GCI plans UK Centre of Excellence for UC


26 January 2016

First tranche of new senior appointments to lead the organisation

Two weeks into the role, newly appointed CEO Adrian Thirkill commented, “GCI’s collective experience in UC is unrivalled and backed by some heavyweight credentials. Our tens of thousands of Skype for Business seats (formerly Lync) underpins our standing as a Microsoft Gold Partner for Communications and Hosting; our considerable success with mobility solutions and One Net has earned us Vodafone Platinum Partner status, and we’ve pedigree too with Broadsoft, one of the world’s most respected hosted voice and UC vendors.”

Adrian Thirkill added, “Customer demand for affordable per user, per month (PUPM) managed UC services is growing exponentially and now is the perfect time for GCI to step up to the plate. Over the last 20 years, GCI has evolved and acquired skills aligned with the changing technology landscape… and with the developing demands of its customers. It’s fair to say that we have been preparing for this milestone for a long time. The decision to develop a UK Centre of Excellence for Unified Communications is also fully aligned with our 2016 Continual Improvement Programme.”

Martin Kennedy, Head of Microsoft Solutions at GCI added, “Just ask yourself one simple question: when was the last time you regularly used a desk phone? The chances are it’s been a while. The corporate technology landscape is in a state of rapid flux: mobility; remote working; simple, intuitive and cost effective communications delivered via laptops or smart devices are fast becoming the norm. While Bill Gates introduced the era of a ‘PC on every desk’, the smart generation heralds the era of no desk at all. Mobility and UC builds corporate agility and that’s driving adoption rates.”

Kennedy continued, “The winners will be those service providers (like GCI) with their roots in connectivity and traditional PBX support who have up-skilled to a degree that they not only fully understand the challenges associated with migrating technology stacks from old to new world environments – but also have the proven ability to deliver.”

Emrah Kulunk, Sales Director at award winning UC provider CommsXchange (a GCI company) has a clear perspective, “The opportunity for GCI is as big as the benefits for our customers are broad. If you believe the rhetoric (and that a staggering 341 million smart phones were sold in 2015) you might be forgiven for thinking that UC was simply about equipping the workforce with smart phones. In practice it’s much more complex than that; the phone is simply the endpoint. The benefits of productivity gain, reduced cost, better workforce management, lone worker protection etc are only achieved by working with the customer to accrue a deep understanding of their operational challenges. Only then is it possible to shape the best solution… and the best solutions are invariably crafted by engaging the leading partners – Microsoft, Vodafone and Broadsoft.

Emrah Kulunk added, “Simply put, phone shops sell phones while service providers sell solutions, but most importantly effective UC solutions address aspects you might not normally even consider. For example, it’s a common misconception that smart phones don’t get infected by viruses – they do. In Q2 2015, one device in every hundred (1:100) was affected by malware.

We’ve become complacent too regarding security. Ask yourself this: how much is your sensitive company data worth – contracts, price lists, contact lists? What happens if one of your key employees goes rogue with a smart device loaded with such data. These, and many other considerations are components of well-conceived UC solution design.”

In closing Adrian Thirkill commented, “This initiative is another step to deliver the best possible experience for our customers as we develop our operation. Today, many organisations are in an entirely pre-UC world, or one where selected disparate UC functions are employed to a limited capacity but not integrated. So, the ability to ‘click, connect and collaborate’ across disparate offices and remote workers by video, audio, screen sharing and IM is a revolution that is only just beginning. Our intention to develop a UK Centre of Excellence aims to set the benchmark in managed UC services in a market valued at £14.7 billion globally.”

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