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This article was originally posted on Verizon.com.

Adversity often carries the seeds of innovation, and at a time when many customer experiences are redirected to digital channels by necessity, new ideas are forming that demonstrate how to exceed customer expectations through automation and intelligence.

With online shopping, remote collaboration and remote customer service channels surging during COVID-19, the time to invest in digital-learning tools and solutions is now. If you're looking to exceed customer expectations, here are five avenues to consider.

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What customers are telling us . . . and what it could mean for you.

Following a challenging 2020, businesses are looking to transform in large part due to COVID-19, their ability to adapt to and leverage new technologies. To understand the role of 5G technology and its use cases that are being implemented today and are valuable in driving businesses forward, Verizon Business commissioned a nationwide survey of 700 technology decision-makers.

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Avaya WebinarRegister for Avaya customer facing and solution-specific webinars focused around Avaya Cloud Office and Avaya onecloud CCaaS.

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The question of whether to move from an on-premises PBX (Private Branch Exchange) to a cloud communication solution can be complicated for small businesses. The benefits of cloud are clear, but the business case may not be for the local school, legal or medical office, or manufacturer that has already invested in a legacy phone system. If you’re that decision maker teetering the line, consider the value of moving your business forward.

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Businesses have seen big benefits from UCaaS over the past year, with many of your own customers using UCaaS to stay connected and productive. More and more, companies are recognizing the value in easy to deploy cloud solutions due to their cost savings and scalability.

Now that your customers have deployed UCaaS, what other cloud offerings could help their business? Two key solutions that you should be talking about are contact center as a service (CCaaS) and communication platform as a service (CPaaS)

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Technologies advancing remote work

2021 will be a year for the enterprise (large and small) to build out or course correct what they implemented in haste due to COVID-19. We see how much technology helped and continues to help us navigate the pandemic, an example being Zoom as the default “Kleenex” type reference for all video conferencing now. There is a reason why the CCaaS business is booming – many deploying it for analytics and reporting relating to workforce optimization and remote work. And why companies like Twilio have surging stock pricing due to APIs syncing communication platforms with business applications – think remote restaurant ordering, pickup and end-to-end customer/business communications.

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Computing has been moving to the edge as companies recognize the benefits of processing closer to where data is generated. The number of connected devices is more than we have ever seen, propelled by remote workforces with mini computers aka smartphones on themselves at all times, demanding instant data transfers. Edge computing brings better performance capabilities, reduced network latency and bandwidth usage. In some instances, for example when involving autonomous vehicles or critical medical devices, latency can prove very dangerous, perhaps a difference in life or death, making edge computing necessary for localized data processing, allowing for faster response times and only relevant data sent back to the cloud for storage.

As edge computing becomes more necessary due to increased IoT consumption, so does the need for security. So, how do businesses address security when it comes to edge computing?

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Challenge:
How to provide reliable UCaaS solutions—one that could also align with a company-wide shift to Google, which centered around the use of G Suite productivity apps, Chromebook, and Android support.

Solution:
Omnichannel Contact Center, G Suite Integration, Communications APIs

Results:
MedXM now uses a unique combination of Vonage collaboration-enhancing cloud solutions, productivity-boosting integrations, an enterprise-grade contact center solution, and contextual communications that has redefined how they communicate with members in real time.

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As Vonage expands Unified Communications internationally, we've put together a list of some critical vendor questions to ask for partners to share with their prospects as they transition their customers to the cloud.

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Security operations center as a service (SOCaaS) and managed detection and response (MDR) are managed cybersecurity services that provide intrusion detection of ransomware/malware and malicious activity in the network and assist in rapid incident response to eliminate those threats with concise remediation actions. Typically, SOCaaS and MDR combine with technology solutions that have outsourced security analysts to extend security technologies and team.

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Cloud-first readiness meant business as usual when 90% of employees switched to remote working.

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The distributed workforce is here.

