Poly and SkySwitch Discuss the C19 UC Challenge for Telecom Resellers

Earlier this week, Darren Knapp, Poly’s Director of Global ITSP Sales, joined SkySwitch’s CMO, Andy Abramson, to address the challenges that telecom resellers now face due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, and to discuss how telecom resellers can successfully rise to those challenges.


In this webinar, Darren walks through how the work from home market was already huge before the COVID-19 pandemic, what the current state of employees working from home looks like, and how the work from home trend is expected to grow in the coming years.


When it comes to more of your customers quickly transitioning to a work from home environment, both the service provider and customer are likely to run into some hurdles.The three big UC challenges that Darren targets, and presents solutions for in this webinar are:

  1. How do telecom resellers and service providers respond to this accelerated demand for WFH?
  2. How do resellers and service providers minimize the pre and post-installation technical challenges?
  3. How do VARs, MSPs, etc. scale on short notice when they are accustomed to a certain rate of growth?


Watch and listen to the webinar recording below, or read the full transcript to get all the answers on how SkySwitch and Poly are helping telecom resellers respond to the increased demand for work from home solutions.

Full Webinar Transcript:

Andy Abramson 

Good morning, and welcome to another SkySwitch webinar. I’m Andy Abramson, Chief Marketing Officer for SkySwitch. And joining me today, I have a good friend from Polly, Darren Knapp, their Director of Global ITSP Sales and a friend to everyone. And I mean everyone in the SkySwitch family. Hi, Darren. 

Darren Knapp

Hey, Andy, thanks for the intro. I feel friendly now, just after that intro I’m feeling friendly.

Andy Abramson

Good, that’s the way you should feel. We’re going to talk about a bunch of things today. Originally, it was going to simply be “Let’s catch up on where Poly is” but you know, the change in life, the new normal, the way business is now ‘business unusual’ and how it’s impacting everyone from Poly to SkySwitch to our resellers and to their customers. You quickly pulled together, and I want to thank you, a whole presentation around the coronavirus COVID-19 Unified Communications challenge. And before we dive into one of the things we’ve been reading about, whether it’s Apple or any company in the world, everyone’s talking about the supply lines. What are the Polly’s supply lines looking like right now, especially here in the US and also in the manufacturing channel?

Darren Knapp

Well, there’s two things, right? One is supply line, and that’s definitely affected. Everybody is affected because as you’ve seen on the news, even if we’ve got a manufacturing facility in Mexico, a lot of the components are manufactured in China, right? So your microphones and speakers and chipsets and a lot of those pieces are manufactured in China. And it’s something that we’ve been in the process of doing, I think, on the Plantronics side, if you think of the merge between Polycom and Plantronics. 

Now, Polycom, you’ve definitely seen aggressive and smart moves towards moving as much to Mexico and places outside of China. We’ve got other Asian facilities that do manufacturing as well. But I think the entire US is having a look at their business processes. And think about how we’re going to do business going forward in this this new world, post COVID-19. And it’s everything from the, you know, biomedical to, especially in our sector, and the tech and the hardware that goes underneath the hood for everything we do. And it’s important, you know, just me personally as a father of four and you know, a family guy. 

I care about the future of my family and how we’re doing financially. And I’ve seen the things that we get upset about – there’s rampant tech stealing and you know, just what what’s going on in China needs to be fixed. And hopefully this is a wake up call for the United States to shore that up and look to other sources and just make sure that our IP is is protected.

Andy Abramson

Well, that’s great. Now what about inventory here in the US? Working with our store manager, Kelly Osbrone, this morning, things look like they’re normal, a little bit normal again. What do you know about the inventory of Poly gear here in the US?

Darren Knapp

Yeah, so it kind of depends on what you’re looking for. Um, you know, kind of like right now I can go to the store and I can actually buy some some fruits and some vegetables. But if I want toilet paper, good luck, right? And it’s kind of similar in that there’s been a massive run on headsets and we’ve seen numerous of our headset lines be depleted, and then also put on backorder. So some of the most popular lines are on backorder right now. 

And, and one of the things that I’ll cover is that diversification in your supply line is important because to your point, you may be buying from one distributor today, and not even aware that down the road, there’s another distributor that has inventory on the products that you need. I was hearing an anecdote yesterday about the fact that Staples had plenty of toilet paper. You know, it’s not the first place you think of to go buy toilet paper, but somewhere someplace somebody’s got toilet paper. And it’s the same kind of way in the Unified Communication space, somewhere someplace. Most likely, there’s some inventory. 

The other thing that you may have to look at is if, you know, like one of the lower phones in inventory for us is the VVX450. So if that was your primary phone, you might want to start looking at the VVX350. They could be a suitable replacement in the interim. And right now there’s no stock issues on the VVX350. Whereas the 250 and 450 are a little constrained. There’s also plenty of inventory on our generation 2 VVX, select your VVX 301, 311, 4014. There’s plenty of those available as well, because most have started to migrate to the new technology. But those are still available, we still sell them and they’re still a great device. And so that’s another opportunity for you to look in a different place and find something to be able to install your customer.

Andy Abramson

Sounds like Power over Ethernet. And headsets in the Unified Communication space have become the same thing as toilet paper and sanitizer. Everybody’s grabbing them, everybody’s stocking up on them, and everybody needs them. People who are sending their staff home, some are sending them home with their phones, but others are starting to order new phones and I think this is a great time to upgrade. Anyway, let’s dive in. You put together a killer presentation about the COVID-19 UC challenge. It’s up on the screen. Everybody, we’ll be taking questions with Darren at the end, so please don’t hesitate in the chat to indicate that you have some questions and we’ll get to them at the end. So, Darren, my friend, why don’t you take it away?

Darren Knapp

Thanks, Andy. You know, just as a quick intro, I’m Darren Knapp, I manage the service provider space with Poly and cover service providers from in the USA to Latin America. So from Alaska all the way to the tip of Argentina, I’ve got a sales team that works with our partners to just to make sure it’s easy to do business with Poly. And so that’s kind of what I do. 

The other thing is, is like I said, I’m a father of four. I’m working from home right now, as I imagine most of us are. And I’ve also got four kids doing homeschool and a big bloodhound dog that could bark at any second, so things could get interesting in a heartbeat but that is both the blessing and the curse of working at home. So I’m happy to do it because I’ve got my comfortable shoes on. 

So let’s jump right in, you know, kind of the agenda for today. I want to start out with a Poly perspective on what we’re seeing in the market. And then we’ll jump into what are some of the challenges that we’re going to face as we look at this brave new world post COVID-19. And then, what are some of the ways that Poly can help you meet that challenge? And that’s that whole partnering to win – how can we work together? Skyswitch, Poly, you – and making sure that business flows smoother and you’re able to scale and grow your business. We’ll wrap it up with some question and answer and then I’ve got some winners, we’re going to pick a few names out of the hat and give away some headsets to some of the attendees. And then we’ll also talk about a promotion that we’ve got going on right now for us sponsoring some lucky winners to the Vectors conference coming up here in the fall. And so we’re gonna sponsor that, and will let you know the details on it. 

Hosted Voice Market Continues Growing

So let me jump in. From a market perspective here’s what I would have been talking to you about three weeks ago, three weeks ago is a very different time in place. But I would have talked to you about just how exciting our space is. Double digit growth and just the amazing growth that we’ve seen not just last year, but year after year after year after year, and there’s no end in sight. What you see on the left is the growth rate between 2017 and 2024. On the right, what you’re seeing is where we expect where the analysts expect that the saturation or the installed base will be by 2024. So by 2024, the expectation was as of three weeks ago, about 51% of those who are going to move to the cloud would have done so by 2024. Which means we’re only halfway there, right? Under the current conditions, this is what we’re going to talk about – how things are changing. 

So the other thing I want to talk to you about is that work from home has already started. I’ve been doing it for seven years now when I started Polycom, started as a remote worker, work from home. But Poly did a study on the enterprise and we interviewed several enterprises and in that study, what we came back with was, there’s several different types of workers right? And we’ve got them all listed here. By the way, at the end, you’ll be able to download this, we’ll provide a link for you so that you can download this presentation. But what we did is we kind of created these personas of who it is that works in the enterprise. And so there you’ve got Olivia on the left, she’s an office communicator, and then on the right, you know, you’ve got executives, road warriors, flexible workers that kind of work in multiple places. 

