Midwest Mindshare Training

Chicago, IL – Straightforward, LLC attended the Midwest Mindshare 2017  Training event with Andrew Pryfogle as our Keynote speaker. We covered emerging PaaS {Platform as a Service} Providers like Twilio and emerging IoT services like Bluetooth Beacons from Thinaer. Other key points were how to help small to enterprise customers to expand their IT benches and ensure security compliance with best practices using Remote Service Providers. We examined a real life example of Unified Communications as a Service discovery and solutions pitch. We took in depth looks at how to apply Managed Cloud Services, Contact Center as a Service, and Software Defined Wide Area Networks {SD-WAN} solution best practices. We concluded with 5 questions our top suppliers want us to ask our clients to leverage the best they have to offer you.

On the Horizon

Platform as a Service providers like Twilio continue to emerge providing infrastructure that was previously unheard of to be available to small developers making crazy impossible things possible. Bluetooth Beacon provider Thinaer makes tracking assets in a 4D world simpler to deploy, simpler to use, in fact they are down right predictive. Hardware device supplier ScanSource is working on providing widgets as a service what is being coined Hardware as a Service.

Software Defined Wide Area Networks {SD-WAN}

Is SD-WAN HYPE or not Hype?

Customer Demand will reach $6 Billion by 2020 according to IDC research. A SaaSified business computing culture has changed the way we need to build our WAN infrastructure, however, according to Gartner, 46% of organizations still backhaul the internet traffic to a central office. Are you one of them? If you are let’s book a Conversation Starter because this kills your organization’s SaaS productivity. Still think it’s hype? VIPTELA was purchased by Cisco. They obviously believe SD-WAN is not[hype]. Is it time to reassess your stand on SD-WAN?

Why is SD-WAN not hype?

SD-WANs have a NVF Network Function Virtualization feature that is going to be big. It allows for the following things:

  • Bandwidth Aggregation
  • Bandwidth Load balancing
  • Direct Access to Cloud Exchanges such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Google, and other SaaS providers
  • Firewall grade security
  • Rapid Deployment, measured in hours and days, not months or quarters

SD-WAN moves Cloud services to the Edge device, smooths out security issues, and bonds bandwidth so your redundant connections act as one big pipe. Instead of 2 paths for your redundant connections or across your outdated MPLS, you will have 1,000+.  #SDWAN is #notHype

How can we show the value of SD-WAN to someone who only sees value in terms of cost?

Global and nationwide customers will automatically see a major drop using SD-WAN as a MPLS replacement. The whole system can be upgraded to SD-WAN even when the customer has some locations still under contract, making a marked improvement in productivity even when the constraints of contractual obligations would have hindered a MPLS carrier switch.

Small to Medium sized business with few locations will reduce the pain associated with maintaining redundant circuits and will have the advantage of bonded circuits and prioritized application rules to improve their business application use and reduce recreational use of company data networks.

T1 connectivity is not enough in this SaaSified world.

The bonding feature of SD-WAN will upgrade their current connectivity like it has much larger capacity but cheaper than if they purchased the same sized connection. Single vendor billing creates a reduced burden on Accounts Payable. Reduce IT load by dumping the old labor intensive model of Service Chaining. Network Function Virtualization allows your IT bench to set policy by the application so the can prioritize and optimize the network. Most Customers do not understand much of their work life will improve by SD-WAN. They have to see it to believe it.

Ready to see SD-WAN in action? Start with a Conversation Starter

What is driving the change and the appetite for SD-WAN?

The proliferation of mobile devices makes organizations have to provide WIFInot only for guest, but also their own Internet of Things {IoT} devices, like scanners or bluetooth beacons moving through space. All of those devices require connectivity for information and analytics. Backhauled networks create massive bottlenecks for the systems and causes them to not behave optimally. These are problems that SD-WAN can solve with the right partners at your side.

What companies contributed to this discussion?

Want to bring in some smart SD-WAN providers into your organization? Start with a conversation starter.

Contact Center as a Service CCaaS

Contact Center as a Service or CCaaS, before 2 years ago, really hadn’t grown or took off. What changed?

Two years ago Salesforce.com did not care about the Telecom, now they do. Just that small change for Salesforce.com to say ‘we care about the Telecom’ charged the industry up. It is currently a $22B industry and Garter estimates it will be $407B by 2022.

Do you really need to look at a modern phone system for your business?

We will answer that question with another question, How many times have you asked a company to alert you by text? You just answered the first question.  

Let’s get it going, start with a Conversation Starter

The consumer expectation has flipped the script, Brand is not enough today, the Customer Experience is everything, there is no brand loyalty these days. Their consumers demand Facebook Messenger, SMS, text messages, EMail, Video Chat, text Chat, and TeleHealth. All require a ton of heavy lifting and costs to integrate antiquated systems into the 21st century. Customer service demands have also changed. They’re requiring more remote diagnostics and Customer Resource Management, CRM and Data Store. TeleHealth and HIPPA requirements have forced change adoption on Healthcare.

