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Flexible Funding & Delivery Models… Why Migrating to the Cloud is More Affordable than You Think

Most businesses recognize that modernizing their communications technologies will help them increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and sharpen their competitive edge. But many are sticking with the technologies they have today because they don’t believe they can afford to do anything else.

The good news is funding and delivery models for communications technologies have become far more flexible in recent years. This flexibility opens the door for almost every business to start on the path to modernization.

CapEx Funding Strategies May Be Holding You Back

Traditionally, CFOs have preferred to buy IT infrastructure outright as a capital expenditure (CapEx) because they could use the associated amortization and depreciation costs as tax deductions. While these financial benefits are helpful to businesses, a CapEx purchase strategy for communications systems also comes with downsides.

  • A significant cash outlay is required to initiate the purchase.
  • Hardware is particularly notorious for becoming obsolete in shorter-than-expected timeframes.
  • There’s a significant risk that purchased resources will remain idle or underused over the lifetime of the system.
  • Purchased on-site hardware and software systems consume space, and they must be maintained, powered, and cooled.

An OpEx Strategy Increases Flexibility On Every Front

With an OpEx strategy, businesses don’t purchase the communications system hardware or software. Instead, they pay a monthly, quarterly, or yearly fee to access communications capabilities that are offered in a subscription model. All hardware and software are owned, operated, and maintained by another company, and communications costs become day-to-day business costs. When technology is an operating expense, businesses can:

  • Pay only for the capacity they currently need, so capital is never tied up in under-used hardware and software
  • Write off the entire subscription cost each year rather than just a percentage of the total CapEx purchase price
  • Free up large amounts of capital that can be invested across the company
  • Avoid the need to borrow money or divert money from other projects to pay for large, upfront technology costs
  • Reduce the costs of system operation, management, and maintenance
  • Streamline cash flows by eliminating large, sporadic cash outlays
  • Simplify and accelerate budgeting exercises because short-term spending requirements are lower

Cloud Communications Solutions Leverage the Benefits of OpEx Funding

The limitations of CapEx strategies, combined with the availability of subscription-based, cloud-hosted communications solutions, are leading many CFOs and CIOs to choose OpEx funding models for business communications systems.

With this approach, businesses can immediately start migrating to the cloud at a pace that makes the most sense for their communications requirements, business goals, and budgets. For many businesses, a hybrid approach that combines existing on-premises solutions with cloud-based applications could be the right way to start the journey to the cloud.

TCI Is Ready To Help

Your local TCI experts are ready to discuss the benefits of an OpEx funding strategy for your communications system as well as the pros and cons of different cloud migration strategies.

Don’t let financial roadblocks be an obstacle to cloud migration. For flexible financing arrangements, contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 


Onboarding Checklist for Your New Hires… Ramp Up Successful Employees in Remote/Hybrid Work Settings

The Covid-19 outbreak forced many companies to allow employees to work remotely or through hybrid work models. However, not all employers were prepared to transfer their entire workflow to a virtual setting. As a result, many organizations have struggled with disengaged employees and reduced productivity.

This helpful 7-step onboarding checklist works for fully remote or hybrid working teams.

1. Early Engagement

Making your employees feel included early on before onboarding even starts is one of the best employee engagement strategies for those workers who work at least a part of their time remotely. Get creative with these possibilities:

  • Send them a welcome package
  • Invite them to the relevant group chat or communication channel
  • Organize an informal virtual get together
  • Explain the career path and reward system for top performance
  • Communicate and keep in touch regularly during early onboarding

2. Secure a Desk Setup In Advance

New employees need the right equipment to start working. These would be things like a PC or a laptop, a high-quality headset, webcam, phone, printer, desk supplies, keyboard, and mouse. Depending on job role and specialization, there might be other equipment and tools they need. If employees are audited and judged based on their performance, remote people need the same tools and working conditions as on-site employees.

3. Tools & Learning Materials

Once you’ve provided the necessary devices and tools, arrange a virtual meeting between your new employee and your IT department or other onboarding person/group. At this point, you have to provide your new hire with the following:

  • Login details for their new company email account
  • Credentials for any remote tools or software they will use
  • Company-wide communication channels and tools
  • Calendar access for client appointments or meetings
  • Proper training on cyber security
  • Digital employee handbooks and learning materials
  • Access to cloud storage and documentation

4. Assign a Buddy for Mentorship

New employees will often have many questions but can be too embarrassed or afraid to ask. To make them feel more comfortable, provide one-on-one mentorship with an existing employee who’s willing to show them all the ins and outs of the company. You’ll create a sense of unity and common goals by tying the mentor’s success to the new hire’s performance.

