In Times of Crisis, Communication is Essential

When it comes down to it, we all think we are prepared for the unexpected — but are we really? Power and IT outages, natural disasters, even global pandemics, can happen at any time and inevitably affect your entire organization. In order to always be prepared for the myriad of unforeseen circumstances, businesses should have a crisis communication plan ready to deploy at any given moment to ensure business continuity.

Coming from a company with a cloud-based business model, SkySwitch wants to help ensure that your business keeps flowing in the event of a crisis or when unexpected situations arise. To keep going, here are some questions to ask yourself in order to create an effective crisis communication plan for your business: 

Do your employees have an easy way to communicate their status?

Whether it be during a crisis, or when you are operating business-as-usual, employee safety should always be a top concern in your company. As part of a safety assessment, C-level executives and managers need a way to account for their teams no matter where they are in the world. You might want to consider implementing a platform, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, for your employees to use for daily communication and messaging. It’s important for your crisis communication plan to include an established way for employees to check-in safely and quickly during an emergency.

Do your employees have a way to make and receive business phone calls at any time?

By using cloud-based softphone systems, you can provide your team with communication connectivity without the need for a physical desk phone. Apps like ReachUC Mobility offer essential and crucial features such as smart call routing and auto-attendant services. This makes the concept of “taking your work with you” easier than ever by bringing your office phone to your mobile device. Softphones allow your business phone number to follow you anywhere so your contacts can easily reach you. Making sure your employees are properly trained on how to use these cloud-based systems on their mobile devices is essential for times of uncertainty. 

Does your team have an efficient way to stay connected with their customers?

During non-emergency situations, your employees should have a safe place where they can serve your customers and be able to meet crucial deadlines. Consider checking out places like coffee shops, local co-working facilities like WeWork and Regus or other safe spaces for your employees to set up shop. But, during a global pandemic where everything is closed to the public, where should your employees and customers meet? To prepare for this kind of situation, make sure your employees are properly trained and equipped to work from home (#WFH) with all of the proper resources.

Do your employees have access to the proper resources for a digital workspace?

To create a smooth transition for your business during a crisis or unexpected event, it’s best to already be actively using remote-friendly apps and platforms. Using the proper collaborative resources for voice calls, instant messaging and video conferencing, where you can easily invite participants in and out of your organization, will help your business stay running as usual in a crisis situation. With the advancements in 4G and 5G technologies that are available today, it is easier than ever to give your employees a way to seamlessly switch from working in an office to a remote work model while still maintaining productivity. 

Creating a team environment has always been essential to keep business flowing. Now that we are experiencing a global crisis together, it has never before been more important for businesses to pull together as a team and stay connected. As a SkySwitch reseller, you have the tools available for your customers to maintain communication as they make use of their crisis communication plans. 

In times of need, SkySwitch is here for you, and your customers. If you’d like to learn more about how SkySwitch supports resellers in times of crisis, please contact us.

Promotional Ideas to Sell Cloud Communications During Times of Uncertainty

A global pandemic is not something any of us were expecting to face. Not in our lifetimes anyway. But here we are, trying to adapt in the best way we can. Businesses are scrambling to find ways to transition their teams into a remote work model but are finding out that it’s not as easy as they expected it to be. Not all companies possess reliable hardware that allows their teams to effectively, and efficiently, work from home. This is where you, as a telecom reseller, can come in and save the day! 

 

In order to become the hero, you may want to consider offering your customers special training and promotions that will assist them in keeping their business flowing. To do that, you’ll first need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask:

  1. If I were my customer, what would capture my attention?  
  2. If I were my customer, what would make me want to buy?  

From there, you can begin mapping out a promotional strategy that showcases the value in your offering, engages your audience and ultimately drives more customers to buy.

 

As a starting point, our team has pulled together a few ideas you can consider offering to your customers during this time of uncertainty. However, the sky’s the limit! The great thing about partnering with SkySwitch is that you’re free to set your own pricing and create your own promos, offers and bundles. We hope that the list of ideas below helps trigger some offering ideas that you can use for your business. 

  • Offer your customers a period of free service. 
  • Include a number of free desk phones with purchase of service
  • Offer free web and video conferencing for 90 days
  • Purchase cloud voice and add as many devices as you would like to your line
  • Provide free ReachUC softphones for 6 months with the purchase of cloud voice service
  • Free WFH-friendly headsets with the purchase of two or more lines

 

For more materials to help support you in times of uncertainty, make sure to keep an eye out on our blog, social media pages and weekly email newsletter.

 

Webinar Rewind: How to Work From Home With Grandstream

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, SkySwitch hosted a webinar featuring Grandstream, one of the newest brands found in the SkySwitch Store. During the webinar, we talked about which Grandsteam solutions can now be offered to your customers, who are transitioning from the traditional office to a remote home office environment so you can help them cultivate a more collaborative and productive workspace for their employees.

The team of experts who gave SkySwitch Resellers an inside look included:

  • Andy Abramson, CMO, SkySwitch
  • Corey Stoker, VP of Support, SkySwitch
  • Phil Bowers, Marketing Director, Grandstream
  • Hieu Huynh, Director of Support, NA & APAC, Grandstream

This webinar was full of information on the current state of WFH, the devices that make it possible and how to counsel your customers to deploy these solutions, so make sure to watch the webinar replay below.

For your convenience, check out these quick highlights on what we covered in this webinar…

Grandstream WFH Considerations

Phil Bowers explained that one of the hurdles resellers might face are customers who are hesitant to change. Since most businesses already have a set of devices for their employees to use, they hesitate when it comes to purchasing anything new, even during a remote work transition. That’s why it’s important to not just look at all the new devices you can offer your customers but to also present complementary devices that help your customer’s current work situation. In this webinar, Grandstream discusses the equipment that will complement the devices you already have with wireless and compact endpoints that optimize affordable remote work environment, management and usage. 

