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Access4 Signs Spirit Telecom as a Platinum Partner

Partnership to Deliver Cloud UC Over Super-Fast Internet

Unified Communications as a Service provider, Access4, today announced it has signed independent provider of Super Fast Internet, cloud solutions, unified communication services and Phone Names, Spirit Telecom Limited (ASX: ST1) (“Spirit”) as a Platinum Partner.

Access4 Director of Sales and Marketing, Ruy Franco, said that the company was excited to be working with Spirit, as the two businesses were a natural fit.

“Spirit delivers Super-Fast Internet, which is perfectly suited to voice and Cloud Unified Communication (UC) services. Spirit is a market leader and prides itself on delivering the best technology and products for its customers nationally. Its customers will now be able to access improved cloud services that meet the rigorous requirements of business over the high bandwidth Spirit network.”

Access4 delivers Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) through the BroadSoft platform and ensures partners and their customers have the latest features and functionality delivered in a managed and tested environment, which allows them to truly take advantage of UC.

Spirit Telecom CMO Sol Lukatsky said,

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Access4 as its solution and approach perfectly complement our technology and product leadership focus. To provide a modern voice solution for B2B customers, you have to offer a superior quality voice and data package. We were looking for a partner that could deliver the richest functionality in the market. Together, BroadSoft and Access4 deliver a best of breed solution. Spirit chose Access4 because of its product leadership in providing BroadSoft-based services and its investment in automation and provisioning tools. We believe this is the best product in the market in terms of both functionality and back-end billing capability.”

The Access4 provisioning and support portal, SASBOSS™ allows partners to manage their customers locally and seamlessly. SASBOSS™ provides billing so partners can track usage, costs and revenue. Consequently, customers can manage costs.

Not just partner training – it’s a career opportunity

You will hear us talking about the ‘Once in a generation shift to the cloud’ often. In the world of learning, a once in a generation shift happened a long time ago causing younger generations to choose lower-cost education over a traditional degree. In this Q/A we’ll brainstorm about this trend and the opportunity it presents with Ian Tennant, our newly appointed Partner Training Manager, who will provide insights of our training program. Our friendly and supportive team is creating an opportunity for our partners to join us and go through our new training program, which will give them the keys for entering the world of Unified Communications, and leverage the advances of this technology in a way they might not get anywhere else at the moment.

“When teams are appropriately trained, companies save an average of $70,000 annually and receive a 10% increase in productivity. As Generation Z enters the workplace, they face an even greater skills gap, where 65% of the jobs they will need to fill don’t even exist yet”.

Ian, I was doing some ‘social network’ research (some call it an excuse for stalking your colleagues!), and I noticed a switch in your career which happened somewhere around 2004. Can you tell me more about it?

It was probably fate intervening. I am a physical education teacher and had always been interested in training or teaching. Back in the day, I was working as a Sales Representative for a Pharmaceutical company. This particular company put a huge emphasis on training as a competitive advantage. The opportunity arose to take a role in their training department and I never looked back. I had found my calling. I really loved working with people to help them develop the knowledge and skills to be successful.

Deloitte is considering education/training as one of the ‘fantastic five’ to work in over the next 20 years, and reskilling and retraining current workers is a big part of what we can see in the market; what do you find challenging when it comes to our industry?

For me, the main challenge being new is initially to understand the real needs of our partners from a training point of view. Truly understanding this will be critical for how we shape our training curriculum.

One of the other challenges is the speed of business. The process of signing up a new partner and onboarding can be rapid. Partners then need to be trained yesterday! Finding the time and space to train is an ongoing challenge.

What do you think about the trend of ‘Leaders encouraging more human interaction?

In an age when we are immersed more in more in a digital world staying connected and engaging with our colleagues and customers is critical. I think its hard to beat face to face communication, but I know that it’s not always possible. A lot of human interaction can still be achieved using various digital tools we have.

What type of learners does industry recognise and how do you address these profiles in the training process?

In the corporate environment, all our learners are adults who have particular learning needs. It’s important to recognise these when designing training. Our learners come to training with life experience, even if it’s in a different field or unrelated industry it still matters to them and needs to be recognised. They are typically focused on learning relevance and how the content can help them do their job better. If it’s not relevant then they may not see the value.

