Making a Move To The Cloud? Start With Your Communications [Blog]

Moving communications to the cloud will help local governments better serve their citizens for less

By now, most of us are aware of the myriad benefits that cloud can bring to diverse local government organisations, but if it is all so simple, we’d have all made the move already?

The reality is that cloud adoption is still slow. A 2018 report from Eduserv and Socitm identified that only 40% of respondents had a cloud strategy in place and that the rate of cloud adoption had only increased 10% in the two preceding years – and on the whole, it’s been for very valid reasons.

Making the move from legacy infrastructure is not without its implications. Like most things, cloud adoption isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and what works for one organisation, probably won’t work for another. And that’s even before we go on to mention cost implications – which are at the forefront of any new local government initiative.

So as much as a shift to a secure and more agile solution is necessary in order to better serve the UK’s citizens, perhaps what is needed instead is a more staged approach; dipping toes in the water to actually experience some of those benefits and address some of the fears around moving to the cloud in order to provide the confidence and reassurance to continue on with transformation journeys.

A great starting point, which will immediately benefit both internal teams and local residents, would be to consolidate communications systems into the cloud. Or, for those not quite ready to move over entirely from legacy on-premise infrastructures, overlaying a cloud solution to get the best of both worlds.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a cloud-hosted unified communications (UC) solution.

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Do more with less. Now more than ever, the public sector is expected to achieve more with less. Budgets are limited and resources are strained, yet organisations need to connect with the general public across every channel available. A cloud-hosted UC solution enables employees to be mobile, work remotely from any location and react swiftly to public needs — all with an increased eye on security and reliability — and in a manner that helps you optimise your communications and your budget.

Boost team productivity. Increasing productivity is a top priority for local government in the face of budgetary pressures and constraints. To be truly productive, there must first be a culture of collaboration, which means enabling voice conference calls, video conferencing and web conferencing where teams can share information readily, regardless of location. Employees will become more productive when their communications and collaborations tools allow them to work more effectively. And greater collaboration means better services for local residents, increasing the chances of being able to provide a first-time resolution of issues and enhancing their overall customer service experience.

Initiate flexible digital workplaces. Government workers don’t sit behind desks all day. Employees in local government offices spend much of their day on the road and in the field. Meetings with constituents, environmental or outdoor work and special programs make up a large portion of their day. This means staff need access to communications wherever their duties take them. The move to the cloud takes care of this remote connectivity.

The right communication and collaboration tools can help employees work smarter in order to better serve your citizens – making it possible for employees to work remotely, connect with colleagues and citizens, access the data and resources they need and share information ‘in the moment’ with others, all in one place.

Provide PSN-compliant security. By choosing a solution with no single point of failure and built-in PSN-accredited security, organisations can reduce risks and ensure the privacy and protection of both employees’ and residents’ confidential information and data. A solution that is architected, designed and structurally implemented around CESG Cloud Security Principles to fully comply with government security and information assurance obligations is the ideal.

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With increasing pressure to adopt a cloud-first approach from both central government and from the citizens that government organisations serve – many of whom expect the same digital experience they get when online shopping – relieving some of that pressure lies in finding more effective ways to deliver better services at a lower cost. The question is not should you move to cloud platforms but how, and when?

Daisy’s OnlineUC Unify solution could be the answer.

By overlaying existing productivity tools, local governments can continue to leverage their existing assets while embracing a wealth of additional business capabilities and services. Our solution means the requirements of your organisation, not technology constraints, dictate the pace of your migration and enable added value and a choice of smart service packages up to and including a managed service option. Additionally, PSN-compliant security is built-in, not bolted-on later, which means there is no need to retrospectively apply security controls as a separate task as is often the case with cloud solutions from other vendors.

Adopting cloud-based UC allows local governments to transform its service delivery for both employees and citizens alike. Different parts of the organisation are no longer kept in silos and a steady flow of information between departments is not only possible, but promoted.

Employees in the field or in citizen-facing roles can stay connected, safely accessing data and case documents from mobile devices. For citizens, this means efficient service and queries resolved quickly, and means they can engage with council services when it suits them, anytime, anywhere.

Daisy’s OnlineUC Unify is the secure, scalable option for taking that first step on the road to a more flexible, efficient local government infrastructure.

Lee Hunwick is Head of UC & Communications at Daisy Corporate Services

UC and Collaboration in the Cloud: 4 Benefits for Local Government [Infographic]

Four benefits cloud-hosted UC brings to local government and the community that it serves

Local governments face the challenge of improving citizen interactions, collaborating better with colleagues and achieving greater efficiency, all whilst meeting the demands of shrinking budgets. But how exactly do you transform yourselves for the digital age and respond to these pressures at the same time?

Adopting a cloud-hosted Unified Communications (UC) solution can help local government organisations meet the increasing expectations of the community that it serves whilst managing costs.

Take a look at the infographic below to see how our PSN-accredited OnlineUC Unify solution enables your employees to collaborate from anywhere on any device, and your citizens to interact with you in the same seamless way they do with online retailers, banks and travel booking sites.

Daisy’s CloudBridge Portal | Cloud Management Made Simple

The simple way to manage your cloud estate

Check out our 60 second video and find out how CloudBridge portal can save you time and give you the visibility and control you need to easily manage your cloud estate.

Manage your cloud services from a single dashboard

With the Daisy CloudBridge Portal, you can easily control your cloud estate from a single dashboard. Add Office 365 licences, allocate them to users, view event logs, analyse billing and reporting, view usage of compute, storage, and network, plus get complete cost visibility including forecasts giving you a view into the future.

Self-serve Office 365 subscriptions at the click of a button

No more requests and time spent waiting for Office 365 subscriptions. With the Daisy CloudBridge Portal, you can add licences in just a few clicks with complete cost visibility, and quickly assign them to users.

Easily add and subtract users and simply allocate licences to each user

You can add users to Office 365 quickly and easily, saving you time and making you more efficient and productive.

View event logs including user history, subscriptions information and subscription changes

View a historical list of events and approval requests, so you are never in the dark and always have an unrestricted view of what’s going on in your cloud estate.

Manage Azure subscriptions and usage

View your Azure usage, costs and reporting as well as all of your subscriptions and users.

Take control with complete cost visibility

The Cloudbridge Portal offers you complete transparency and visibility of your costs. View and export all of your invoices, billing and reporting from one easy to manage location.

View billing and reporting for each service

Dive into each service area for a more granular look at the billing and reporting for each service

View usage of compute, storage, and virtual network

You can easily stay on top of compute, storage, and network to ensure everything runs smoothly and there are no nasty surprises.

See into the future. Forecast future usage and costs

Use predictive forecasting to see into the future to help you make informed decisions without any guesswork.

To find out more about CloudBridge, visit our CloudBridge page or get in touch with one of our cloud experts.

Migrate To Hybrid Cloud [Blog]

Every cloud is unique when you look at them, every one different to its peers. But even in that uniqueness we can group them into types; Stratocumulus. Cirrus. Cumulonimbus and so on. Even more fundamentally, each and every cloud is constructed of water vapour. H2O.

It is the same when you are planning your journey to the cloud. You are unique, your organisation is unique, and your cloud strategy will be too – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t group what you are trying to achieve and distil it down to your fundamental concerns at the same as identifying the benefits and building your business case: organisational agility, productivity, efficiency, scalability and cost-effectiveness.

Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint.

Don Marquis

Don’t think of the uniqueness of your organisation as being a barrier to adopting a cloud strategy – the bespoke nature of hybrid cloud architecture means you won’t be hammering a square peg into a round hole but creating an environment that fits your organisation.

So how do you mint that silver lining of a hybrid cloud strategy?

Which kind of cloud are you?

Firstly, it sounds simple but is often missed, we need to make an inventory of your current state. Identifying all the workloads, your user base and rate of usage for each of these workloads, calculating the cost of compute, storage and networking, defining the security, recovery and continuity needs and finally researching the all legal and compliance implications for these.

Sounds a lot but without this baseline we won’t be able to accurately assess what you have, what you need and what you want to change. Below are some pointers to help evaluate each of these areas and begin to build a picture of your estate.

Sound daunting? Our experts are on hand to help you with as little or as much of this process as you need. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Make an inventory of workloads

The best place to begin? Making an inventory of all of your organisation’s applications and workflows, such as email systems, finance applications, databases, and CRM systems. Starting from the top and working down.

Next, we determine which workloads are business-critical, whether there is any sensitive data, which of these are prime candidates for public cloud, and which need to be highly available.

