West Corporation

Posted on April 17, 2018 by West Corporation 

The Top Three E911 Obstacles Facing Enterprises

When we talk to enterprises about 911, we often hear about the E911 obstacles they face to making sure they can provide appropriate support to their users in a crisis. From roadblocks around awareness, to cost concerns, to management burden, the top three obstacles to enterprise 911 arise again and again in our conversations. Fortunately, enterprises can overcome these obstacles.

E911 Obstacle 1: Not Knowing that E911 is Broken

Perhaps the first obstacle enterprises face when it comes to 911, is knowing that they have a problem to begin with. When embarking on a transition to Unified Communications (UC), or implementing softphones, or adding another UC system to the mix, there are literally thousands of factors your IT team is considering. It’s easy to lose 911 in the shuffle.

But practically any change to the configuration of your UC system can impact 911. It can critically affect the ability for your users to dial for emergency assistance and get the help they need. Awareness that there is an issue is the first step to resolving the problems around enterprise 911. But once you’ve garnered some awareness of the problem, two more common obstacles tend to pop up.

E911 Obstacle 2: Believing that E911 is Only an Expense

Once you realize that your enterprise’s ability to effectively support E911 for your users is critically affected, it can be easy to get caught up in thinking that 911 is going to add an additional cost to your already strapped IT budget. But did you know that implementing the right E911 solution can actually save your enterprise money? That’s right.

Research assessing West’s 911 solution, conducted by Nemertes Research, found that many organizations were able to save money on their UC expenses after implementing our enterprise 911 solutions. Centralizing 911 call routing with a SIP-based national call routing service can drive down the costs associated with dedicated DIDs for 911 purposes, local trunks and gateways. Deploying 911 automation tools can reduce the resource expenditures associated with manual 911 location management.

E911 Obstacle 3: Getting Caught Up in Single Vendor Solutions

Now that you’ve determined you need an E911 solution, and are optimistic that implementing a solution can have a positive impact on your bottom line, you need to make sure you don’t get trapped by the third and final obstacle: getting caught up in single vendor solutions.

There are a variety of 911 solutions on the market that can meet some of your enterprise’s 911 requirements. But beware: many of these solutions can only support a single platform. So while the price tag might be attractive, the reality is that you may end up with a patchwork, piecemeal solution that only partially supports your deployment and limits your ability to implement additional UC technologies in the future.

Your IT team’s time is already stretched managing the various UC vendors your enterprise has deployed, both on-site and in the cloud. 911 shouldn’t pile on to this administrative load. When you evaluate your 911 solution options, make sure you look for a vendor-agnostic option that can support various UC architectures. This way, you won’t end up with more on your plate than you had bargained for.

The three common obstacles we see enterprises face when it comes to 911 can be intimidating at first. With the right 911 solution partner, you can easily overcome these hurdles without compromising the safety of your users or the integrity of your UC network. Contact our team today to learn how we can help you to make sure your own 911 house is in order.

West Corporation

Posted on April 12, 2018 by West Corporation 

Substation Automation: The Best Way to Track Employee Check Ins

By Chandler Harrison, Account Development Executive

For today’s utility companies, keeping the power on is the most important consideration in substation management. But with more substations to run and increased demand from customers, saving time and money is more important than ever. So utilities turn to substation automation. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on March 26, 2018 by West Corporation 

5 Key Customer Experience Factors To Fix Within Your Business

Exceptional customer experiences don’t just happen. They don’t happen when someone finds their favorite movie on cable or gets a good deal on a blender. Those moments excite us, sure. But they’re just touch points in the relationship.

Real customer experience is not defined by a single moment. It’s made up of the person’s view of the total sum of interactions with a brand. The good, the bad and the utterly forgettable.

Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on March 1, 2018 by West Corporation 

What is E911 and Why Should My Enterprise Care?

Enhanced 911, or E911, is a technology that allows for the automatic delivery of a 911 caller’s location in addition to their phone number with their 911 call. When a call taker at a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) receives a 911 call, they know where the caller is and where to send help because that caller’s location is displayed right on their screen. This is particularly critical in those emergencies where a caller can’t speak: medical emergencies, emergencies in progress, etc. The question is, do businesses need to pay special attention to how E911 functions in the enterprise?