WP, DP, GRP, GAC Phone Series & Accessories in the SkySwitch Store

Grandstream has a variety of different devices that can help support your remote workforce. Support experts Hieu Huynh and Corey Stoker go over each product in detail so you know exactly which product is the right choice for you and your team. The wide variety of Grandstream products covered in this webinar that are available in the SkySwitch Store include: 

  • WP820 – Cordless Wi-Fi IP Phone
    This cordless phone is ideal for at-home usage. It’s easy to set up with dual-band Wi-Fi, roaming and 2 SIP accounts. This phone has an impressive feature set with Bluetooth, HD voice, dual-MIC design, AEC and noise shield technology, micro USB, 3.5mm headset jack, 7.5-hour talk time and 150-hour standby time. This phone also offers push-to-talk, accelerometer and a panic button.
  • DP750 & DP720 – Cordless DECT Base Station & IP Phones
    The cordless DP DECT series offers the ability to roam around your home while talking. It’s light, compact, offers 3-way voice conferencing, up to 10 SIP accounts and has a 50-meter indoor range. These phones both require a DECT base and DECT handset. 
  • GRP Series – Carrier-Grade Desktop IP Phones with Wi-Fi Support
    These desktop phones were made for mass deployment and management. With 7 models, ranging from 2-6 lines, this series offers built-in dual-band Wi-Fi (in most models), Bluetooth, color screens, virtual multi-purpose keys, HD audio, Opus code support, enterprise-level security, VPKs and dual LCDs. 
  • GAC2500 – Android Audio Conference Phone
    This hands-free Andriod powered conference phone makes it easy to work from home. You get access to the Google Play Store, built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB ports, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, gigabit ports, integrated PoE and a 6 line, 7-way voice conferencing bridge. This phone makes it easy for users to use popular Andriod apps for communication.
  • HT801 & HT802 – Analog Telephone Adapters
    Grandstream is the world’s largest ATA manufacturer and its HT series has been on the market for almost 20 years now. These ATA’s are easy to remotely deploy and manage and offer 3-way voice conferencing, FXS ports, SIP accounts, T.38 Fax, call transfer, multi-language prompts, flexible dial plans and automated provisioning including TR-069 and XML config.

New Custom Faceplate Feature Rolling Out Soon

During the webinar, resellers asked if there was a way to customize desk phone faceplates for the GRP2600 series* through the SkySwitch store. We’re currently developing a process that will be available in the future and in the meantime, we have created a manual process to fulfill custom faceplate requests. Thanks to the hard work of our eCommerce Operations Manager and Dev team, we have quickly formed a process where resellers can customize faceplates with whatever they’d like — whether it be their company logo or their customers’ organization logo.

Currently, the process is as follows:

  1. Initiate a faceplate customization request by sending an email to store@skyswitch.com.  There is a minimum order quantity of 200 plates at $3/ea. A Store representative will provide you with a document with art specifications and instructions.
  2. Provide your artwork, which will be used to create a digital proof for you to approve before going into production.
  3. From there, the SkySwitch eCommerce team will work with all related parties to get requested artwork configured on your new custom Grandstream faceplates. For brand new orders, the production time can take up to 4 weeks, and for repeat orders, approximately 2 weeks.

    *The GRP2614 requires the faceplate to be affixed to the phone itself during production, therefore requiring a different process. Please contact store@skyswitch.com for further information for this model.

In the future, we plan to roll out an automated process to request artwork at the time of order through the SkySwitch Store, so stay tuned!

To listen and learn more information on these products and how you can work from home with Grandstream, make sure to listen to the full webinar recap.

ITEXPO 2020 #TECHSUPERSHOW RECAP​

It’s already been one week since ITEXPO 2020 wrapped in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and SkySwitch couldn’t be more excited about the outcome of the event. Not only were we exhibitors, but the SkySwitch team could be found speaking and moderating various sessions throughout the #TECHSUPERSHOW. 

If you missed us there, no worries. Here’s a full recap of everything SkySwitch at ITEXPO:

Tuesday 2/11 –  On ITEXPO day 1, the team could be seen running in and out of the expo hall. We reserved this day to get everything set up and ready to go for you on day two.

Wednesday, 2/12 –  During ITEXPO day 2, our VP of Business Development, Harlan Hamlin, led a panel on “Implementing Kari’s Law and Other New E911 Requirements.” This informative discussion taught us how implementing simple updates on multi-line telephones can help improve the reaction times of first responders and save lives in the community. Kari’s Law went into effect only four days after this panel on February 16, 2020, and we announced a necessary SkySwitch upgrade in support of new E911 requirements.  

IMG_4141-3
Left to right: Harlan Hamlin of SkySwitch, Justin Nelson of Voyant, Kevin Selkowitz of Netsapiens and Mary A. Boyd of Intrado

Thursday, 2/13 – ITEXPO day 3 continued with an engaging panel discussion in The Cloud Voice Alliance suite, “Adding Cloud Voice To Your Existing Portfolio & What To Look For In A White Label Partner.” Our Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, spoke on this panel alongside Jon Arnold, Research Analyst, and SkySwitch reseller, Guy Fawkes, CEO of Telepath Communications and Club 1000 member. 

The discussion was heavily driven by the audience, who had questions about how to effectively transition customers towards newer technologies, how to sell to tricky industries, like non-profits, and how local resellers can differentiate themselves from large, national brands and succeed. Interestingly, SkySwitch resellers in the audience were actively participating and offering their own words of advice to those who were new to reselling telecom. Moments like those truly showcased how strong the #SkySwitchCommunity is.