It’s a good idea to estimate the effort to move each workload to the cloud and the advantage of doing so; even a simple classification of high effort/low effort, high value/low value will give an idea.

High Effort/High Value Contact Centre High Effort/Low Value Dev/Test
Low Value/High Value Data Warehouse Low Effort/Low Value

Once a birds-eye view of these workloads has been established, the task of planning where each workload should reside becomes easier. This is something your internal teams may want to undertake or we can assist and help produce.

daisy cloudbridge consultation hybrid cloud

Identify User Base & Rate of Usage

Once we have mapped out all of your workloads, their importance to your organisation and where you can gain the most benefit from migrating them to the cloud, the next step is to identify the rate of usage and user base. This is important in order to know how you can go about executing a migration with as little effect on your users and customers as possible as well as what kind of configurations are needed.

Calculate costs

An essential part of any business decision is, of course, costing it out. What kind of level of compute is necessary? How much storage do you need? What are the networking costs? As we know the level of storage required is likely to grow and change, our cloud experts think ahead to minimise future storage costs and other hidden costs that may arise.

Define security & recovery needs

Identify your businesses appetite for risk and requirements to meet industry or customer standards is a vital part of the process; what kind of SLAs need to be in place? What sort of failover and business continuity considerations need to be taken? What are the security implications of the planned migration so far?

With more than 30 years’ experience in business recovery, we have experts on hand to assist with these critical considerations which can have some grey areas and intricacies.

Research legal

Just like for when you are assessing your security and recovery needs, make sure you are aware of the compliance and legal guidelines that your organisation must adhere to. What about future considerations? Getting all information available together at this stage is vital for planning your next steps.

Choose a type of migration

Do you need a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) where the virtual machines (VMs) are configured by the service provider? Or is this something you can do in-house with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)?

What about considerations like rolling back from Public Cloud? Is there a path back? Make sure you have a strategy that includes optional paths in the future means that you won’t ever paint yourself into a proverbial corner.

Got some silver already?

If you are already utilising a hybrid cloud architecture and are interested in changing things up, this may still help. If not, get in touch with one of our cloud experts and we can talk through your requirements and advise you on the optimal path and how we can help.

Thinking of starting your cloud journey, or just need advice on your current cloud architecture? Get in touch today with one of our experts, and we can help talk through your requirements.

CX Whitepaper | Delivering a Digital Customer Experience (CX) for Today’s Mobile Consumer [Whitepaper]

In this customer experience white paper, we discuss the digital customer experience (CX) and how it has shifted from a “nice to have” to an essential service.

More than ever, customer experience (CX) is shaped and delivered through digital interactions. While the majority of customer communications are still voice-based, consumers now rely more heavily on digital methods, such as email, SMS, web chat and social media. They expect the flexibility to interact through the medium of their choice, wherever they are. And, they expect to be able to switch between one medium and another while they are on the move.

The latest market research puts this reality into perspective. 9 out of 10 consumers want absolute omnichannel service – they expect a seamless experience when moving from one communication method to another, such as phone to text or chat to phone. 57% of customers would rather contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support. At the same time, consumers are now empowered by social media. Over one third of the world’s population has active social accounts. These consumers are comfortable posting their opinions and observations about their experiences on social media. In this environment, a negative customer service story can easily go viral.

This whitepaper provides more stats like this, discusses the digital customer experience and how it has shifted from a “nice to have” offering to an essential service, before providing an overview of the digital expectations and habits of today’s consumer and offers practical next steps for transforming customer experience from dated to digital.

Manchester City Council

Daisy-Corporate-Services-Manchester-City-Council-Case-Study

Manchester aims to be a city that is well connected.
A city with ultrafast broadband and free WiFi in public places. A city with enviable digital skills.
A city of open data where citizens can develop the apps to make data not only available, but usable, and create a more openly democratic city.

– Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council*

The Background

Science, technology and innovation have long been part of Manchester’s DNA.

As the first region to secure devolved powers from Westminster, Greater Manchester, specifically Manchester City Council, has redoubled its commitment to making the city one of the most forward-thinking in Europe, investing strongly in digital industries and putting the public at the forefront of its strategy.

