With its flexibility and simplicity, NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE unified communications platform is a compelling proposition for businesses at every stage of their cloud journey, reports James Goulding
On December 1, NEC fulfilled its ambition to deliver a complete Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution by fully integrating the UNIVERGE BLUE Engage contact centre application and UNIVERGE BLUE UC and IT applications on the same portal, with easy management of all elements via a single pane of glass.
NEC was late to enter the UCaaS market – it only introduced its UNIVERGE BLUE cloud services platform in the summer – but with this latest development it is now looking to position itself at the forefront of this growing market with a sophisticated, flexible offering that meets the diverse needs of customers of all sizes, from SMEs to enterprises, at every stage of their cloud journey.
The UNIVERGE BLUE platform gives access to four distinct but integrated suites that collectively deliver everything a business needs to communicate, collaborate and store/share/manage/backup/restore documents, for one predictable monthly subscription. These are:
- Connect – for unified communications, including cloud phone system (and call minutes), presence, team chat, audio-conferencing, video- conferencing, file-sharing;
- Meet – for online meetings, including HD video conferencing, screen sharing, one-click recording, transcription and webinars;
- Share – for file share, sync & backup, including cloud storage, access to files from any device, document sharing, back- up and file restore to any point in time;
- Engage – for advanced contact centre, including omni-channel customer experience (phone, email, web, social media, chat, mobile), skills-based routing, auto-attendants, call-backs, status monitoring, reports.
UNIVERGE BLUE can be deployed as an organisation’s sole unified communications/collaboration platform or it can be used in conjunction with an existing on-premises PBX or an existing collaboration solution like Microsoft Teams, enabling customers to make a complete or phased transition to UCaaS or CCaaS.
Andrew Cooper, NEC Sales Director, UK and Ireland, points out that the ability to offer on-premises, cloud and hybrid solutions enables NEC to address a much wider customer base.
“The whole world hasn’t moved to cloud overnight. There are still lots of legacy PBXs out there and we still sell an awful lot of premises-based technology because cloud isn’t for everybody. We continue to be a global leader in premise-based technology – in SMB, we have been Number 1 for six consecutive years and in the enterprise world we have always been in the Top 3. However, our goal is to offer choice, which UNIVERGE BLUE enables us to do.
“We are very focused on offering a hybrid approach, where we are able to lay our cloud technologies over a customer’s existing premises-based PBX (from NEC or a third party). This could be someone who bought a PBX a year ago and likes the idea of adding some of the functionality provided by UNIVERGE BLUE, such as collaboration, mobility, chat, contact centre, while sweating their existing assets. Or it could be a customer that wants to run their legacy premises-based solution in their headquarters and implement a cloud solution for satellite offices. We can do that as well.”
In the case of Teams, UNIVERGE BLUE can compete directly with the collaboration solution or it can be used to enhance Microsoft’s offering. For example, a customer could use the Teams app for productivity and collaboration and UNIVERGE BLUE Connect for voice communications and contact centre, or they could use Teams for everything productivity, collaboration, making calls, receiving calls – but carry all voice traffic across the UNIVERGE BLUE infrastructure, with its enterprise telephony functionality and Five 9s reliability.
With research organisation MZA forecasting the installed base of on- premises and cloud solutions to move from a 58:42 split this year to a 40:60 split in 20251, UNIVERGE BLUE’s flexibility and choice make it a compelling solution for organisations considering a phased migration to the cloud.
Instead of throwing away their PBX, they can overlay NEC’s technology on an existing solution and use some of that additional functionality immediately or enable a migration path so that in two years’ time, when they decide they are ready to move from on-premises to the cloud, they can do so quickly and easily.
In the meantime, they benefit from the ongoing development of UNIVERGE BLUE. Integrating the contact centre application is a big part of this, but there is a lot more to come, says Cooper.
“We have spent time looking at what end users require and we have wrapped all that up in UNIVERGE BLUE. But we are not sitting back on what we have got today; we are pushing forward, for example by integrating the contact centre application fully and developing our analytics capability, which is going to be a big strength for us. We have high aspirations to become one of the dominant players in this marketplace.”
Ten reasons to take a closer look at UNIVERGE BLUE
- One complete platform
It is a true all-in-one solution, with almost every feature accessed via a single application offering the same experience whether you are using a PC or a mobile device, with one control panel for management and one contact for support.
- One predictable monthly subscription
Users pay one monthly subscription covering almost everything, including call minutes, cloud storage (up to 1TB per user) and anti-malware/anti-virus protection.
- No-compromise telephony UNIVERGE BLUE Connect is at heart a great phone system with more than 100 enterprise-level telephony features, including hunt groups, operator console, unified messaging, call recording and much more.
- Five 9s Reliability
UNIVERGE BLUE Connect provides 99.999% uptime reliability, with standards-based QoS, full failover and global geo-redundancy.
- Integrated contact centre
The integration of UNIVERGE BLUE Engage brings sophisticated omnichannel contact centre functionality to the same platform.
- Built-in AI
Built-in AI provides useful time-saving productivity features such as voicemail transcription, so that you can read voice messages on email and text, and the transcription of entire meetings by the Meet module’s Virtual Assistant.
- Easy integrations Out-of-the-box integrations with productivity, ERP and CRM solutions like Office 365, Chrome, Google, Salesforce, Sugar, Microsoft Dynamics and NetSuite add useful features like click to call, click to chat, presence, contacts synchronisation and screen popping to those applications. NEC also offers APIs for custom integrations.
Security is provided as standard. This includes the encryption of files in transit and at rest and anti-malware/ anti-virus scanning of documents stored in UNIVERGE BLUE’s cloud storage, as well as the ability to set access permissions and time-limits for the viewing and sharing of documents. The optional Protect App offers an additional security layer through two factor authentication.
- Business continuity
Data stored in UNIVERGE BLUE’s cloud environment is safe thanks to back-ups and the ability to restore individual files or whole folders to a point in time prior to a fault, loss or ransomware attack. In addition, there is the ability to push desktop and mobile back-up policies out to users.
- A proven solution
UNIVERGE BLUE is a tried and tested solution. A joint venture between Intermedia Cloud Communications, which developed the system, and NEC, which is rolling it out globally, the platform already has one and a half million users in North America.