Table of Contents

Another Amazing Year!

Thank you to everyone who made 2016 our best year to date. Our continued success is thanks to our customers both new and old.

Last year had plenty of highlights. Our customers flourished in their business collaboration missions. Our team grew impressively. We opened a new regional office in Manchester. The company won a major industry award and we were shortlisted for two others.

These achievements make me immensely proud as does delivering an incredible customer experience.

You see, the word proactive is used a lot in our industry, however we believe few service providers act on the word so passionately as us. We are always strengthening our customer experience and our clients are at the heart of every strategic decision we make.

Whatever stage you’re at during your collaboration journey, we’re here to help. When we presented why we should be CRN Reseller of the Year to the judges, we made it totally clear that our priority is our customer experience.

We are honoured to play a vital role in your quest for business efficiency. Our approach – only deploying solutions that deliver tangible business outcomes – is underpinned by a dedicated team and excellent partnerships, two reasons why businesses stay with us for such a long period.

I’d like to thank our customers for their continued support and say to those yet to work with us, we’d love to help you meet your objectives in the coming months too. Please let me know how we can help.

Graham Fry, Managing Director

Back to top

Do Not Miss This Case Study: Delivering a Collaborative Modern Workplace for BGF

Dee Parekh, Head of IT at BGF was eager to share the support he received from us:

“We were impressed with how avsnet adapted to unexpected changes. This was often at short notice. avsnet really showed its flexibility in its design capabilities and the team’s drive ensured we had the right solution for our needs.”

But what was delivered?

  • A collaborative workplace built to the highest standard
  • Technology that blends naturally into each room’s challenging design
  • Everything controlled by iPads, resulting in impressive adoption and minimal technical issues
  • Open plan event space that has reduced the costs associated with hiring external event locations
  • Easy-to-use video communications technology in every meeting space, bringing together teams in other offices
  • Full maintenance service contract protecting BGF’s technology 24/7

How did we stand out?

  • Rapid deployment of solutions
  • Technical knowledge, expertise and understanding of BGF’s workflows
  • Adapted to changes in timescales and proposed technologies
  • A cost-sensitive deployment despite unscheduled issues from contractors
  • Creativity in solution design

BGF (Business Growth Fund) was established in 2011 to help Britain’s growing smaller and medium sized businesses. Backed by five of the UK’s main banking groups – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Standard Chartered – BGF is an independent company with up to £2.5bn with which to make long-term equity investments. BGF also works closely with other key business organisations.

Find out how to replicate these results for your own business. Have a chat with our account manager responsible for the project.

Back to top

Case Study: How Did Northumbrian Water Group Bring 3,200 Employees Closer Together?

So, how does such a widely distributed business keep its people fully connected and in touch?

NWG has addressed part of this challenge by choosing Microsoft Skype for Business as its unified communications platform. At the very least, employees can message, call and video each other from their desktops. But there was a gap connecting to legacy video conferencing systems.

They also needed to easily offer remote workers a straight forward and effective way to communicate with their colleagues via video in key meeting rooms.

“Here at NWG we believe that involving our people is vital to our success and video conferencing is a productive form of communication. Therefore, it’s key that our people remain connected and that no one is isolated from a communications point of view.” Christopher Wrightson, IS Service and Support Manager, Northumbrian Water Group.

As an organisation with a commitment to video communications and collaboration, it is no surprise that NWG is a long time user of video conferencing meeting room systems.

“Fortunately, Skype for Business was a welcome catalyst for change. The fact that our existing meeting room systems couldn’t connect to Skype desktops gave us the opportunity to review our requirements and plan for a new, simple video solution.

“We were in the early stages of our research into this area when we were introduced to StarLeaf and avsnet. StarLeaf’s product fits the bill as it works directly with Skype for Business. StarLeaf has one user interface, regardless of platform. This removes a lot of the frustration and complexities we had previously been dealing with.

“It soon became clear that StarLeaf had much more to offer. Its OpenCloud, cloud optimised meeting room systems and software, together with conferencing, calling and endpoint subscription services, appeared to solve all of our video communications needs. It also gave us the ability to deploy StarLeaf Breeze, the desktop version, to much of our laptop estate,” said Christopher Wrightson.

NWG employs more than 3,200 people, and according to Wrightson, a large proportion of the workforce have access to video communication, either with Skype for Business or via StarLeaf, from desktops, mobile devices or while in meeting rooms.