Friday, 2/14 – ITEXPO day 4 wrapped up with another great day of networking in the expo hall. Along with this, our CMO, Andy Abramson, participated on a panel on “Modern Marketing for MSPs.” His panel explained how to boost your current marketing strategy by utilizing current marketing, advertising and public relations trends and resources. If you were circulating the #TECHSUPERSHOW, you probably also had the chance to see Andy moderating multiple sessions throughout the conference. 

IMG_4237
Modern Marketing for MSPs panel at ITEXPO with Maddy Martin, Head of Growth Education at Smith.ai and Andy Abramson, CMO at SkySwitch. Moderated by Peter Radizeski, President at RAD-INFO, Inc.

We hope you had the chance to stop by the SkySwitch booth during expo hours to chat with us, grab some one-of-a-kind SkySwitch swag and enter to win big prizes from our partners! If you did, we’d like to say “thank you” for choosing to spend your time with us. With so many exhibitors at ITEXPO, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the amount of steady traffic we had at our booth. One of the most valuable takeaways the SkySwitch team gets from these events is being able to connect, and reconnect, with both new and familiar faces in the industry. 

Do you want to see more of SkySwitch? Come meet with us at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo in Las Vegas this March 9-12 at booth 603! 

Computer Instruments Releases New Product with SkySwitch: Virtual Concierge

Learn how conversational IVR could be beneficial to your business

In this interview from Vectors 2019, TMC’s Editorial Director, Erik Linask, speaks with Chris Herring, President of Computer Instruments, about their new product Virtual Concierge. They talk about how it works and how businesses should incorporate it into their ecosystem.

 Virtual Concierge is a software package that resides on a conversational IVR that has integration to Google Voice services and Google AI. So essentially, it’s a personal digital device for a company, much like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. 

Chris Herring talks Virtual Concierge working with Google integrations with Erik Linask at Vectors 2019.

 

Vectors2019 #SkySwitch #TransformCloudComm #ComputerInstruments  

 

Full Video Transcript Below

Erik Linask  0:07  

We’re here in Orlando, Florida at Vectors 2019. We’re here on the second day of the show. And joining me is Chris Herring from Computer Instruments. Chris, thanks for joining me. 

Chris Herring  0:16  

Thank you very much Erik, appreciate it. 

Erik Linask  0:18  

So second day, what have you seen? You know, what are your thoughts on the first almost two days?

Chris Herring  0:23  

Oh, well, this was a very impressive event. I’ve met a lot of people and certainly, the product that we’re talking about today, Virtual Concierge, is really something that’s going to fit in here. So we’re very excited, we’re going to be on the stage here shortly, and we’ll be anxious to talk about it.

Erik Linask  0:41  

So this is something that you actually just announced yesterday morning, along with SkySwitch. Tell me about that.

Chris Herring  0:49  

Well, that came to us about 60 days ago, we announced our product Virtual Concierge. They came to us said, “Hey, we’d like to take a look at your product.” We gave them a demonstration. We did essentially a proof of concept with them. They said this is something that their team and their channel would be interested in. So we signed an agreement. Actually, we just signed the agreement last week and so here we are.

Erik Linask  1:12  

And when you say Virtual Concierge, what do you mean by that? What does your Virtual Concierge do?

Chris Herring  1:17  

Okay, well, first off, it’s a software package that resides on a conversational IVR that has integration to Google Voice services and Google AI. So essentially, it’s what we call Virtual Concierge. It’s a personal digital device for a company.

Erik Linask  1:34  

So you’re taking a Siri or something like that and throwing it into the business world.

Chris Herring  1:38  

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Erik Linask  1:40  

Is that something that customers or that businesses, I should say, are demanding or where’s the need or the demand coming from?

Chris Herring  1:49  

Well, that’s a great question. But you know, today, most of the people, let me say that not most, but 41% of the population or homes in the United States have a Siri or Alexa or Google Home. So there are acquainted with this technology. Furthermore, there’s even more people that use a smartphone or use “Hey, Google” to do searches, things like that. So it only makes sense that as that technology takes hold, and people obviously are using it and like it. They’re going to ask companies that they do business with if they have the same kind of technology and essentially, that’s what Virtual Concierge does. It provides the bridge between a caller through their communication platform PBX to Google AI, and back.

Erik Linask  2:29  

So how does an AI-based system like this differ from the IVR systems that people have really come to dislike over the years?

Chris Herring  2:40  

Well, you’re right. IVRs in the past have been primarily a presser say, type environment, you know, and it’s also, particularly with speech recognition, been difficult, particularly if you’re in a noisy area and so forth. But when you bring AI into the picture, and you bring a good communication platform, then you have the proper mix really to be able to have a very intelligent conversation interrogated by an artificial system to understand what you say, and provide a better and enhanced environment and enhanced experience for sure. 

Erik Linask  3:16  

Do people trust artificial intelligence?

Chris Herring 3:20  

Well, interesting, too. There’s been a study here recently that people are more truthful with an IVR and with a spoken conventional, conversational IVR than they are speaking to a human and so the answer is more so.

Erik Linask  3:34  

Interesting. And is there a difference in terms of usage, or enjoyment, or value, or however you want to characterize it, using a male voice versus a female voice?

Chris Herring  3:48  

That’s a good question. You know, we find depending on the industry, for instance, banking, people like to speak to females. More involved with like transportation, leisure and so forth, male voices have been really the most popular. I’m not really sure that I’m an expert on which voice works best but in our experience, that seems to be the trend.

Erik Linask  4:13  

How much has conversational AI evolved over the past year or two? And where do you see it headed going forward?