Promoting “digital inclusiveness” is central to this vision. In its drive to become a truly-connected city, Manchester has sought to harness the benefits of ultrafast broadband for the benefit of its citizens whilst offering free, high-quality WiFi in many public places. As well as improving the overall quality of life, a key aim was to bring internet access within easy reach of new, previously excluded groups and communities, thereby enhancing democracy, opportunity and social cohesion.

Led by CIO, Bob Brown, Manchester City Council has developed “Our ICT Strategy” which details ICT as a key enabler to transform the organisation, deliver new technologies to Manchester’s residents and act as the vanguard to the digital revolution in Manchester.

The Challenge

To realise this ambitious vision, Manchester City Council needed to install fast, reliable and user-friendly WiFi across a comprehensive array of public buildings. These ranged from libraries and leisure centres to historic buildings, heritage sites, sheltered housing, Sure Start centres, health and social care facilities, homeless shelters and many more – a total of almost 130 sites around the city.

At the time Daisy took on the project, WiFi was only available in a few larger libraries. The existing infrastructure lacked the necessary scalability to support further development, while the user interface varied across locations, offering little scope to capture and understand user data or improve their experience. This meant that a comprehensive redesign was required.

Time proved to be another critical factor. In order to meet eligibility requirements for a vital tranche of funding, working WiFi had to be delivered to all 130 sites within a short three-month period.

The Solution

Daisy’s state-of-the-art solution was based on a proven, resilient and scalable Cisco infrastructure housed in two separate data centres. Where possible, existing infrastructure was integrated into the design to provide fast, consistent and reliable WiFi coverage across all sites.

The team designed a single proprietary portal, delivered via the Daisy Engage platform, to work across all locations, carrying the council’s Busy Bee brand and greeting returning users with a “welcome back” page that remembers them by name and invites them to reconnect without the laborious process of entering usernames and passwords.

To ensure the project’s exacting timescales could be met, the surveying of each WiFi location was carried out in parallel with the ordering of hardware, cabling and other equipment – an approach that needed careful coordination and oversight. When lead times for installing some ASDL cabling proved too long, Daisy made innovative use of 4G technology to provide high-quality interim connectivity and meet the completion deadline.

The Result

Greater Manchester’s public WiFi infrastructure has enjoyed a steady increase in usage, celebrating its 100,000th unique user in June 2017 and achieving more than a million logins. Meanwhile, the core platform has functioned with 100% reliability across more than 400 access points.

Most importantly, the project has enabled Manchester City Council to offer free and seamless internet connectivity to more than a million citizens, including underprivileged sections of the community who may previously have lacked internet access. This has helped to promote digital inclusion whilst encouraging the widespread development of IT skills.

Daisy’s Engage solution has added further value by offering the Council a bundled price for all services. This includes a sophisticated range of analytics that provides insight into every user interaction, capturing a variety of data from names, postcodes and email addresses to the time spent online and the site at which the WiFi was accessed. This gives the Council an unprecedented understanding of user needs and habits, highlighting locations or time periods when usage is especially high and allowing it to provide the best possible service to each and every user. It also facilitates planning for the future stages in Greater Manchester’s digital transformation.

*First published in Manchester City Council’s Digital Strategy, 2012

Mencap

The Background

Mencap is the UK’s leading learning disability charity. It not only works with people with a learning disability, but also their families and carers. Mencap works collaboratively, fighting for equal rights, campaigning for greater opportunities and challenging attitudes and prejudice. Mencap also provides help and support through supported living, supported employment, respite services, organised activities, systemic and individual advocacy, and outreach support.

The Challenge

As with so many organisations, at Mencap it is vital that everyone gets through to the right person first time, and can be helped quickly and effectively. Calls simply can’t afford to be missed, dropped or poorly handled. Mencap’s existing call handling system was in need of upgrade. Mencap wanted to harness the benefits of call centre technology, with intelligent routing and reporting. All of this needed to be achieved without the costly investment of replacing the entire system.

The Solution

Daisy designed a call centre solution with Mencap based on its existing telecoms infrastructure. This entailed retaining the existing equipment, but adding the Avaya Aura Contact Centre (AACC) application. In order to ensure that the solution was right, pre-staging was completed off-site ahead of the implementation, allowing users to see it in operation before being implemented on their campus. The system databases were then copied and a data freeze implemented. The cut-over and user acceptance test period was successfully completed over a period of five to six days. Minor changes took place during the following go-live support period the next day, which meant the very minimum of downtime for the migration.