But the big key finding for us and that’s relevant, very, very relevant to what’s going on today is that 48% of the enterprise doesn’t always work in the office. They frequently work at Starbucks and on the road in the car and from home and in the airport and so on. And so, before coronavirus, almost 50% of the enterprise was already working remotely. You can imagine as we go forward, how things are changing. So let’s talk about that.

UCaaS/VaaS Defies the Market Crash 

You know, I’ve got some retirement funds and this is what has been giving me panic and sleepless nights is looking at the market and watching the, you know, the 401K drop like a rock. But what was interesting,  was we as we watched that happen, that wasn’t the only story. You know, there’s a company called Zoom, that in the face of one of the worst market declines in history, was growing like gangbusters. And this is actually true. There’s a lot of our partners that aren’t publicly traded. And they’re seeing expansion and growth during this worst time. And the reason is, right, people gotta continue working. You can’t just let your business falter. And go away because of this challenge. We’ve got to rise to the challenge, come up with solutions and Zoom was one of the most publicly visible solutions in the market. And so they’ve benefited from a huge growth in their stock. 

Coronavirus Intensifies Work From Home Demands

The other thing that we’re seeing, and I’ve watched this as I’m sitting on my couch, checking out the news at the end of the day. You know, you’re seeing all of these news stories about work from home. I mean, it’s constant. I could probably put up here in the neighborhood of 100 different articles that I’ve seen just in the past week that deal with work from home. And we’re seeing this, I’m living it, I’m working from home. I’ve actually was talking to one of my employees and she was telling me that she’s working out from home. So over one of the video platforms, she was able to actually do her work out with one of her friends and do this right online. So even that’s changing. Social events on Friday – this is probably the funniest one. I got a text from a buddy that wanted to use my bridge. And I asked him what he was using it for, because it was after hours and on a Friday. He says, “Oh, yeah, me and some of my neighbors are going to get together and drink some wine.” And so I, you know, had to laugh because it’s just a different way. I don’t think anybody had thought that we could use a video platform to kind of sit back and chat and have wine and enjoy. 

The other one, of course, is school online. All for my kids, now they’re being homeschooled. They’re online and they’re doing video calls with their teachers, and they’re experiencing the whole work from home experience as well. So people are getting creative, and they’re figuring out how to let life continue to happen as best as possible. And they’re using our technology, this Unified Communication space to get that done. 

So the thing we’ve got to consider is that the future of remote work is changing right before our eyes. If I’m a business person, and I’ve been caught sort of unaware, I’m scrambling right now, I’m buying headsets, I’m sending people home to work. And I’m probably not real comfortable with the way that’s going because it’s being forced on me in the matter of a week or two, versus the way normally enterprises and businesses plan. They plan potentially years in advance, if not six months in advance or three months in advance – not one week in advance. So the future of communications is changing right before our eyes. And we’ve got to prepare for it because what we saw before is going to change. Right? [Inaudible noise in the background] There’s Buddy in the background, he’s saying “hi.” 

But this same chart that I showed you before, guys, is going to change. So right, these things are going to go up and the new trajectory is going to be faster. Our expectation is that it’s not going to be 2024. Now, after coronavirus, that we see a 50% penetration of unified communications. We think this is going to really pick up steam, and even after we’re done, let’s say we get to the summer, and kind of the rough patches finished, and we’re going forward. We’re going to see businesses sit down and say, “Okay, that’s not going to happen again.”

What if this rears its head again this winter, right? Because normally the way viruses work is they pop up, and then they come back after the summer is over. And then you’ll get another flow or increase of the problem as we get back into the winter season. And by the way, what’s the next one that’s going to come out? So these are the things that businesses are thinking about. And these are the things that we’re going to have to help them solve as UC providers.

How Do We Respond to Accelerated Demand for Work From Home and Over-the-Top Unified Communications?

So I outlined what I’m calling the C19 UC challenge. And I want to define some of the problems that I’ve observed, right. So here they are: how do we respond to this accelerated demand for work from home and over the top unified communications? Number one, is we’ve got to understand the client. We’ve got to understand what it is they’re needing, what does the work from home employee need us to do for them? Second, we’ve got to be able to minimize that pre and post install technical challenge. This a lot of issues and I’ve got I’ve heard a lot of anecdotes over the last couple of weeks about people that went home, you know, they picked up their phone out of the office, and then they took it home and plugged it in and it didn’t work. It worked at the office, now it doesn’t work at home. And these are the nightmares for us as service providers. 

Many of you, I don’t know that you know this, but I used to run the network operations for an internet telephone service provider back in the middle 2000s. My own company, called Real Links. And that was my daily nightmare, was how to fix stuff that was broken behind the customer’s firewall. You know, how do you even see that stuff? 

And then number three, how do you scale, right, if the demand is going to increase? And I’m accustomed to a certain rate of growth, how am I going to ramp up in short notice? And so what I’m going to attempt to do, is hopefully present some ways that Poly can help you in these three categories. 

So first of all, let’s understand the challenges, right? Understanding and meeting the customer’s needs. Part of it is environmental, and this is where we’ve got issues with…you know, what I’m hearing right now: the dogs barking in the back, we’ve got workers working outside on a retaining wall. And the ability to focus is difficult. When there’s noise happening around you, it’s hard for you to concentrate. So we’ve got to be able to help that. We’ve also got to help the far-end hear us clearly, my kids were on this zoom call. And one of the things that my son told me was, “Yeah, dad, it was so distracting because everybody was making noise.” And so you’ve got 20 school kids, sixth graders, on a call and nobody’s on mute. So you can imagine the cacophony and the mayhem that’s going on. 

The other one is this multi-platform challenge. So, internally, you, your customer – you probably have a go-to unified communications and also video as a service platform that you use as your go-to. But inevitably, tomorrow, you’re going to be invited to something different. So whether you’ve settled on Zoom or whatever, tomorrow, you’re going to be invited to Teams or WebEx, Go to Meetings, Blue Jeans, and the list goes on. There’s about 20 solid platforms out there that folks are using today. And that’s going to continue to grow, especially in light of what’s going on. So you’ve got to have devices that can hop between the different platforms, and aren’t just tethered to one single solution. 

And then finally, it’s got to be easy to use. We can’t spend all of our time trying to train a customer on how to use a headset, or use a telephone or something like that. So we’ve got to be able to help that problem. Second of all, we’ve got to minimize the pre and post install technical challenges. So how do I know if my customers got a LAN issue? How do I know if it’s their internet connection? That’s the problem. How do I know it’s not the old ID 10 t issue, right? You know, my customer plugged the thing into the wrong port? And how can I find that out? And then how can I fix it quickly, because regardless of who’s at fault, if your customer takes a long time, in their eyes, to get a situation resolved, they’re probably going to turn and they’re going to go somewhere else. Even if it wasn’t your fault, even if it was that their home network was a disaster. They’re not going to pin that on themselves, they’re going to pin that on you. And so you’ve got to be able to help them fix their own problems, and you got to do it quickly. And because ultimately, the, you know, the customer loyalty that you’ll gain by fixing the problem they created is unbelievable. They’ll recognize at the end of that, that, “Hey, it was my fault that this didn’t work. And yet, you fixed my problem. You guys are amazing.” And that can really translate into customer loyalty.

Then finally, how do we scale and how do we grow this thing? And to do that, we’ve got to be able to automate installations. I’ve got to be able to get a brand new phone drop shipped from the distributor, it lands at my customer’s home office, they unbox the phone, and they plug it in, and it just starts working. That’s what we need. 

We’ve also got to be able to solve cash flow. If you’re ramping up your business at a speed that’s greater than what you’re accustomed to, that costs money. And so finding ways to lower your CapEx hit is going to be very important. How can you convert the CapEx that you’re spending today on equipment? How can convert that to an OpEx monthly option instead? 

And then finally, you’ve got to diversify supply chain, because somebody’s going to run out of something and you’ve got to be able to pivot and go find that solution. 

Meeting the Challenge: Poly Work From Home Devices

So here’s how Poly jumps in to help you meet some of these challenges. So the first one we talked about, is kind of the customer-side environmental challenges, right? The noise, platform jumping between all the different platforms and so on. And so here’s the way that we do that. First of all, environmentally, we’ve got some noise cancellation that’s just unbelievable. I’m going to play a clip here in a minute so you can actually listen to some of it, if you haven’t heard it, and then I’ll show you where to find those clips on YouTube as well. 