Chris Herring  4:22  

Oh, well, that’s a good question to, the best way I can really probably explain it is the cost of doing it. You know, just 12-14 months ago, for instance, we did a natural, what we call a natural language standard way of doing it, and using the technology that was present and it’s in the 300 to $500,000. Well, now when we look at the same opportunity, if we were going to use Virtual Concierge today, we’d be under $50,000 to get it accomplished. So from a perspective, it’s cost-effective. Also too conversations are everywhere. People again are going to are taking hold of this technology, they’re taking hold of using their personal devices, and we’re just going to see that from conversation that’s going to evolve the business and working with tools that provide the ability to understand conversations and use it further. 

I would say too, conversation is eventually going to be really the currency for business strategies. People want to know what people are saying when they come to your company, they’re going to want more than just what press one or press two says, they want to know why somebody called your company. They’re going to want to know what the emotions are of that caller, and they’re going to look at that, and be able to route and do business logic to understand what’s the best way to enhance the experience of that caller.

Erik Linask  5:40  

So I’ve had similar experiences, but I’ve heard from others as well, you know, we tried to use this natural language understanding and it just, you know, these automated assistance just aren’t understanding what I’m saying. Sounds to me like that technology has evolved to the point where it really is starting to understand very easily and very accurately what people are speaking.

Chris Herring  6:02  

Well, when you’re talking about, for instance, integrating to Google, you’re already working with a technology that already does well with handheld cell phones. Ok, and so as you can expect the quality of this being I guess, as good as if you being on a cell phone and driving in your car with a window down. With the addition of Google AI using that technology that’s filtering out and looking at the conversation. So it’s a measurable improvement over the standard speech recognition that people have used in the past.

Erik Linask  6:37  

Are there particular industries, particular use cases that you’re targeting or that you expect to be earlier adopters?

Chris Herring  6:45  

Well, certainly healthcare, insurance. We’ve had a number, in our client base, of trucking firms that are interested in working with us. So really, it’s people or companies who have issues with conversations that they need more information than just what an IVR or necessarily what they can get from an email or something like that. So this technology is going to make it more workable. It’s going to be able to be more applied to pretty much any place where you need a conversation to understand what you need.

Erik Linask  7:20  

Do you think this technology now can flip the sentiments around IVR back towards positive?

Chris Herring  7:28  

Oh, absolutely. Well, look at it this way. If you were upset, and you called into a company, you would want somebody who had the skill set to work with you. Now you wouldn’t want to necessarily go through an Auto Attendant presser say and then get routed to who knows what. Really what you want is you want the company to understand that you are calling and what you’re calling about and that you’re not necessarily emotionally happy about the whole experience. Well, companies normally would want to take that call and route it to somebody with a better skill set, or somebody who can better handle that kind of a situation, and particularly if you are a good client, so we’d know who you called in, who you are, prioritize your situation, prioritize your emotion, that all can be done with AI.

Erik Linask  8:17  

So if I’m not getting the resolution that I’m looking for, I’m not getting the answers that I need. How easy is it for me as the caller to get out of that IVR system and in touch with a live person?

Chris Herring  8:29  

It’s as easy as saying, “Hey, I want to talk to somebody.”

Erik Linask  8:34  

It’s a whole lot easier than trying to figure out what number or number of combinations to push. 

Chris Herring  8:37  

I agree. 

Erik Linask  8:39  

Excellent. Well, Chris, thank you so much for joining us today.

Chris Herring 8:40 

Appreciate it.

 

 

TransNexus Offers Robocall Prevention With SHAKEN/STIR

Learn how we can restore the trust in phone calls

Alec Fenichel, Senior Software Architect at Transnexus, talks with TMC’s Editorial Director, Erik Linask, about robocalls and how the FCC is pushing for all carriers to implement a framework called Stir Shaken. With STIR/SHAKEN, received calls will either come in with a green check, reassuring they are good, or they will be quickly blocked by your carrier if they are bad.

The FCC has not formally mandated an official timeframe that carriers need to address the issue by, but they have set their expectations for the end of 2019. California, on the other hand, has mandated it for the end of 2020. You can expect STIR/SHAKEN to be widely deployed in another six to 12 months. Besides focusing on robocall prevention, TransNexus is also working with Least Cost Routing and Total Fraud Prevention. 

Learn about the FCC’s timeline of the widespread implementation of STIR/SHAKEN with Alec Fenichel from TransNexus.

#Vectors2019 #SkySwitch #TransformCloudComm #TransNexus #Robocalls

 

Full Video Transcript Below

Erik Linask  0:07  

We’re here at day two of Vectors 2019 in Orlando. Joining me this morning, Alec Fenichel from TransNexus. Alec, great to have you here with us. 

Alec Fenichel  0:16  

It’s great to be here. 

Erik Linask  0:17  

So, we’re starting day two of this year’s event. What were your thoughts on day one? 

Alec Fenichel  0:23  

Well, you know, this is my first time coming to a Vectors and let’s put it this way, I’ll be coming back next year.

Erik Linask  0:28  

Excellent. We love hearing that. So, let’s talk about a topic that probably everybody knows, robocalls. How big of a problem is it these days?

Alec Fenichel  0:38  

It’s hard to say or put an exact number on it, but I get at least two calls a day. I hear the same thing from just about everybody. So it’s getting more and more attention. And I think the FCC is really starting to get a lot of complaints and that is their number one complaint by far. And so it’s been a lot of pressure on people to solve this problem. 

Erik Linask  0:57  

And how is the FCC reacting?

Alec Fenichel  1:00  

Well, you know, they’ve been slow. But really what they’re pushing is for all the carriers to implement a framework called STIR/SHAKEN. And this is a framework for signing telephone calls similar to the way HTTPS works on the web, to prevent spoofing, and that really is going to clamp down on some of these bad actors.

Erik Linask  1:15  

And so what is the end result for people that have been receiving all these calls?

Alec Fenichel  1:21  

A lot less robocalls, when you do get those calls, they’re going to come in with a green check saying they’re good, and those bad calls will be easily and quickly blocked by your carriers. So for consumers, you really won’t have to do anything.