The Result

With the presence of the 24/7 network operations centre team both Daisy and Mencap have visibility and the ability to react as soon as issues are raised with the systems at any time of the day. Through a dedicated client manager, Daisy ensures that it remains accountable through the life of the contract giving Mencap the peace of mind to concentrate on achieving its business outcomes. The solution from Daisy has given Mencap flexible, effective and controllable call handling. This has had a very positive effect on Mencap’s essential work and means it can better help those that need it most. The solution was delivered on time, and costs were considerably less than using brand new kit. This also saved time and money, as there was no need for Mencap’s employees to be trained up on the new hardware and system.

Pembrokeshire CC

Pembrokeshire County Council

pembrokeshire-council

Daisy delivers a full package of support but also works with us to look at new technologies as and when they become available. Our relationship with the team is very good; they understand our objectives and we know that we can rely on them for support, day or night.

Lee McSparron, Head of ICT at Pembrokeshire County Council

The Background

Pembrokeshire County Council is the local authority for Pembrokeshire in Wales, providing a wide range of services for residents, businesses and visitors. The council has around 150 offices, including five core sites, dispersed throughout the county.

The Challenge

The council had a mixture of legacy Mitel equipment which was coming to the end of its life. The organisation also had multiple office moves and site relocations in the pipeline. In addition, the contact centre and the core business users were moving to a model which required the use of IP telephony for hot-desking and connectivity.

The ICT team was aware that the infrastructure within the council would benefit from a fully integrated IP solution using IP handsets. The area has a very good wide area network (WAN) which provided the opportunity to remove legacy PABXs from the council’s remote sites, ensuring it could move to a consolidated approach with all remote sites coming off core switches.

Following a formal tender, Daisy was successful against numerous applications and was appointed to assist the council in developing its overall telephony strategy.

The Solution

Daisy worked closely with Pembrokeshire County Council to review the estate to see how much legacy equipment there was and what needed to be upgraded.

The Daisy team of sales, engineers, pre-sales and project managers held a number of meetings with the council’s ICT team and Head of IT to assess the organisation’s requirements and to put plans in place for any potential impact of the intended upgrade.

Following this consultation, Daisy upgraded the council’s Mitel estate. The legacy Mitel sx2000 equipment was upgraded to three Mitel MXe 3300 servers and IP handsets. The council is now also running Mitel MiCollab (formerly Mitel UCA) and audio web conferencing on VMWare with Active Directory Integration.

The Result

One of the main benefits of the Mitel upgrade is the improved functionality and efficiency it gives the council across its entire footprint.

Lee McSparron, Head of ICT at Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “The 3G is notoriously poor here so we’ve built Wi-Fi hotspots around the county to enable staff to hop onto the corporate wireless network and access facilities when they are on the move. Enabling employees to use the Mitel UC Client means they can log in and collaborate with other employees while they are away from a main office. The savings on mileage and increased productivity are very significant.”

The second key benefit the council is realising is an improved level of customer service. Lee said: “The Mitel solution is fully integrated into our main contact centre so our Contact Centre Manager now gets the reporting statistics she needs to be able to make improvements to call response times and resource planning.”

In addition, the team at Pembrokeshire know they can rely on Daisy’s service. Lee said: “Daisy delivers a full package of support but also works with us to look at new technologies as and when they become available. Our relationship with the team is very good; they understand our objectives and we know that we can rely on them for support, day or night.”

The Future

Pembrokeshire County Council views Daisy as a long-term trusted advisor and as such is working with them to explore new technologies that will help it achieve its objectives.

Daisy is currently working on a Proof of Concept around business continuity utilising SIP technology. Lee said: “We’re working with Daisy and our calls provider to explore a solution that will provide us with business continuity if the telephone exchange goes down. This will ensure we have the facility in place to port numbers elsewhere utilising the WAN.”

The council is also looking into technology to support Channel Shift – moving customer contacts and transactions from more expensive options (telephone, face to face contact, letter) to less expensive options (for example self-service on the web and live chat).

Lee said: “We want to exploit the technologies available to us and the Mitel solution is already enabling us to do just that. It’s great for council productivity and I look forward to working with the Daisy team as they bring more ideas to the table to help us further achieve our objectives.”