But the other one is, not only on the phones do we have this, but we also have it on the headsets. We’ve also got cameras to do this great speaker tracking and can follow you around as you’re walking around your office and so on. The multi-platform, it’s got to be plug and play. So we’ve got lots of these USB devices that don’t care what you’re using. They just work as an accessory to your PC. 

And then intuitive and usable. Yes, our stuff’s easy to use, but it also helps when you’ve got videos and how-to’s posted online that you can point your customer to, to help them out that extra step. So I won’t spend a lot of time here but we get it, right? If you’ve ever worked from a Starbucks or even a WeWork or home office specifically. I mean, with the kids bouncing all over the place, it can be maddening. And we did in that big survey, when we’re looking at enterprises, we did some digging around, what’s the end users perspective of noise? And here’s what we found: 64% of office workers say that background noises are distracting. So that’s in the work environment, they’re complaining about that. Now, just imagine if we were to do the same set of questions to those that are working from home – I’m pretty sure that’s going to go to 100%. Everybody’s got this problem of background noise and distractions, the ability to reduce the ambient noises and focus and getting rid of distractions. These are all really important.

So here’s acoustic fence. Check this out on how we solve it.

[Video on PowerPoint Presentation plays:]

Hey everyone here Knapp here with Polycom. And I’m coming to you today to demonstrate the power of Polycom acoustic fence technology. So, what is acoustic fence? It’s simply a way to remove unwanted sounds and noise from your phone calls. We’re going to demonstrate this today using a Polycom VVX 600. But acoustic fence also works in the entire VVX line of phones. So that’s the 101 the 201 300 400 506 hundred series IP phones from Polycom. So, our scenario today is a zombie apocalypse. So, cue noise: Imagine if you were working from home and a zombie apocalypse breaks out –  always a possibility. So acoustic fence is not active right now when I’m on speakerphone, so why what happens when I take it off? Now acoustic fence is active because the phone is listening to my voice through this microphone on the handset or headset. And this microphone that’s normally reserved for the speakerphone is listening to the ambient noise and it’s removing it. So acoustic fence off…and acoustic fence back on. That’s the power of acoustic fence. Remove unwanted noise and be heard clearly. Enjoy.

So, that’s a demo of acoustic fence and that’s available on our phones. But I also want to play you another one that is the cancellation of noise using a headset, and this is called close conversation limiting, so check this one out.

[Video on PowerPoint Presentation Plays:]

You know when you’re trying to have a private phone call, but you’re surrounded by nearby conversations? This environment makes it very difficult for the caller to hear you, and to protect personal information. That’s why Plantronics developed ‘close conversation limiting’, our next-generation digital signal processing. DSP enables all sorts of headset advancements, to make sure your voice is delivered clearly, like minimizing sounds around you. But the most difficult sound to minimize is a conversation close by because it’s like trying to separate the voices of two people talking at the same time. This is the challenge for DSP when it tries to isolate the headset user’s voice from other nearby voices. That’s what makes close conversation limiting true audio artistry. Plantronics engineers expertly tuned thousands of values and thresholds, people testing in real-world applications until they achieved this. These speakers are playing recorded conversations and this is the actual level of sound around you. Imagine trying to isolate my voice in this type of environment. Much better. The conversations are still playing on the speakers, but you can hear me clearly because I’m wearing a headset featuring close conversation limiting. Only by Plantronics.

 Reduce Noise With Poly Work From Home Devices

So there you go, guys. Just two ways that we limit the background noise and really change the game on the work from home space. And so again, those are acoustic fence, and you can YouTube that. You can find it by looking at Polycom zombie. And then the close conversation limiting if you just look up Plantronics close conversation limiting, you’ll find that. We’ve also got another one called noise block, but that’s more for the conference room. 

And so let me kind of walkthrough to the other piece of what’s important is these tutorials. They’re intuitive, right, most users pick up the phone, they know how to dial a call, they put on a headset, they know how to pair it with Bluetooth. But not all users are as, let’s call it technically savvy. And so it’s helpful to be able to point them to online guides. There’s two things I’ll call out. One is we’ve got a Poly portal for all of our partners. When you go in there, you have access to co-brandable videos that you can put your information on. We’re also working with Andy and the SkySwitch team to create those co-brandable videos for you, so you can have a custom set of videos that you can put on your website that you’re using, so users understand how to use your equipment. But then there’s also YouTube. It’s just a wealth of information out there. The Poly channel has numerous of these, and then many of our partners have done very a bunch of different ones. And so you can send links to your customers to get them up and running without you having to walk them through every single step of the way. 

Poly Recommended Work From Home Devices At a Glance

I won’t spend a lot of time on devices -that’s not really my main thing, but I think I’d be remiss as a device provider, as a manufacturer, if we didn’t look at some of the work from home devices. So I’m going to speed through this. Not going to spend a lot of time, but just wanted you to see some of the devices we see high demand for in this work from home space. 

So obviously the phones, the X series, the VVX X50 series, has been a great hit for us. Very affordable line of phones but still keeps that Poly quality that you’re accustomed to. Also put at the bottom there that three of the models, the 253, 350 and 450, are WiFi enabled with the OB WiFi dongle. So if you buy that OB WiFi dongle and stick it in the back, you now have a WiFi phone and work from home environment. This can be really important because running cables at home is just a nightmare. So those are some good solutions as you’re sending folks to work from home. 

Also, we got the new VVX D230 dect phone This was recently released and is up and running and certified and available. So that one’s going to be a good one for work from home. You may not think of this one initially, but a lot of folks at home really just have an analog phone, maybe they’ve got an analog dect telephone that they bought from Walmart, and an ATA will solve the problem of getting the SIP to that device. So you could send them home with a one port FXS ATA and have them connect that at a very inexpensive price, and then connect their dect phone to it. So that’s another way to get them their office phone at home. Again, this one also supports the WiFi. So it’s got a USB port, you can actually plug the WiFi dongle into even the smallest ATA that we sell, that OB 30o. And now, you don’t even have to run cabling for it and just run it off the WiFi. 

From the headset perspective, again, I’m going to speed through this, but kind of a good, better best in various classes. So just in the office worker work from home category, my son right now is using the Blackwire 5200, wanted to see how it worked for him as he connected to Zoom calls, and I’m seeing that this entire line, just from a down and dirty plug it in and get up and running, is doing really well for us. It’s also, by the way, one of the ones that’s the most backordered. I did see, as a note, the Blackwire 7225, there is some inventory on that one. So if you’re looking for one of these, that would be the one to jump on, the Blackwire 7225. I think the 3300 and the 5200 are very slim. I know that we have a Microsoft SKU on the 3300. So it’s going to be the 3315 and the 3325 Microsoft, and those will work on non-Microsoft applications as well. So if you’re looking for a headset, that’s a reasonable price, that’s a good option for you right now until those run out.

Another series that hasn’t been gobbled up as quickly, I think because people think of these as call center headsets, is the Encore Pro Series. We sort of quietly snuck in that we have a USB version. If you’re familiar with Encore Pro, we sold them with a quick disconnect cable and you had to buy a separate cable and connect the two. So if you wanted a USB, buy the separate USB adapter. These models, the USB series, come with the USB built in, so when you buy the Encore Pro 300 USB, it comes with the USB adapter connected. So there’s the 300, 500 and 700 hundred series. These are a better play for having stock, so I would look at these if you’re not finding luck with some of the other categories. 

In the wireless dect category, one of the most popular models we have Is the CS 500 series. That CS 540 by far is our number one selling dect wireless headset. And as you can imagine, it’s also the one that’s probably the most backordered. But the Savi 7200 was just released, a lot of people don’t know about it, and that one is available. The 7200 is intended to eventually replace the CS 500. It’s really slick, sounds amazing. It’s got ANC, and it sounds phenomenal. The 8200, also a phenomenal headset. The benefit of both of these guys, is that you can connect to more than one thing at a time on the 7200 and the 8200, you’ve got the ability to connect to your Poly desk phone, as well as your computer and Bluetooth, your cellular to the base, so you can answer calls on all three mediums with the same headset. 

In the Bluetooth headset category, we’ve got an over the ear set, and that’s the Voyager 4200, the Voyager focus and the Voyager 8200 UC. And the UC naming convention means that it comes with a little USB dongle. And what that does is you can plug that dongle either into your Poly phone, if it’s got a USB port, or into your computer and the headset will simultaneously pair to your cell phone and to that dongle. So now if I’m using my headset all day on my computer, and my cell phone, I can go back and forth without having to change my pairing. So that’s a really nice feature for this line. If you prefer in the ear, we’ve got some models, I do know I saw yesterday that the Voyager 3200 is still available. It’s my personal favorite. It’s so comfortable and light. Also comes with that Bluetooth dongle. The 5200’s noise cancellation is unreal. And then the 6200 is that all-day, wear it around your neck, it’s just there and it’s got a 10 hour talk time. So that’s super comfortable and always available because it’s sitting around your neck. 

We also just recently came out with the Office series for a couple of these models. So there’s the Voyager 4200 connected with the base of the office series. And we saw that in two different flavors one where you can just connect to the desk phone, it comes with an RJ9 cable that will run from the office space to your telephone. If you want the electronic hook switch controls, you’re going to also have to buy the app 51 HTTP 51 cable. Then on the CD model, that means computer and desk phone, so it’s got a USB cable that goes to your computer. It’s got RJ9 that goes to your phone, and then you can Bluetooth pair to your cell phone, so you can have the three mediums in one. And I know that I saw yesterday that some of these were available, and we do the same thing in the 5200 serie, so here it is: the office 5200. And same concept, you can get that in desk or computer and desk, and both of them pair to your cell phone. 

The other one I just got yesterday, I’m really excited about this, because every time my kids and my wife walk into the office, they always kind of look at me. I’ll be looking at my screen and I’ve got my headset on, and they don’t know whether I’m on a call or not. So now I’ve got the status indicator that will go red when I’m on a call – it’s red right now. It’s kind of like the old recording studio or the radio station, when you’re live on air, it goes red. So now when they walk in, they don’t have to ask me if I’m on a call, they can see the bright red indicator.

And then finally, for the speakers and speaker phones, we’ve got the Callisto series. So the 3200 is just simple USB, it couldn’t be easier. You plug it in and you got a speakerphone with a nice microphone. The 5200 adds a battery and also 3.5 millimeter cables, so you’ve got two cables. So you can plug that into your computer, you can plug that into your cell phone if you’ve got that 3.5 millimeter port. And it’s got a 10 hour battery on it. So you could have your cell phone run as a small conference system all day long, pretty much. 

And then my favorite, but definitely right now backordered, is the Callisto 7200. It’s got a really nice set of four microphones and really excellent speaker, so this thing sounds on par if you’ve ever heard the Polycom IP 6000 speakerphone. It sounds about like that, both from the far side and from the near side, that kind of quality. So some really nice units. 

And then this just came out, the Elara 60. This is an answer for those who just use their cell phone. Cell phone docking station that wirelessly charges your cell phone, it’s got a speakerphone built in the keypad to be able to dial your calls, and then the headset charging cradle right there. So it’s all in one, just ready to to work for your mobile

And then from a video space, we’ve got a small camera that we call the Eagle Eye Mini. That’s the one pictured here. Really nice 1080P, really great, simple just connect it to the top of your laptop or your monitor and you’re up and running. What I’m using right now, and I love this thing, this is the Eagle Eye Cube USB, and what I love about this is it has the speaker tracking built in. So I like to walk around a lot when I’m on a video call. And regardless of where I’m standing, the camera automatically follows me, and it’s as if I’ve got a producer with a camera, holding it on their shoulder while they follow me around. So it’s really cool how that thing works. A little bit more pricey, but I’m finding, especially executives, love this thing. And it works just plugged into your laptop. It also pairs with our trio conference phone. 

And then the last one I think I’ve got on here is this Studio. Now, you’ve got to have the right type of office to have the studio because it either sits on a credenza, or you’d mount it on the wall. But this is the speaker, the microphones and the auto speaker-tracking camera all built into one unit. It’s got a USB cable that you just simply plug into your laptop, and there you go. The far end is getting that high-end video experience in an all in one bar.

Minimize Pre-Install and Post-Install Technical Challenges With Poly Device Management Service for Service Providers

So challenge number two: pre and post install challenges. And I told you before, I used to live this and I would dread the customer call. You know, they’re working from home and something’s broken and they have no clue on how to troubleshoot it. So you got to kind of dive into that. So how do we help you fix that? Also, how do we help you resolve things quickly in gaining that customer loyalty? It really all comes down to one thing. We’ve got a service that we rolled out about a year and a half ago when we purchased the company ObiHai. So if anybody’s familiar with Obi Talk, we bought ObiHai and we rebranded it as Poly Device Management Service for service providers. It’s a mouthful, but it really is, that’s exactly what it is. Imagine now with this tool, the phone that you plugged in at your customers premise, right, their home, you’re actually now able to get into it through their firewall and run a PCAP, look at what’s plugged into the PC port or the USB port. You can look at the packet loss latency and jitter. You can run speed test, trace route, ping, and it also does a lot of stuff for our zero touch provisioning. 

So here’s kind of what it looks like. Today, you’re connected to the SkySwitch cloud. You’ve got control over the provisioning of your phone. Nothing changes, that all stays the same. What we’ve done is we’ve added a second set of tools, and the phone will actually dual register. That’s not talking to us to do any sort of voice protocol, it’s only talking to us to enable the tools. So here’s what happens. The phone is reaching out to our cloud over HTTPS. So it’s poking through that firewall on a very commonly used port, the firewall is not going to block the HTTPS port. And so it’s going to reach out over that it’s going to register with us. And then it’s going to create an encrypted TLS tunnel so that that is a secure channel. Now you’re able to log into that, swivel over to our portal, and you now have access to every phone that you’ve connected to the PDM SSP portal. 

And again, you can do stuff like remote packet capture. Huge, huge benefit to remote troubleshooting. You can look at things like packet loss. So, my customer calls in and says, “Hey, this call sounds terrible.” Here’s a potential scenario. You look in there and you see packet loss. “Well, Mr. Customer, why don’t you pick up that phone? I’m seeing packet loss. I think your cabling might be broken, or your WiFi may be too far away. Why don’t you take that and put it right next to your router? Plug it in directly, and let’s see what happens.”

“Oh, gee, the problem went away.”

“Excellent. We’ve now proven to you that the problem was the cabling that you had.”

Another possible scenario, too, is the customer calls you up and says, “Hey, this call sounds terrible.”  And you look into the phone and you see, oh, there is a headset plugged into the USB port. And by the way, I can see it’s a Plantronics headset. Okay, now the customer is pretty impressed because you can see what they’ve got on their head, and you can ask them, “Are you talking through that headset right now?” If they answer yes, you can say, “Well, could you pick up the handset and tell me if the problem goes away?”

Hey, lo and behold, the problem went away when I picked up the handset. This is awesome. Well, Mr. Customer, I think you may have maybe a broken cable or something’s wrong with that headset. I need you to talk to Poly’s support for your headset.

PDMS-SP Testimonial During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I can also give you a really cool testimonial. We just got this in a week ago. One of our partners, Impact Telecom, would call them and they had tried to install a customer that had gone home with their phone and they plugged it in. It worked fine at the office but when they got home and didn’t work, she was able to connect and see that over PDMS SP. She had a connection, so she knew the phone was up on the internet. And she was able to get in there and run a packet capture and see that the phone was sending the registration invite out to their server. But when she looked at their server, they weren’t receiving it. So they deduce that they could call the ISP and say, “Hey, we don’t see sip traffic going out of your network.” They came back and they said, “Yep, we turn on SIP, by request. So let’s turn on SIP for your customer.” 

They turned it on, the customer started working. And what Terry told me was, “Darren, this would have taken hours to troubleshoot without this, but I was able to look at it and within a couple of minutes, I was able to figure out exactly what was going on. And when we got on with the ISP, there was no question as to whether or not it was their issue. So we were able to confidently tell them, ‘Hey, we don’t see the SIP registrations coming, this is on you’.” 

And immediately, they fixed it. This is the type of thing that the PDM SSP can help you with during this, this pandemic that’s going on. What devices does it work with? This is the current snapshot. So all of your generation two VVX, your 301, 311, 401, 411, 501, 601, also your, 101 and 201 if you’re using those. Also the X50s, the 150, 250, 350, 450, the VVX D230, and all of our trio conference phones as well as our OB ATAs. 

