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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is a phenomenal multitasking notebook for the discerning SMB user

Occasionally there comes along a compelling, impressive, persuasive, and differentiated notebook design that astonishes you. Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is that design. The new Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 has a 17.3-inch ultrawide 3K display AND an additional 8-inch color display beside the keyboard. It is built for multitasking. And I love it.

I first fiddled with Thinkbook Plus in November 2019. The notebook gripped my attention because of its “Think” pedigree, focus on the SMB segment, and unexpected E-Ink screen on the lid. It was an intriguing design. Fast forward two years to September 2022. The innovation difference between the Gen 1 and Gen 3 has been nothing but exponential. I distinctly remember quizzing engineers during analyst council sessions with many PC OEMs about a notebook with multiple or extensible screens. Two models with dual screens have been introduced, and Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is far better than its competitor.

techaisle lenovo thinkbook plus gen3 image

I have been using a fully configured (1 TB SSD, 12th Gen Intel core i7-12700H processor, 32 GB memory, a fingerprint scanner on the power button, TPM 2.0) production model for most of the last month. It is an innovative and practical notebook that exudes the quiet confidence of imaginative applied design. When I powered on the notebook, my synapses fired on all cylinders. Lenovo still has one of the cleanest setups and installs of any PC OEM. Lenovo Vantage is one of the best apps to personalize device settings, update drivers and software and manage security configurations.

Dual displays are more productive than one

The touchscreen 17.3-inch main display of the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is ultrawide and has a resolution of 3072 x 1440 with an aspect ratio of 21:10 and 400 nits brightness. The ultrawide display in a laptop makes multitasking more accessible and allows users to see more content with less distraction. The massive and roomy display is a visual treat, a productivity enhancer, and ideal for Windows 11 snap layout. Straddling the line between business, work, and life, ThinkBook boasts Dolby Vision for lifelike images, blue light reduction, and 2 X 2W Harman Kardon audio for superior sound. The Lenovo Integrated Pen is a bonus for the secondary display. There is a built-in pen garage in the right corner of the chassis rear. I found the pen responsive on the 8-inch display when using Microsoft OneNote. I have extensively used the secondary 800 x 1280 multitouch LCD display for email, note taking, meeting calendar, WhatsApp desktop, skype, web browsing, file explorer, and Teams chat. Its 10:16 aspect ratio works very well, in my experience. It is one of the best examples of multitasking. Although the screen resolution is not the best, it is very productive to have an additional display. The high point is that I can drag and drop most applications and snap windows from the main to the secondary display and vice versa. I have effectively used the screen to glance at my talking points during presentations. The two screens combined optimize my productivity. The backlit keyboard is helpful.

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Dell Latitude 9330 - a great laptop becomes even better and is a collaboration powerhouse

How does one take an existing exceptional PC brand and improve it? I have no idea, but the engineers at Dell Technologies achieved an incredible feat with the Latitude 9330 13-inch form factor. A hardware advancement enhanced by software innovation. For a month, I have been using the latest ultra-premium 2-in-1 with the world’s first distinctive Collaboration Touchpad. Weighing 2.8 lbs., the Latitude 9330 has empowered my mobile, nomadic work style in planes, trains, cafes, lounges, conferences, parks, hotels, and the home.

Mobility magic

The mobility magic is easily felt in its thoughtful design. Wi-Fi 6E and 5G ensure that one is never out of reach of Internet connectivity. I activated Verizon 5G (which is not always the best in the places one needs most), but it works. The 13.3-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600) WVA touch display with 500 nits of brightness is plenty vivid and crisp to scroll through volumes of data and PowerPoint presentations in bright lights and dark surroundings. Dell has continued with its InfinityEdge display design, which is very neat, and the ComfortView Plus display reduces blue light. Those using Windows 11 know that its snap layouts and snap groups work great on large external monitors. Therefore, I was initially skeptical because of Latitude’s 13-inch screen size, but I found the use of snap layout and snap group features on the Latitude effective. If I require additional screen space, I connect the Dell ultrathin 14” FHD portable monitor (C1422H). It gives me dual-screen productivity with 330 nits brightness and 2 x USB-C (one on each side). Working from home, my Latitude laptop is connected to a Dell UltraSharp 34-inch Curved video conferencing monitor (C3422WE) through a Dell dock, a Dell Bluetooth silent keyboard, and a mouse.

The battery life can last through coast-to-coast flights but not a cross-Atlantic trip. However, the specifications claim that the laptop can charge up to 80% within 40 minutes, which in my experience, comes very close to it. The Adaptive Battery Performance tends to optimize and extend battery life. The backlit keyboard is excellent for working in dark environments such as planes when the lights are dimmed or during my late-night work habits.

Sustainability is quickly becoming an essential purchase decision-making process. The Latitude 9330 does not disappoint. The packaging is made from 100% recycled materials, and the keyboard and the keycaps are also made from recycled materials.

dell latitude 9330 image
Collaboration center

Video-enabled collaboration is necessary for business agility – decision agility, innovation agility. The nature of the collaboration discussion has permanently changed. Advanced collaboration technologies answer real business issues – issues that have become more pressing in today’s competitive world for productivity, innovation, and customer interaction. The Latitude 9330 is built for collaboration, enhancing video, and calling. It has top and bottom firing speakers and four microphones to pick up one’s voice clearly. The glass collaboration touchpad automatically lights up with Zoom icons for mute/unmute, video on/off, and screen share when in a Zoom call. The settings can be modified in the collaboration section of the Dell Optimizer. The icons have saved me a ton of time from fumbling for mouse-click buttons on the Zoom screen. The 1920x1080 webcam with a safety shutter automatically opens and closes during video calls. The camera shutter can be opened/locked with the F9 key for extra cautious users. Included in the laptop is AI-based noise cancellation for background noise reduction. It is unclear if the noise cancellation is additive to or overrides the feature of video-conferencing applications.