Erik Linask  1:33  

That’s always good news for the consumer. What is it going to take for carriers to implement STIR/SHAKEN?

Alec Fenichel  1:40  

Well, I kind of equate it to a fax machine, having a fax machine when no one else has one is pretty useless. So it takes widespread adoption to be useful. But the FCC has been pretty clear, they expect all the tier one carriers to implement it by the end of this year. And we expect tier two and tier three to follow shortly thereafter. So by the end of 2020, we should see very widespread adoption and that will really cut back on the robocalls.

Erik Linask  2:04  

Is there any kind of a formal mandate as far as a timeframe or when carriers have to have addressed the situation by?

Alec Fenichel  2:12  

So the FCC has not formally mandated anything, they’ve set their expectations for the end of 2019 however, California has mandated it for the end of 2020. So any carriers with any presence in California will be required to implement STIR/SHAKEN by the end of 2020.

Erik Linask  2:26  

And do you anticipate similar situations happening nationwide?

Alec Fenichel  2:32  

California is definitely on the progressive side. So I’m not sure if other states will follow suit. And I don’t know that they need to, all the big carriers have some presence in California. So really, once one does it, you pretty much have to comply. It’s kind of like emissions. California does it, now you’re stuck there.

Erik Linask  2:49  

Fair enough. So aside from that, what else is going on at TransNexus?

Alec Fenichel  2:53  

Well, we’re still doing a lot of Least Cost Routing and Total Fraud Prevention and that hasn’t gone away, robocalling is just taking the driving seat from that.

Erik Linask  3:03  

And so what brought you here to Vectors 2019?

Alec Fenichel  3:07  

Yeah, I’m actually speaking about STIR/SHAKEN as well as other robocall prevention techniques. You know, STIR/SHAKEN is not going to be widely deployed for another six to 12 months. But there’s a lot that you can do today to stop robocalls as a carrier, or as a voice over IP provider. And so I’m going to talk about that as well as STIR/SHAKEN today.

Erik Linask  3:24  

So those kinds of topics are not only relevant to the big carriers, but to the voice over IP and UC providers as well.

Alec Fenichel 3:32  

Absolutely. If anything, it can be even more important to them because it really provides a mechanism where they can differentiate themselves from the other carriers.

Erik Linask  3:41  

And as far as implementation, it’s a similar situation with them, as with the carriers?

Alec Fenichel  3:46  

Yes, we have customers who get up and running in a week, under a week. It can be very quick, especially when you have a simpler network, single switch, it can be pretty simple.

Erik Linask  3:56  

Is this is something that VoIP providers are actively looking to do, or are you having to approach them? Or how is that, you know, relationship building?

Alec Fenichel  4:06  

Yeah, I think right now we’re doing a lot of education. A lot of people don’t know the tools that are out there. But once they learn about them, we get approached pretty regularly. In fact, we get approached on a daily basis from enterprises that are saying, “Please help me I need to stop these robocalls.” So there’s clearly a market out there for the Enterprise’s and we’re seeing some carriers are being proactive, and some are coming to us and saying I have a big enterprise that needs this feature, and I need to solve this for them or they’re going to find another carrier.

Erik Linask  4:33  

That certainly makes sense. I think we can all agree that we’d love to have a lot fewer if not absolutely zero robocalls. 

Alec Fenichel 4:41  

Absolutely. I can barely answer my phone anymore, it’s just non- stop.

Erik Linask  4:46  

We’re all on the same page. Alec, thank you so much for joining us enjoy the rest of your time here at Vectors.

Alec Fenichel  4:51  

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

3CX Makes SkySwitch A Certified Solutions Provider

Greg Steinig talks why 3CX and how they plan on “cross-pollinating” 

TMC’s Editorial Director, Erik Linask, speaks with Greg Steinig, VP of Sales at 3CX during an interview at this year’s Vectors 2019 conference. They talked about his session introducing 3CX to the Vectors attendees, how 3CX is getting their name out to other resellers and their new partnership with SkySwitch. By working with SkySwitch, 3CX is able to offer its partners a one-stop-shop for buying their hosting, SIP trunks, DIDs, phones, etc. 

SkySwitch’s white-label SIP trunking portal lets you assign access to customers and agents under the resellers’ own brand. The fully-automated reseller portal provides control over essential services, such as Inbound CNAM, E911 and even SMS. Plus the SIP origination and termination services are built on a scalable geo-diverse network, all developed to provide resellers with the services and support needed to sell 3CX successfully.

3CX Vice President of Sales, Greg Steinig talks with Erik Linask about how their partnership with SkySwitch makes it easier for you. 

#Vectors2019 #SkySwitch #TransformCloudComm #TMC #3CX 

 

Full Video Transcript Below

Erik Linask 0:07
Hi, we’re here in Orlando, Florida, at Vectors 2019. That is SkySwitch’s user conference. Joining me this morning is Greg Steinig from 3CX. Greg, good morning.

Greg Steinig 0:17
Good morning, thanks for having me.

Erik Linask 0:19
So, we’re here on the third day and final day of this year’s show, you know, what are your thoughts? What have you seen?

Greg Steinig 0:25
It’s been a fantastic show and the thing that I’ve liked is that people are actually excited to see 3CX here. First it was, what are you doing here? And then when they realize what it is we’re doing here, it’s, you know, you saw that, you walk by grabbed my hand, man, that’s great. We’re going to be a partner of yours and that’s been really exciting for us.

Erik Linask 0:44
Absolutely, that’s fantastic. With that said, talk a little bit about your relationship with SkySwitch and why you are here at Vectors.

