Mystery Caller November

This month our Mystery Caller is getting a little worried about some of the things he has been hearing in the press about the security of ‘free’ collaboration tools. As a small business he has found applications like Dropbox and Skype very useful for his team to get everyday tasks done whilst on the move. With news stories emerging that passwords are being hacked and company critical data is being left unprotected he is thinking about investing in some collaboration tools. He has heard of Microsoft 365 but doesn’t know a lot beyond that and wants to know what his options are. As his workforce is becoming ever more mobile he wants them to not only have the right tools for the job but also not leave his company exposed at the same time.

5Com

I was greeted by Michaela who was very friendly and willing to listen to my enquiry. She wasn’t too sure what I meant by collaboration tools at first but when I mentioned Dropbox the penny suddenly dropped. She mentioned that she had used Dropbox in the past so was familiar with what it did. Although they didn’t offer specific collaboration tools as such they did offer Office 365 which comes with Lync and SharePoint. I asked Michaela to give me a brief rundown of what SharePoint was which she duly did. Basically SharePoint was a much more secure version of Dropbox which allows users to upload and download files and set permissions for specific folders for access. Michaela explained that in their office they use it and they have all the HR files on there but for obvious reasons only that department can access them. As a consequence the service is not just secure from outside view but also stops people within the organisation seeing things they shouldn’t.

I asked what other types of collaboration features I could get with Office 365 and Michaela mentioned Microsoft Lync which would cover us for things like Instant Messaging if that’s what we wanted also. I wanted to know more about pricing but Michaela wasn’t entirely sure so she popped me on hold for a short period while she went to find out. After about thirty seconds she came back with the right answer and explained that there are three tiers for subscribing to 365 depending on our size as a business and requirements.

I said we were only a small business and wasn’t sure if we needed such a service, Michaela quickly put my mind at ease and said they were only an eight person team and they used it so it wasn’t a problem. I also asked about Video Conferencing and Michaela admitted she wasn’t entirely sure because she didn’t use Lync in the office. Michaela took some details from me and said she would ping an email over with a breakdown of the costs and what was included etc. She also said she would copy in her MD so if I wanted to reply I could go straight back to him with any questions I might have.

Total – 19/30 Decent. I actually really liked this call because it summed up how important it is for small businesses to have decent staff. Michaela clearly wasn’t there to sell but still had adequate knowledge to navigate me to a product, get an email address and answer my questions as best she could. It would have been very easy for her to have ended the conversation at “oh, we don’t do collaboration tools!” It just goes to show that in small businesses EVERYONE is in sales.

 

Access Communications

I was looking forward to this call because before calling I noticed that Access Communication sold Box when I was having a rummage around their website. A very pleasant receptionist put me through to Shaun who immediately took down my details and asked me what I was after. I explained our current setup and how we were using certain tools and Shaun began to probe me on how these tools were actually set up within the business.

Shaun’s immediate concern was the way which we were using Dropbox, we have no management features or centralised control/ administrator which was basically leaving us wide open. Shaun went on to talk about Box and why it was a lot more secure than Dropbox. In a nutshell Shaun said the key features of Box are the 256 bit encryption from the data centre to the device and the management control functions which would allow us to set up access for specific users. The key reason why this is important is because it left an audit trail of who transferred what to whom, and from where, which meant if there was a data leak you can identify where it came from. If we had a leak at present then there would be no way of getting that information and if someone in the company lost a device then that data would be vulnerable.

Shaun was very thorough with his description of what Box could do for us as a business and said if we were interested he could even set up a Webex meeting with a member of the Box team and they could take us through all the functionality. Shaun recommended we do this as the service was far more than a simple cloud storage platform.

I asked about IM and Video Conferencing but Shaun said at the moment he wouldn’t be too concerned about that because we need to do something about the security of our data first. Shaun took me through some of the basic packages he could offer me and followed up with an email with more detail.

Total – 25/30 Excellent. This was a great call! Shaun had brilliant knowledge of his product and knew exactly how it could help my business become more productive and secure. There was more to this call that I couldn’t squeeze in but I would have liked Shaun to have perhaps talked about the possibility of a total UC solution in more depth.

 

Fusion Mobile

Craig answered the phone and was happy to listen to my enquiry. It wasn’t long before he said we should really be taking a look at Office 365. Not only would it give us the secure cloud storage we wanted but it would also cover us for the collaboration functionality too. Craig then proceeded to take me through OneDrive and SharePoint and how they would help my business.

Craig briefly touched on the encryption and storage elements of both services but then really delved into the differences between OneDrive and SharePoint. He mentioned that he keeps all of his documents on OneDrive and that way if he loses his laptop he can still access his documents across all his other devices instantly. Craig also explained how with SharePoint you can not only share files but collaborate simultaneously on them with multiple users. Alongside the Version History feature you could also go back and work on previous versions of the same document.

When I enquired about IM and Video Conferencing Craig talked about Lync and how a lot of the Skype functionality is actually incorporated into Lync as both are Microsoft owned. As far as communications go we were unlikely to need anything other than Lync moving forwards.

Craig went on to explain the pricing and for just £5 a month per user Fusion Mobile would provide a support contract to go alongside the service. He then explained the next steps in the process which involved him coming into the office to really gauge our current setup and what we would benefit from using.

Total – 25/30 Superb. Craig did such a great job of explaining what Office 365 could do for my business that he made me want tell other people about how good it is. He didn’t push me for many details of my business other than to ask about what specifically I needed the tools for. In all a great job.

 

Round up

Each call had their merits this month. Michaela was clearly a nominated phone answerer in her business and did very well in navigating my request through to getting my details and following up. When it comes to small businesses every member of the team is significant in keeping the wheels turning and Michaela was an excellent ‘gate keeper’ in my opinion. There wasn’t much to pick from Craig and Shaun, both were selling great products and they both talked about them in depth. Interestingly, when it came to pricing it would seem there isn’t a lot in it between Box and Office 365. This makes me wonder how companies like Box can compete in the collaboration space, Microsoft seem to be bundling almost everything together and it is a compelling proposition. I would have loved to have taken up Shaun on the WebEx call just so he could have taken me through the entire Box feature set. Unfortunately I think Shaun was so aghast at the way we are using Dropbox at present that he didn’t even really touch on any other collaborative tools we could use, if he had done then perhaps he wouldn’t be sharing his first place!

 

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine