Fundamental Transformation via Remote Working Solutions: Review
Since the coronavirus swept the world over a year ago, there have been millions of words written regarding remote working solutions — the technological advances that have allowed us to work at home in new ways. What’s remarkable is that perhaps five years ago, such a rapid shift to WFH would not have been possible at all — the tech simply wasn’t resilient enough.
Even now, there is no single platform or solution that seamlessly provides a comprehensive remote working solution; at least, not one that fits every use case. Every organization has had to piece together hardware and software that facilitates a representation of how people would typically have interacted but in virtual space.
At Tech Wire Asia, we’re looking at four such pieces of the puzzle. Each is a well-known brand with a leading role in specific areas. In varying combinations, they provide a basic “WFH kit,” which can be tuned and built on.
What’s interesting about the four profiled here (GoTo by LogMeIn, Poly, Slack, and HubSpot) is that they each have grown from a core specialism and now, in some places, duplicate each other’s services to one degree or another. Not that this is a problem: any service duplication (such as it is) creates opportunities and options rather than makes for a wasteful procurement exercise.
Organizations can create new and evolving ways of working by forming combinations of the different services on offer from the following big-name vendors. Over the last couple of years, some of these have become apparent, such as online video conferencing — a daily reality for most people.
In other areas, the situation has yet to shake itself out thoroughly — online expos, seminars, and trade exhibitions are taking a while to settle into a new type of collaborative forum. Similarly, voice calls are adopting a new place in many B2C companies as providing what some are terming “the empathy channel.” Voice calls give a more human interaction that might not necessarily be used 100% of the time for commercial reasons; conversations that start around goods and services quickly morph into support representatives and customers sharing stories and experiences.
There are also some underlying technical issues that organizations need to be cognizant of when choosing a perfect combination of platforms and tools for their distributed workers. Cybersecurity comes to mind immediately with what’s effectively a massively distributed network that suddenly needs a different type of protection.
The other big issue is the interconnectivity of applications, not just between the four product suites featured here, but also between all the other technology investments the organization has made. Existing ERP software, the company CRM, online file sharing, and office suites all continue to play a role, and if employees working from home are struggling alone moving data from A to B, that causes problems.
As the virus behind the pandemic continues to mutate, and an acceptance of longer-term effects takes hold, allowing your organization’s working methods to evolve is central to strategy. With the following four vendors’ offerings, you will be well-placed to keep working productively.
The GoTo range of unified communications and collaboration software comprises a core part of the IT stack in many companies. It provides phone, meetings, webinars, training, and collaboration solutions. In addition to their collaboration tools, LogMeIn’s remote support solution, Rescue, and password manager solution, LastPass, are often found in daily use by readers of these pages as an invaluable way to keep hardware and software running smoothly and securely.
For many companies, the GoToConnect cloud-based business communications system is the powerhouse that helps people collaborate and call from just about anywhere — the seamless switching from a user’s mobile to desktop and back again is one of the stand-out features that make it a favored choice.
Its features are powerful enough to run complex call centers, but every organization with more than a few employees will find features like the visual editor that sets up call & routing structures simple to use.
It also directly addresses a significant bugbear of many solutions (at least, since video conferencing became a daily must-have for everyone) in that it prioritizes call quality alongside encryption. The cloud basis of the platform means the power behind it scales under demand, giving clear voice and video that doesn’t stutter and blackout during calls.
We’ll be looking more deeply into GoToConnect in a future article, so watch this space. In the meantime, head over to the GoTo site to see the de facto standard in UCC.
Few offices don’t have a Polycom SoundStation (or one of its many imitators), the classic triangular phone that sits on boardroom and conference room tables all over the world.
The company rebranded to Poly a couple of years ago yet remains the standard go-to provider for business phone hardware. The company now offers a broad range of headsets (wired, wireless, Bluetooth), desk phones, video conferencing hardware packages, and of course, phones designed for many users gathered around a table.
The company has always had its niche, but it certainly evolved and is still changing as its customers’ demands dictate. Its integrations with systems like RingCentral (UCC for call centers), Zoom, Teams, and GoTo (see above) make it a perfect choice for those requiring stable hardware for software-based comms and collaboration.
Most recently, the company’s Poly Studio P series provides a welcome step up in video quality for business users — most webcam vendors still seem to think that 480p is a good enough resolution.
The Poly P15 for video conferencing, for example, provides high-end audio and video for a new generation of boardrooms, and the P5 webcam should be standard issue for every employee who works at home now: online conferencing has never looked better (or sounded as clearly). Find out more here.
It remains unclear as to the Slack platform’s role in the Salesforce stable since the company’s relatively recent and very pricey acquisition. Regardless of how it is presented in the future, many companies have turned to the simple and intuitive messaging platform to keep teams talking with one another over the course of the last two years.
As well as different “Channels” for workgroups, departments, or divisions, it’s just as easy to set up social channels that are how many companies’ employees now share chats, news, and social gossip.
The platform offers video and audio meetings and its rich text formats, although these are a nice-to-have rather than a winning feature — useful for a quick internal conflab, but probably not suitable in client-facing situations.
In the paid tiers of Slack (around 3% of its total user base have signed up), users can integrate many other applications via the Slack APIs, such as the ability to set up meetings in Office 365, post additions to Trello boards, add documents to Box, DropBox and Google Drive, and even plug in GoToConnect, Webex or Skype for more professional video and audio calling.
To find out more, check out the Slack website.
The HubSpot platform started as a solution for inbound marketing and has since grown to become a fully featured sales, marketing, and customer care hub. It has a customer-centric approach to its CRM and combines this facility with an open, collaborative process that allows all team members to share clients’ and customers’ complete history of interactions with the organization.
Many companies start out using HubSpot CRM Free, which integrates with Gmail, the G-Suite, and Office 365, and from that point, then progress to a more fully featured solution.
The latest addition to the HubSpot portfolio is the Operations Hub, which acts in the manner of an RPA solution, effectively automating data-based procedures between the different areas of the platform, reducing repetitious workloads, and ensuring data integrity.
The Enterprise CRM Suite is complete and available for $6000 per month, although you can expect discounts to that price, especially in the initial contract months. But for those companies that rely on a proactive Sales Department, value customer communication, and have an active marketing function, HubSpot remains the benchmark.
Find out more about HubSpot here.
*Some of the companies featured on this article are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia