Too often, technology executives face the same tired paradox: Do more with less. Especially with IT and telecom technologies, this paradox translates into having fewer or less robust technologies with fewer functionalities.
Instead of doing more with less, many chief technology officers and chief information officers are using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions to do better with less. Especially in a small- and medium-sized business (SMB) environment, VoIP and hosted VoIP can extend and strengthen existing telecom resources to create an ecosystem that is essential for success in today's fast-paced business environment.
CTOs and CIOs, as well as the information architects responsible for their IT roadmaps, must consider not only the technology needed to run their business but also the mission-critical communication platforms key for business intelligence and productivity. VoIP and hosted VoIP networks now offer enhanced functionalities such as data sharing and mobility solutions.
CEOs And CFOs Need To Understand VoIP And Hosted VoIP
VoIP's packet-based nature allows phone, wireless and applications to run on the same business VoIP network. That brings VoIP and hosted VoIP into the broader business architecture roadmap, particularly given its role in communication intelligence, mobility and connectivity.
The hard-wired circuits of what we now call Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) connected only to phone companies' Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is a simple process, but with limited functionality. Today, VoIP runs low-cost business phone systems that enable a company to keep most existing hardware, leveraging its existing technology investments.
Hosted VoIP also enables a range of new services for dedicated and wireless networks. The difference between VoIP and hosted VoIP falls where the hosting occurs: on-site or in the cloud. A 2016 McKinsey study says a well-planned convergence strategy not only saves money for operators, reducing their capital technology investments, but also produces a better experience for customers.
VoIP service providers use Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to put video conferencing and HD voice on the same network as email, text messaging, fax and other data services. Parties can speak into a computer microphone and listen through computer speakers or headsets.
Many of these new services are applications, and in aggregate, can be 15%-30% less costly. In some cases, Call One has saved clients up to 50%. The failure or fear to take advantage of these services with new smaller carriers has a significant cost. The complexity of multiple networks and multiple bills makes it difficult to catch billing errors and control direct labor and overhead costs.
The Right Roadmap Can Mean Up To 50% Savings, And It Starts With VoIP
Interoperable software allows CTOs and CIOs to transform their company's IT infrastructure into a secure ecosystem that harnesses the cloud's reliability and scalability. A 2016 PwC report describes this as a footprint with "zero infrastructure--anything-as-a-service."
But nowhere is this move to software-based solutions more striking than in business phone systems, a world that was once purpose-built and hardware-centric.
VoIP has built a foundation for mobility-solution services, dial-tone services, hosted PBX and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). Call One designed a VoIP phone system that became a more agile communications network for Athletico Physical Therapy in its rapid expansion to more than 300 locations in eight states.
The state-of-the-art configuration brought Athletico new tools for training, collaboration and communication with clients. This simplified Athletico's operations, with reliable connectivity and proactive monitoring. It simplified administration as well--including bill consolidation and cost savings.
Call One was able to provide Athletico with unlimited local calling and bundled long-distance minutes with geographically independent telephone numbers and shared concurrent paths to increase call capacity. Audio, video and web conferencing, presence technology and other real-time communications are available on the network.
The enterprise solution is more scalable, with easy provisioning of extra connections or capacity. Disaster recovery and business continuity options are baked in. The payback is simple for the end user: SMBs can get enterprise-level networks at economy prices.
Skillsets Have Changed, Giving Non-legacy Phone Carriers An Edge
From an IT architecture standpoint, the new VoIP networks require a more knowledgeable staff with diverse skills, or an experienced, new-breed carrier that can deliver a hosted solution. Multiple applications on the same system make VoIP more complex to design and deploy in-house.
Skillsets have changed rapidly, making it more difficult to find and retain qualified workers.
"Technology is evolving faster than ever," says ManpowerGroup's Jonas Prising, "changing the skills needed for jobs and shortening the life cycle of those skills."
Engineers and technicians are consistently cited as difficult to retain, notes Manpower's annual talent shortage survey. This is especially true in IP telephony, a fast-evolving field. High-demand skills are taught largely on the job and are hard to manage.
That's why Call One's VoIP platform works for players such as Athletico. IP-based SIP trunks replaced dedicated phone lines. Sitting at the edge of the network, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) enables faster speed, better-quality service, better security and monitoring. A Primary Rate Interface (PRI) allows sites working through an IP migration to move at their own pace, without additional hardware purchases for intermediate steps.
Roadmaps like this can be complicated and need to be thought through from employee and customer standpoints. Most businesses will choose a hybrid network, like Athletico's, which eases the pain of implementation. To fully extract these benefits, a non-legacy carrier that excels in design, deployment and customer services may have a clear advantage. The carrier has to understand the old infrastructure and be skilled, structured and agile enough to design and deploy the new structure. These new carriers co-create these roadmaps for SMBs and have the needed track record of successful conversions.
The architecture of business phone systems has never been more important. We see the VoIP platform as the foundation for designing and delivering more varied and flexible services at the lowest cost. Making the switch need not be daunting, but it takes a VoIP-centric partner with an understanding of both old and new systems plus experience with business customers with various market caps.