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Unraveling the collaboration conundrum with Jeroen Machiels


07 October 2016

Global Services

Blogs by author: Global Services, We’re a leading global business communications provider


Jeroen Machiels is head of BT UC, Mobility and Contact Centre services in the Benelux. In our series of interviews regarding the digital possible and the Cloud of Clouds, Jeroen is the last to weigh in on the state and evolutions of his specialty. 

Additional services such as UC are offered on top of the network services, and are – as Jeroen also states – closely connected with the cloud and need to be available (anytime, anywhere, on any device) and secure. These foundational pillars power the UCC offering of BT, along with a strong partner ecosystem.

A holistic view on communication services 

Jeroen, BT recently published an interesting WorkShift White Paper by Dr Nicola J. Millard on collaboration, entitled The Collaboration Conundrum. What are your views on collaboration?

Integrated UCC proven BT collaboration roadmap
BT’s proven UCC roadmap

BT’s proven UCC roadmapJeroen Machiels: As I am responsible for BT’s UC (Unified Communications), mobility and contact centre services in the Benelux; I couple all three of them when I speak about collaboration as it is all closely interconnected and it’s important to have a holistic view on these services.  And we always take the business of our customers, and what they need as a starting point.

Moreover we have a vendor-neutral approach. In our UC services portfolio for example, we offer Microsoft’s Skype for Business as well as its Cisco counterpart – the Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS).

We advise customers by profoundly understanding what they have as their communications solutions today and how they communicate and what their business would need to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Based upon that assessment we develop a roadmap with the customer.

Working with best of breed partners 

Speaking about vendors, I understand that BT also works with companies such as AudioCodes and Jabra. How do they fit in this picture?

Jeroen Machiels: BT typically serves large multinationals. Most of the time these companies have various IT infrastructures, various Private Automated Branch Exchanges (PABXs) from various brands, with various releases etc.

The problem then becomes how are you going to do the migration towards the new situation without any interruptions, how will you do a phased migration, how will you maintain the current and new estate during the migration, etc. In order to streamline all the above you need a strategy to centralize and evolve towards the cloud step by step.

Audiocodes is a strategic partner in this migration strategy, they provide core products on which we rely during the migration and the in life situation. As an example if a customer centralizes his core voice functionalities based on Skype for Business it is important to implement local survivability and disaster recovery. Typically we do this with the products of Audiocodes.

BT also has a large One Voice portfolio range from traditional calls to a converged communications platform capable of delivering major cost savings to global organisations which integrates seamlessly with our strategic partner products. Ultimately the One Voice portfolio offers all the voice connectivity options customers need to build a collaboration ecosystem.

Jabra is one of our headset suppliers. The good thing is that their kit seamlessly integrates with our conferencing solutions, like BT MeetMe. What we see is that in modern offices workers in general are sitting closer to each other, compared with the days of big office. This can create noise pollution and that’s why we work with Jabra. They have a whole range, all the way up to headsets with noise cancelation The benefits are clear: a UC solution with a good headset just makes the user experience so much better for the worker.

You can look to a UC solution from purely a cost and ROI perspective but then you overlook the human aspect.

The critical role of user adoption 

That is clear! Going back to your UC approach, what else is important on top of the solutions?

The Collaboration Conundrum white paper – moreJeroen Machiels: User adoption is critical and really is about the transformation from the “as is” to the “to be” situation. This is partially what the Collaboration Conundrum paper which you mentioned is about. It’s essential to guide customers in a staged approach to make sure user adoption is optimal.

We have a lot of professional services people who can assist customers with that. In regards with user adoption we certainly must keep the finger at the pulse as obviously no solution is a good solution if it isn’t optimally used or not used at all.

Currently we are establishing a full user adoption program to support customers with optimal user adoption.

How do workers use an audio solution? How do they initiate a video conference? These are all aspects we look at it and want to improve so customers achieve maximum adoption and performance. The human factor is and remains crucial.

Everything I previously mentioned pretty well summarizes what we do from the UC perspective and it is very similar, whether we speak about Skype for Business or Cisco’s solution.

User adoption is critical and really is about the transformation from the “as is” to the “to be” situation.
 Audio, video and the contact centre

What about audio and video conferencing?

Jeroen Machiels: BT has a conferencing solution called Meetme which provides a Dolby Voice experience for the participants. The benefit of the Meetme solution it that you can have a real Dolby experience while in conference call, only prerequisite is that you are using a dual stereo headset either from your smartphone or PC.

On top of audio, customers increasingly focus on videoconferencing, which is heavily interconnected with the UC offering. People want to use their UC solution to have  video meetings with their co-workers. And of course they also want to be able to have these meetings from any place and any time regardless of the endpoint they want to reach. The endpoints can vary from low end video systems to High end telepresence video system.

BT has a global video solution to support customers with that and whereby we, for instance, also offer concierge services. This way, in case a customer needs assistance, someone from the managed platform team will be invited immediately to join the video call to assist the customer. We heavily focus on a great customer experience and a good adoption of the total solution.

You are also responsible for contact centres? What role does BT play there?

Jeroen Machiels: In fact, BT is the leader in the Contact Centre as a Service Magic Quadrant from Gartner. Several large customers such as Ethiad Airways, GlaxoSmithKline, Wincor Nixdorf and others work with us for their contact centre’s and BT is well-known in the industry.

UC and the human aspect of ROI 

If you would have to resume the overall BT UC proposition, what would you focus on most?

Jeroen Machiels: It’s really about the many ways we can help customers with their UC projects. A first key aspect is that we are vendor-agnostic. Next, we can offer a specific SLA whereby we can take on the complete managed service so the customer doesn’t have to worry about a thing. Then there is our long experience with voice, which of course is part of the DNA of BT.

And last but not least I want to reemphasize the user adoption part. I can’t but repeat how crucial this is. You can look to a UC solution from purely a cost and ROI perspective but then you overlook the human aspect.

If people don’t use the tools as they are meant then you don’t have the expected or forecasted savings.

Join the discussion on Twitter #DigitalPossible.

You can connect with Jeroen via LinkedIn or in the BT Let’s Talk LinkedIn group.

This interview is conducted at the occasion of the BT Cloud Summit 2016 in The Netherlands on October 12, 2016. Impressions from the event.

Interview by BT Let’s Talk guest blogger, J-P De Clerck. J-P is a digital marketing and business analyst. He’s active on the crossroads where marketing, business, customer experience, technologies,  IT, media and digital transformation meet. You can connect with him on Twitter and in our Benelux LinkedIn Group.