Hosted PBX – Is it right for you?

Cloud communications is a hot topic and everyone’s doing it.  Is it right for you?
It might be.  It’s not perfect for every business, but for most it is a great fit.  Cloud PBX, or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cost effective way of delivering advanced communication features to small and medium businesses.  Integration with Outlook and your CRM, instant messaging, video calling, desktop and document sharing, mobile access, call recording, even call centre functionality are all available to anyone.  These features used to only be available to companies with the money to shell out for an on-premise UC system – but not anymore.

Why hosted?
You are likely already hosting some or all of your data and applications in the cloud.  Many at least are using Office 365.  This is another opportunity to eliminate the capital and maintenance costs of hardware and software running in your office, as well as reduce ongoing costs for analog or PRI connections.  You may also be able to reduce or eliminate some hardware in your server room, and won’t ever have to worry about replacing or upgrading it.
UCaaS also gives you greater levels of redundancy, flexibility, and security.  Anywhere you go, your phone extension and collaborations tools go with you.  If your office becomes unavailable or disconnected, you can still make and receive calls through a mobile app or softphone with no interruption.  Expand and contract your system to meet your needs as your business grows or moves through busier or slower times of the year.  These are all capabilities that would be very expensive to duplicate on your own system and they provide significant value to your business.

Why not?As with all cloud applications, they aren’t for everyone.  Larger businesses with hundreds or thousands of employees may actually find it more expensive because they can easily support their own infrastructure.  Some businesses may have regulations governing them that prevent the use of some or all cloud platforms – particularly if it is hosted in the U.S.  Also, an on-premise phone system often provides more options for integration with other systems or applications – especially for custom-written applications.  

The case for on-premise phone systems is still very real.  Despite the hype and push towards cloud, most of the top tier UC vendors are still selling, supporting and developing their physical solutions.  There will be a place for these systems in many types of businesses for many years to come.

If you want to find out if this is the right move for you, contact us at sales@optinet.caor 604-288-1300.  We’ll help you take your communication strategy to the next level!

Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

We discussed in our last blog how unified communications can hoster greater collaboration and workplace functionality, but today we’ll look its value to the “back of the house” and external customers. Unified communications offers opportunities for operational improvements and cost savings, as well as opening up new pathways to create greater customer satisfaction.

Move many IT expenses out of the expense budget – Unified communications can migrate many of your channels to the cloud, eliminating a lot of IT hardware expenses, and moving them into a more predictable, monthly expense.

Cuts down on internal IT support – Because much of Unified communications relies of the cloud and the SaaS (Software- as- a -service) model to integrate communications, you have less hardware and software on the ground that all require support, upgrades, backups, and maintenance.

Create a more centralized point of responsibility – When you have multiple communication channels all operating independently, you rely on many individual vendors, none of whom may work effectively together. With a unified communications model you move toward a single point of responsibility for your operational integrity.

In summary, understand that unified communications is an outgrowth of the explosion of workplace communications channels. With multiple communication channels, our ability to communicate becomes fractured and increasingly awkward. But it isn’t just for the users of the many communication channels that suffer. Non-integrated communication channels create an unwieldy IT infrastructure. It may also cause some duplication of support costs, as well as fractured oversight and responsibility. It also creates situations that can foster customer frustration and discontent. If you’d like to begin exploring how unified communications could benefit your organization, contact a managed service provider with expertise in this area.

Four ways unified communications can improve productivity Part II

Four ways unified communications can improve productivity Part II

In our last blog we suggested that unified communications has value to an organization’s efforts to increase productivity. It can facilitate smoother, more efficient collaboration in a 24/7 workspace.

Unified communications can

  • Improve the functionality of our 24/7 workplace – The reality of 24/7 availability has been around for a while, and learning to place constraints on that is for another e-guide. However, unified communications can play a role on the 24/7 expectation problem. For one thing, with a single portal to an individual’s multiple communication channels, an employee can more easily communicate across those channels that they are not available and therefore limit expectations for an immediate or timely response when that is not possible. Also, with a unified portal, responding to different channels in off times can be easier and therefore less time-intrusive.
  • Improve client satisfaction – Nothing is more irritating as a customer than needing support and finding support elusive. Waiting for call-backs with no answer, or worse, re-telling your story over and over until you finally reach the right resource? Unified communications can go a long way in mitigating these frustrations. Unified communications is being heavily introduced into contact centers, where customers can use multiple integrated channels to discuss issues, questions, or problems.

Look to a managed service provider for ways that you can begin to introduce unified communications into your organization.