VoIP is driving companies to unified communications platforms, says Richard Paul, Snapper Network Distributors managing director.
The rise in popularity of VoIP has driven businesses to look beyond the standard PBX systems to a unified communications (UC) platform for voice telephony. In the last six months we’ve noticed a real increase in the appetite for phones for UC systems and phones that are Microsoft Lync compliant such as the Snom UC edition phones.
The entry cost for UC systems have started to fall over the last few years in New Zealand too as licensing costs have fallen; encouraging businesses to make the move to this technology solution.
UC allows previously disparate communications technologies to integrate into a single design. This makes communication seamless no matter where you are or what device you’re using.
UC hardware and software takes a range of communication applications and puts them under the umbrella of a common system instead of using different hardware/software solutions for each individual application – which means convenience for the end user.
Additionally, UC allows communications to be delivered across various media. For example, a voice mail can be delivered as an email attachment or speech to text translated message.
It also applies presence and location information to the communications flow so communications are routed and delivered intelligently. Businesses appreciate the fact that important everyday tasks like dialling from a contact list can be completed using UC.
Why has Microsoft Lync become the cool kid?
This year more and more of our New Zealand reseller partners are looking to Lync as an option and enjoying the convenience of Lync capable IP telephones instead of annoying USB headsets and PC based software.
With a Lync capable phone your PC doesn’t need to be running for you to make and take phone calls, and you can locate phones anywhere in your organisation.
The addition of HD video conferencing, mobile apps, Skype integration, as well as presenting a cleaner, more intuitive interface for users has organisations investigating Lync as a genuine UC option.
Lync Online in Office 365 has most of the capabilities of the Lync Server, including VoIP telephony, with a VoIP Gateway. Enterprises can also buy the full featured Lync Server and have it hosted in a dedicated cloud by Microsoft partners.
Regardless of the UC platform, when developers can start integrating more easy-to-use productivity tools such as ERP and CRM applications into UC, then I believe we’ll see an even bigger uptake.
Resellers choosing a UC system need to ask these questions:
- Which infrastructure are you better able to support - hosted or local?
- Which technology will link most easily into your customer’s business apps and processes?
- What are the customer’s pain points - losing calls, poor customer service, missing after hours messages, etc.
- Is the network ready to handle the demands of UC/VoIP communication? (Power, Bandwidth, QoS Security etc.)?
- How many employees make and receive calls, and from how many locations do these employees work?
- Are there traveling employees who must stay connected?
- Does the customer need presence (knowing when people are available when online)?
- Do employees need IM for real-time chatting during the day?
- Are there groups of people that can answer for each department (sales, marketing, customer services, etc.)?
- Does every employee need a handset their desk? If yes, what level of IP phone: simple, with no buttons or hold keys, or more advanced, with many single-button choices? What about a colour touchscreen?
Resellers and integrators know they are in the position to continually manage change as their clients businesses evolve. To address the end users expanding needs the channel partner they look to needs to have a strategy and proven and repeatable process to be successful at implementing UC and VoIP communications.