Remote work has arrived. Even before COVID-19, researchers were predicting that by 2025, 70% of the workforce would work remotely for at least five days each month.1 Today, of course, many businesses have gone 100% remote, 100% of the time, albeit by necessity. And employees, by all reports, love it. A full 86% of the time, employees who have been given the option of working from anywhere will seize the opportunity.2

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5 Days, 5 Takeaways – Recap of TBI’s BIG Event 2020

TBI hosted our fifth annual BIG Event on August 17th through 21st. Not only was this year bigger than ever – 5 days, 30+ sessions, 40+ providers – it was completely virtual! Taking place for a couple hours each day throughout the week, we addressed some of the biggest IT topics concerning businesses right now. Each day focused on a different subject – Emerging Tech & Mobility, Cybersecurity, Cloud, Cloud Communications and Collaboration, and Next Gen Networking. Partners were able to maximize their time by attending the sessions of their choice and booking 1on1 meetings directly with providers. In case you were not able to attend or missed a session, we’ve made replays available here. If you want the opportunity to connect with a specific provider, reach out to your Channel Manager to facilitate a meeting.

Reflecting on this year’s BIG Event, we put together five key takeaways, one for each day of the event.
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Let’s be very clear - hackers do not discriminate. They’re after any and every opportunity to snatch data, make money, disrupt business and cause chaos. In case you missed it at TBI’s BIG Event 2020, a white hat hacker showed us exactly how easy it is to hack into a device during Hold My Beer While I Hack This Smartphone – watch here. Businesses big and small can fall prey, and you and your customers need to be aware. So far this year, we’ve seen some big-name companies, with presumable top-notch security, become victims. The pandemic seems to be a catalyst for many of the biggest breaches that have taken place in 2020. Check out some of the most headline grabbing examples of the reality and severity of cyberattacks.

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A huge cybersecurity problem facing many businesses, even large corporations, is the lack of a strong cybersecurity workforce. A report shared by Security Magazine found that 76% of cybersecurity leaders believe their company is lacking cybersecurity skills, and there are over 314,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the US according to Cyber Seek. In an alarming prediction from Cybersecurity Ventures, unfilled cybersecurity jobs around the world are only expected to increase, reaching 3.5 million by 2021, up from 1.5 million in 2015.

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The FBI reports a 300-400% increase in cybersecurity incidents since the pandemic began and Google reveals 18 million COVID-related phishing emails are now being blocked, daily. Risks and threats have rapidly multiplied as hackers prey on disenfranchised organizations and unplanned remote work. Most businesses today have security baked into their IT plans, but those plans need to be re-evaluated and assessed on an ongoing basis.

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As many people practice social distancing and in some cases isolation, technology has proven our greatest ally, keeping us connected person to person and business to consumer. Before the pandemic, people were already engaging with companies across multiple channels, by voice, text, chat, video, and social media, growing accustomed to choosing how we want to engage and getting a quick response. Now, as people are dispersed and businesses shut down, albeit temporary, these multi-channel communications have become vital. Companies and organizations have been resourceful during these uncertain times, exploring new outlets, some even changing business models as they move quickly to communicate in real-time with customers, employees and associates.

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A Fast-Growing, Global Trading Platform

IQ Option is one of the world’s fastest-growing online trading platforms. Since it began in 2014, it has expanded rapidly and now has more than 41 million members, and sees more than a million trades each day. It offers its members the opportunity to trade contracts for difference (CFD) on stocks, options, commodities, and cryptocurrencies, among other options, and it continues to introduce new products to allow its clients to diversify their investment portfolios.

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The response and urgency with which we all had to react to COVID-19 came on quickly. Suddenly, we found ourselves having to ramp up an offsite workforce, testing company productivity, IT teams and infrastructure. While some had remote employees or work from home policies, a completely remote workforce and IT infrastructure operating out of office was not a fully baked plan for most.

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This article was originally published on Nextiva's blog.

The mission of Nextiva is to power human connection. One way we’ve done this is to partner with the United Way to bring people together for their communities. Using our proven VoIP platform, we’ve powered two phone banks on opposite sides of the country.

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