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One Communications Platform Best In A Hybrid Working World, Says Intermedia

“Point products can’t flex far enough — the need is to eliminate complexity, focus on the business and arm every employee with all the tools to work better from wherever,” Cameron Boswell, Intermedia’s senior director of partner enablement, says during the NexGen 2021 conference.

The ship has sailed and the train has left the station: hybrid work is here to stay. It goes without saying that businesses have to invest in solutions to help employees stay connected and collaborating — no matter their location, according to Intermedia.

A challenge in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work has since opened the door for solution providers to cash in on the now long-term trend, said Cameron Boswell, senior director of partner enablement for Intermedia. That’s because businesses are relying on their partners to arm them with the products and services they’ll need to compete in the workforce that’s changed significantly over the last 20 months, he said during a keynote at The Channel Company’s NexGen 2021 conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Employees working from the office or at home need the same tools to communicate with each other, as well as those outside of the organization, such as customers. End customers also must have a good, consistent customer experience. All of that communication, said Boswell, must flow through the same business communication system.

“What if your communications platform doesn’t care where your people work, and what if your platform simply goes with [employees] wherever they work?” he said.

[Related: Intermedia Goes Global With NEC Deal Sparking Opportunities Worth Billions, Says CEO]

Communication models of the past have included an office with a PBX system located on-premises, but the hybrid work trend has thrown a wrench into that system, Boswell said. Seventy-two percent of U.S. executives have plans to invest in tools for virtual collaboration, according to Intermedia. Seventy percent were going to invest in IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity, and 74 percent plan to invest in training for their managers to support a virtual workforce.

“That PBX system is not going to handle that remote worker that‘s sitting at home. That is not controlled by you,” he told an audience of solution providers in attendance.

The right business communication system will include all workers, which lets businesses apply their own compliance security and backup to their data, Boswell said.

While it can be a risk to tie all business systems into one platform, increasingly complex IT environments that have changed with the hybrid working trend have changed the way some solution providers serve their customers.

“It’s almost needed. Tying things together creates a more seamless work environment as opposed to multiple, disparate solutions,” said Kelo Makelele, director of operations for Red Trace Technologies, a Washington, D.C.-based solution provider that is bundling communications and collaboration solutions together for its Federal Government customers.

Business communications provider Intermedia, which has always done most of its business through its channel of more than 6,500 partners, offers an integrated solution for many disparate tools, including email security, archiving, file sharing, cloud-based unified communications, contact center, and videoconferencing.

“What Intermedia does really well is bundle those [offerings] together, like video and contact center, which we’re seeing a lot more interest for,” Boswell said. ”You can roll these features out to users very easily and they don‘t need special training to actually operate them.”

Benefits exist for businesses that embrace hybrid work and put the right solutions in place, including higher employer satisfaction and longer-term retention, and the ability to tap into lower cost labor geographies, Boswell said.

“Workers now expect the flexibility of a hybrid workplace,” he said. “Point products can‘t flex far enough — the need is to eliminate complexity, focus on the business and arm every employee with all the tools to work better from wherever.”

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