Last thing I’ll leave you with from a support perspective, is a lot of our service providers are afraid to get into the headset business because they just don’t know how to troubleshoot them. So we’ve got a bunch of tools available for you online. So we’ve got a compatibility guide. You know which headset works with which phone, what accessory do you need if you want to do electronic hook switch. All of that stuff’s available through that link that I’m showing you. The easiest way to find it is just go to Plantronics.com, click on ‘Support’, and look at all the different tools that they’ve got on there. Also got a product finder that will help you find accessories that will help you find the right type of solution for your customer. We’ve also got Plantronics hub that the customer can download and update their software with. And then our support team is unbelievable. It was one of the most exciting things for me, is we became a new partner, a new part of the Plantronics team, and the two companies came together as Poly. I was really impressed with the level of support that they give to their end customers. 

So your customer can call our support directly, you don’t even have to take that call. The other thing that can happen is if you do want to take the call, you can actually call our support line on behalf of the customer and kind of be the intermediary and use us as a tier two support. 

Scale Your Operations to Meet Work From Home Demand With Poly’s Device-as-a-Service Program

Finally, I want to talk about scale. And I want to be cognizant of time, so I’m gonna move through quickly on this. But number one, we’ve got zero touch provisioning, right? So if you want to have that phone, just auto pop up, wherever you send it, to straight from distribution to a customer, we can do that for you. If you’re not using that today you should be. The other thing that’s going to be really important is managing your cash flow. So I’m going to talk to you quickly about a device as a service option that we’ve got. And then last, I want to talk to you about supply chain. 

So device as a service, what is it? It’s simply a rental. It’s a rental to you, it’s not a rental to your customer. We’ve got a finance partner that will rent the phones and the headsets to you, and then you can turn around and wrap that into your services or turn around and rent them to your customer. We also begin a seven year advance replacement on the phones and a three year advance replacement on the headsets. 

Now the requirement is you need to be able to do around what would be $100,000 a year in purchases. That’s about what you’d need to do to qualify for the device as a service. To put that into perspective, that’s about 1000 units a year, or 100 units a month, and that can be both the headsets and the handsets. So that’s about 50 phones and 50 headsets a month is all you have to do to qualify.

If you do the math, it’s real simple. In the old world, I buy a $100 phone, sell it for $110. Yipee, I made 10 bucks. The problem is, is I bought it, I sent it to my customer and their broadband installation was delayed. Now we’re waiting on their Broadband installation to turn it up. Meanwhile, I’ve got to pay the distributor for my phones. Finally, we get the thing up after a few weeks, and then oh, I’ve got to wait for my billing cycle. And then the billing cycle goes out and then, oh, the customer didn’t pay me on time on their 30 day terms. Now we’re at day 45. So you’re cash out of pocket, anywhere from 60 to 90 days on an average customer, and this creates a massive cash crunch, especially if you start selling bigger deals. 

So now in the new model, the devices a service, that same hundred dollar phone is going to cost you $2 dollars and 85 cents a month. So month one, all your out of pocket is $2 dollars and 85 cents. So the delay is not going to hurt you. Meanwhile, could you rent that for five bucks probably. Now you’re making 20% of what you would have made in the first month, $2 dollars and 15 cents instead of 10 bucks in month one by month 36. You’ve made $77 dollars and 40 cents using somebody else’s money to finance the deal. 

So this is what it looks like if you were to combine the phone and the headset. So here’s a VVX 250 and an Encore Pro 320 USB, the total of the two would cost you $4 dollars and 12 cents a month. Just let that sink in. Your cost’s $4 dollars and 12 cents a month. By the way, if the customer cancels and walks on you, you just send the units back and you stop paying for them. 

Real quickly, we’ve seen a lot of free phone offers and why don’t I show you how a lot of those are being financed. So let’s say for instance, you’re selling at $24.99 today, your unified communications package. You’re probably being beat up on that for price, and you’re having to drop down to $19.99, $18.99, $17.99. And it’s just a price war. Meanwhile, how would your customer perceive it if you were offering a free VVX 150, 250 or 350 with that? Your cost, even let’s go on an expensive one, VVX 350 will cost you just under four bucks. So now you keep your prices $24.99, but you tell them but the phones included, it’s a premium phone with two USB ports. Their appetite to stay at the $24.99 is way higher than if you were to just discount to $19.99 without the phone. So you actually are earning money compared to discounting by giving away a free VVX 350 with your offer. 

Shore Up Your Supply Chain to Meet the Increased Demand for Work From Home Technology Solutions

Last up, supply chain. Guys, you know, again, you may have one of these partners, but I want you to know that we’ve got 12 distribution partners that you can go to today to buy your devices. You can also buy straight through the SkySwitch store, and we’re incentivizing that, and we’re going to talk about a promo that we’ve got going on where you can buy through the SkySwitch store, and you can let Kelly worry about which one of the distribution partners she’s going to work with to get the fulfillment for the devices. But, whether you buy through SkySwitch or you go direct with one of these distributors, the key to understand is you’re not locked into one as a Poly partner. You can buy from any of our distributors, and that’s going to help you solve your supply chain bottlenecks. 

So, just as a quick summary, and then we’ll close up here, you know, we’ve got a complete work from home portfolio, unbelievable noise reduction, plug and play, and easy to use lots of tutorials available. We’re going to be your troubleshooting partner with that free – underscore, free – device management tools that we’ve got for you called PDMS SP. Solve those issues. And then we’re going to help you scale by giving you a device as a service to break free of the cash flow problem. And then we’re going to give you supply chain fluidity with all these distribution options. 




Andy Abramson

Well, that about wraps it up. We’re right at the top of the hour. It’s a fast one hour, Darren, and some very good questions from our audience. I wish we had more time but we blocked out an hour, and given everything that’s going on in this world, let’s stay on time and keep people safe. I want to thank Darren Knapp, my good friend from Poly, for taking time with us this morning. Our entire SkySwitch audience of resellers, thank you for participating and listening. And everybody, in this strange time of ‘business unusual’, stay safe out there. I’m Andy Abramson. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer of SkySwitch. Thank you all.

VoIP Network Assessment Tool: A Powerful Remote Working Tool for Your Customers

Working from home requires more than just having a plain old internet connection

If you now find yourself working from home, especially if your role has you talking as well as typing, this means you need more than just any old internet connection. You see, there’s a lot that happens between your computer, tablet or smartphone, and where the call ends up. Unlike a traditional POTS line, VoIP calls and web conference calls all need to deliver a buffer, packet loss and jitter-free experience.


Between the start and end of the connection, you’ve got a cable, fiber or DSL modem, a router, some Wi-Fi access points and maybe an ethernet connection. Then when the signal leaves your home, you’ve got to deal with the cable company or telco’s network to your house. This all means you need to have the latest gear, and the proper speeds to support voice and video. With more and more of your customers working from home due to the current climate, how do you (or your clients) know if their work from home setup is rock-solid?


Last year, SkySwitch launched a white label VoIP network assessment tool called NPAT (Network Performance & Assessment Tool). The NPAT was designed so that SkySwitch resellers could pre-qualify client sites before installation and perform VoIP readiness testing remotely. It was a huge value-add to the SkySwitch reseller product suite back then, and now in 2020, it’s an even bigger value-add because of the rise of remote working.

What Does the VoIP Network Assessment Tool Do?

In short, the NPAT allows a telecom reseller’s customer to perform three different performance tests: Route, Speed and VoIP. Within seconds after performing the test, full results will be emailed to the reseller so they can assess those results. Without the NPAT, the reseller would need to drive all the way out to a client’s site — which can be tedious. Why spend all that time commuting (especially with the current rampage of Coronavirus), when you can get an answer within seconds at the touch of your fingertips?


All of the NPAT test types available


The convenience of pre-qualifying and troubleshooting connectivity issues remotely was big news last year, and now as more companies are seeking the best communication tools for remote work, the impressive NPAT has just become even more relevant. 

Why Are White Label VoIP Network Assessment Tools More Important Than Ever in 2020?

With the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, more and more companies are implementing work from home policies — escalating the steady trend we’ve seen for remote workers on the rise. While many would think that all you need is a working internet connection to work from home, that is far from the reality of truly productive remote working.


A hurdle that many remote workers face is effective real-time communication and collaboration with their teams. For example, issues like high packet-loss and buffer delay severely impact the quality of a user’s experience when using a web-based conferencing solution. When you’re in the middle of a great brainstorming session with your team, nothing is more annoying than a wonky connection and conferencing experience. This is just one scenario where we see the importance for remote teams to have the best remote working tools at hand — and where the use of the NPAT can troubleshoot, or even avoid a communication mess altogether if used before an employee officially begins to work from home.


