Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

Cherie Howlett

Cherie has over 15 years’ experience in IT marketing and was promoted to Head of Marketing for MDNX post purchase of Griffin. She was Marketing Manager for 5 years and Head of Marketing for Griffin for 2 years setting up a marketing department and strategy for connectivity, data networks and cloud-hosted solutions. During her time at Griffin, the company won 7 Channel ISP of the year awards, 5 Sunday Times Tech Track 100 awards, 2 Deloitte Fast 500 EMEA awards, 1 Deloitte Fast 50 award and 1 Channel Expo award. Cherie built brand awareness in the channel from 0% to 95% using an integrated strategy consisting of online, print, electronic and face to face marketing. Cherie had previously spent 2 years in a Marketing Manager’s role at Pipemedia before it sold to Business Serve in 2006. At Pipemedia she built a VoIP brand called PipeCall using a combination of PR, direct marketing and an online ordering and provisioning portal with plug and play hardware and electronic point of sale units. Cherie’s early career was in International Marketing working for software house AceCad Software and IBM in the European sales division.

Recent Posts

Going back to work

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 01-Jul-2020 12:54:55

As many more businesses plan their openings, the channel prepares to support their changing IT and telephony requirements. For many, Microsoft Teams has been a great tool for video calls, group meetings and collaboration during lockdown. Some are now considering adding a calling plan to be able to talk with people outside of Teams.

One stumbling block some employees find is the move away from handsets. They are used to handsets on their desks, they hold their frequently dialled numbers and are plug and play so can be used at home or in the office.

Direct Routing

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams offers much more than the standard Microsoft Calling Plans. Jola’s Direct Routing offering offers numbers in 167 countries and every area code in the UK. It comes with free UK calls, competitive international call bundles and unlimited in-country local call packages.

We are the first Direct Routing supplier to offer handsets, certified for Microsoft Teams. The new handsets are cost-effective, with multi-touch screens and HD audio. They are also compatible with Bluetooth headsets. 

As businesses return to work, we think Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams users could be a great opportunity for the channel to increase ARPU and win new business.

Read More

Topics: Direct Routing

Need a cost-effective L2TP 4G back-up solution, designed for ISPs?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 24-Jun-2020 11:48:35

4G back-up is not a new idea for ISPs. It makes sense to have a product that guarantees some form of internet connectivity when the primary circuit fails. The challenge has been the cost. If the service is not used, they are often still charged for the data allowance and if it is used, they are charged an exorbitant overage fee.

 

Jola is the first MVNO to launch a true Layer 2 product, designed specifically to meet the bespoke needs of UK ISPs, with no modifications to their edge network.

Mobile L2TP gives the ISP full control over routing and IP addressing, facilitating the creation of fixed-line failover, pre-ethernet and stand-alone internet access services. Mobile L2TP gives ISPs access to all four UK mobile networks and 450 networks globally.

ISPs can now interconnect at Layer 2 directly into the Jola eSIM MVNO platform in London (or any other AWS connected location in the world) – with the option of failover to a secondary location for the delivery of resilient services. The solution is inexpensive, reliable and straightforward to set-up. With un-steered multi-network eSIMs, ISPs are not tied to any particular network and no longer need to do a site survey to determine the best signal globally.

Read More

Topics: eSIM

Direct Routing Made Easy

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 24-Jun-2020 11:37:18

With the popularity of Teams during lock-down, Direct Routing has really taken off. Many new suppliers have entered the market and resellers are selling it as a great opportunity to expand their telecoms portfolio and win some lucrative new business. The challenge many face however is the provisioning. It’s not straightforward and even with Microsoft qualified engineers and extensive Microsoft PowerShell or SB4 knowledge, many have struggled until now.

 

 

Jola has a good track record with portals. Our ethos is to make it easy for the channel to sell, provision, bill and manage telecoms services. We understand how much margin the channel needs to make on these products and how competitive the market is. We know that needing specialist engineers in-house will put-off many resellers and our solution is fully automated provisioning on our SIP management portal.

 

Our unique Direct Routing proposition provides partners with unlimited UK calls, competitive out-of-bundle rates, international call packages and in-country calling packages in 30 countries.

 

Our Automated Configuration for Direct Routing is based on best-practice and doesn’t require partners to provide Office 365 credentials. It gives all resellers the opportunity to sell, provision and manage Direct Routing within a self-serve portal, without the need for specialist knowledge, skills or software.

 

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Topics: Direct Routing

What has the channel learnt from lockdown?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 17-Jun-2020 10:43:53

Lockdown has been a testing time for many channel businesses, but is there anything we can learn from it?

We can work from anywhere with a good internet connection

We were ready to work from home ‘en masse’ as our phone systems, software and files were in the cloud and we were already using collaborative software, such as Microsoft Teams. Moving to a work-from-home model did not present many challenges, as many of us were already spending part of our week working remotely. Employees were able to answer calls and tickets from their kitchen tables and make offices in box rooms very easily. We were able to order and deliver additional equipment, such as headsets and office chairs to the homes of our employees.