Why is Healthcare the number one adopter right now of Contact Centers in the Cloud?

When the VOIP industry was emerging there were two industries that we were told would never ever, ever, ever, ever adopt a hosted voice platform. Healthcare and Financial Services. Guess who the number 1 and number 2 are today? Healthcare and Financial Services, respectfully. That’s because the Security conversation is no longer scary. The Hosted Voice over Internet Protocol industry has overcome the HIPPA and PCI compliance issues. Also, the industry is increasingly competitive and dynamic and the customer experience is now a huge driver for them just as it is for so many other companies. TeleHealth services maturing on the horizon and current TeleHealth services cannot survive in an on-premise phone system world.

What keeps business stakeholders up at night?

Human resources and managers are highly concerned with Personnel Attrition

Let’s face it the a Contact Center employee’s job sucks, a Contact Center employee is always looking to move or planning to move on to something else.  The number one reason cited as the reason for leaving a Contact Center gig is the inability to satisfy the customer the way that they want to be cared for. Most flat out do not have the tools available to them to ‘WOW’ and dazzle your customers.  Many are put at a disadvantage before they answer the phone by broken and frustrating ”UN”-Intelligent Voice Recognition software, IVRs, or Terrible Automatic Call Distribution Systems that leave the customer repeating themselves over and over again. Contact Center as a Service CCaaS platforms help fix these top issues:

Reasons of Contact Center Employee Attrition

  • Lack of tools to satisfy customer expectations
  • Insufficient self service
  • Lack of performance tools
  • Insufficient core routing technology
  • Poor actionable analytics

Want to fix these issues for your employees? Start with a simple conversation

Customer Service folks are worried about the customer journey

You Customer Success Champions, Chiefs of Customer Delight, Journey Mapping Extraordinaire, or OmniChannel Business Development Managers, you know your Contact Center systems need work.  In fact you may not even call it a contact center but lets call a spade a spade, If you have communications with an end customer through Voice, Chat, Text, Email, or video you have a Contact Center. When you Journey Map out your customer experience does your Contact Center meet what your customer expects? If not, we should talk.

Let’s start with a conversation starter

Business Leaders are concerned that their teams are working without friction or hiccups to work flow

When your Contact Center Operations people find an issue and want to make a change to routing, it can take weeks for your IT people to accurately respond to the ticket; costing you money, giving your operations folks headaches, and causing friction between teams.

When your forward thinking marketing folks want to take advantage of some new, cool, hip, or tendy thing they white boarded out; like having your contact center interact with customers through Facebook Messenger and are ready to push the go button, but Darn we gotta get some stuff through IT. Friction ensues.

Companies who participated in this discussion were Five9, inContact, IntelePeer, West

Let’s Fix Your Contact Center

Let’s build bridges within your teams and satisfy all involved. Let’s satisfy your IT bench’s security requirements, Let’s give your operations folks the control they need to keep your customers happy, let’s let Marketing dream and bring in new revenue.

Let’s chat about Contact Center as a Service

Managed Cloud Discussion

Technology Sprawl

#quelltechnologysprawl #quell #technologysprawl

  • Amazon Web Services experienced a 46% use expansion last year
  • Microsoft Azure had a 93% growth last year from over the year before 
  • Google has been keeping their numbers under wraps, but they have had massive adoption

The point is anybody with a corporate credit card can spin up a server and build an app. It happens so often it has a name it’s called Shadow IT or #shadowIT for you social media folks.  Think about it, your IT benches are stretched so thin, they are so concerned with fixing what breaks that they cannot dream for your business and often times zealous Marketing or Operations people will out dream your IT bench, but they will not know what should or should not be in the Cloud. Now their technology spend comes off the bottom line and wreaks havoc on budgets for other things.  

Let’s Quell your Technology Sprawl

Cloud Computing Adoption Issues

What the problem boils down to is staffing issue centered around competency and availability.  Your business’  core competency is likely is not in the Cloud Optimization Field, otherwise you would not be looking at this post. Really you should be looking for partners to supplement tasks that don’t drive your bottom line.  

Leadership is comfortable saving money and increasing optimization

The C-Level leadership is likely comfortable with your teams moving workloads to cloud if it saves money and improves any combination of customer experience, process efficiencies, or overall costs.  

Career experience will require cloud adoption

Really when you look to the future of your career, businesses will be looking to make sure that the next technology professional they hire has experience managing cloud service providers and having proficiency in public, private and hybrid cloud helps with CIO credential swag.

