“Ribbon is providing free Smart Office Collaboration rooms” | COVID-19 Response

Greg Zweig

Spotlight on COVID-19 Response | TelecomDrive.com

In the wake of the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis – Ribbon Communications is providing free Smart Office Collaboration rooms from now until June 30th. These rooms provide web-based meeting services including screen sharing, video conferencing and group chat. The company’s Kandy Business Solutions (KBS) Partners can offer these licenses to anyone that needs them.

Greg Zweig, Director Solutions Marketing, Ribbon speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s business strategy in these turbulent times and how it is making ‘Work From Home’ a better and enriching experience.

In the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 situation, there is a lot of concern amongst the professional communities of various organizations on whether they should go to office regularly or should be allowed to work from home. What is your opinion here?

It seems apparent that most knowledge workers are going to be required to work at home for a period of time.  Obviously, those same restrictions can’t apply to healthcare professionals, municipal employees and scores of other essential occupations.  For those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home, the challenges posed by having to look after school aged children or share space with a roommate are certainly real but there are ways to help maximize productivity in these unusual circumstances.

With the right collaboration capabilities, teams can continue to attend meetings, work together, serve customers and interact with partners. Businesses now have the ability to provide their teams with the platforms they need to work remotely, and securely. This includes traditionally “in person” workers in areas as varied as healthcare and tech support. Health “navigators,” for example, can meet with patients online, help answer their questions and triage them for immediate tests or care. Field technicians can set up remote “visits” to help solve many problems.

What is Ribbon’s offering for this scenario? How are you working with your set of partners to help your customers and potential customers in this situation?

Many of us are very aware that working at home impacts traditional office environments. However, this crisis also impacts community-based organizations, houses of worship and other working environments. Ribbon has created multiple free trial options to enable our Partners to offer no cost or low cost options to a variety of organizations.  Regardless of the work environment, we want to make it easy for our Partners to help their customers stay connected. Ribbon is providing free Smart Office Collaboration rooms from now until June 30th.

These rooms provide web-based meeting services including screen sharing, video conferencing and group chat.  Our Kandy Business Solutions (KBS) Partners can offer these licenses to anyone that needs them.

Contact centers are a critical part of how business is done and Ribbon enables these environments to go virtual quickly and easily. Our Kandy Live Support solution is 100% cloud-based, meaning there is no requirement for software to deploy and manage. Agents only need a Chrome browser. End customers can connect from the web, mobile or traditional phone line. This solution can be operational in under 30 minutes. Customers can sign up for this solution from our Partner, AT&T, on their API Marketplace.  Their Click to Connect solution leverages this technology and offers a trial.

Finally, Ribbon also makes it easier for organizations using Office 365 to leverage Microsoft Teams as their office Phone System.  We are providing our Partners with access to 50 session, 90 day trial licenses for Ribbon’s enterprise Session Border Controller software (SBC SWe-Lite). Ribbon Partners can request trial licenses that can be activated in the Microsoft Azure cloud to enable an organization to move their office phone numbers to Teams.

This allows employees to receive and place calls using their office phone numbers, which can be critical for work environments where personal cell phone numbers are not a viable alternative such as healthcare, retail, higher education, shared administrative positions, etc.  The 50-session license will support a typical organization with up to 500 employees.

More details are available at: https://info.rbbn.com/work-at-home/

In case of working from home conditions – how can organization embrace digitization to enable fast and smooth transition towards home office?

While the Covid-19 pandemic has put pressure on every organization to quickly adapt to new digital practices, the good news is that most organizations were at the very least thinking about doing so if they weren’t already in process. In fact our own research shows that even companies who haven’t adopted these new tools, close to half of small companies, and 2/3 of large companies are thinking of adopting them soon. Simultaneously, employees who may be used to working in a more traditional office environment have a knowledge of today’s communications tools if only because they’re using them to stay in touch with their families. This environment, where everyone already has a stake in the digital world, means that while a quick transition can still be complex, it is not impossible.

Some additional tips for companies  include moving their assets to shared online collaboration tools that allow everyone easy access from any device and without the heaviness of moving large files across email systems that may be overloaded. Managers can empower their teams with web-based project management, information sharing and collaboration tools to keep employees connected and effective. Microsoft Teams, which many organizations can use as part of their Office 365 packages, also offers significant collaboration facilities in a lightweight client.

These tools can help make the mandate to change our work habits in this uncertain time just a bit simpler, especially when leaders adopt them and confirm their legitimacy.

What are some of the best practices that organizations can adopt in this direction?

Being productive while working remotely is more than just being able to communicate.  Organizations need to be able to give employees convenient secure access to all their business tools.  That means investing in Single Sign On tools (Okta, Azure AD, OneLogin, etc.) so employees don’t have to login to 20 tools with twenty passwords.  Two factor authentication is a great addition to assure identity vs forcing employees to get on a VPN.  Offering cloud storage and cloud-based productivity suites makes it far easier to share content without dealing with e-mail file sizer limits or managing multiple versions of documents

What is Ribbon doing to enable digital transformation for home office scenarios? Is there any special initiative being driven in this direction?

As a global leader in delivering real time communications, Ribbon created an offering for secure and intuitive collaboration services that can be stood up in less than a day.

Our cloud-based Work@Home offer delivers advanced remote working capabilities to enterprises and contact centers of any size. Enterprises that need to switch their operational model to an all-remote workforce have access to a complete Unified Communications and Collaboration solution with Ribbon’s Smart Office, which provides screensharing, HD video whiteboard, group chat, conferencing and more on both desktop and mobile clients. Fully functional licenses are available from select partners free of charge until June 30, 2020.

Ribbon is also implementing programs to help our customers address any temporary surge in network traffic resulting from newly implemented work from home policies and the surge in both voice and data communications as people around the world check in on their loved ones and look for updated information about the Coronavirus. We are helping our customer expand capacity on our Session Border Controllers as applicable.

There are a lot of small and medium sized businesses which will be getting or are getting affected by this emergency situation. How can they look for delivering office like work conditions to their employees-homes – without investing much in this scenario?

Small to medium sized businesses make up the majority of all businesses in most countries and are usually the backbone of the economy so it is critical that they are not forgotten or overlooked. Obviously, the free services we are offering are the most impactful thing Ribbon can offer. The impressive piece of this crisis is to see how many other organizations have also stepped up to help.  Microsoft, Google, SmartSheet and dozens of other companies have extended trial offers or removed capacity constraints to help small business bridge the gap.  We created an infographic of some of the free or low cost tools that small businesses can leverage.