5. Be Transparent

Be clear about work and performance expectations. Provide your new hire with details on how you plan to measure their performance and a list of short and long-term goals of their job role. After going through virtual training, give your new employee straightforward tasks to start with. Always set clear expectations and give reasonable deadlines. At the end of each successful project, schedule some time for re-evaluation and feedback.

6. Don’t Stop Communicating

Making a first impression and establishing personal connections with teammates so that an employee feels included is more challenging to achieve virtually. Since the employees aren’t always there to read your facial cues, you have to open a constant communication line. In remote settings, over-communicating is better than under-communicating. Onboarding shouldn’t be one-way communication, rather a process, where you socialize and engage the new hire. And this is especially vital for workers with a hybrid schedule.

7. Train Managers to Lead Their Hybrid Teams with Flexibility

There is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to flexible schedules, so your managers and leaders need to learn what type of hybrid schedules work best for your business needs and different job roles within an organization. A great manager will differentiate between essential staff that has to be on-site or on a minimally hybrid schedule, and those that can work fully remote. From that point on, the manager needs to be able to rotate and schedule staff shifts accordingly, with employees’ well-being always in mind.

Personalize to give your hybrid onboarding a boost

Tailoring your onboarding process to each job role and allowing your new hires to progress at their own pace can improve their integration and assimilation to the company culture, regardless of how many days they work on- or off-site.

TCI has technology solutions that can support remote and hybrid work arrangements. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 


Boosting Employee Engagement in Your Evolving Hybrid Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to try out new working arrangements. For many, work-from-home and remote working became real alternatives. However, some jobs require fieldwork and cannot support the work-from-home setup. In such a scenario, a hybrid workplace can strike a balance between the two.

The hybrid working model has enormous advantages. It gives employees a sense of freedom and fulfillment at work. But there are some challenges that employers and employees are facing for the first time. At the top of this priority list are employee engagement and employee well-being. But let’s first reflect on the definition and advantages of a hybrid workplace…

The Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace, which includes both in-office and remote workers, can have many advantages:

  • It is more productive, promotes holistic well-being, and thus more economical.
  • It attracts employees of all ages and retains them by enhancing job satisfaction.
  • The company saves money on operating expenses; employees save time and money by minimizing commutes to work.
  • By reducing the number of people in the office during a pandemic, a hybrid workplace promotes health and safety.

Fostering Employee Engagement

But a hybrid work arrangement has its own set of complexities, particularly when it comes to fostering employee engagement because two distinct cultures emerge – one in the office and one online. As a result, managers can find it difficult to supervise and engage their distributed teams. Here are 4 ways to keep employees engaged in the hybrid workplace:

1. Encourage Creativity – Managers can check on employees to learn about their interests, hobbies, or how they spent their weekends. Contests and activities like a fun MiTeams icebreaker session can help employees feel more connected and stimulate team bonding. Doing these is especially crucial for younger generations who look for meaning, purpose, and connection in their work.

2. Provide the Right Equipment – Even if employees work from home, organizations must be conscious of their remote environment. Simple things like their desk setup, availability of a high-end microphone or speaker, and adequate lighting can enhance the employee experience in terms of comfort and health. So, leaders should provide employees with the necessary equipment ahead of time.

3. Minimize Burnout – Advise employees to turn off email and work notifications after working hours and encourage them to take breaks during the day. Encouraging them to participate in some wellness activities can help them feel and perform better. Minimize burnout by having well-defined meeting agendas with specific goals. Identify the people who need to attend a meeting, for example. It can make the most efficient use of everyone’s time while also making each employee feel valued and productive.

4. Prioritize Employee Recognition – Workplace incentives and perks must be well-structured to engage employees. It would help if you recognized extraordinary effort, new ideas, team contributions, and leadership.

As new technologies emerge, the hybrid workplace will continue to evolve. However, proper attention to employee engagement practices will determine the success of these arrangements.

TCI is ready to support your changing workplace arrangements with technology and services that will keep your business in the fast lane. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 


Never ‘One Size Fits All’… Connect Your Multi-Site Business with Cloud Voice

Businesses can rarely perform at their best with ‘one size fits all’ technology solutions… Among the best aspects of TCI’s offerings are the innovative ways we support the needs of different industries and business models.

We support Public, Private, and Hybrid deployments and we will always recommend and deploy the best-fit solution for your business.

Why Cloud services appeal to businesses of every size…

  • No need to configure and manage your system, servers, and storage.
  • Maintenance and support are the responsibility of your service provider and routine upgrades are automatic.
  • Whether your business is growing or needs to scale down, a cloud service can easily adapt.
  • Need customized features, integration with other applications, or advanced call center capabilities? The right cloud solution can cover those unique arrangements too.

Hybrid brings it all together

Many multi-site businesses are looking for a hybrid approach. Some want a Private Cloud arrangement serving their headquarters and Public Cloud services connecting their branch locations – all integrated together and centrally managed.