Now, with public health factors contributing to the sharp uptick of remote workers, you’ll find that remote working communication tools will become high in demand. And as a reseller, MSP or IT services specialist, you’ll want to leverage the NPAT and how it helps bridge gaps between your customer’s employees working from home, or getting work done from home more efficiently than ever before.

All of the NPAT Features Explained (It’s More Than Just a Speed Test)

One of the most commonly asked questions we get is, “Isn’t the NPAT just a speed test?” And, the answer is no. You can find countless Speed Tests available for free online, but the NPAT provides you a much richer perspective, measuring throughput speed, capacity, packet quality, efficiency, data loss, recovery, duplication of data, retransmissions and even corruption. 


All of these granular details are assessed collectively to give you a complete view of the user experience of a connection — and that’s what makes this VoIP network assessment tool so powerful and unique to the SkySwitch Reseller Community.

Watch SkySwitch Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, give an intro to the NPAT tool.

How Telecom Resellers Can Utilize SkySwitch’s White Label VoIP Network Assessment Tool to Build Customer Relationships

Being able to offer your customers an easy way to assess if their work-from-home situation is all ready to go is a huge value-add — so make sure to let your customers know that you offer this awesome, convenient and free evaluation tool.


SkySwitch resellers have the ability to brand the NPAT with their own company logo and web domain. Simply log on to your Reseller Dashboard, and with a few easy clicks, you can customize the NPAT to appear as your own company’s specialized tool. Our unbranded NPAT tool can be accessed at www.npat.skyswitch.com, which also includes a glossary of terminology and FAQ section.


If you’re a SkySwitch Reseller and want more information about how to use the NPAT, feel free to contact us anytime! And if you’re a telecom reseller who’s not yet partnered with SkySwitch and like what you’re hearing — feel free to schedule a demo with us.

SkySwitch, TeamMate Technology Begin Microsoft Teams Integration

Additional Collaboration and Communications Capabilities Built for Business

Tampa, Fla., March 24, 2020 – SkySwitch resellers will soon be able to make Microsoft Teams interoperable with the SkySwitch cloud voice platform, expanding the functionality and capabilities of both cloud-based services. The integration, made possible via a collaboration with TeamMate Technology, provides customers access to essential Microsoft services, including advanced workflow functionality from Office 365, and seamlessly uses the Microsoft Teams’ softphone with the full range of SkySwitch cloud voice services.

With the TeamMate Technology’s TeamMate Connector, SkySwitch Resellers are able to extend SkySwitch’s cloud voice platform to their customers within Microsoft Teams. The beta is available now. Resellers interested in joining the beta should apply using this form.

“The Teams’ calling features work just like any other telephone on the SkySwitch platform, maintaining rules, queues, voicemail and settings of each user. The combination of Microsoft Teams, SkySwitch and TeamMate Technologies enables users to place and receive calls over wired or wireless broadband connections via the Teams soft client running on a mobile device, tablet or desktop machine,” said SkySwitch founder and President, Eric Hernaez.  

Microsoft Teams is seeing rapid adoption by businesses and enterprises all over the world, with a recent 37 percent spike in daily users, reaching up to now 44M daily active users. Additionally, with 50M Skype for Business users also needing to transition to cloud-based Unified Communications, as well as significant organic growth, Teams is rapidly making a strategic impact for many service providers, resellers and MSPs.

“Over the past 18 months, Microsoft has opened Teams to integrate with the existing phone systems’ business use today,” said TeamMate Technology founder, Micah Singer. “They did this first with the introduction of Direct Routing, allowing businesses to connect via SIP to the PSTN easily. The integration means that businesses don’t have to decide between the phone system they like and the Team Collaboration/UC tools they want. Now they can have them both.”

More recently, with the release of the Graph API, Microsoft has opened up access to workflows throughout Office 365. SkySwitch and TeamMate use these new integrations to connect the existing SkySwitch platform to Teams. To deploy Microsoft Teams, resellers’ customers need to be using Office365 Enterprise versions E1, E3, E5 with the “Phone System” licensing, which comes standard with E5, or as an add-on to the others.  Microsoft has also announced that the “Phone System” feature of Teams will be available with Small Business licenses, such as Business Standard and Premium, at some point in the future.

“Whether you are leveraging Direct Routing to sell a SIP Trunk service, or going all the way to combine existing phone system intelligence into Teams, SkySwitch has the solution,” added Hernaez. “With the TeamMate Connector, we’re adding value to our cloud platform, providing additional functionality via Microsoft Teams to the company’s Unified Communications service.”

About TeamMate Technology
TeamMate Technology connects any business phone system to Microsoft Teams. Team collaboration – a significant evolution in communications technology – has created even more choices (and complexity) for the end user. Our mission is to allow the corporate phone system – on-premise, hosted, cloud, whichever flavor, as long it speaks SIP – to integrate seamlessly with other important communications tools used by businesses.

About SkySwitch
SkySwitch is the US-based, next-generation communications platform provider offering white labeled Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions to telecommunication and business technology resellers across North America. Customers include MSPs, agents, interconnects, ISPs, WISPs and VARs. SkySwitch provides resellers with the competitive advantages required to succeed in today’s overcrowded marketplace by combining best-in-class customer support, with an advanced cloud-based UCaaS platform, delivering feature-rich voice, video, text and fax communications.  

SkySwitch’s Top Tips for Working From Home

From a company that started out 100% remote, and remains largely remote with a global team.

Once the initial glamour of working from home in your pajamas or sweat pants wears off, you might find yourself struggling with the obstacles of working from home productively. Even though the trend for remote workers has been on the rise in recent years, it’s still very new for many —  and working from home isn’t always as easy or luxurious as it sounds.

SkySwitch was founded in 2014 as a completely remote company with a globally distributed team. Even though we opened up a Tampa HQ six years later, our global team of 79+ still largely works remotely — and our Tampa office employees work from home a few times a week. So when employers across the nation began sending their employees to work from home due to Covid-19,  the Coronavirus outbreak, the SkySwitch team was not phased in the slightest.

SkySwitch Resellers can and should take advantage of this expertise. By becoming an expert at remote work, resellers can segue into becoming a trusted advisor for all things related to remote work technology and collaboration tools. That’s why SkySwitch is hosting a webinar this month about working from home: so we can help you become an expert at working from home, and become that trusted advisor for work from home technologies for your customers.

In the meantime, our experienced team would like to share with you our top tips for working from home. (And make sure to tune into our webinar on March 31st, where we’ll dive even deeper!)

  1. Be transparent about what you’re struggling with
    Projects don’t always run smoothly or as planned. And when you’re by yourself in your home office, those obstacles can even feel pretty isolating. There’s also the panic of writing out an email with your questions because what if it’s a “dumb question” or what if the email gets passed around? Fears like those can make it more difficult to reach out with questions. But, when you have distance between you and your co-workers, it is essential to be clear, communicative and transparent with your team as soon as you hit road bumps. Time is precious, and you need to remember that you all share the same goal.


  2. Make time to connect with your team
    Just because there’s physical distance, doesn’t mean there needs to be social distance. Taking the time to check in on how your co-workers are doing on a personal level or taking an interest to their hobbies will help you build a stronger connection, and in turn, you’ll feel much more at ease communicating about road bumps, or voicing your opinions when you don’t agree with your team. An example is the daily stand up call our marketing team has every morning, about 30 minutes after everyone has started their day. We check in on how we’re doing, go over pressing matters, upcoming needs and more. While it’s not a long meeting, it does cover the tasks, actions and owners of various projects (like writing this post) so everyone knows what’s going on, and work keeps moving forward.


  3. Set ground rules with family and friends
    In the past, whenever I told friends that I often work from home, many believed that this meant I could slack off on the days I work remotely. As a remote worker, I can tell you that the truth is the complete opposite. I actually tend to work longer hours and remain more focused when working from home. Plus, my projects and deadlines don’t magically disappear when I work from home instead of the office. Friends and family (especially young children) may not understand that working from home still means you’re busy actually working. That’s why it’s important to set some boundaries upfront about your work hours and when you can be available — because you don’t want a scenario like this to happen during an important call.