Greg Steinig 0:51
Excellent. So we’re a an IP PBX solution. We’re a software company right, and in the past you put together your own server, you hosted it yourself, you got your own SIP trunk, you kind of built it all yourself, you made your margins on all those edges, you were very profitable and you didn’t have to discount your services. But there are some partners out there, it’s easier for them to go to one place and buy one in place and just do it all at once and so SkySwitch is our partner for that.

You can be a SkySwitch partner, you can go into their shop, you can go ahead and buy 3CX, you can buy your hosting, you can buy your SIP trunk, you can get your DIDs, you can buy your phone, and it’ll be delivered. The phones will arrive to the customer and everything’s cool. It’s one stop shopping and the supports there. The price for us is the same if you bought it direct or buy it through them and we’re really, really pushing this relationship with him because it’s really advantageous to many, many, many of our partners.

Erik Linask 1:50
So why work with SkySwitch? You know, there are a lot of other potential folks that you could be working with out there.

Greg Steinig 1:57
Well, you know, that’s that’s a good question and SkySwitch isn’t our only solution partner or solution provider, but they’re a really good SIP trunk solution, and they have a white label solution and their pricing is very, very good. Our existing partners that do business with them are very, very happy with that. They like the fact that when the customer gets the bill, it says, you know, our partner ACC Telecom, right? He likes that. And so we explore this and say, well, let’s bring them into the fold at least as a supportive SIP trunk. Then as we were talking to Eric, we realized, hey there’s other business here, other partners that aren’t aware of 3CX, so we can make this bigger than it is. And we did that. So we’re going to cross pollinate, some of our partners are going to choose them as SIP trunks and hopefully all their partners will choose us as at least one of their choices for a PBX.

Erik Linask 2:47
So you had a chance to get on stage and talk a little bit here this week. What’d you tell the attendees?

Greg Steinig 2:54
I really told them about 3CX and then I told them like, this is our partnership, we’re going to make it easier for you. They didn’t know who we were, they wondered what in the world is 3CX and what are they doing here because they see us as a competitor of Netsapiens. And quite frankly, most of these users or partners, what SkySwitch calls them, they have their hosted solution with Netsapiens, but they’ve got tons of on-prem customers, too, and they can’t move them to the cloud. But guess what 3CX is Windows and Linux, it’s in the cloud or on-prem, we give you freedom. It’s just one more arrow in their quiver. It’s good for them, and it’s good for us.

Erik Linask 3:34
I feel like we’re starting to see more and more of that’s a sort of co-op-petition in the market where, you know, you may have some some competition or competitive environment, but the collaboration the partnership element outweighs that.

Greg Steinig 3:49
That’s true. Now, overall, the market is moving towards, you know, standards and collaboration and partnership and everybody kind of chooses their lane and you know, we have an API, we create a receptacle and someone creates a plug and they use it for telemedicine or they use it for their CRM or something like that. It just made sense. One of the things that a SIP trunk operator wants is to have sticky end users. And when it’s so easy to port a number, they’re not sticky so you add other services.

3CX is a huge partner environment when we look at 3CX and the money that the 3CX makes, and then the money that our partners charge for their phones, and their SIP trunks and services and everything else, where the size of RingCentral. And people never see that coming, and that’s who we are, and we make profit, where everybody else loses money. And we focus on the small to medium sized business that needs more functionality than what they can get from Google Voice.

Erik Linask 4:55
So when you talk about being being that size of a business, you know, you’ve done that fairly quietly. 3CX has been around for a little while, right? How have you been able to do that? You know, without, you know some of these resellers and others in the market realizing it?

Greg Steinig 5:10
Well, Nick galley is a visionary, right? And he took a look and said, I want to be in this business, but I need to make my money where everybody else isn’t looking. Now I have experienced when I got out of the army, I went to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and nobody had ever heard of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Until one day Enterprise Rent-A-Car was the largest car rental company in the world, because they focused on a market that no one was aware of it was called insurance replacement. And guess what? That’s not at the airport, that’s a local offices. And that’s kind of what Nick has done. He said, I’m going to focus on these end users, these businesses that aren’t served by the big guys.

If you think about it, what was it 1995, Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma, you know, the guys that enter the market, they go to the top where the people can pay for it right, so you got Avaya, Mytel, used to be ShoreTel and Cisco, and they’re right there at the top where everybody has tons of money. But guess what they forget about the middle where people don’t need high end functionality but they do need something other than OOMA or Jive, or RingCentral, or some of these others. And that’s exactly where we fit. We’re right there saying, look, we’re going to give you enterprise great functionality for a price that is, I mean, incredibly inexpensive, because you shouldn’t have to, you know, leverage your firstborn male child to get a phone system and that’s our belief.

Erik Linask 6:32
Certainly that’s a valid argument, as far as capabilities, features, functionality, you know, all the things that businesses are looking for, 3CX is comparable to all the other providers that you mentioned.

Greg Steinig 6:46
We we do it all. Now there’s a level that we’re not going to do it. So say Tech Data, their phones go down, they lose a million dollars a minute, so that’s a million bucks. If our system goes down, it may be down for a minute right? Well, they’re willing to spend a million dollars to avoid that. But there’s a lot of businesses out there that are willing to lose a call or two, and not have to pay for that. We have enterprise rate functionality. Within the last couple of years, we’ve picked up companies like Barracuda Networks, and Subaru of America. And I mean, we’ve got a lot of logos going our way because they realize that, they can do business with a partner who’s selling 3CX and move a ton of money out of that budget and somewhere else. School districts are another huge win for us. We’ve got school districts all over the country that are switching to 3CX and having the money in their budget to hire more teachers. Because it’s ridiculous that these phone companies, these competitors of ours, charge that much money for something that’s so basic.

Erik Linask 7:48
Excellent. That’s…

Greg Steinig 7:49
That’s inflammatory, right.

