Communications system solutions of today take on many shapes and sizes. In the past, an RFP for a communications system would have specified how many extensions and phone lines were needed to size the correct PBX model. Today’s choices involve on-premise systems, as well as systems hosted by the telco/internet carrier. With the proliferation of smartphone technology, such as texting, email, voicemail, contact directory, and social media, business communications solutions have incorporated these features into unified messaging applications that can be offered with the on-premise or hosted solutions. The phone—the predominant user device—has now added available, add-on applications and services such as texting, instant messaging, dial from your corporate directory on your PC, and listen to voicemail via your email inbox on your smartphone or computer.
Types of Products Associated with this Technology
Vendors offer communications solutions that are a) installed on-premise on your network; or b) hosted by your telco/internet carrier; or c) provided as-a-service by your communications vendor.
New IP (Internet Protocol) phone systems consist of a communications server running the telephony control functions and an application server that runs the unified communications functions. A media gateway houses the interfaces between the LAN and the WAN/carrier networks as well as between the traditional PBX interfaces (analog or digital). For the on-premise systems, vendors typically have traditional payment models such as cash and the monthly lease of equipment, whereas the hosted and as-a-service systems are typically purchased by a monthly per-user or per-line rate based on a certain feature set (e.g., voicemail, caller ID, conferencing, etc.). Most vendors will package minutes of long distance and offer premium services such as unified communications, call queuing, and web collaboration.
How Can a Communications System Solution Help Your Organization?
Capabilities of this Type of Technology
There are many benefits to using a communications system. It will allow your organization to accomplish the following:
- Save on expenses by replacing costly T1 interoffice circuits and using an IP wide area network (WAN) to carry voice traffic.
- Replace traditional telephone circuits with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking to provide cost savings and add a level of resiliency to the network.
- Add new features and applications such as presence, texting/instant messaging, voicemail to email delivery, and corporate contacts directory dialing.
- Integrate smartphone mobility into your organization.
- Integrate with existing business back-office IT applications such as Outlook and Skype for Business.
How these Capabilities Help Your Organization Work Better
These capabilities will help lessen the burden for your organization by achieving the following:
- Reduce the manpower required to manage multiple applications and separate voice and data networks as well as reduce the resulting maintenance, helpdesk and support costs.
- Provide an improved user experience by offering integrated business-office and mobility applications such as chat, instant messaging, and voicemail to email delivery on smart phones.
- Establish better connectivity by having a corporate directory that is constantly updated.
- Improve staff-to-staff communications by offering presence indicators on phones or PC/smartphone applications.
- Allow users to go from the office to the road while enjoying a consistent communications user experience.
How Can You Justify Purchasing a Communications System Solution?
Ways to Pitch this Technology to Your Superiors
Knowing the full scope of your organization’s requirements for a communications system solution and understanding how that new solution will be of benefit will not only help you write an effective RFP; it will also give you the ammunition you need to pitch the solution to purchasing managers and superiors who may have to sign off on the investment. An up-to-date solution will help accomplish the following:
- Provide a platform that can keep up with changing technology.
- Position your organization as an industry leader, indicating to staff and potential new hires that you are implementing emerging technology.
- Increase flexibility and productivity for your mobile workforce by allowing integration with smartphones, and by providing an improved user experience through voicemail to email delivery on smartphones, texting, directory dialing, and presence.
- Simplify moves, adds, and changes (MAC) by using new web-based tools that allow your internal telecom/IT team to easily manage and support MAC work that has previously been done by the vendor.
- Increase quick feature activation through software downloads, thereby eliminating outdated systems.
- Provide the flexible procurement of servers and components that fit within your organization’s data center environment (as opposed to one-off, unmanageable system components) via open standards technology and open systems architecture.
- Allow the use of SIP trunks and the replacement of costly interoffice T1 circuits to provide significant, recurring monthly cost savings.
Save Money with a High ROI
This type of technology can provide a substantial return on investment, having a direct impact on your organization’s bottom line. Here are a few of the ways a communications system solution can save money:
- Use new web-based sysadmin tools that allow an internal telecom/IT team to easily manage and support moves, adds, and changes (MAC) that have previously been done by the vendor.
- Change out T1/PRIs (Primary Rate Interfaces) for SIP trunks using existing high-speed internet connections, providing up to a 30-40 percent savings in recurring monthly costs.
- Replace interoffice T1 circuits, and provision voice traffic over the existing enterprise WAN.
- Review how calls are being distributed to removed, unused, or unnecessary CO (central office) lines over the WAN. Consolidate lines at remote sites—reducing lines from five or six, to one or two—still providing the same level of operational efficiency.