  4. Get the right communication and collaboration tools
    Working at SkySwitch, a Cloud Communications Platform Provider, I’m lucky to be equipped with everything that I need to effectively communicate and collaborate with my team. Meeting Manager is a great interactive web and video conferencing tool that we use, and that SkySwitch Resellers can offer to their customers. Our ReachUC client makes it so easy to take calls. And thank goodness for the real-time collaboration capabilities of Google Suite and Slack. The point is, when you work from home, it’s important to assess how your team collaborates and to equip yourselves with the right tools for the job. And as a SkySwitch reseller, you have all the products and services your customers demand within reach. If you’re not sure what to advise customers who suddenly need to work from home, make sure to tune into our upcoming webinar, and always feel free to reach out to us!


  5. Have a designated workspace
    It can be difficult, but you should resist the urge to work on your laptop in bed or on your comfy sofa. Subconsciously, we associate our beds and sofas with rest — which obviously isn’t conducive to productivity. Proper posture in an actual office chair can do wonders for your productivity as well. When you sit upright, you feel more powerful and confident — both important traits to promote productivity.  And, who says you have to take calls sitting down? With the mute button, you can be walking around the house or around the block, so be creative on where you take and make calls, because your workspace is now more than just a desk.

  6. Put on real pants
    Although it is tempting to lounge around in your pajamas all day, the simple act of hitting the shower, getting dressed and having a morning coffee or tea will kickstart your motivation for the day and your overall productivity. As mentioned above, when working from home, it’s important to make that transition from being in a relaxed state into a high-energy and productive state, and getting dressed in the morning makes a huge difference.


  7. Be reachable in multiple ways 
    What happens if your internet connection goes down? Will you still be able to communicate with your team? What if your email provider is down temporarily for a few hours? In an office setting, you would be able to walk over a few desks or cubicles and collaborate with your team. But, of course, that’s not possible when you’re working from home. The thing is, none of these unexpected occurrences should prevent you from being able to communicate with your team, which is why it’s important to have multiple streams of communication when you work from home.

  8. Schedule blocks of time for breaks (and actually stick to them)
    When I work from home, I tend to zone in on projects and before you know it, six hours have passed without me leaving my desk! That is not healthy, at all, in the long-term. It’s important to stay hydrated, eat lunch and take short breaks to move your body and clear your mind. Set alarms in your phone as reminders, or if you’re a Slack user, set up an automated Zap to notify you to take a break. But, even more important than setting those reminders is actually committing to following through. Your body and mind will thank you greatly.


  9. Practice a “virtual commute”
    At the end of the workday, I take my dog out for a walk in my neighborhood. And honestly, that walk outdoors helps create that sense of “leaving the office”. Many people struggle with defining their work hours, but it’s important to have work-life balance. Taking a brief 15-minute walk after work is a great way to re-enact a “commute”. After sitting all day, you can get your body moving, clear your mind and get some Vitamin D.

If you’ve enjoyed these tips, make sure to register for our upcoming webinar this month! SkySwitch’s CMO, Andy Abramson, who has years of experience working remotely, will be leading the webinar, along with Darren Buckner, a well-recognized expert in all things work from home. SkySwitch will be diving much deeper in this topic, so you can become a trusted advisor for work from home solutions for your customers.

AdvantageIVR Offers Reduced Rates for Emergency COVID-19 Closure and Related Recordings

During these difficult times of social distancing, event cancellations and temporary business closures, SkySwitch is glad to have a vendor ecosystem that is actively doing their best to help the community, just as we are


After receiving many calls from business owners wanting updated greetings recorded for COVID-19 announcements, our friends at AdvantageIVR have decided to offer a special service to our resellers: discounted rates for emergency closure phone greetings, at just $10 per message. AdvantageIVR’s Donna Renee has long been in use by SkySwitch, and her support of our community has been invaluable, so her offer, and our support of it comes at a time when helping our resellers and their customer stay operating is part of our business mission.

Donna is also offering Auto Attendant scriptwriting assistance at just $5 per greeting. Her expertise in the voiceover field ensures that you have streamlined, easy-to-understand messages for efficient call routing. In times like this, where business continuity is so important, the need to communicate clearly and with assurance to customers calling in is essential — and Donna is here to help. If you’d like to take advantage of these reduced rates, contact donna@advantageivr.com.

And, if you’re interested in learning more about the difference that professionally recorded Auto Attendant Messages and On-Hold Messages can make and the business opportunity for you that goes along with it, make sure to register for our upcoming webinar on April 14th with AdvantageIVR’s Donna Renee.

Product Review: Poly VVX 350


Poly makes a wide array of telephony, communications and consumer electronic equipment. In time, we’ll take a look at a variety of VVX model desk phones, and today we highlight Poly’s VVX 350 — a business IP desk phone that’s aimed at small to medium-sized businesses.

Features and Overview

The Poly VVX 350 is a high quality, color, mid-range IP phone that can support up to six phone lines. If you require dependable and reliable connectivity and voice-call performance, the VVX balances cost-effectiveness and industry-leading productivity. Let’s peek at this model’s features:

  • Sharp 3.5” display that offers information at a glance
  • HD Voice support
  • Group intercom paging — you can broadcast messages out to other Poly phones in your office
  • 6 line key buttons — including a power keys service that enables you to manage up to 6 live calls at one time or monitor status of 4 other extensions
  • Support for HD Voice codecs such as G.722, G722.1,  G.729AB, G.711(a/u).
  • Two (2) gigabit ethernet ports 

Opening the Box

Poly’s packaging for the VVX 350 is no-frills, but that’s a good thing!  I think it’s great the company uses easily recyclable materials. Upon opening the box, you’ll come across the expected phone base, handset, cord and ethernet cord. Depending on your model, the VVX 350 will include an AC Adapter. (Alternatively, this device is PoE capable, meaning all power is derived from the ethernet cord itself.)

Lastly, there’s an included plastic stand that enables you to customize the angle the phone sits on your desk. This phone model is easy to assemble and to connect to your network — it took me less than 75 seconds to get the phone physically ready to use.

Setup on SkySwitch

Once I had the VVX 350 out of the box and onto my workplace’s wired network, the phone booted up for its initial set up and I was ready to provision and use my fancy new review phone. Luckily, getting the new Poly handset online and ready to use was an easy three-step process:

  1. Find the MAC address using the Poly VVX 350s on-screen menus
  2. Add the phone to my PBX set up on Poly using the MAC address
  3. Use the Poly’s on-screen setup screen, setting the server type and address

Note: while some phones/devices can use their web page user interface to provision and set these preferences on the device, I read this Skyswitch Knowledge Base article and found that for Poly phones, you set this easy configuration up using the phone’s menus, not the Web UI. That said, phones ordered via the SkySwitch store are shipped already provisioned.

So, in my case, I simply navigated to the Admin settings, then Network Configuration, then Provisioning Server, changed the Server Type to HTTP and set the server address to http://sipcfg.io/cfg – then, the Poly VVX 350 power cycled itself and the phone came back ready to use!

Performance and Real-World Usage

I’ve had the VVX 350 on my desk for a week now and I’ve dialed landlines, my office-mates’ extensions and mobile numbers all over the world. The audio quality is reliably fantastic and the speakerphone quality is great. My callers report being able to hear me clearly when I’m on the speakerphone, even when I’m standing a few feet away. The VVX 350 proves to be a reliable workhorse that does its job without breaking the bank. 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard

SkySwitch Adds NTS to Distributor Lineup

Expands number of technology suppliers to support growing reseller base 

Tampa, Fla. and Boston, MA (March 10, 2020) — SkySwitch, the leading channel-exclusive white label Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provider has added NTS Direct, a value-added distributor of voice and data solutions for SMB and enterprise markets, to its reseller-only online store. The addition of NTS Direct broadens the selection of distributors that over 500 SkySwitch resellers can now purchase from and work with to supply them with the latest in technology gear for their customers.

“SkySwitch is one of the fastest-growing UCaaS providers in North America,” said Marc Magliano, Vice President, Sales for NTS Direct. “Their commitment to being 100 percent channel only and outstanding commitment to their resellers are both key factors on our choosing to work with them, as those values resonate so well with ours.”

With NTS Direct, SkySwitch resellers will be afforded free ground shipping on all items and lowest market prices on SkySwitch approved brands, including GrandStream and others. As part of the relationship, NTS will support SkySwitch and their resellers at Vectors, the annual SkySwitch reseller conference held in the fall, as well as take part in webinars, joint marketing efforts, training and educational programs and market development activities that assist resellers in selling the right products and services to their customers.