The corporate learner is also time poor, so learning needs to be efficient and to the point. Learning by doing is also an important consideration.

Tell us more about the learning model you will apply to Access4 training programme?

There is a learning model called 70:20:10 which is very influential in the corporate training world. This model says that most of our learning (the 70) happens on the job and when we have to perform a task. This means that we need to look at how we can build a training curriculum, and resources to support this model. As a result, resources to support just in time training become critical. This includes videos, mobile content, knowledge bases and even coaching.

What type of learning curve will you build for our partners and us?

It’s really important that we get our partners up to speed as quickly as possible. End to end we aim to have partners trained and certified through approximately three days of training. This will be chunked down to smaller modules with our calendar allowing a partner to complete all 10 modules within two weeks. As we digitise more of our content I expect this to reduce further and the speed to certification increasing. In trying to make the training efficient it will be important not to lose sight of the need to ensure we have partners attaining a high standard.

Learning in the digital era changed how we learn, what do you find most innovative and what ‘old school’ techniques do you believe still hold value?

Before joining Access4 I worked on a project that used Virtual Reality (VR) to train paramedics to deal with mass casualty incidents. I love using tech to do things better. I’m not big on tech for tech sake. In the case of VR, it’s an emerging technology that will be a game changer because it will solve some really big training challenges.

The other exciting thing to see is the re-emergence of video as a training tool. YouTube has driven a who back to the future way of learning.

I cut my teeth as a face to face trainer and coach. I have worked on a number of projects that have successfully combined both. Together they are still one of the absolute best ways to drive performance.

Can you briefly summarise the training program you are building at the moment and when you expect the start?

It’s been exciting to work on rolling out the Access4 Partner Certification Program. The program will go live from 4 September 2018 with a curriculum that offers core modules to onboard partners. The initial training content consists of 10 core modules that cover content across Sales, Marketing, Pre Sales, Technical Support and Billing staff.

Initially, the training will be delivered in half day face to face training blocks as well as 90-minute online options.

The second phase of content development will see us blend digital content with face to face allowing for more self-service just in time learning.

What do you think is the most crucial aspect of the training process for our partners?

What will be critical is for our partners to commit to the training as part of not only the onboarding process but on an ongoing basis. We need partners to see and appreciate the value of the training to their business and to ensure they make the investment to send their staff.

Every industry has its no-no’s what’s the biggest NO in the world of training development?

Boring training content… The trainer talking too much and not engaging the learners.

What do you do when you don’t think about training?

One of my passions is Football ( the real one that some people call soccer!) I still take a keen interest as a coach at a local club. I’m really interested in what helps drive performance and develop high performers. I guess it I’m a training junkie!

I know you have other hobbies, tell us what they are?

As mentioned, I love football and I’m also a keen cyclist. The other love is music. I have way too many CD’s and Vinyl (which is cool now) and always have music playing at home.

How do we help flexible working?

Hours, work patterns or locations are common elements of discussion when employees and employers negotiate flexibility. Depending on the industry, role or role requirements, there will often be a need to consider at least one aspect where flexible working arrangements are required.

The term ‘work-life balance’ has been a very trendy topic in the last few years, but digital ‘motivational addicts’ have challenged it by saying it’s not possible to achieve since working hours make the majority of people’s day and week. Would you agree? Does it mean the work/life balance cannot be achieved?
Flexible Working Day recently found the following ;

  • 48% of companies do not have flexible work policies
  • 75% of part-time roles are held by women
  • 79% new dads and 85% woman want to work flexibly
  • 27% of men and 49% of woman experience discrimination when returning from parental leave
  • 45% of millennials or Gen Y choose flexibility over pay.

So, what now?

It’s about building a secure, comfortable and flexible working environment. Blogs, articles, TED talks and training research studies sessions are showing that even the ‘big bucks’ can’t poach a good employee if he or she is happy with their current position.

There is another ongoing debate about the time spent at work and employee satisfaction. Yes, you can work overtime, and your family might miss you, but there is a difference between a satisfied employee who arrives home a bit later but content, and one who comes home at 5.00 depressed, stressed and worried.

Unified Communications – you don’t have to be present, just ‘dial-in’.