We embraced technology

Even though we had the technology, face-to-face meetings were always preferable, and meetings booked rather than webinars or video calls. This all changed during lock-down. It is now acceptable to video call colleagues at home and arrange video conference calls and webinars with customers. We are now much more accepting of background noise and interruptions than we were pre-lock down, as we have a better understanding of the challenges our employees and customers are facing.

We got creative

With many projects being put on hold and events cancelled, we needed to rethink our sales and marketing strategies. Many of us enhanced our online offering, making it easier for our customers to place orders online. We re-thought our marketing messages and our sales strategies and began building relationships online using LinkedIn, Twitter and IM. As we couldn’t interact face-to-face, we had more time to comment on blogs, like posts, answer LinkedIn messages and get around to those projects we had been putting off. We changed our recruitment policies and hired new people without ever meeting them face-to-face.

We listened

We listened to our staff and the challenges they were facing balancing work with their homelives and created support programmes. We arranged quizzes and online socials. We rolled out access to online workouts and confidential help lines and encouraged regular breaks and flexible working. We provided vouchers to access the latest films for free and discount vouchers for online shopping.

We tried to help

We have access to technology to allow people to communicate and were watching on the news how doctors were struggling to see patients, students were unable to study from home and family members were worrying about relatives in care homes. We contacted our local surgeries, schools and care homes and offered to help. As an industry we were able to quickly provide the technology to solve these problems.

We have more listening and learning to do to allow us to diversify and grow our businesses. The crisis will end, and we will look back on this period and the lessons learnt. Those that adapted quickly and prepared for future may turn out to be the most successful.

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Topics: Business

Roaming 4G data SIMs

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 10-Jun-2020 16:08:19

Devices in buses, coaches, lorries and trains both in the UK and abroad, require seamless Internet connectivity on the move. In some scenarios, customers cannot predict which countries their devices will be travelling to and can only estimate usage required. In others, customers have a clear idea of requirements.

For both scenarios and everything in-between, there is good solution. The challenge resellers have is searching the market to get exactly the right fit for each opportunity.

Solutions

A global eSIM will allow you to connect devices to the Internet in any country where it is being used. eSIMs can be embedded into devices or delivered as a traditional plastic SIM. Instead of swapping plastic SIM cards, profiles are downloaded and managed on a device as needed. In the eSIM model, a device is ready to deploy anywhere network coverage exists. eSIMs are very cost-effective.

M2M Roaming SIMs also allow devices to connect to the internet in specific countries, however, they may need to be swapped out in the future if the customer switches to a different network offering. They offer exceptional reliability and coverage and are easy to manage and inexpensive to buy.

Wholesale Comparison Tool

The Jola Tariff Tool allows resellers to compare the market to get the best wholesale, roaming SIM package, comparing hundreds of countries and networks instantly. It is now available on the Jola Partner Portal Mobile App.

Simply:

  • Select the countries you need the SIM to work in
  • Choose monthly data allowance required 
  • Compare available packages
  • View lists of 3G and 4G mobile networks in each country, your SIM package will roam on
Read More

Topics: 4G

Preparing to work in the office

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 10-Jun-2020 15:56:47

For the last few weeks many of us have been working from home. What do we need to consider now to ensure a safe office environment for our employees in the near future?

If it aint broke….

If your team is working successfully from home, there may be no need to move back into the office for the moment. With many schoolchildren still at home, it would be difficult for many working parents to return to the office at this time. At some point in the future however, employees may need to return to the office, so it is worth considering these points.

Step 1 – Ensuring the health of your workforce

Communicate the latest government guidelines to ensure that anyone with symptoms or anyone that has been in contact with a person testing positive for COVID 19, self-isolates for 14 days. Do you wish to issue each employee with a PPE pack containing essential items such as hand sanitiser, single-use masks, single-use gloves, blue roll, laptop and screen cleaning spray and surface cleansing spray?

Step 2 – Maintaining social distancing guidelines

You may need to look at your office plan. Are your desks 2 meters apart? Do you have adequate dividers? Do you need floor or wall signage to remind employees of the safe distance? Signs on the doors to remind people not to hold them open for others.

Step 3 – Maintaining a COVID free environment

You may need to look at your cleaning schedule to ensure regular cleaning of communal areas and ensure individuals each clean their desks, screens, keyboard, mice, trackpads, kettles, fridges, light switches, door handles etc. You may need to provide sanitisation stations where cleaning sprays and blue paper are provided for single-use wipe downs.

Step 4 – Socially Distanced Meetings

Can you continue to hold meetings virtually? If not think about limiting the number of people in a meeting room to ensure the 2-meter rule and consider wearing masks.

Step 5 – Socially Distanced Breaks

Consider break out areas and toilets. You may need additional signage, cleaning stations and processes to ensure surfaced are wiped clean before and after usage and that employees remain 2 meters apart. I know it sounds a lot, but you may need to ban tea rounds and ensure each person only uses their own cup, spoon and milk. If your whole team is touching the kettle and the milk bottle, there is an increased risk. Same issue with the bins, unless they are pedal bins.

