8x8: an open discussion about the next generation of local government
boxxe has joined forces with 8x8 to transform business communications and enable people to stay connected and productive, no matter where they are in the world.
Keith Jackson, EMEA Channel Sales Director at 8x8 and Daniel Redpath, Local Government Account Manager at boxxe, discuss the new partnership and how it will help councils and local authorities meet the challenges faced during these unprecedented times.
🎙️ How will the new partnership enable 8x8 and boxxe to provide the solutions that local authorities need right now?
Keith Jackson: I think one of the biggest benefits we can bring to boxxe’s public sector clients right now is training with technology adoption, a major challenge for councils right now. I could give you a new Ferrari, but if I don’t teach you how to drive it, it will just sit in your driveway. You’d be terrified to take it out in case you crash it! Cloud technology is like that to a lot of our customers – but we live and breathe it every day.
Daniel Redpath: Until recently, boxxe has mainly focussed on delivering IT security solutions to the public sector. Our new partnership with 8x8 enables us to offer the work-from-anywhere solutions that are so much in demand right now. We see this as a really important growth opportunity. The fact that we’ve adopted 8x8’s platform ourselves means we understand the benefits really well, and we can be confident that our clients will receive the same high-quality support and training during their digital transformation that we did.
🎙️ Can you tell us more about the solutions the new partnership will bring to public sector clients?
Daniel Redpath: We’re particularly excited about the benefits of integrating 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams, and we want to offer this solution to our existing customer base. Because 8x8’s solution integrates directly with the Microsoft phone system via Direct Routing, there’s no change to the user experience – whether making internal or external calls – but there are plenty of benefits.
Keith Jackson: We will bring a whole host of solutions via our Open Communication Platform™, which combines unified communications, team collaboration interoperability, contact centre and real-time analytics in a single open platform. In addition to that, 8x8 integration with Microsoft Teams offers enterprise grade telephony with a global reach and native contact centre integration, so government call-centre agents can make and receive calls within the Teams environment.
🎙️ I’m sure you’re both really excited about the new partnership. Can you tell us how it came about, and what you see as the main benefits?
Keith Jackson: We’ve watched boxxe go through an impressive transformation since Phil Doye took the helm – leaving outdated systems behind, moving into the cloud and upgrading its connectivity and security. We’re proud to have been a part of that. We helped boxxe replace its old, on-premise PBX with a unified comms and cloud contact solution which supports their work from anywhere strategy and their plans for expansion. It's helped them to continue to thrive through the pandemic. It makes them the perfect ambassador for our brand. boxxe is keen to offer our unified comms solutions to its existing public sector client base.
Daniel Redpath: Having experienced the benefits of digital transformation first-hand, we’re keen to share this success with our customers. boxxe is already a major Microsoft vendor, so 8x8’s integration with Microsoft Teams made it the obvious platform to choose for our unified comms and cloud contact centre solutions. We were also really impressed with the success that 8x8 has had recently, having rapidly deployed 1000s of seats of 'contact centre' for its clients since the start of the outbreak. We want to be part of that success - we want to give businesses tools to work more effectively during lockdown.
🎙️ You both have a lot of experience working with clients in the public sector. What are the biggest challenges you see local authorities facing at the moment?
Keith Jackson: The rapid switch to remote working has been causing massive challenges for public sector organisations, as many have yet to adopt a cloud-first approach; councils need to overcome their reluctance to adopt cloud technology. Some offices still have physical boxes bolted onto the wall – 25-year old Microsoft servers that they’re hesitant to move. boxxe is taking a secure contact centre and UC platform, plus a connectivity provider, and wrapping endpoint security around it. They’re then educating councils to minimise any risk or uncertainty they may feel with the transition.
Daniel Redpath: Keith makes a valid point – but I think it’s also important to stress that councils and local government organisations are facing tough financial challenges right now. Councils are dealing with extra costs and income losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are facing a major funding gap. At the same time, they need to enable employees to work efficiently from home and invest in remote working technology – putting extra pressure on their finances. The public sector needs to embrace change – but it also needs reassurance that cloud technology will deliver a good return on investment.
🎙️ Do you think councils and local authorities will want workers to return to the office once social distancing restrictions are lifted – or is the ‘new normal’ here to stay?
Daniel Redpath: Following on from my previous point, having invested in the technology, senior management will want to get maximum value out of it. Councils are likely to encourage teams to work remotely, or adopt hybrid working, even when restrictions are lifted. There’s plenty of evidence to show that remote working improves productivity, and certainly improves work-life balance, among the majority of employees. (Check out this blog by Hubstaff CEO Dave Nevogt, "Are remote workers more productive? We've checked all the research so you don't have to", for details of some research in to remote worker performance.)
Keith Jackson: I don’t believe we’re going back to ‘normal’ anytime soon. Offices will become spaces where people go for occasional meetings or to meet customers. Most businesses and public sector organisations won’t be looking to expand their office spaces anymore, instead they will direct investment towards an integrated communications platform to support a more mobile workforce. I also predict a big rise in the use of serviced office spaces, where people can hold essential meetings, or hire a desk if they can’t work from home.
🎙️ Do you see any other benefits for local authorities in encouraging staff to work remotely? To help with making cost savings, for example.
Keith Jackson: I think that councils have a great opportunity to think about the real estate they own. Could they re-purpose that space for local tech start-ups that need serviced office space? Why not use it to support businesses in the local community and help the economy?
Daniel Redpath: I think it’s highly likely that senior management will look to make cost savings by asking teams to continue to work remotely. If, as Keith suggests, they reduce the number of staff working on-premises, they can re-organise their offices and either lease out space or sell off excess property to meet the funding gap. Having fewer offices to maintain would also reduce ongoing running costs and expenses.
🎙️Thank you both. It’s been a real pleasure talking to you and we look forward to a successful partnership.
To find out more about how 8x8 and boxxe can help local government organisations communicate more effectively, download the free Public Sector eBook Business Continuity During COVID-19 and Beyond.