Optus teams with Cisco for managed business communications services

Optus, Cisco reveal new collaboration

Optus has announced a range of Cisco-based business services covering contact centre, collaboration, managed Wi-Fi and video-conferencing to be provided under what the two companies say is a new intensive collaboration to deliver the workplace of the future.

They announced the new offerings and their new relationship at Cisco Live in Melbourne for which Optus is the diamond sponsor and communications provider. The managing director of Optus Business, John Paitaridis, said that Optus’ involvement in the event was replacing its own annual Vision events.

“We found the convergence of our capabilities so symbiotic with what Cisco has been building that we decided to go all in with Cisco Live and not do Vision this year,” he said, adding: “I think Vision will be back in the future, probably in a refreshed format.”

The new partnership follows the two companies announcing in March 2016 that they would jointly invest $12 million over three years in the local development of capabilities focused on cyber security, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the network of the future.

They said the aim was “to accelerate the development of new technological capabilities to support Australian business and government to become more agile in the innovation economy.”

Paitaridis said the partnership with Cisco was the largest single technology partnership in the company’s 25 year history. “We have over 1000 people certified in Cisco technologies,” he said. “On average three to five certifications per individual, We have a deep domain Cisco capability.”

Cisco VP for Australia and New Zealand, Ken Boal, explained the rationale for the partnership’s focus on the workplace saying: “The workplace experience is still the number one challenge limiting workplace productivity. Customers are not enjoying the promise of greater productivity to the extent that they could, so Optus and Cisco saw an enormous opportunity to take the latest and greatest technology capabilities and deliver those as a service.”

While digital transformation has been a hot issue for some time, Boal said there had been a change in focus by businesses. “We have seen the conversation move from the ‘why should I drive digital business transformation’ to ‘what should I actually transform in my organisation and how do I go about it’.

“I am also seeing a shift in the marketplace to make sure they have the right digital foundations in place across networks, security capabilities to ensure they are digitising on a solid foundation.”

He said customers were starting to ask Cisco if it could provide these platforms as services through partners. “That has been a consistent ask and something we have been working comprehensively on with Optus over the past few years but it has really gone from simmer to boil in terms of the overall partnership.”

Paitaridis said Optus and Cisco were focussed on “creating network-enabled ICT and services that equip Australian organisations with the connectivity and collaboration they need to succeed in today’s fast changing marketplace, which includes the workplaces and workspaces their employees use.”

He added: “The new services and technologies we have launched with Cisco are designed for the workplace of the future, enabling organisations to re-imagine the way they work, empower users to be more productive, engage with customers in new ways, increase teamwork and efficiencies, and reduce cost and complexity.”

Optus announced four new or upgraded services:

Optus Business Contact-Centre-as-a-Service

This has been upgraded with “interactive voice response for call steering, self-service and precision routing to connect callers with the most appropriately skilled agent.” It also integrates digital-enabled channels, including web chat, social media engagement and email to enhance customer interactions.

Cisco Spark managed by Optus Business

The Cisco Spark, business collaboration service is integrated with Optus Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and with Optus’ mobile, data and voice networks, and “leverages the Cisco-Apple collaboration through Optus’ strengths in mobile, Wi-Fi and collaboration [so] customers receive a heightened collaboration experience.”

Paitaridis said also “You will soon see some announcements from Apple, Cisco and Optus around mobility and machine to communications around the Jasper platform.” (Jasper is a company, acquired by Cisco, that provides a service for the global management of SIMs embedded in M2M devices.)

Cisco Meraki fully managed by Optus Business

Optus Business will manage the initial deployment and provide ongoing assurance, change and configuration to enterprise Wi-Fi networks based on Cisco’s Meraki managed Wi-Fi technology.

Optus Video-Conferencing-as-a-Service

Read more: Vodafone voice services hit by outage

Optus VCaaS will be developed “in the near future” to provide customers with a hosted video conferencing bridge service that will extend UCaaS to allow customers to perform multi-party video conferences both within their organisation and externally with other organisations using meeting room video units as well as software clients like Cisco Jabber.

• Optus provides ‘Workplace of the Future’ to South West TAFE

Optus also announced that it had equipped 15 “intelligent tailored smart platforms” for almost 5000 students across the Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland campuses of Victoria’s South West TAFE.

Each classroom has been fitted with audience response and video conferencing technology that includes Cisco WebEx and Jabber. Campus servers have also been moved onto the Cisco Meraki Wi-Fi network.

Stuart Corner travelled to Cisco Live as a guest of Cisco.

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