Step 6 – New Rules

You may consider introducing new policies such as staggered arrival times and break times to reduce the amount of people in communal areas, such as the car park and break out rooms at the same time. You will need to ensure no sharing of IT equipment or stationery, so that everyone is allocated their own. You may need to add a sign to the microwave to ensure it is wiped down before and after use and ensure people use their own plates, knives, forks and cutlery. Most importantly you must ensure that you have a good stock of handwash and cleaning equipment to ensure staff can work effectively in their own bubble in a clean and healthy environment.

Most companies will conduct a risk assessment and implement policies and communicate them to all staff before embarking on a return to work project.

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Topics: Business

Could the channel benefit from the popularity of Microsoft Teams?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 27-May-2020 11:38:18

Microsoft Teams now has around 75 million daily users. With so many businesses ‘living on Teams’ during lockdown, could this be an opportunity for the channel in a ‘post-lockdown’ environment?

For people working from home using Teams, this can also become their phone system. Teams users can upgrade the software to include a full telephone system, however if they want to make and receive calls from ‘non-Teams users’, they will need to add Dial-Tone. The Microsoft solution to this is their own product they call Calling Plan.

Instead of using Calling Plan to make calls outside of Teams, Microsoft will allow customers to connect Teams Phone System to an alternative network provider, using Direct Routing. It can be quite complicated to set up, so it may be worth looking for automated provisioning, even if you have Microsoft qualified staff internally to help.

Most resellers in the channel, already have an established business telecoms solution, as part of their core portfolio. Why then should they consider adding Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams?

Horses for courses

If you are already generating good, recurring revenue streams from a telephony solution, you are unlikely to want to launch a product to compete with it. However, if homeworking becomes a part of the ‘new-normal’, a phone system that can be used effectively by those in and out of the office, will rise to the top of some companies’ priorities.

As we return to work, we anticipate many conversations about how well Teams worked during lockdown and investigations into Microsoft licence pricing and upgrades. End-users will be looking at Direct Routing and hosted solutions, so why not sell both?

Direct Routing

Jola Direct Routing for Teams is built on a Microsoft approved platform. It offers numbers in 167 countries and every area code in the UK. Jola’s unlimited wholesale UK call package is a lot cheaper than Microsoft’s Calling Plan and comes with competitive international call bundles and unlimited in-country local call packages.

Jola partners enjoy healthy recurring margins on call bundles and out-of-bundle call charges, whilst still offering compelling prices to their customers. Ordering and management are all self-serve, through our well-established SIP Manager portal.

Read More

Topics: Direct Routing

Could eSIMs be the right mobile data solution?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 27-May-2020 11:09:29

The market

Demand for mobile data is increasing, as connected devices become more popular.

Smart sensors enable better control and monitoring of variables, such as light, heat, motion, moisture and pressure. They collect data and display or transmit the information, as required.

Smart sensors are commonly used in homes and cities to measure utility usage and in fleet management to track assets, as well as controlling and monitoring environmental variables.

For companies involved in bids rolling out smart sensors globally, scale is both the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge, as the cost of changing SIMs in millions of devices can be prohibitively expensive.

eSIMs

eSIMs offer cost-effective, multi-network roaming connectivity, delivered via GSMA-compliant, removable or embedded data eSIMs. Jola’s eSIMs can roam over 450 networks globally as well as on EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 in the UK. They are managed in their unique ordering and management portal Mobile Manager.

Benefits

Jola’s eSIMs are un-steered and network agnostic. They enable devices to connect to the best available cellular network and are compatible with any device with a SIM slot.

eSIMs can be re-programmed ‘over the air’ so there is no need to send out engineers to swap out SIM cards manually.

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Topics: eSIM

Jola adds International and In-Country Call Packages to Direct Routing

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 21-May-2020 12:40:06

Resellers, providing Direct Routing to businesses making international calls, can now buy a 600-minute international call bundle, covering 200 countries for £7.65 per month.

In addition, end-users, with offices in up to 30 countries, can now buy unlimited local call packages from Jola partners. Prices range from £2.50 to £18 per month, reflecting different countries’ local pricing policies.

Jola’s Direct Routing for Teams is built on a Microsoft approved platform, and offers numbers in 167 countries with every area code in the UK. Jola’s unlimited wholesale UK call package is priced for resellers excluding VAT at £2.50 per month on a 30-day contract.

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Topics: Direct Routing

Jola launches unlimited Vodafone mobile broadband SIMs

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 21-May-2020 12:34:12

Jola follows up their launch of O2 Unlimited data SIMs, with Vodafone Unlimited data SIMs. They are available without speed restrictions, on 30-day contracts. These SIMs will work on 5G, where available.

Extremely keenly priced, Jola’s new packages are designed to work in routers and M2M devices in the UK, offering unlimited data for business users.

Cherie Howlett, Jola’s Marketing Director commented, “Our new Vodafone unlimited tariffs are perfect for both our partners and their customers. The partner enjoys an uplift in revenue and margin and their end users never have to worry about usage. There is huge demand for these products in rural areas and industries that need fast, unlimited data from a reliable supplier.”

Read More

Topics: mobile broadband

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