It’s a simple rule, and we apply it daily, more precisely every morning at 8.30 and 8.46. If we can’t attend a specific meeting, we just dial-in. If that’s not possible (on rare occasions), we pass our daily agendas or ‘roadblocks’ to the person in charge. If you are late and you don’t dial in on time, ‘the punishment’ is $5, which goes towards our ‘savings’ for Friday drinks.

Need to discuss it but can’t arrange the meeting and it’s not ‘e-mail material’?

A typical situation. We use our Communicator to form quick group chats if we need to discuss something. Again, we don’t have to be in the same physical location. You might think that group chat is a common thing these days, but companies rarely use it as they don’t find messaging apps ‘professional’ or ‘business facing’. Unified Communications gives it a ‘corporate feel’ while keeping the style of communication relaxed and flexible.

Your mobile phone and your computer are synced, what about your desk phone?

Unified Communications finally allows your desk phone to join the ‘cool group’. So, go ahead and pull that call to your computer or the other way around.

Video conferencing or training

Every 14 days, we invite our partners to join us for a 30-40-minute training session of the latest SASBOSS features or ‘how-to’s’. On a daily basis, we use our screen sharing capability to help train them and navigate around different features.

Flexism and the Flexible Working Day

The International calendar of important days communicates identified causes/days across the globe, and flexible working joined the calendar on 6th of June. #FWDay, #FlexWorkFullLife, #GenderFlexGap and #TackleFlexism are some of the hashtags used for promoting this cause. The term ‘flexism’ is used for those who still have a lack of trust when it comes to implementing this change in our working environments.

In our Cloud ISDN whitepaper, we mentioned how flexibility has been a part of the Fair Work Act for a long time now. Flexible Working Day points out that technology, families and work organisation has changed, but our 9 – 5, Monday – Friday lifestyle has stayed the same. So clearly, we still have a long way to go.

Juggle Strategies, our work-flexibility partners, defined four critical success factors for implementing flexible working – Trust, Mindset, Communication and Outcome performance management.

Trust and Mindset can be most challenging; the challenge is not only about convincing managers that work flexibility is good for the organisation (not just the employees), but that a positive mindset will be driven through that trust. And we all know how mindset can fuel or block change.

We are happy to say that at Access4 we have that trust and mindset and that we actively work to build on this foundation. We also advocate flexible working among our partners, and we hope that our product will be one of the primary tools for business environments to make this change more manageable.

Industry Analysis – Australia, the wave of Unified Communications is coming our way.

This annual cloud collaboration industry analysis is conducted by BroadSoft, and it’s combined of 1,005 enterprise IT decision makers and seven countries on all continents – USA, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, UK, Germany and France. It’s covering Health and Social Services, IT/Communications, Manufacturing, Professional Services, Education, Retail Trade, Finance and Insurance sectors.

The key finding – massive Cloud Unified Communications adoption is happening right now. 

There are few groundbreaking changes in the world’s history, and one of them is happening over the last 20 years through the digital world, according to Seth Godin, worldly recognised because of the idea of making information available for everyone through the global conversation on business and its marketing. Key findings of BroadSoft’s analyses are showing Unified Communications are a part of this momentum, calling this adoption ‘A once-in-a-generation transition’.

  • 80% of companies are considering moving to Cloud Unified Communications,
  • 92% of buyers will select a vendor in the next 24 months, and when being asked when they plan to migrate,
  • 45% said in the next year, while 47% said in the next two years.

‘The usual suspects.’

Current costs, functionality and risk, are main worrying factors influencing this migration – with their figures showing 68% of respondents saying their current system is too expensive to maintain, 69% is troubled by the lack of advanced features, and 76% is questioning what would happen if their phone system fails.

The following is worrying businesses and teams:

  1. too much email reduces employee’s productivity,
  2. too many incompatible communication apps,
  3. employees use personal and unauthorised apps,
  4. if their current phone system fails, it may be to too long and costly to restore the service,
  5. they might have several locations with incompatible communication systems,
  6. it’s difficult to communicate and collaborate online with people outside our company,
  7. communication with remote and mobile users is not very reliable,
  8. it takes too long to find information and documents,
  9. meetings are inefficient due to missing information and documents.