“The addition of NTS Direct brings one of the most technologically advanced distributors in North America,” said Andy Abramson, Chief Marketing Officer for SkySwitch. “We were able to integrate NTS into our reseller shopping portal in less than 45 days, from the start of the relationship to going live. As a result, we are able to offer our resellers a wider range of buying options that help them sell a wider range of options and to be more competitive.”

About SkySwitch
SkySwitch is the US-based, next-generation communications platform provider offering white labeled Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions to telecommunication and business technology resellers across North America. Customers include MSPs, agents, interconnects, ISPs, WISPs and VARs. SkySwitch provides resellers with the competitive advantages required to succeed in today’s overcrowded marketplace by combining best-in-class customer support, with an advanced cloud-based UCaaS platform, delivering feature-rich voice, video, text and fax communications.  

About NTS Direct
NTS Direct is a value-added distributor of voice and data technology. NTS Direct believes in providing the best customer experience possible by simplifying the technology procurement process. We reinvent the traditional distribution model with a consultative sales approach focusing on design, training, and support to create sales and profitability opportunities for resellers and manufacturers. We’re committed customer specialists in partner on-boarding and identifying/meeting the unique needs of value added resellers, managed service providers, integrators, and ITSP’s. Visit www.ntsdirect.com for more information or connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.


SkySwitch and Poly Team Up On Performance-Based Marketing

New Program Offers SkySwitch Resellers Event Scholarship and Devices as Rewards

Tampa, Fla. (March 10, 2020)SkySwitch, the leading channel-exclusive white label Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provider, and Poly, a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration, have teamed up on a performance-based marketing program to make it easier for SkySwitch’s resellers to attend Vectors, SkySwitch’s annual conference.

As part of the performance-based marketing program, the first 25 SkySwitch resellers who garner sales of 250 Poly phones through the SkySwitch Store will receive their 2020 Vectors registration at no charge along with their choice of a premium Poly headset. Together, the two incentives are valued at over $700 per person. The Poly headset includes the Voyager 6200 UC that has been designed for use with Unified Communication services like those offered by SkySwitch.

“Our annual reseller event, Vectors, is the event that every SkySwitch reseller should attend,” said Andy Abramson, Chief Marketing Officer for SkySwitch. “With a performance marketing program like this, we’re making it easier for our resellers to be able to attend Vectors, without them having to pay for it themselves.”

Vectors, which will be held in the fall in Orlando, FL, features keynotes, educational tracks, training, and insight designed for the SkySwitch community of over 500 resellers in North America. Speakers include company executives, leading analysts, top sales trainers, and industry luminaries, all who share tips and insights about how resellers can market, support, and sell better to the small and medium business markets.

“Our experience at Vectors last year was one of the best Poly’s voice service provider team has ever seen when it comes to interacting with resellers in one place,” said Darren Knapp, Director of Poly’s Global ITSP Sales Team. “That’s why we’re supporting the channel with a performance-based approach, so more SkySwitch resellers can attend courtesy of a Poly-supported scholarship.”

About Poly
Plantronics, Inc. (“Poly” – formerly Plantronics and Polycom) is a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration. Poly combines legendary audio expertise and powerful video and conferencing capabilities to overcome the distractions, complexity and distance that make communication in and out of the workplace challenging. Poly believes in solutions that make life easier when they work together and with our partners’ services. Our headsets, software, desk phones, audio and video conferencing, analytics and services are used worldwide and are a leading choice for every kind of workspace. For more information visit www.Poly.com

Poly, the propeller design, and the Poly logo are trademarks of Plantronics, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


About SkySwitch
SkySwitch is the US-based, next-generation communications platform provider offering white labeled Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions to telecommunication and business technology resellers across North America. Customers include MSPs, agents, interconnects, ISPs, WISPs, and VARs. SkySwitch provides resellers with the competitive advantages required to succeed in today’s overcrowded marketplace by combining best-in-class customer support, with an advanced cloud-based UCaaS platform, delivering feature-rich voice, video, text, and fax communications. For more information, visit www.skyswitch.com.

SkySwitch Selects Marketopia to Support Telecom Resellers’ Marketing Efforts

Tampa, Fla. (March 9, 2020)Today, two Tampa Bay companies have announced a unique collaboration that will empower local telecom and IT service businesses with the tools needed to compete more effectively against the larger national brands

SkySwitch, the leading channel-exclusive white label Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provider, has selected Marketopia to deliver turnkey marketing programs for its rapidly growing North American network of over 500 cloud voice and IT services resellers. Marketopia, a global leader in marketing, lead generation and sales enablement solutions for companies in the IT channel, was selected after a multi-agency review. The search, conducted over the past four months, included agencies focused on the IT Channel of Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Value Added Resellers (VARs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Interconnects.

“We found the right agency in our backyard right here in Tampa Bay,” said SkySwitch’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andy Abramson. “We looked across the nation for an agency team that understood what resellers really need to market and sell managed services, and throughout the search process, Marketopia presented the deepest understanding of what that really is.” 

Marketopia will supply SkySwitch with turnkey marketing programs that resellers will deploy to attract new customers through easy-to-implement activities. These programs include copy and design elements that support lead generation, customizable sales materials, digital and print advertising, media and public relations campaigns, event participation and more. 

“Marketopia brings SkySwitch resellers the tools for growth along with strategic insight into the IT reseller market. In selecting Marketopia, we have chosen an agency team that can provide the tools that help our resellers grow their business,” added Abramson. “Those growth efforts don’t happen by magic. They come about through the delivery of well thought out, easy to use creative elements, campaigns and programs that empower resellers to successfully engage their top prospects and turn them into new customers for their businesses, and in turn, to SkySwitch.”

The turnkey tool-kit program and creative materials, that will be available later this year, enable resellers the customization capability to add their brand and own message to all elements. For sales teams, the tool-kit provides the tools and tips needed to build deeper sales pipelines and achieve higher close ratios through inspiration, education and support from SkySwitch and Marketopia.

“The IT channel is experiencing rapid change, growth and consolidation. That means large and small MSPs and VARs need to be empowered to sell and market better, with greater efficiency,” said Terry Hedden, CEO, and founder of Marketopia. “To grow their business, service providers like SkySwitch have to help their resellers’ sales efforts by providing them the right set of tools that bolsters lead generation, sales enablement and direct marketing. That’s what Marketopia is delivering to SkySwitch.”

About SkySwitch
SkySwitch is the US-based, next-generation communications platform provider offering white labeled Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions to telecommunication and business technology resellers across North America. Customers include MSPs, agents, interconnects, ISPs, WISPs and VARs. SkySwitch provides resellers with the competitive advantages required to succeed in today’s overcrowded marketplace by combining best-in-class customer support, with an advanced cloud-based UCaaS platform, delivering feature-rich voice, video, text and fax communications.  For more information visit www.skyswitch.com


About Marketopia
Marketopia is an IT service marketing agency uniquely positioned to serve the needs of software, hardware and cloud vendors, distributors, MSPs and VARs in the IT channel. Marketopia uses an enterprise-class technology platform, channel marketing experience, and deep industry relationships to create a revolutionary approach to outsourced marketing and sales empowerment for IT service companies seeking to grow leads, sales and profit. 

For more information about Marketopia and its proven demand generation system for managed IT services, visit www.marketopia.com. To learn more now, call 844-482-4769. You can also follow Marketopia on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Channel Partners 2020 Cancellation Update

As of this morning, SkySwitch will not be attending Channel Partners next week in Las Vegas. This was not a decision we made lightly, or without taking into consideration the health and welfare of what we consider our most valuable asset — our people.


Up until this morning, we were very excited to be able to see so many of you at what is considered one of the anchor events of our industry. But with the mid-day report released today of a person with COVID-19, which is the Coronavirus, being discovered in Las Vegas, we decided to take the safe route and cancel on our participation, given our family approach to our staff.


If you were planning on meeting up with us, we plan on keeping those appointments virtually. If you haven’t scheduled with us and want to, we can do that via our calendaring apps, so you can talk with our team from wherever you may be. (Please see calendar links below.)


If you do plan to continue attending Channel Partners, please be safe and take all the precautions the Center for Disease Control is suggesting.



Eric Hernaez, Jayson Jones, Frank Babusik, Andy Abramson and the entire SkySwitch Team.



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