BT is strengthening its support for UK small businesses by working with Cisco to introduce new collaboration tools aimed at helping firms to bounce back stronger following the Covid-19 pandemic.
With hybrid working models becoming the norm and 87% of employees in the UK hoping for a choice in working location as restrictions ease, BT is making hybrid working easier and more productive for small businesses by adding Cisco Webex to its Cloud Voice solution.
This makes BT one of the first major service providers in Europe to offer this advanced integrated Webex Collaboration experience to small business customers, and enhances BT’s portfolio of Cisco-based solutions for UK small businesses, which already includes BTnet – the UK’s leading dedicated internet leased line service.
BT Cloud Voice is a cloud based digital phone system that works over the internet or a private network, enabling employees to make and receive calls with the same number, regardless of location or device.
With the launch of Cloud Voice with Webex, BT’s small business customers can significantly enhance their productivity with advanced video conferencing services and online meetings, instant messaging, screen sharing and other business collaboration tools. The blend of services available through Cloud Voice with Webex allows businesses to adopt a hybrid working model, helping employees to work just as effectively at home, or another remote location, as they do in the office. As well as equipping staff with the tools they need to stay productive when working remotely, the solution can also support wider company ambitions such as reducing carbon emissions by enabling employees to maintain reduced levels of travel or supporting their wider digital transformation ambitions.
The new solution forms part of BT’s IP product portfolio, replacing the legacy analogue phone systems that will be withdrawn by 2025 as part of the digital switchover. Firms which adopt BT Cloud Voice now will benefit from the next generation of digital voice services, allowing businesses to use the latest technology ahead of the switchover.
“Small businesses are at the core of our communities and it is integral to address their specific challenges and needs, which is the core focus for both Cisco and BT”, said Vaughan Klein, EMEAR Senior Director, Cisco Collaboration. “Webex helps enable productivity and recovery as we all consider an imminent safe return to the office, especially due to its scalable nature and flexibility. It means a small business can truly benefit from an enterprise-grade collaboration system at an competitive price, while maintaining their relationship with BT as their trusted Service Provider.”
BT and Cisco enhance SMEs digital skills training
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to more online ways of working and collaborating, this has also created a digital skills gap. According to BT’s research in partnership with Small Business Britain last summer, over 40 percent of SMEs are looking for more support with their digital skills to prepare for growth post the pandemic
As part of BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme which aims to equip 1 million small business owners and their employees with digital skills by 2025, BT and Cisco have hosted six webinars, equipping SMEs with expert guidance across digital marketing, social media and mental health and wellbeing. With hundreds already trained and an ambition to support thousands more, BT and Cisco will host new webinars this year, with the first topic exploring collaboration tools for SMEs, followed by lessons in cyber security.
BT unlocks digital transformation for SMEs with new Digital Health Checker
With only one in four businesses in the UK fully harnessing the latest digital technology, BT is also introducing its Digital Health Checker tool to help customers – from SMEs to larger enterprises – discover its business preparedness for digital transformation. The tool, available now, encourages decision makers to take a leap and embrace digital change.
Users will be asked a series of questions to gauge their current preparedness around business flexibility, efficiency and security. The responses will then generate actionable recommendations on how to successfully adopt technology that responds to their business needs. The Digital Health Checker can also suggest solutions available from BT to support business growth, and guide users to relevant industry trends from which they can glean insights from.
Pete Oliver, Managing Director, SME, BT’s Enterprise unit says: “As we’ve seen through the pandemic, digital transformation is no longer a perk; it’s a necessity. But every organisation embarks on a different digital journey – a one size fits all approach doesn’t exist.
That’s why, as the technology partner for over 1 million business customers, it’s vital that we provide the necessary tools and services to help SMEs not only navigate through that change, but flourish long after. And whether that’s through the Digital Health Checker, or working with partners like Cisco to enhance SME collaboration, or our continued support through the small business support scheme, our ambition is to help SMEs gain control of their digital journeys, build back better and stay ahead.”