Cloud Unified Communications, priorities and benefits of implementation.

The Survey is showing that Cloud UC addresses core business priorities;

  • Productivity 78% – a general improvement of employee productivity
  • Mobility 79% – better service for mobile and remote users
  • Agility 78% – no need for upgrades – the service will always be up to date

Operation

  • 70% reduction in IT staff effort
  • 79% we are worried about continuing support for their premise system.

Survey respondents would like to use all devices (76%) but one experience (78%) – Unified Communications for all communication should be the same on desk phones, smartphones computers and tablets.

Contact Centers – Digital world redefined the consumer

You might already have heard about ‘the micro-moment’. Defined by Google, it’s describing a moment of instant decision making; we have a new consumer who is ready to share even less but demands even more (or everything) in that particular moment. If you had any doubts yes, space is pretty tight, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity or the momentum of your potential customer either by not knowing enough of providing information in advance.

Another big step coming with the wave of Unified Communications is that Contact Centers are becoming accessible to small and mid-size businesses, opening the whole new scope for improvements of internal business processes. When it comes to benefits of integration between communication, team collaboration and contact centre, this is why users want a complete and integrated solution;

  • 78% higher overall productivity
  • 79% single vendor reduces cost and complexity
  • 70% more effective customer interactions.

Survey says how 68% of contact centre users are actively evaluating CCaaS, and 33% of non-contact centre users are willing to consider CCaaS.

End users ARE READY for digital channels, and service providers need to provide a digital buying journey.

  • 53% use at least one digital channel in supplier selection,
  • 57% want full or partly digital onboarding and service management,
  • 61% already use at least one SaaS service.

‘All devices – but one experience.’

The list of benefits and multi-device integration is long:

  1. lower cost of ownership,
  2. reduction of IT staff effort,
  3. more advanced functions and user experience,
  4. no need for equipment/software upgrades – the service will always be up to date,
  5. better service for remote and mobile users,
  6. service is accessible from multiple devices, not just phones,
  7. general improvement of employee productivity,
  8. service will not be disrupted by premise system failure,
  9. internal communication and collaboration functions interoperate with other external systems at clients, suppliers, etc.

Multiple location support

  1. service will be identical at all locations,
  2. the service will scale better as the number of users at each location changes,
  3. communication and collaboration between locations will be better,
  4. users will not need to maintain a special network between locations,
  5. their total cost and effort for all locations will be lower.

Features

  1. Users can answer calls on any device – desk phone, mobile phone or computer/tablet communication app,
  2. fixed and mobile phones should have the same number,
  3. the user interface for all communication should be the same on desk phones, smartphones, computers and tablets,
  4. the business phone number and communication features should be available on employees’ personal mobile phones,
  5. the employee should use just a desk or a mobile phone; they shouldn’t need both,
  6. we shouldn’t need desk phones at all – all communication functions should be available on a computer,
  7. close integration with applications such as Microsoft office or O365, social media, Google, SalesForce and other business applications.

Tailored for digital nomads – and Australia is the champion!

Upwork, the world’s biggest online work platform claims we are witnessing the constant growth of remote workers in sales, marketing, graphic design, but customer service, administration, translation and writing are booming as well. Information also shows that Australia is the world’s biggest supplier of online freelance workers!

BroadSoft’s survey showed how 80% of companies have some remote or mostly mobile employees and 40% of companies have 1% – 25% of employees that have remote or mostly mobile employees.

Consultants-influencers are challenging the work-life balance myth as well, saying that we need to feel safe at work, to feel good in both places. And that safe place is created by good, flexible, transparent and collaborative workspaces within the companies. It’s needless to say, that will attract and retain top candidates as well.

Conclusion – The Cloud Momentum and priorities

A large majority of businesses are considering Cloud Unified Communications, and their buying decision is expected in the next 24 months. Unified Communications addresses digital priorities and premise systems are poised for cloud migration.

Key points

  • Cloud unified communications (UC) adoption is accelerating; buying decisions are imminent.
  • Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is core to customers’ digital transformation strategy.
  • Customers want complete, integrated and innovative service bundles.
  • Service providers are strongly positioned to capture the cloud transition opportunity.
  • Digital engagement and delivery channels are essential.

