After months of fervent discussions between Directors, gritty dedication in Development, evidence compilation in Marketing, and all-round generic nail-biting, Oak were delighted to find out last month that they had won the 2015 Comms Business title for Most Innovative Channel Product (on-premise software application) for their Evolve solution for contact centres.
Every award is a big business boost. The sense of success and recognition ripple outwards from the boardroom, right through to the resellers, and on to the end-user. It raises a company’s profile across the industry, and permits the all-important ‘award-winning’ epitaph to be added to marketing collateral to help win over new business.
For Oak, the Comms Business title is the fourth award they have secured since 2011. Evolve also won the Best Call Management Solution title at the Comms National Awards in October. Prior to that Comms Business awards went to Patient Connect in 2013, a communications management tool for doctors’ surgeries and health centres, and to RecordX (now Advance Record) in 2011.
But winning awards is about more than just a hefty pat on the back. Oak Joint-CEOs Phil Reynolds and James Emm explain:
“Entering awards is absolutely the right thing for us to do,” says Reynolds. “Winning has a powerful enough effect on the staff, who feel recognised at whatever level they have contributed. But beyond the initial euphoria, the longer term motivation and recognition both for Oak as a business, and for the solutions and support we deliver, is significant.
“To be shortlisted as a finalist, and hopefully a winner, is confirmation that you are on the right track; that you are providing something that the Channel wants, and that your product is being independently recognised as one of the best of its kind out there. But before that even the very process of entering the award helps a business to hone in on what it is doing that is right. It makes you find out how you are benefitting your resellers and their customers, and it throws up ideas for improvement.”
Emm continues, “It also keeps Oak’s names on people’s tongues. When you’ve been around as long as we have, it’s still important to have something new to pitch to resellers. Winning awards for innovative products shows that we are not content to rest on our laurels, that we still have our finger on the pulse. If we just wanted to produce the best call recorder, we might have stopped at winning the award for RecordX in 2011.”
“Evolve is a good example in that respect,” says Reynolds. “It came about following feedback from resellers who wanted a real-time reporting solution. It was developed in partnership with resellers and end-users to eventually become a fast, powerful reporting solution for contact centres, which is seen by many as the easiest to use, most cost-effective system currently available.
“That last point is significant,” says Emm. “Being both competitively priced and - dare we say - intuitive has made the technology Evolve uses more readily available to a broader customer base. That breaks new ground in the marketplace.”
“And it’s breaking new ground that keeps the business growing,” says Reynolds. “There are a lot of other business out there who also offer call recording or reporting. We offer both, and also CRM integration products, which creates a nice neat package. But above all we have developed, and we support, all our own products inhouse. That means we have a fantastic pool of experience and skill to draw upon, and that’s why we can push the boundaries and come up with innovative products like Evolve, or Patient Connect – which caters to a specific vertical market.”
So what’s next in store from Oak?
“We’re very excited to be launching a new solution called BusinessConnect this month,” says Emm.
“It’s an integration solution that enables businesses to deploy Skype for Business (formally Lync) voice and collaboration features, without the need to spend huge amounts upgrading their current PABX system. For Oak, it’s a significant move into hosted and cloud-based solutions.”
“Later this year we’ll also be adding a mid-market solution called Clarify to our portfolio,” adds Reynolds. “Like Evolve, this will be a project-managed solution, this time a sophisticated voice and data recording solution for businesses, with features for quality measurements, screen capture and speech analytics.”
So will Oak be winning another award anytime soon?
“Ha!” says Emm, “Absolutely no pressure there!”