911 is so entrenched in our daily life that it often gets forgotten in the discussion around Unified Communications (UC). As enterprises embark on the project of selecting a new UC platform, implementing softphones, or migrating to a hybrid or cloud-based UC solution, they may only realize that they’ve critically impacted their ability to deliver 911 calls when it’s too late.

How does UC impact 911?

When enterprises move to UC, they are consolidating their trunks into a central data center. Before IP communications, calls would go out through the local trunks and gateways that were set up for each office. Part of the attraction to moving to UC is that enterprises can eliminate these trunks and gateways in favour of centralized SIP trunks. And because call signalling is IP-based, users can now access the corporate voice network from softphones at home or on the road – so they don’t even need to be on the enterprises premises to stay connected.

A consequence of this flexibility, however, is that when someone from a branch office or an off-site location calls 911, their call gets delivered to the PSAP serving the data center location and not their actual location. First responders have no idea where the caller actually is, and if the caller isn’t in a position to advise the 911 call taker of their true location, help may arrive at the wrong location entirely.

Who calls 911 from an office?

With the proliferation of smart phones, enterprises often assume that even if their UC system’s 911 functionality doesn’t work as well as it should, their users aren’t dialling 911 from their IP phones anyway; they assume that people just pick up their cell phones to dial 911. But the statistics show that this is a dangerous supposition: As Mary Boyd noted in her 911 Policy and the Enterprise webinar, almost 675,000 calls were made from Multi-Line Telephone Systems (MLTS) in the state of California in 2016 alone – more calls than there were people living in Wyoming that same year!

Why does 911 matter to the enterprise?

There are numerous reasons why fixing the 911 functionality gap is of paramount importance for enterprises. First and foremost, many states have legislation in place that requires enterprises with MLTS to deliver 911 to a specific standard. Secondly, many enterprises need to close this gap for liability reasons; simply put, if something goes wrong on your premises and you didn’t take adequate measures to allow for an efficient response, your enterprise might be on the hook. Finally, providing 911 service for your users is the right thing to do – if someone on your premises or network is in distress, you owe them the ethical duty to do your utmost to get them the assistance they need, as quickly as possible.

So now what?

Fortunately, solving for 911 can be simple – vendor-agnostic solutions that integrate with on-premises, cloud-based and hybrid UC deployments are available. Join us in booth #1513 at Enterprise Connect this year to learn how our solutions can unify 911 across your deployment, however your UC is deployed.

West Corporation

Posted on February 27, 2018 by West Corporation 

Call Center vs. Contact Center: 7 Key Differences

By Julie Wajda, Product Development Manager

Call center vs. contact center. Many use these two terms interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Call centers and contact centers are two distinct models for business communication. And assuming otherwise could lead to an embarrassing faux pas or a damaging business mistake.

The primary difference between a call center and contact center lies in the methods of communication and overall experience. But before getting into specifics, start by understanding what these terms really encompass. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on February 16, 2018 by West Corporation 

Kari’s Law now the Law of the Land

West commends Congress for the recent passage of H.R. 582, commonly known as “Kari’s Law Act of 2017.”  The new law, which amends the Communications Act of 1934, is named in honor of Kari Hunt Dunn whose tragic passing in 2013 alerted the nation to the dangers of requiring a dialing prefix to access 911. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of 911 champions like Hank Hunt, Kari’s father, Americans across the land will benefit from easier access to 911 when connecting to the service from certain private phone systems.

Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on February 12, 2018 by West Corporation 

The History of 911: A Timeline

Throughout 2018, West is celebrating 50 years of 911. This timeline provides a look back at the history of 911 and emergency communications. It tracks the key legislative events and technological advancements that have helped shape 911 into the system we know today.

Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on by West Corporation 

Top 3 Benefits and Best Practices of Contact Center Modernization

By Jil Fisher, Vice President of Product Management

Some things never go out of style, like The Beatles, evenings by the fireplace and homemade apple pie.

Unfortunately, your contact center isn’t one of them, and if you haven’t replaced or upgraded your solutions recently, there’s a good chance your customers have noticed. In that case, it’s probably time for a little contact center modernization. Read More >

West Corporation