“We use the right tool at the right time and our people can easily switch between Skype at the desktop and StarLeaf’s software client Breeze, when they need to.

“It’s remarkable how much we use StarLeaf’s cloud for scheduled team meetings, and ad-hoc video calling. At the moment we spend 30,000 minutes a month in StarLeaf video calls and I can only see this usage growing. Also, I can’t emphasise enough how beneficial it is to have one easy consistent experience – which is what StarLeaf and avsnet delivers across all of its systems,” concluded Christopher Wrightson.

To enable interoperable video conferencing and calling between Skype for Business desktops, and remote workers and meeting rooms, NWG has deployed over 30 StarLeaf GT Minis and has widely distributed the StarLeaf Breeze software client with avsnet’s support.

About Northumbrian Water Group

A sense of community is deeply rooted in the values of Northumbrian Water Group (NWG), an organisation that supplies excellent quality tap water to 4.5 million people.

It’s a vast organisation, which operates from a high number of locations across the UK. Locations are as diverse as a remote office, a water pumping station, or a fantastic reservoir and leisure site used as a family holiday destination. It’s this diversity, and the sheer number of people involved in serving NWG’s customers in the North East and South East of England, which presents the business with a communications challenge.

Back to top

Start the Year Strong with These Key Trends in Collaboration

Our customers look to us for guidance on how the collaboration industry is evolving.

In early 2016, we outlined how huddle spaces, video workflows and hybrid cloud would play a major role – all turned out to be true.

We believe 2017 will see the following trends rise in importance:

  • Solution delivery and as-a-Service models
  • Security
  • Digital Readiness

2017 is the year ‘as-a-Service’ reaches new heights and becomes fully embedded in every aspect of a company’s collaboration estate.

We’ve seen it first-hand. Prohibitively expensive capital projects have been swapped for easier-to-justify OPEX billing models. Adoption of video, visual communications, unified communications and digital signage solutions have been turbocharged by the cloud.

Benefits now outnumber the concerns. Monthly payments lower your exposure to financial risk. CAPEX becomes a distant memory. Projects can be deployed, tested and scaled over time. Workers are more likely to use new solutions as they integrate with tools they’re familiar with – e.g. browser-based video, simpler dashboards, mobile integration.

As a result, the network is more important than ever. With so many end-points and pressure points, network availability is truly business-critical.

This links to trend two – security.

Day-after-day, news breaks about a fresh breach or cyber-security incident. Businesses large and small are targeted. What’s worse, much of the security landscape goes unreported – the risks simply aren’t worth taking anymore.

Expect to see security feature heavily in boardroom discussions. Businesses now recognise that every unsecured internet-connected end-point – collaboration and visual communications included – poses a risk.

Our advice to you: search for the support of an expert that has the necessary partnerships to strengthen your company’s security posture.

Finally, Digital Readiness. The digital revolution is transforming entire industries. Uber is a popular example. If your sector hasn’t experienced change yet, it will soon. Executives are prioritising projects that simplify processes, automate workflows and drive efficiency.

Digitisation requires you to rethink collaboration. After all, your business must adapt to the digital revolution if it’s to continue being successful and keep attracting talented people.

This means deploying new tools that enable people to work closer together. A fit-for-purpose network that can handle ‘as-a-service’ applications. A workplace that’s attuned with employee behaviour. Advocates internally for collaboration and digitisation.

Your pathway to digital readiness may have its challenges, however that’s why we are here. We’re experts at defining a comprehensive strategy that will help you succeed in your mission.

Our customers are testament to this. Emulate their success and lead the charge towards a more digital workplace. Contact Nicola to learn how.

Back to top

avsnet is a Double Award Finalist

Finalist in another two award programmes has a nice ring to it.

It was a proud end-of-2016 for everyone at avsnet. Why? Few companies are…

  • One of the final three for Partner Plus, Partner of the Year at Cisco’s Partner Forum
  • Shortlisted for Reseller of the Year at the CRN Awards 2016

We may not have triumphed on the day, however making the shortlist at Cisco’s awards is a huge achievement. In 2015 we were named Rising Star Commercial Partner of the Year and our success in an even more prestigious category shows the strength of our partnership and the knowledge held by our team.

