The increasing focus on IP telephony and SIP is causing enterprises to examine IP PBX systems under a more focused microscope as they consider ways to anchor their VoIP initiatives. However, beyond choosing between a hosted solution and a premises-based IP PBX, business principals should also consider the ‘three Ps’: practical, powerful and proven, to fi nd the best enterprise IP PBX system.
Enterprises require a system like an IP PBX that can leverage open standards like SIP to integrate networked communications and business applications on the PC. But with one system for telephone calls, a separate one for messaging and others for data, it’s nearly impossible to make business processes more effi cient and put employees in control to do their job effectively. An IP PBX should give departments and work groups all the tools they’d expect from a phone system, yet should also enable an enterprise to use VoIP for broadband services and features such as conferencing. Most of all,on the practical front, an IP PBX system should come complete with pre-integrated applications, IP phones and desktop softphones, and ACD and automated attendant for call routing. It should also include the fl exibility to integrate third-party applications such as CRM. All this added up equates to a useable system.
It used to be that the greater the head count staffi ng the phones, the greater the opportunity to increase revenue. However, multimediacommunications have made adaptability the most powerful way to conduct business, so offering customers multi-channel avenues for the phone, email, fax, web services and data access is crucial. Extend those touchpoints from the main offi ce to every department, branch offi ce and mobile employee in your organisation, and revenue streams multiply accordingly. The trouble is, market and customer requirementschange constantly, and adapting to them rapidly, before your competitors do, is nearly impossible with non-integrated communications systems and technology silos.
Getting back to the new breed of all-in-one IP PBX systems, an enterprise should look for a system that provides a single platform and adaptable, pre-integrated multimedia applications to support changing business processes. Be cautious of so-called integrated proprietary IP telephony systems that still come down to one piece of hardware after another – say for a PBX, ACD, automated attendant, chat server and IVR system – with the promise of VoIP capability mixed in, only after adding another hardware box or two.
Beyond their higher potential for business continuity breakdowns, multi-box systems can actually rob power by putting barriers between multi-channel touchpoints, causing inconsistent service levels across media channels.
When it comes to considering whether a vendor and its solutions are proven, do your homework. If your enterprise is committed to finding a true IP PBX system, look closely at the back-end architecture with regards to a SIP carrier environment for IP telephony. More importantly, research the vendors you’re targeting and examine their track record of industry experience, implementation practices, support and so on.
Unfortunately, many vendors in the IP telephony arena remain unproven, primarily because they’ve only recently jumped on the VoIP bandwagon and have yet to work the bugs out of their IP PBX products. On the good side, a number of vendors are indeed reputable and offer signifi cant industry knowledge along with the solutions they sell. Once you fi nd a vendor and solution that combines these three Ps – practicality with power and a proven track record – you’ll be on your way to a solution that you can trust; one that is capable of delivering the business flexibility, application functionality and cost efficiencies that an IP PBX should bring, both now and into the future.
Brendan Maree joined the Interactive Intelligence team in May 2006 as the Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand. He has responsibilities for channel sales management in both countries and was previously Avaya’s Channel Manager for SMB products.
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