Product Spotlight: Business Connect optimizes work anywhereJun 12, 2020
For some in the business community, even at the beginning of 2020, there was a lingering skepticism about the idea of employees working from home or from any remote location.
It’s remarkable how quickly that changed.
“I’ve spent a ton of my time convincing people how the nature of work has changed and how people now use instant messaging and video,” said Jill Purse, Sr Manager with RingCentral and TELUS partner. “I no longer need to make that argument. It's just become incredibly obvious.”
Working from home is no longer seen as a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity. The pandemic has meant immense and rapid changes, like the simple act of communicating with customers. Think about offices that had an old PBX (Private Branch Exchange) telephone system on site. Even before the pandemic, these systems had their problems. The wear on these systems due to their age, and the difficulty sourcing increasingly rare parts, led to a significant risk of down time. The call quality was what you’d expect from last-century technology, and scaling functionality, such as adding new users or features, or configuration changes like IVR functions, took serious effort, time, money, and expertise. As cloud-based collaboration tools grew in popularity, there was an increasing gap between what you could do remotely (on your laptop or mobile device), and what you could do at the office. Once the lockdown hit, the limits of the on-site PBX technology became unworkable for many companies. If no one was in the office, then no one was answering the phone. For many, that’s when the scramble began.
“A lot of people are just kind of ad hoc-ing. They had to go quick. We can all appreciate that,” said Purse. “Sometimes the customers that I speak to will have seven different solutions because their office or business unit did something separate from everyone else.”
“But I think now you want to look at how to do that much more strategically,” she added.
So the question is, now that virtual work has become normalized, how do you optimize for long term success? What if there was a way to deliver the functionality of a traditional PBX, and more, while also integrating with the collaboration tools that have become the standard amongst business leaders?
Improving productivity and optimizing remote work
TELUS Business Connect is a reliable cloud-based unified communications system that integrates VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony with other communication and collaboration functionality. And best of all, it improves productivity with a consistent experience on multiple devices (laptop, tablet, smartphone).
The top list of features include:
Local phone numbers (in different cities)
Toll free phone numbers
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Unlimited North American minutes
Audio conferencing up to 1000 employees
App integration with MS Outlook / Office, G Suite, others
As Keith Upshall, Unified Communications Manager at TELUS explains: “One of the benefits for sure with Business Connect is it’s a bundled all-in-one solution. So rather than going to different vendors to get, say, long distance, audio conferencing, or a video meetings product, Business Connect ties it all together.”
While TELUS has offered Business Connect for years, it’s constantly being upgraded. As opposed to an upfront capital cost, like you used to do to install an on-site PBX system that eventually ages into obsolescence, TELUS consolidates everything into one monthly per user fee, while continually innovating to improve the service.
For example, in response to the increased demand to have larger meetings due to the pandemic, we increased the meeting capacity within our Enhanced Edition, our most popular plan, from 4 participants to 100, among other improvements.
“We’ve also made a unified app,” said Upshall. “When we initially launched Business Connect, we had two applications for different functionality, like phone usage vs. meetings. To improve the customer experience, we combined it all into one, just to make it easier for the end-user and to be able to minimize clicks.”
Keeping your data safe so you can focus on business
Simplifying to an all-in-one solution also means avoiding the problem of shadow IT, as Jill Purse explains:
“One of the risks is when you don’t provide employees a solution, they’ll just make up stuff to use on their own, and then you have no control over any of that.” said Purse, adding that keeping that data can be a big challenge if those employees happen to leave your organization.
“That’s a real benefit of going with an integrated solution like Business Connect - it gives you that ability to manage that securely, organization-wide.”
As for other security benefits, Business Connect has made passwords standard for video conferences, and uses encryption. Business Connect is PIPEDA compliant, allowing TELUS to service the healthcare sector, while offering Canadain Data localization on-demand at no additional cost for organizations that require their data to stay within our borders.
Leveraging new technology to find new opportunities
Of course, many businesses are still shuttered or operating at lower capacity, but as restrictions are lifted, finding new opportunities will be key.
“What’s interesting about our Business Connect solution is that it gives companies the ability to pivot really quickly,” said Purse. “So as they go through different phases of reopening, we’ve seen a lot of new business models emerge.”
Think about the thousands of restaurants that went from having a small percentage to their orders being delivery or pick up, to going to 100% delivery or pick up. Every call is an opportunity, and every missed call is a missed opportunity. Business Connect’s VoIP phone analytics can be a game-changer in circumstances like these. With the ability to easily track things like missed calls, call length, call time, and several other metrics, Business Connect allows decision makers to make evidence based decisions to re-allocate staff resources when you know you can expect the most calls, generating incremental revenue just by being there more for your customers when you know they need you the most.
“We enable people to connect with their customers and execute on things like that quickly,” added Purse.
“Future-proofing” and the “new normal”
While it’s cliche to evoke the “new normal,” it’s no less true that, after the threat of COVID-19 has passed, we won’t be going back to the way things were exactly. We’ll be going back to a workplace where remote work is far more common. For instance, a recent Gartner survey found that 74% of CFOs intend to shift at least some employees to fully remote on a permanent basis.
It’s possible that the cost savings and increased job satisfaction associated with a well-rounded remote work policy will make us all wonder why more companies didn’t take advantage of the technology sooner.
TELUS has been working hard to bring the benefits of digital transformation for businesses and organizations of all sizes for years. The Edmonton Food Bank, for example, became overwhelmed with calls due to an economic downturn. Switching to Business Connect and increasing their bandwidth through TELUS allowed them to go from handling 150 calls per day, to over 500 calls per day. This translated into an additional 10,000 families being fed each month.
Delnor Construction is another case of digital transformation creating better outcomes. When bids for projects close on a tight 2 pm deadline, being able to communicate quickly and effectively can be the crucial deciding factor in landing a multi-million dollar project. By adopting Business Connect, Delnor was able to break down barriers of communication. Each employee is now able to decide the best method of communication that suits their individual preferences. All this while also efficiently handling the remote work needs of multiple construction sites and reducing costs by 9%.
Our unwavering commitment to help Canadian businesses transform is the reason why TELUS has become the trusted category leader in digital business communications by a substantial margin. According to a 2019 NBI Michael Sone report, TELUS has over 50% more subscribers than the next largest hosted (cloud) PBX competitor. That’s a lead we intend to keep.
“I personally don’t see it going back to how it was, ever,” said Upshall, who has five kids at home, whom he says he’s been helping with school work during the pandemic. “We’ll gradually go back and see more in-person meetings, but I know me, personally, I used to go into the office 4 or 5 days a week. After this, I think it would be normal that I’d go in 3 days a week.”
Agility, adaptability and flexibility having proven themselves to be indispensable in this crisis. Gartner and other business leaders have sought to use these as new organizing principles to “future proof” businesses.
While they are no-doubt useful principles, perhaps one of the many lessons this pandemic has taught us is that there’s no such thing as “future proofing.”
“I really don’t like the idea of ‘future proof’ and I hear it way too often,” said Purse. “It’s like, ‘Oh, we’ve designed this for this known future,’ and actually the future as we’ve found out this year is very, very unknown... What I think is much more important is looking for a solution that has continuous innovation; that, kind of, always-evolving approach.”
“Six months from now, I don’t really know what it’s going to be like, but the technology enables us to adapt,” she added.
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