Whether you want to simplify your technology or take control of your communications infrastructure, our cloud experts are ready to connect your business. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 


What’s Driving Adoption of Hybrid & Cloud Computing?

IT systems and data networks should move a business forward, not hold it back. That’s why companies in every industry are looking to the cloud. By using a network of remote servers to store, manage and process data, rather than the traditional local servers they might have on-site today, businesses can reap the advantages of high performance, reliability, affordable prices, easy collaboration, and secure data access.

And that’s not all… Hybrid and cloud arrangements offer a number of practical bottom-line benefits:

  • Deliver secure remote access to employees: Ensure your employees receive a consistent, high-quality user experience to rely on for secure access to the apps and data they need – no matter what type of network connection they use.
  • Provide employees with flexibility to work anytime, anywhere: Work is no longer a place – it’s something you enable with the greatest security and flexibility. Use app and desktop virtualization to embrace workforce mobility and empower your employees to work anywhere, anytime, on any device.
  • Empower mobile users without compromising security: Having sensitive business data stored on employee devices increases vulnerability. By virtualizing your apps and desktops to keep data secure in your datacenter or the cloud you don’t have to worry about lost or stolen devices.
  • Make managing desktops easier and more efficient: Implement app and desktop virtualization to automate and centralize management. You can stop patching and updating your employees’ desktops on an individual, manual basis – saving you time, money and frustration.
  • Get new employees up and running in minutes: Use any available devices – aging legacy PCs, thin clients, laptops or mobile devices – and reduce new employee time to productivity.
  • Keep employees productive during business disruptions: Empower your employees to work remotely during business disruptions – anywhere, anytime, on any device – with secure access to the apps and data they depend on.
  • Reduce IT costs: App and desktop virtualization significantly reduce your IT costs, management time, and complexity compared to traditional desktop management.

Many businesses are still under the impression that the Cloud is a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why having a trusted technology partner who can work with you to develop a cloud roadmap and strategy is so important.

Have questions about what IT platform and cloud deployment option is best for your business? Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Hybrid, Public or Private Cloud Deployments… 5 Questions that Lead to the Right Choice

The cloud is a proven platform for deploying and managing all-in-one Voice, UC and collaboration capabilities across every location in your enterprise. Of course, every business has its own needs. As you consider which cloud environment makes sense for your company – public, private or hybrid – asking the following questions can help you choose the best path for you…

1. What level of privacy and security do you need?

If you’re in a highly regulated industry, like financial services, government or healthcare, consider which data should be kept on-site versus a private cloud. A hybrid solution enables you to keep control of some parts of your communications infrastructure while still reaping cloud benefits like scalability, resiliency and cost management. If privacy and control are essential to your business, this route may provide the flexibility you need.

2. How important is reliability?

If your workforce needs immediate and reliable access to complex data like large multimedia files, consider either a private cloud or storing the data on site. If you operate a contact center, consider a hybrid solution: a private cloud combined with on-site back-up. Such redundancy protects you from costly downtime; if you lose your on-site system, the cloud is there. Likewise, if a network failure hits your cloud provider, your in-house infrastructure becomes your safety net.

3. Will the communications system grow and flex with you?

For organizations with fewer than 500 users, the public cloud environment is the most cost-effective. For one thing, your business can pay on a user-per-month basis. In addition, even though you still use a public Internet connection, it can be combined with private network solutions. A hybrid solution using the public cloud via a secure private network gives you room to scale up when necessary and allows you to maintain reliability and control.

4. How can you connect to the cloud?

  • SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) uses one or multiple network connections to prioritize applications, using a mixture of Internet and/or Internet with MPLS services to review and evaluate all network traffic. To ensure data and call quality are optimized, it can switch circuits quickly.
  • MPLS (Multiprotocol label switching) uses high‐speed networks to efficiently transport packets over virtual links. It also provides high call quality and a secure connection.
  • Public Internet Access Services like business-grade broadband connections are used for voice and video services. This is an economical choice for small and growing organizations.

5. What goes in the cloud? What stays?

Start by identifying the applications that really matter and checking for redundant functionality across applications; then focus on the key business and technical reasons for moving to the cloud. Use those decisions to shape the specific criteria for determining which applications should move to the cloud. Start with an overall digital strategy and work backwards, evaluating each offering against your value proposition.

TCI can help you refine your cloud deployment strategy and implement a solution tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

The “Cloud” Defined – What it Means for Your Small or Mid-Sized Business

Imagine being able to access company data, applications, services, and resources Anytime, Anywhere. That’s the idea behind the “Cloud” – an efficient, flexible and cost-saving IT platform – that small and mid-sized businesses are rapidly adopting to save money and improve day-to-day operations.

