March 2020. Lockdown begins and the working world changes overnight.

Businesses face a big wake-up call. With the rapid work from home movement, digital tools and cloud-based networks were needed for employees to do their jobs remotely. In order to work from home successfully, businesses needed to provide a few things to their employees. A strong, reliable network; communication tools; physical hardware, like mobiles, desk phones and devices; and cloud-based software.

Businesses like RingCentral, Cisco and Samsung worked alongside us here at BT to bring these services to other businesses to help them adapt to the new working methods. Let’s see what we all got up to.

The work from home shift

Samsung

Our partnership with Samsung came to a head in supporting the NHS. Intensive care units across the country have felt the intense pressure of the pandemic. And isolated patients being unable to see their families was a huge problem. Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College hospitals had a project that would change that – Life Lines. But they needed some help. So, we teamed up with Samsung to help those most in need. We worked together – Samsung provided the tablets and we provided the network. Within a matter of days, those tablets were distributed up and down the country. It’s been a huge success – and shows the power a strong and strategic relationship between businesses can have on the country.

But aside from the public sector, we’ve worked side by side with Samsung to make sure the connectivity and solutions provided to the business world worked seamlessly in a secure ecosystem. Their devices allowed for agility and mobility – letting the British workforce work from just about anywhere. Our 5G network, along with EE’s, is already available on some of their handsets – and there’s so much more innovation to come.

Paul Harris of Samsung talks about our partnership supporting the NHS and transforming ways of working.

 

RingCentral

Through our partnership with RingCentral, we’ve supported many business digital transformation plans over the years. By helping companies transition to the cloud, the shift towards home working was made slightly easier when lockdown began in March 2020.

But RingCentral helped in other ways too. It created content to guide businesses through the change; a remote working resources hub, a video tutorial and webinar series, and a working from home toolkit. Together with BT, RingCentral also offered free upgrades to customers without Meeting capabilities – to ease them into the new ways of working. 

All businesses are different. But many needed some form of cloud-based communication to keep up with the ever-changing digital world. Luckily, RingCentral were able to tailor their services to each business that needed their help. For example, the healthcare sector needed tools to help them with video appointments. The education sector too, needed the tech to support the new remote learning world. And the financial sector needed cloud communication platforms to interact securely with customers.

None of us know what’s around the corner. But we, along with RingCentral, are ready to continue supporting businesses across the country to help with remote working and achieve full digital transformation.

BT’s Fotis Karonis in conversation with RingCentral’s Sunny Dhami, on remote working, digital transformation and more.

 

Cisco

Cisco have supported many businesses over the years. But it went one step beyond when the pandemic hit. It helped to support critical businesses and key workers by deploying Webex on a huge scale. It also gave more capacity to its business partners, like us here at BT - and have helped many organisations adapt to the remote working shift as a result.

Before March 2020, Cisco had 200 million unique users a month. But at the beginning of lockdown, it hit 324 million. And in September 2020 – it hit 600 million. This just proves how vital Cisco’s services are in allowing people to be productive and collaborative from remote working locations across the country. To deal with the boom in users of its services, Cisco kept adding capacity to Webex to make sure each user could meet online whenever they needed to.

They also took off the guard rails of the free of charge offer on Webex online. Meaning smaller businesses could download it and get started in their collaborating. And existing customers were also given extra capacity for their business needs – whilst also having any overage charges waivered that usually happened if a license was overconsumed.

Cisco know that the working world has been changed for good. And these measures weren’t just about doing it at the beginning of lockdown; it’s about the long term.

Fotis Karonis chats with Mark Needham of Cisco on the positive impact remote working can have within an organisation.

 

Staying secure across the country

Though working from home came with many benefits for employees and businesses alike, security came up as a potential issue. We’ve spent some time pulling together some articles so your business can be as protected as possible from cybercrime.

But Cisco want you to be aware too as to how vendors treat your personal data. There’re five things to look out for:

  • Make sure a vendor doesn’t retain your data if they don’t have to
  • If they are keeping your data, check it’s for the shortest possible time
  • Make sure the vendor is being fully transparent as to how the data’s being used
  • You have control to delete the data if you want to
  • That you’re empowered as the end user – because it’s your data

Cisco also added that you shouldn’t cut corners for cost reasons. Every $100 spent on security has a $270 dollar benefit in the long run.

Samsung too are mindful of the security of their devices and infrastructure. They provide a ‘Solution Enterprise Edition’, which allows businesses to manage, deploy and configure phones and tablets at scale. It allows them to protect the device and lock and wipe it remotely if there’s a data breach.

Any business moving onto the cloud is right to ask questions about platform security. And with RingCentral, it provides seven layers of application security – built into one platform. Ranging from physical, network, application, and data security, these seven layers give businesses the peace of mind they need throughout each stage of their essential migration to the cloud.

But what’s here to stay?

All three of our partners agree that working from home is here to stay for the long run; in some shape or form.

RingCentral can’t imagine coming out of the pandemic and remote working not being a key element of most businesses’ continuity plans. People now have a much better work-life balance, a (potentially) less distracting work space, and - according to some studies – are more productive overall. And now businesses have remote working technologies in place, they can quickly adapt to whatever the future holds.

Cisco thinks it allows businesses to attract better employees – based all over the country, instead of one city where a head office is based. You can also positively impact retention – and give workers a much better work life balance.

Samsung agree – saying this whole experience will probably be a tipping point for a lot of businesses to modernise and digitally transform. Whether that’s being continuing the work from home movement or injecting new technologies into ways of working – it’s going to revolutionise the way companies operate. 

The Future in 2020

Why not take a look at what other businesses are up to in their digital transformation journeys? We asked YouGov to create a review of over 1000 companies to find out the trends, devices, tech and ideas that’re shaping the UK economy.

Dive in – and see where your business could be headed in the future.