The same applies to the CRN Awards – being named in the same category as some of the largest players in the channel is an honour. Seeing our name up in lights shows the value of the services we’re providing businesses.

Congratulations to 2016’s winners and we’ll be back next year! You can be sure of it.

To end on an even more successful note, this wasn’t our only award success in 2016 – discover why we won Channel Entrepreneur of the Year at the Comms Business Awards.

Back to top

Industry Insider Spills the Beans on the Reality Behind Cloud Collaboration and its Value to Businesses

The first 3 words out of his mouth were… “Martin, help me!”

Why, because like many clients I (Martin Finlayson, Head of Visual Communications at avsnet) deal with, this client had decided to take the cloud route (without my assistance I hasten to add) and found there are some things they didn’t put in the brochure!

Cloud has some very mixed marketing messages. At best its value is over-simplified. At worst, it’s plain misleading and can have a detrimental impact on your network and ultimately your business.

Cloud is one of the most exciting evolutions in IT for many years and perhaps the most impactful change in technology since the growth of the Internet. Deployed and implemented correctly, it can generate exciting business benefits, but the opposite is also true.

And although everybody is talking cloud, there are still 3 questions that most people can’t answer effectively…

  1. What exactly is the cloud?
  2. Why is everyone talking about it and…
  3. How does it relate to your collaboration strategy?

Over the coming weeks, I’m going to explain, in simple terms, the real issues around Cloud Collaboration and how to avoid them!

Because when implemented correctly, Cloud Collaboration can deliver extraordinary business transformation and that’s what I want you to realise.

All too often cloud messaging means customers adopt a cloud strategy that’s oversimplified for their business. This then creates issues with migration, service delivery and integration that weren’t there before they ‘upgraded’ everything to the cloud!

Nowhere is this more apparent than when customers try and apply their cloud strategy to their Unified Collaboration (UC) requirements. UC places demands on a network that are simply not an issue for other end-user services. So when IT organisations crash headlong into a cloud UC deployment, blind to the challenges faced by the network, the resultant outcomes aren’t what they expected.

To avoid you needing to cry out for help, I’m going to cover (with diagrams!), what actually happens on your network when you call someone else on your UC application, so you can implement a problem free UC solution.

I’ll also help you understand how to approach the potentially daunting prospect of creating your own UC strategy and how it interrelates with your cloud strategy.

Just remember this fact – the advance of technology has presented us with a unique situation; cloud technology now allows you to do almost anything. This means your collaboration strategy should start by addressing what your business is trying to achieve, not what cloud deployment model to use.

So, if you’re considering Cloud Collaboration and want to avoid the pitfalls that could put your business at risk, then join me next time, or…

Cloud Collaboration Guide Thumbnail

Get Your Copy of Our New Cloud Guide

CLICK HERE to Get Your Copy

Back to top

7-workflowGrab Control of Your Workflows to Drive Large Business Benefits

10 minutes, 40 seconds. According to research shared by Cisco, that’s how late an average meeting starts because of technology issues.

When multiplied per month per employee, that equals massive amounts of lost time.

Productivity means fluid workflows where collaboration and communication occurs without any active thought of what technology to use.

“I need to talk to him.” Click. Begin. That’s how simple collaboration should and can be.

Communication workflows should be easy – when users have to consciously choose an application and grapple with the solution before they enter the meeting, it’s clear more work is needed to improve the user experience.

Technology providers are working on improving usability and interoperability. Cisco’s new integrations make it easy for participants to see, hear and collaborate on the same content at the same time.

Mixing vendor applications together means more options for end-users. Staff simply begin the meeting, rather than deciding how to contact each other or which application to use.

Success also relies on a business assessing its processes.

  • When was the last time collaboration workflows were audited?
  • Are there too many applications to choose from?
  • Are repetitive, seemingly minor technical issues affecting productivity on a larger scale?
  • What tools do people actually want to use?

Canvassing staff feedback and filtering this insight into a current collaboration estate reveals a list of quick wins that can increase productivity and business efficiency. This approach might reveal which solutions are being neglected compared to others, frustrations that regularly crop up with staff and whether retraining is needed.

So, the next time your meeting is delayed 10 minutes because of technology, make sure you find out why. Better yet, contact Martin Finlayson, our workflow expert, for help. Remember, every second you wait gives your competitors a head start.

Back to top