The Cloud makes it much easier for small and large enterprises to quickly and easily access Voice, Computing, Storage, Software, Development, and Network resources on demand.

Cloud Services offer consolidation and automation of administrative tasks. This allows you to focus on your business instead of managing technology.

There are several types of Clouds to consider…

Public − Operated as a utility by a third party with services delivered over the Web, this multi-tenant arrangement is typically billed on a consumption basis.

Private − Virtual Machines or Apps reside on a company’s own dedicated hosts and storage servers; providing high levels of flexibility, scalability, availability, and security.

Hybrid − A mix of public and private clouds that enables a company to leverage the scalability and economy of a public cloud without losing control or risking mission-critical applications and data to potential third-party vulnerabilities.

Virtualization − Allows a company to run several operating systems and applications, including voice, on a single machine. With this arrangement, shared pools of resources can be created to optimize the infrastructure for better performance, reliability and availability.

Let’s sit down at your planning table to discuss how the Cloud can help your organization get ahead… Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

How to Make the Most of Your Communication Investments

Technology is constantly changing, and at an ever increasing pace. When it comes to unified communications and collaboration (UCC), your investments should be positioned for whatever the future brings. Here are some tips for making the most of your UCC investments that will ensure a better path forward for your business.

Keep communications seamless

The mobile workforce is not a trend that will go away anytime soon – in fact, it will accelerate. About 70% of mobile professionals will do their work on portable devices in 2018. This means communications and collaboration tools should be designed with mobility in mind so users can have a consistent in-office experience across all devices, no matter where they happen to be working.

Improve financial performance

A mobile collaboration strategy can continue to pay dividends year after year through significant cost savings. Working with TCI to develop a “mobile first” vision can transform your business and improve your profit margin without having to stake everything on a big sales win.

Engage and retain the best talent

A recent poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home. A mobile strategy can create a truly collaborative environment by improving employee morale, while enabling connections with colleagues on the road and in remote offices. It also permits your business to more easily tap into a global talent pool and should be part of your employee retention plan.

Improve customer engagement

Today’s customers will no longer wait in line or hang on hold. They want to connect with you through their preferred media – social networks, web chat, video and SMS – and they want to do it instantly. To gain a competitive edge, reach out to TCI for multimedia solutions that will improve customer engagement.

Protect your investment

Partnering with TCI provides the flexibility to change and grow at your own pace. Whether you have a premises system today, putting everything in the cloud or testing the waters with a hybrid arrangement, your communication infrastructure should easily scale as your business expands.

Trust a partner that delivers

From how your employees innovate to how you engage with customers, reliable communications in a rapidly changing environment is a critical business need. Take your team collaboration and customer experience to the next level by partnering with TCI for support you can count on today and tomorrow, no matter what the future brings.

Have questions about how to make your technology investments work for your business? Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Practical Business Realities Drive Adoption of Hybrid & Cloud Computing

IT systems and data networks should move a business forward, not hold it back. That’s why companies in every industry are looking to the cloud. By using a network of remote servers to store, manage and process data, rather than the traditional local servers they might have on-site today, businesses can reap the advantages of high performance, reliability, affordable prices, easy collaboration, and secure data access.

And that’s not all… Hybrid and cloud arrangements offer a number of practical bottom-line benefits:

  • Deliver secure remote access to employees: Ensure your employees receive a consistent, high-quality user experience to rely on for secure access to the apps and data they need – no matter what type of network connection they use.
  • Provide employees with flexibility to work anytime, anywhere: Work is no longer a place – it’s something you enable with the greatest security and flexibility. Use app and desktop virtualization to embrace workforce mobility and empower your employees to work anywhere, anytime, on any device.
  • Empower mobile users without compromising security: Having sensitive business data stored on employee devices increases vulnerability. By virtualizing your apps and desktops to keep data secure in your datacenter or the cloud you don’t have to worry about lost or stolen devices.
  • Make managing desktops easier and more efficient: Implement app and desktop virtualization to automate and centralize management. You can stop patching and updating your employees’ desktops on an individual, manual basis – saving you time, money and frustration.
  • Get new employees up and running in minutes: Use any available devices – aging legacy PCs, thin clients, laptops or mobile devices – and reduce new employee time to productivity.
  • Keep employees productive during business disruptions: Empower your employees to work remotely during business disruptions – anywhere, anytime, on any device – with secure access to the apps and data they depend on.
  • Reduce IT costs: App and desktop virtualization significantly reduce your IT costs, management time, and complexity compared to traditional desktop management.

Many businesses are still under the impression that the Cloud is a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why having a trusted technology partner who can work with you to develop a cloud roadmap and strategy is so important.

Have questions about what IT platform and cloud deployment option is best for your business? Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.