The Cisco Apple Relationship Solves Some Key Unified Communication Issues

Posted by Martin Cross on 26-Sep-2016 09:25:06

Last week in conjunction with one of our partners, Jigsaw24 - who are Apple’s biggest reseller in the UK - we ran an event that explored the Cisco / Apple relationship.  We were luckily enough to have Cisco speak and were also joined by representatives of Apple and JAMF Software.

We thought we would share our takeaway from the event (and a small pitch at the end).

 

THE HEADACHE

We’ve been big advocates of Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC) technology - the integration of mobiles with Enterprise telephony - since the early days and have evaluated and deployed FMC technologies from a number of different vendors but have always been confounded by one thing...

...not by the FMC technology itself but, in fact, the user experience and specifically that experience was the worst on the iPhone (compared with Android & BlackBerry devices) and a worse user experience on an iPhone was not what you’d expect. 

This was partly due to Apple not allowing developers to provide close integration into iOS and partly the way Apple implemented WiFi roaming.

This led to the ultimate failure of the FMC project as the iPhone is the device companies most wish to make work smoothly as that’s the mobile platform they’re migrating towards. 

There’s little point in having a remarkable FMC integration with a BlackBerry because no employee in their right mind wants to use or be seen using a BlackBerry. 

With this new Apple-Cisco partnership, it appears we can now finally deliver upon the promise of FMC.

Deep integration between Cisco VoIP and iOS, means that a VoIP call is finally treated by the iPhone with the same respect that it treats a native iPhone call.  So, no fiddling with unlock screens, PINs or thumb prints when you receive a call and no longer being unceremoniously kicked off an important client call when someone dials your mobile number.

You can also make enterprise voice or video calls straight out your iPhone's address book, favourites or recents.

We discovered that iPhones didn't play nicely with corporate WiFi networks, specifically when roaming between access points, Previously the mobile device decided when to hand-over from one Access Point to another and the iPhone was probably the worst at it (compared to BlackBerry and Android), only handing over when the  signal from the existing Access Point was extremely weak,  which is disastrous  when on a VoIP call, as this results in poor call quality and could result in dropping the call entirely.  

Now iOS devices intelligently communicate with the (Cisco) network and the network tells the iPhone when to connect to the best-suited access point.  This should greatly improve the user experience when walking around the office on an Enterprise VoIP call, or a shop assistant with an iPad walking round the floor helping a customer - think Apple retail store then this will soon be the experience across other retailers.

This is then coupled with the network automatically prioritising the business app, in this case a VoIP call over other traffic, this too should help minimise the times when you are the one who sounds like a Dalek on the conference call.

 

FMC promises:

  • Increased productivity and business agility
  • Makes Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) more palatable allowing the separation of calls, and the costs thereof, between personal and business.  Business calls being delivered and paid for using the Spark app and personal calls delivered through the iPhone’s native dialler
  • It also offers the potential for reducing call costs by using WiFi to carry calls, especially to reduce roaming charges or to reduce international mobile call costs by hopping across your companies Wide Area Network and hopping off with only a local call
  • Cisco-enhanced iPhones and iPads could now potentially replace desk phones and specific video conferencing devices in the Enterprise. For example, an iPhone might behave just like a Cisco IP phone while connected to the corporate network, but revert to normal mobile phone behaviour once it switches to cellular or outside Wi-Fi connectivity. This could remove the need for each and every employee to have two types of phones at their desks

 

IT’S NOT PLAIN SAILING

Just because this wonderful collaboration has now addressed the shortcomings of previous FMC technologies, this does not mean that your business can enjoy the benefits immediately.

This solution requires a bunch of technologies working together in harmony.  You need a fleet of iPhones running iOS 10 with the Cisco Spark app installed, you need a Cisco IP telephone system which is integrated into the Spark cloud and you need Cisco wireless network to optimise quality, of course.

If you have all that in place, then wonderful!!!  but I suspect, like most of us, you’re not in that position quite yet.

You’ll have existing systems: an old telephone system, WiFi network not built to carry voice and video and you haven’t even started looking at Cisco Spark as team-collaboration tool. 

That’s where we come in!  We’ve spent the last two decades building deep technology know-how, inventing a novel approach to service management and developing our own unique UC-and-telephony-focused toolset to help in just this type of requirement.

This combination results in our "Stabilise, Evolve and Transform” offering.

 

STABILISE, EVOLVE, TRANSFORM

All too often (digital) transformation projects never quite deliver what they've promised.  While many companies, and their IT suppliers, know where they want to get to, they don’t really know HOW to get there.

They often can’t successfully migrate from the old systems to the new systems and you, the customer, never really gets the benefits the project was supposed to deliver and can even end up with less functionality and worse reliability than your legacy system.

There are a number reasons why such projects are not fully successful, two which consistently occur are: -

  • You're too busy putting out fires in your existing infrastructure to focus on transformation
  • The new supplier comes in with no knowledge of the environment they are replacing and are completely new to the customer and as such the new environment doesn’t match some of the capabilities of the old system and the provider doesn’t really understand what the customer wants or needs

Therefore, we have taken a different approach to transformation.  Instead of a one off project, we considerate transformation a long term partnership delivered through a managed service. 

We prefer to come in and support you with your old environment (which most providers run scared from) prior to any project and by using our unique skills, processes and toolset, we tend to: -

  1. Put out the “fires” - this will stabilise your environment - allowing you to focus on transformation 
  2. Markedly improve the operations of your existing environment - evolve 
  3. Understand your existing environment so we can make sure the new environment can match it
  4. Understand your business and culture and so create a plan together meets your specific imperatives 
  5. Deliver the perfect transformation for you and then seamlessly adopt the new transformed estate into the same unique service wrap which ensures ongoing reliability and availability
  6. then seamlessly adopt the new transformed estate into the same unique service wrap which ensures ongoing reliability and availability 

What are these unique processes and custom built tools that use to achieve this, you ask?

Well, todays focus is on Cisco and Apple technology and our unique service offering is a story for another day...or just view our simple, concise video.

Topics: Unified Communications