Source: BroadSoft Cloud Collaboration Survey 2017, conducted in Q4 2017. End User Perspective on the UCaaS, CCaaS and Team Collaboration Market.

Market set for a shake-up as the pay-as-you-go promise of cloud becomes a reality for UCaaS

Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) provider, Access4, today announced it will no longer require customers to sign contracts for services, and that it will continue to offer zero set up fees for any new customer.

Access4 Director of Sales & Marketing, Ruy Franco, said the company has a clear goal to be a trailblazer in the industry.

“We are always looking for ways to shake up the market and help customers realise the true benefits of UCaaS. Cloud services are usually subscription-based pay-as-you-go, and we think businesses should be able to buy their telephony and Unified Communications services in the same way. Customers are also able to trial our services before they buy in the same way they would SaaS. “The Australian telecommunications market has for too long been dominated by the market incumbent and a group of second tier players that are more intent on maintaining their lucrative income streams than delivering new and better services for customers.”

Access4’s range of UCaaS services will now be available through partners on month-to-month plans with no contracts to sign and no setup fees. Access4 partners will also offer the option of an annual subscription, which will be available for customers at a discounted rate.

The annual subscription fee also applies to call packs providing greater value to customers. Franco said,

“Unlike other providers, Access4 will not compensate for this new pricing policy by charging higher upfront fees, nor will it introduce set up fees in a cash grab attempt.”

McKinsey estimates that by 2018, more than half (51%) of enterprises will adopt cloud as their primary IT environment – up from just 10% in 2015.

“The take up of Cloud is rapidly escalating in Australia and along with it, customers are beginning to leverage the many services like UCaaS which have the ability to transform businesses and deliver greater efficiency and productivity,” concluded Franco.

 

The beginning of the end for traditional Telcos?

Access4 is proud to release the first annual Unified Communications (UC) Appreciation Index (“the UC Index”). The UC Index will track the opinions and preferences of the most senior decision-makers of SME businesses nationally regarding IT and telephony services and service providers on an annual basis. It will specifically consider SME plans to upgrade IT and telephony systems and processes, and measure the penetration of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in the market.

What is UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service: Basically, it’s telephony in the Cloud. Telephony in the Cloud can deliver a number of business benefits including:

  • Standard software on a per-seat basis
  • Predictable model of cost and delivery with flexible features
  • Removes the need for front-loaded capital
  • Integrated offering that includes consulting, managed services, and integration capabilities
  • UCaaS can deliver cost control, greater business agility and improved employee productivity.

What is the size of the UCaaS market?

Unified Communications in the Cloud is predicted to grow from 8% market share in 2015 to 22% of the total Unified Communications market, by 2020 (Gartner). Though Asia Pacific will only increase total UC spend by 1.1% across the four years to 2020 (Gartner), it’s a substantial shift in the makeup of this market that will be the driver of opportunity for providers and customers; that shift is the move to Cloud.

Key findings from the research

The research identified four key drivers that need to be in place to support the take-up and adoption of UC services in the Cloud by SMEs:

The external IT service provider

The research suggests that SMEs prefer dealing with their smaller, local external IT service provider rather than a traditional telecommunications provider. They are frustrated with the service levels they are currently getting stating: “you never know who to contact, and the call centre is a million miles away”, and they know there are better solutions out there “it takes so long for someone to come to us with a solution”.

Over half those surveyed use a medium sized external IT provider for IT management. The external IT provider had the highest advocacy with senior decision makers and has the highest ranking when it comes to providing strategic advice to customers. As with IT services, external providers “can support upgrades quickly and easily over the phone”. They are already viewed as being “responsive and provide prompt service” and they communicate with their customers proactively.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Access4 will also use this survey to track its performance and the performance of its service provider partners, measuring NPS as well as what else needs to be done to ensure customers who have implemented UCaaS are enjoying the best possible customer experience.

Findings and citations

The source data used to create the report is available on request to Access4 info@access4.com.au. Access4 is happy for other parties to use the information, statistics and findings from the Index, however, publication or use of the findings/results contained in the document must reference Access4 UC Appreciation Index as the source.

Read the full research here

Unified Communications Appreciation Index 2016

 

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