Erik Linask 7:50
Greg, this all sounds wonderful. Sounds like it’s been a really productive week for you here at Vectors. We’re so glad you were here and thanks for joining us this morning.

Greg Steinig 8:00
Thank you very much. Thanks for having me, appreciate it.

POLY = Plantronics + Polycom: A Different DNA

Darren Knapp Talks About What’s New With The POLY Brand and Their Partnerships

This year at Vectors 2019, Darren Knapp, Director of Global Cloud & Service Providers Group at POLY talks with Erik Linask, TMC’s Editorial Director, about what’s new at Poly. He gives insight into the new brand that has emerged from Plantronics plus POLY, new products and their partnership with SkySwitch. He also talks about the features of POLY’s new Device Management service and how they give that as a value-added service for their endpoints. 

Darren Knapp talks about POLY’s new products, services and their partnership with SkySwitch. 

 

#Vectors2019 #SkySwitch #TransformCloudComm #TMC #POLY #Plantronics #Polycom

 

Full Video Transcript Below

Erik Linask: Hi, we’re coming to you live from Vectors 2019, Orlando and joining me now Darren Knapp from Poly. Darren, thanks for joining me.

Darren Knapp: Hey, thank you very much, I appreciate being here, with this group. It’s been amazing. Great crowd.

Erik Linask: Good. Well, glad to hear that. It looks like it’s been a great show so far, absolutely. So Poly, company or combination of two companies that pretty much everybody in our audience has heard of. But tell me about that combination, the rebranding and you know, sort of what’s happened?

Darren Knapp  Yeah, so listen, it’s been fun for me. I come from the Polycom side, that started in 2013 and you know, we focus on phones for the telephony space. But now with the combination of playing Plantronics plus Polycom, I mean, for me as a tech guy, it’s a lot more fun. We’ve got so much more to talk about. And you know, gadgets to play with and show off. And so it’s been really neat. But part of the story is that you’ve got two well-established companies in Plantronics and Polycom with decades of experience of doing unified communications.

And  now bringing it together and saying, look, really, it doesn’t matter what you’re using, who you’re connecting with, right? So if it’s you and me on a phone call over headsets, or if it’s me, calling the boardroom, and they’re on video, so you know, one to one, one too many, many, too many. We’ve got that solution covered from a voice and video perspective. And then we’ve got some cloud solutions in the middle that help manage it all. So things like our device management service that gets in there and lets your knock, on a live phone call, begin running a packet capture, looking at live call stats, and things like that. And really, those are game changers and the big revelation for the crew here at Vectors is we don’t even charge for that, you know, we just give that as a value-added service for our endpoints.

Erik Linask: So what’s changed? You know, you talk about some of the great things, some of the great things that happened when you combine two companies with such a rich history in this space. You know, there’s got to be some new stuff as well.

Darren Knapp: Yeah, you know, I mean, it’s, it’s a different DNA, it feels different. The biggest changes I’ve seen from my position, you know, I’m a director of our sales team, our global sales team for the internet, telephone service providers, ITSPs. And, for me, the biggest changes I see is this passion to create and innovate, and we’re coming up with things that are different that nobody a year ago, nobody neither envisioned or certainly didn’t bring to market.

Like our Alara 60, I take my cell phone and connected to this device. It’s my headset, it’s my speakerphone, it’s my dial pad, it’s my charger, everything for my cell phone. It’s just built around it and it’s the perfect solution if all you want to use is your cell phone. Two devices were developing for call center, plug and play USB devices for video that are sub $1,000 that act like and feel like a $10,000 video system. So it’s a different DNA and looking at, hey, everybody’s known us for quality, that’s never been the problem. But value, I would challenge that neither Plantronics nor Polycom were considered value companies. And so what you’re seeing now is this, hey, we need to be aggressive on making sure that the customer has all the value-packed in right, so they’re paying a reasonable price point for devices going to just absolutely do everything that they need and provide that quality. That’s the biggest difference in the DNA of the company.

Erik Linask: You’re right, I think that both brands were, you know, pretty much across the board recognized as being higher end product providers. Does that kind of evolution you know, that’s been software-driven, you’re able to do so much with the product.

Darren Knapp: Yeah, and there’s so much. I mean, you think about the phone, it always blows my mind. So Polycom IP phone had 9 million lines of code in it. It just, you don’t even think about that. But there’s stuff in there that people have no concept of regarding security or something like our acoustic fence that does noise cancellation on steroids. And when we could be in a concert hall, and I can pick up a Polycom phone on a handset and start talking to somebody and they might hear a little bleed, but really not. So I mean, and we’ve done this before, had it in front of a DJ booth, and pick up our phones and start doing these demos, and people are just blown away with how good the noise reduction is. That’s all software. I mean, those are algorithms built in to leverage the high-quality microphones, one on the speakerphone one on the handset, and doing these crazy things that you can’t even, you know, envision until you actually hear it.

Erik Linask: So with that said, you know, you’re here at Vectors. Tell me a little bit about your relationship with SkySwitch.

Darren Knapp: Yeah, so we were a partner-driven company, right? We don’t really do anything direct, everything we do is through partners. And for us, SkySwitch, number one great group of people, just love the people who run the entire company. But second, their strategy of providing a platform to their partners, gives us you know, strategically it gives us a lot of leverage, right? If we are providing a good solution and a good partnership, to SkySwitch, well, that is imparted to all of their partners. Being here at Vectors, we’re seeing that you know, people are coming in and the message resonates at an event like this where we’ve had a steady stream of people at our command center, we’re signing up partners, and we’ve got a list of right now you know, 30 new partners, you know, you just don’t do that by cold calling, right? So for us, it’s just phenomenal to come and be in front of people and talk to them and get to, you know, kind of evangelize the message.

Erik Linask: So with that said, what is the opportunity for Poly? What do you see for the growth of the UC market and how that’s going to impact Poly?

