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CIO Fireside Chat Recap: Ford Foundation Chose Blue Mantis UCaaS

Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting our CIO Fireside Chat on the topic of unified communications (UC) with a panel that included:

  • Tom Earley, Manager of Global Infrastructure for the Ford Foundation
  • Rob Fitzgerald, Blue Mantis Field CISO
  • Kurt Karshick, Director of Carrier Services at Blue Mantis

What is Unified Communications?

Unified communications (UC) is a technological solution enabling business employees to engage anywhere, anytime, on any channel—chat, video, voice, et cetera—with peers, partners, and customers. While the technology was already beginning to supplant business phone usage in the mid-2010s, all panelists agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for organizations to adopt cloud-based UC platforms. Another key reason cited for the UC acceleration is the over 15 million Millennials currently in the workforce. This is why many IT leaders adopt UC to serve their Millennial employees who prefer to communicate through multiple devices, channels, and locations.

The Ford Foundation’s UC Journey

Tom outlined how the Ford Foundation transformed its communication infrastructure on a global scale by partnering with Blue Mantis. As an international icon of philanthropy, the Ford Foundation operates in multiple countries. Tom discussed how it can be a challenge for international organizations wanting to deploy UC to understand and comply with the different rules and regulations that govern cloud-based communications in different countries. For example, some countries may not support certain features, such as SMS or number porting, or may require additional equipment or legal counsel.  

Tom praised Blue Mantis for our consultative approach to UC. The Ford Foundation had been using a software-based voice client prior to their UC deployment, and wanted to switch to a Microsoft Teams-based UC solution that would consolidate voice, video, chat, and meetings. Blue Mantis worked alongside Tom to understand how his business operated first, helped him to select the best UC solution for their needs, and then supported the Ford Foundation throughout the implementation process. The result was a more flexible, reliable, and feature-rich UC platform that improved the Ford Foundation’s collaboration and productivity.

Survey says: In-house telco and 6-12 months planning needed?

During the CIO Fireside Chat webinar, we surveyed the live audience about two hot topics for IT leaders considering a UC solution:

  1. How much time is needed to plan a company-wide UC rollout?
  2. Is in-house telco experience required for UC success?

All panelists agreed that 6-12 months is a reasonable timeframe for planning the rollout of a UC solution, as it allows time to assess the network, the bandwidth, the devices, the feature sets, and the cost savings of moving to the cloud. Tom and Rob discussed why deploying UC for multi-national companies can take longer, sometimes months or even years. The delays are due to the different rules and regulations, data privacy and security requirements, number porting and carrier services, and feature functionality limitations in different countries.

Kurt highlighted how Blue Mantis helps IT business leaders like Tom to simplify these UC complexities by offering no-cost assessment and advisory services, a portfolio of connectivity, continuity, and communication providers, and expertise and support throughout the implementation process. “That’s where Blue Mantis helped us the most,” Tom said. “They have the experience, they understand the market, the players in that space, and could support us in the countries that we were operating in.”

The majority of respondents to our next live survey noted many IT departments struggle with a lack of in-house telco experience when deploying UC. Tom pointed out that most modern UC solutions do not require a high level of technical expertise to move into, as the managed solution providers like Blue Mantis will bring the expertise and support to help with the transition. He also said that the cloud-based solutions are simpler to manage and maintain than the on-premise systems, and that they do not need a staff of engineers to keep them running.

“These cloud UC solutions actually don’t require CCIE to move into,” said Tom. “They’re actually a lot simpler now and the solution provider is going to bring the network expertise in to help make that move. But once the UC is in, it becomes a managed application that’s easy to maintain moving forward. So, you don’t need to have a staff of engineers to keep it going.”

How to Assess Your UC Options with Blue Mantis

When you’re ready to deploy UC at your organization, Blue Mantis can be the single solution provider to simplify the process. We offer UC solutions with a focus on data security and ease of use from big names such as Microsoft, Cisco, RingCentral, and more. We can deploy a modern cloud-native UC or leverage your existing on-prem legacy hardware to migrate into the cloud on your timetable.

Connect with Blue Mantis today to assess your current environment and learn how we can deploy a secure and customized managed UC solution that meets your desired outcomes for unified communications.

Mario Brum headshot.

Mario Brum

Vice President Practice Areas & Technical Advisory Services

Mario Brum is an experienced technologist, business consultant, mentor and board member who has worked for several leading technology providers, innovative start-ups and fast-growth managed services providers during the past three decades.

As VP of Practice Areas and Technical Advisory Services, Mario applies his deep experience in designing and building best practices in IT Infrastructure to Blue Mantis customer engagements. He thrives on pushing the boundaries of what is possible and consistently delivers results that exceed expectations. As a builder and process-oriented mentor, Mario excels at fostering a culture of continuous improvement and empowering his team to reach their full potential.

Mario is a “boomerang” employee who rejoined the company in 2021 from ServiceNow and previously Loom Systems. In his first stint with Blue Mantis (formerly GreenPages), Mario spent nearly nine years in a variety of data management roles. In this capacity, Mario was a significant contributor of developed Solutions and Professional Services offerings and played a key role in establishing the company as a highly reputable and successful IT services organization.

A customer-first advocate, Mario has helped established businesses and startups develop and expand their go-to-market strategy, global presence, and brand awareness by establishing rapport and credibility. Among these start-ups include SimpliVity, where Mario served on the product direction committee board (PDC) and was instrumental in driving initial product functionality, vision and global strategy to help it become one of the fastest-growing startups to reach and surpass a billion-dollar valuation.

Mario is Portuguese born in Angola, Africa, and speaks, reads and writes Portuguese fluently. He also speaks Spanish.