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Mitel evolves its UC growth strategy and gains momentum with RingCentral UCaaS

Mitel’s overall philosophy for unified communications (UC) is enabling customers with broad flexibility to deploy what they want and purchase solutions how they want. A key differentiator of Mitel’s has been its belief that one size does not fit all. That belief is supported by a recent Techaisle global study revealing that 44% of firms use multiple communication platforms. On-prem unified UC solutions dominate in 88% of firms, but in 56% on-prem capabilities co-exist with cloud solutions. All these options are choices that Mitel supports with its Customer Lifecycle Management approach, recently bolstered by its exclusive UCaaS partnership with RingCentral.

Mitel - RingCentral UCaaS momentum - “A Differentiated and Evolved Partnership”

Mitel is not just partnering with RingCentral but doing even more by optimizing the complete migration experience through collaborative processes, migration tooling, device transfers, and exclusive incentives providing Mitel customers a world-class UCaaS solution and a clear, flexible path toward the future. Mitel is actively integrating numerous capabilities with the RingCentral MVP (Messaging, Voice, Phone) platform to enhance the whole experience for customers. The first example of this broad integration was evident just five months following the RingCentral partnership when Mitel launched its first set of certified devices – the 6900 series phones – which work seamlessly with RingCentral MVP. Customer choice and experience extend into a well-thought-through onboarding process, enhanced by Mitel’s Migration Assist Package, which introduces automation and accuracy while migrating customers 75% faster than industry standards. Customers migrating to less than a hundred seats can take advantage of these free implementation services. The free service is very generous as it includes access to an Implementation Advisor who also schedules discovery and training sessions and unlimited access via toll-free number for follow-up questions and assistance on system setup. Mitel partners or RingCentral provide professional services for customers with more than a hundred seats.

Mitel’s partnership with RingCentral has seen significant momentum, migrating over 100,000 seats in the first six months of the exclusive relationship.

The RingCentral – Mitel partnership is highly differentiated from others in the market, including RingCentral’s relationship with Avaya. From the outset, Mitel has distinguished itself from Avaya and others with superior pricing and purchase flexibility, ease of deployment and migration, professional services, and training. Although Avaya is widely considered to have a composable CPaaS offering, Mitel’s CloudLink technology with APIs and integration capabilities are yet to be fully utilized by developers and partners. Additionally, the compensation received from RingCentral fuels investments in core Mitel unified communications R&D and innovation and potential future merger and acquisition activities.

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SMBs Make Cloud Calling and Collaboration a Priority – Webex Gets it

Historically, remote work solutions have been the domain of large enterprises equipped with processes and technology resources needed to support workers in the field. However, driven by short- and longer-term factors, flexible work options are now available to employees in businesses of all sizes. Moreover, as social distance health requirements forced the temporary closure of public office spaces, remote work became a matter of survival for many organizations. The pandemic has also crystalized recognition of the productivity benefits of technology-enabled remote work – measured in output rather than hours – which is sure to have a profound and durable impact on workplace behaviors. Today, working from anywhere is the new normal, enabled by powerful communication and collaboration tools, which draw together workers regardless of physical location and are becoming the catalyst for change in large and smaller businesses. What are the primary enablers of this flexible work trend? Data shows a growing commitment to leveraging the power of the cloud and adjacent technologies of mobility, cloud calling, and collaboration - technologies that allow workers and teams to connect, reflect, and share insights and output. Techaisle SMB and Midmarket Hybrid work and collaboration adoption survey, N=1810, shows that:

  • 93% of SMBs have prioritized remote and hybrid workplace technology solution adoption
  • 58% of employees in the SMB segment are likely to work remotely
  • 79% of SMBs are prioritizing cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions which show evolving recognition of the value of cloud calling and collaboration

The simultaneous commitment to cloud calling and collaboration solutions and future planning around a return to the office suggest that something deeper is at play in the SMB communications solution marketplace. Cloud calling and Collaboration are central components of virtually all SMB business activities. The need to communicate anywhere, anytime also means any type of communication and collaboration – synchronous/asynchronous, serendipitous/scheduled, on-the-go/fixed location, within a virtual workspace/within a specific app, with employees/partners/customers. As the lines of demarcation between tasks have been eroded by the increased pace and changing nature of business activities, SMBs have moved past linking discrete actions through linear, sequential processes. Instead, in today's business environment, SMBs interact at all points in the business cycle: in cross-functional planning and management, within a single co-created document, in the stages and connection points defined by their business processes, in delivering better customer experiences, and enabling improved employee productivity.

There is value in adopting unified cloud calling and collaboration. The use of traditional collaboration tools by SMBs is well-established. However, cloud calling solutions are rapidly gaining attention from SMBs. With nearly a hundred percent cloud priority, shifting from on-prem solutions (acquired through CAPEX budget) to cloud-based as-a-service offerings creates a sort of inflection point. As the name implies, cloud calling is cloud-based and available as a subscription. It supports remote work and mobility, provides cash flow predictability, easily integrates within the employees' workspace, and improves IT manageability and efficiency.

A significant collaboration technology shift is SMB's use of a cloud-based communications platform with integrated telephony (audio/video/web conferencing), IM/chat/presence, unified messaging, and mobility. Techaisle data shows that today, just under a third (27%) of SMBs are using integrated solutions, while over a third (35%) plan to adopt the platform in the coming year, a likely adoption growth of over 100%.

The Webex integrated collaboration platform

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