Darren Knapp: Yeah. So it just keeps going up. We started seeing some changes in, 2006 to 2008. You started to see it start to elevate and people started moving off-prem and going to the cloud. And then we had some issues, right, the broadband wasn’t as good as it could have been. Remember, the iPhone was invented in 2008, right? So we’re not talking about that long ago, but yet technology’s changed crazy. So the broadband is gotten better. The cloud platforms have gotten better, the stability has gotten better. And so you’ve got this realization now that the tipping point has happened, and people are saying, okay, time to get rid of this antiquated system and move to the cloud. 

So we’re seeing on average at least 16% growth for partners who are looking to grow. Now there’s plenty of partners out there that are happy to just to kind of, you know, chug along and add a couple of partners or customers per year. But for the most part, anybody who’s interested in growth is looking at double-digit growth. That’s great business. And so if you’re looking for a business model for growth, this is a great place to start. We’re talking to managed service providers, we’re talking to rural telecoms that only offered pots lines, and all of them are coming to an event like this to say, Hey, this is a fast path for me to start, I could put in my information, do my partnership, and within a month or two, I’m up and running, selling Voice over IP and, you know, hosting unified communications.

Erik Linask: So it’s been about half a year. So a little bit more than that, since you emerged as the new brand. What is the response to the reception been, particularly from your partner community?

Darren Knapp: I mean, there’s always a couple of wisecracks right you know, “Polly want a cracker.” So we’re always going to get something funny like that. But you know, for the most part, I think everybody’s light bulb goes off and they go, wow, it’s a one-stop-shop for a company that gives me everything, that’s gives me you know, the headset, the video, the phones, and all these new things that we’re developing. And it’s the brand power, even though it’s a new brand it’s caught on quickly. Everybody gets Polycom, Poly, Plantronics, it’s all one. And so the brand power also helps you as a smaller provider, get to market and get in front of a medium-sized customer and say, my solution is built on this enterprise-grade product. And so we’re able to, you know, help them sell and help go upmarket. We also do things like we invest in our partners, we spend joint marketing funds, like here at this event with SkySwitch. But also a smaller partner, we might give them $5,000 to go to an event or do an ad campaign or something like that.

Erik Linask: Is it just me or does the new logo have a distinct resemblance to the traditional Polycom conference phone?

Darren Knapp: That’s sharp man, you’re on it. I’m not in the marketing department, I can’t take any credit for it, but they had a few ideas. The Poly logo is based off the conference phone but it’s also based off the propeller, and the Plantronics side got its roots in the aviation industry. So Plantronics, the big fame is that we were the ones that went to the moon on that first lunar trip, that was a Plantronics headset. And if you look throughout the FAA and everybody who’s using professional-grade headsets, that’s all Plantronics. So it was a homage to the propeller and to the conference phone. So that’s where that logo came from.

Erik Linask: Very interesting. You learn something every single day, but Darren thank you so much for joining us. Enjoy the rest of your week here at Vectors. 

Darren Knapp: Appreciate it man. Thank you very much.

Jeff Pulver, UCaaS Pioneer, Vonage Co-Founder and Entrepreneur, Featured as Keynote Speaker at SkySwitch’s Vectors 2019, in Orlando, FL

Speaking on: Now Is The Best Time To Be Selling UCaaS


TAMPA, Fla.Aug. 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ –  SkySwitch, the leading channel-exclusive white label Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) provider, announced today that Jeff Pulver, currently the Executive Vice Chairman at Skrumble, will be featured as a keynote speaker at Vectors 2019, the annual user group conference for SkySwitch Resellers.

Vectors 2019, scheduled for October 27-30 at the Loews Sapphire Falls ResortUniversal Orlando, will provide resellers with hands-on-training, educational content and an introduction of new services being offered by SkySwitch.

Pulver’s session, “Now Is The Best Time To Be Selling UCaaS,” is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29, 2019, from 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. During his session, Pulver will draw upon his experience in telecom as he discusses economic, financial and technological trends. These trends are converging to create new opportunities for businesses to enhance productivity with technology.

“The Clash was right, ‘The Future is Unwritten.’ We are now living in a time where communication services, which were impossible to deliver even a decade ago, can now be both envisioned and sold,” said Pulver. “Today, only our imagination binds us to how and when we communicate. I am looking forward to sharing my voice with the Vectors 2019 community.”

Pulver, a visionary in telecom, is best known for his entrepreneurial work with the VON Conference series, as the co-founder of Vonage and as Founder and chief executive of The Pulver Edge. His vision led to the creation of Free World Dialup, the VON CoalitionBlockchain Token Association and the Zula app.

Jeff Pulver has been talking about layering value-added services on top of basic voice for as long as I can remember,” said Eric Hernaez, Founder and President of SkySwitch. “Back then he referred to them as ‘purple minutes’. Today, those services are known as UCaaS; an industry forecasted to be worth $79.3 billion by 2024. I can’t think of anyone better to educate SkySwitch resellers about the immense opportunities that lie ahead of us.”

SkySwitch selected Pulver to participate at Vectors 2019 based upon his forward-thinking view surrounding voice communications, regulation and technology. As a result of his past efforts communicating with global regulatory agencies, including The VON Coalition, Pulver became a telecom industry luminary who helped change how the world communicates.

To learn more about Pulver’s session or Vectors 2019, visit the official conference website, and follow Vectors 2019 on social media to stay updated on the latest news, blog posts and video teasers from 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.

About Vectors 2019

Vectors 2019 is SkySwitch’s annual user group conference developed to provide SkySwitch’s customers with valuable training and content. Attendees can take advantage of networking opportunities with SkySwitch partners, resellers and industry experts while sharpening their skills and learning about the latest tech advancements in the UCaaS industry.

 

Pin It on Pinterest