software, announced today that it was acquiring VoIP Logic, a white-label service that runs atop the BroadWorks platform.

Here’s what the BSFT press release said about the deal:

“We see that a large percent of data consumed by today’s business is through cloud services, which is why BroadSoft has become the go-to cloud transformation partner for service providers seeking to rapidly shift their legacy telecom infrastructure to a network capable of delivering enterprise cloud applications for mobile unified communication, team collaboration and customer engagement,” said Taher Behbehani, chief digital and marketing officer, BroadSoft. “VoIP Logic further strengthens our BroadCloud UCaaS solution portfolio, and the ability for our service provider customers to fully benefit from the cloud.”

Sounds good as far as it goes…  But I found myself wondering why BSFT, with  revenue of $284 Million and telco behemoths such as Verizon as customers, would bother with a relatively small white-label provider  like VoIP Logic.   BSFT states that the acquisition would add $0.8 Million to 2016 top line sales.  Extrapolating from that suggests that VoIP Logic has annual revenue of less than $4 Million. Why is that interesting to BSFT?

My answer to that question will not surprise anyone that has tried to buy any type of customizable anything from a large telco – they just can’t sell it.   Large telcos have been genetically engineered to be good at selling standardized, cookie-cutter services like dial-tone.  Hosted PBX and UCaaS are anything but cookie cutter.

And, although it touted Verizon’s recently launched One Talk service as a win in the cloud space during the last earnings call, I suspect that  BSFT foresees headwinds if it relies solely on its large telco customer base to grow the UCaaS market (for the record, I predict that One Talk will go the way of the Verizon Hub in the not-too-distant future).   In the U.S. today, there are close to 30 million small business, and upwards of 90% of these businesses have employees that work away from the office.  Outfitting these organizations with UCaaS is not a job that anyone should give to Verizon or any other large telco.

And that’s where VoIP Logic comes into the picture.  As a white-label platform provider, VoIP Logic enables organizations  that are already selling complex IT solutions to small businesses to easily add UCaaS to the mix.   If I were BSFT CEO Michael Tessler, I would start rolling up all the BroadWorks white-label platform providers and let them do what they do best.

Using SD-WAN to Optimize VoIP with Bigleaf Networks

dynamic qosWe are pleased to include Bigleaf Networks as a SkySwitch Ecosystem partner and to be included as a member of Bigleaf’s Cloud Assurance Program.

Bigleaf’s solution is ideal for use at customer sites with two or more Internet connections.  Bigleaf provides real-time failover and load-balancing with seamless mid-session re-routing based on ISP circuit quality.

Although the public Internet is always getting better, it is still not possible to say that it can consistently provide business class QoS for VoIP and UCaaS deployments .  SD WAN technology, while still in it’s infancy, is becoming the accepted way to make over-the-top (OTT) VoIP work and provide reliable QoS to smaller, outlying locations, that normally wouldn’t warrant direct MPLS connectivity.

Our experience with the Bigleaf solution so far has been exceptional, and we look forward to helping SkySwitch resellers continue to succeed with yet another proven tool.

 

Save the Date | SkySwitch Users Group Meeting | Feb 26-28, 2017

SAVE THE DATE!

We will be releasing the training lineup and schedule of events in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for it.

————————————————-

SimpleWan Integrates Ubiquiti Controller into Dashboard

unnamed (2)SimpleWan recently announced that it has integrated the Ubiquiti UniFi Controller into its dashboard. This will be welcome news for anyone that has struggled to deploy mesh Wifi and VoIP QoS on the same LAN. Now control of both networks can now be centralized from the SimpleWan dashboard.

We expect to have Unifi access points available for purchase in the SkySwitch Store within the coming weeks.

Ubiquiti is known for its line of outdoor wireless products, which are popular among WISPs. The Unifi line of indoor access points is relatively new, but has gained traction as a result of its blazing fast speed (up to 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band), low entry cost (MSRPs are under $100), and the ease in which WiFi mesh networks can be created and managed.

The UniFi Controller software is enterprise wireless software used for high-density client deployments requiring low latency and high uptime performance. A single UniFi Controller running in the cloud can manage multiple sites: multiple, distributed deployments and multi-tenancy for managed service providers.

As stated in the SimpleWan product announcement:

 

Wireless has changed a lot over the last few years and is continuing to change. Putting an integrated box in the corner of an office no longer works with all of toady’s wireless technology. Wireless must be deployed strategically; for the best coverage and fastest speeds. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel for Wireless N & Wireless AC, SimpleWan looked for the best technology and the best value in a partnership. We decided to partner with Ubiquiti to integrate their wireless controller into the SimpleWan dashboard. Any Unifi Access Point now will fully integrate into your SimpleWan configuration. The devices are fully cloud managed in the SimpleWan Dashboard and designed for zero touch on site. There is no need to buy any additional hardware or solutions; except for the access points themselves.

 

 

Ubiquiti-Unifi-AP-AC-Access-Points

Apple Announcement Means that True Mobility Apps are Closer to Reality

I hear all the time from customers that they would like to replace their SIP desk phone with a mobility app (like the SkySwitch PBX Fone) running on their smartphone. On its face, this seems to make sense. In practice however, it’s not a viable solution for several reasons.

One of the biggest impediments to making this idea work has been the inability for 3rd party app developers to integrate more tightly with the phone operating system. For example, an incoming cellular call will always take precedence over a VoIP call on a mobile app, and there is not an effective way for app developer to override this behavior. As a result, it has always been my opinion that a mobile app could never displace a SIP desk phone in a business environment until the Apple and Android OS developers decide to make it possible.

apple-ios10With the recent announcement by Apple of an API for VoIP apps (named CallKit) in iOS 10.0, it seems that day may be on the horizon. According to the Apple developer website:

The CallKit framework (CallKit.framework) lets VoIP apps integrate with the iPhone UI and give users a great experience. Use this framework to let users view and answer incoming VoIP calls on the lock screen and manage contacts from VoIP calls in the Phone app’s Favorites and Recents views.

CallKit also introduces app extensions that enable call blocking and caller identification. You can create an app extension that can associate a phone number with a name or tell the system when a number should be blocked.

Of course, this is just one piece of the puzzle.  The other impediments to displacing the desk phone being neatly summarized by Polycom (Imagine that) here.

In the meantime, we will be working with our mobility development partner to get these features into PBX Fone.  Keep an eye open for future developments.

Obihai – Amazing 20 Years of Innovation

The Obihai Webinar for SkySwitch resellers is now posted to our YouTube channel.

One slide in the presentation really captured my attention because it demonstrates a pretty spectacular history of success from an entrepreneurial team that has used innovation (in both product and business model) to change the way that people communicate.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 12.12.37 PM

I remember getting my hands on the Komodo ATA way back in 1999.  It was a real game changer.  So much so that Cisco purchased Komodo and transformed it into the globally ubiquitous ATA188.  I can’t think of many other products that have influenced the communications landscape in a similar way.

The Obihai team continues to bring the same innovative thinking to their current products.  If you are not familiar with them, watching this webinar will be worth your while.

 

SkySwitch is Now Integrated with Tenfold

tenfold-100x100SkySwitch is now integrated with Tenfold.

With integrations to 30+ CRM systems, Tenfold helps companies increase revenue by enhancing customer and prospect interactions, providing a framework for sales, service and support best practices, increasing organizational technology adoption and offering high-level actionable analytics.

To learn how SkySwitch Resellers can increase seat revenue and decrease churn by adding Tenfold to their product catalog, signup for our webinar on May 23, 2016 here.

Pin It on Pinterest