Use the Market Shift to your advantage

Use the change in computing to elevate your business and reach your goals faster, Managed Cloud will let you augment your staff so that they can get back to driving bottom lines instead of worrying about their bottoms, nice pun,eh?

Let’s chat about Managed Cloud as a Service

Suppliers who contributed to this discussion were:

  • SADA Systems
  • NaviSite, Spectrum, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications {al the sme
  • TierPoint
  • Zayo

5 Vendor Partners, each with 5 Questions they want us to ask you.


For 20 years Spectrotel has been providing quality, affordable and personalized services to clients who seek simplicity and outstanding service. They are a full-service telecommunications provider in the SMB and enterprise customer space, specializing in the aggregation of Voice, Internet, and Managed Services by combining best in class personalized service, leading edge technology, and competitive pricing that is unparalleled in the industry.

  1. Are you looking for pricing for a particular product or a solution to a problem?
  2. How many service types do you currently subscribe to and how many vendors support those?
  3. How are you managing your network environment today? (Spectrotel is not reactive, but proactive with downed endpoints) 
  4. Other than Price, what are your top 2 or 3 parameters for selecting a vendor?
  5. Did you know AT&T has legislation in the state of Illinois to push to decommission all their analog POPs? If AT&T was to decommission Analog POPs what would your business have to do to compensate?

Let’s chat about Spectrotel

Arkadin Cloud Communications

Arkadin is a leading Global Collaboration Service Provider offering a complete range of remote collaboration solutions from audio, web, and video conferencing to unified communications. Arkadin enables all types and sizes of organizations to communicate and collaborate effectively using its user-friendly and cost-efficient solutions to increase business productivity. With a global network of 51 offices in 30 countries across the globe, Arkadin delivers its business solutions using a software as a service (SaaS) model so that customers can benefit from fast, scalable deployments with a high ROI.

  1. What is your current phone communications environment like?
  2. Where are your people located and where is your stuff?
  3. How do you handle sales calls, customer service calls, and trouble ticket calls?
  4. What is your Unified Communications strategy?
  5. Have you deployed Office 365? Cause we can light up your onsite PBX into Office 365!

Let’s chat about Arkadin


Telstra is a leading provider of integrated network services and data center platforms for enterprise and carrier customers in Asia Pacific, delivering high-performance technology solutions over the region’s most extensive high-capacity submarine cable systems. Headquartered in the heart of Asia in both Hong Kong and Singapore, Telstra is the only independent carrier serving the region.

Their complete set of solutions for managed data, private line, collocation, data center services, and content delivery, combined with their expertise in serving Asia Pacific, have made them a trusted services provider for large businesses worldwide, including many of the Fortune 1000.

  1. How much international business are you doing? Not just your customers, any collaborations?
  2. How many international suppliers do you collaborate with?
  3. Where are your manufacturing facilities?
  4. What and where have you already built out any cloud presence, or data centers?
  5. What are the top 3 challenges your business is facing?

Let’s chat about Telstra


Level 3 Communications is a premiere global communications provider headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, that provides communications services to enterprise, government and carrier customers. Anchored by extensive fiber networks on three continents connected by undersea facilities, their global services platform features deep metro assets reaching more than 500 markets in over 60 countries. Level 3’s global network reliably and securely provides enhanced, scalable network capabilities to address the increasingly complex operating environment of today’s technology landscape. Their comprehensive portfolio of data, security, video, voice and unified communications solutions provide powerful options to address the most difficult IT challenges.

  1. Where do you operate physically and virtually {what is your public IP}?
  2. What is your TDM voice structure or path like?
  3. What are you doing with your big data? An Example would be colocation to cloud, or cloud to cloud. 
  4. What is your security strategy and what are you securing? Prem. Brand. Data. Most are not prepared, even if they are big. More than just UTM within their walls. DDOS attack can prevent them getting anything out.
  5. What is your relationship with your marketing team? Are you just responding or working collaboratively?

Let’s chat about Level3

CCI Consolidated Communications Inc.

The Consolidated Communications, Inc. (CCI) provides reliable telecom products and services with a teamed approach. Their customers get enhanced, reliable voice, Internet, and messaging service at a great price. They provide a full suite of next generation hosted and managed VoIP services, data services and value-added applications. They offer one point of contact and one bill for all services.

  1. What is your environment like? Infrastructure. Mpls. Ethernet. PBX. Voice.
  2. What does your IT staff look like? Most are stretched. Offload the time takers. Most are understaffed.
  3. Tell me about visibility you have on your own network? What tools are you using, not using? Limited, piecemealed.
  4. Whats changing? Users?
  5. What is your disaster recovery business continuity?

Let’s chat about CCI

The Wrap-up

This was a great day of training and eye opening experiences for us. We left with a lot of takeaways and ideas to help your business take advantage of a quickly changing Information Technology landscape.

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