Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated Communications System?

(Editor’s Note: This is an update to an article originally posted June 2, 2014.)

You know your communications system is way past its prime, and economic pressures have led you to delay its upgrade or replacement.

But there comes a point in time when it no longer makes sense to put off replacing your communications assets—from both a financial perspective and a business/productivity perspective. Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.

Plus, keep in mind; the greatest risk to your business if your communications go down is your business shuts down. This can lead to huge losses for your business, including customer dissatisfaction, customer loss, damaged reputation and costs related to regaining your reputation. These all can greatly affect your business and result in huge losses.

Phone systems are one of the assets that many companies take for granted as long as they have dial-tone. They don’t think much about it and will definitely spend their budget elsewhere if they can. As a result, many of these organizations are sitting on archaic (or end-of-life) equipment that is no longer efficiently supporting their business while possibly putting it a risk.

Yet for some, the prevailing practice is to continue operating the existing system well past its useful life and beyond the end-of-support – not realizing the potential costs and the risk they are putting their business in.

We often hear the following reasons to avoid upgrading:

  • We don’t have the budget, or there is a higher priority budgetary request.
  • The lifespan on the last communications system was too short.
  • We’re afraid that if we upgrade tomorrow, something better will come out next week (a.k.a. the cycle of obsolescence).
  • We’re unclear on our unified communications plans and how our phone system should fit in with UC.
  • Newer phone systems are becoming too complex to use.
  • The buying cycle is too long, and we will have to get too many people involved who will all have different opinions.
  • We don’t know which approach to take—i.e. premises, hybrid, or cloud-based.

There’s a chance that the phones you think are supporting your business aren’t. While the value of your older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

Free White Paper:  Time to Replace that Old PBX

We know the decision to move to a new telephony system is sometimes a difficult one to make. That’s why we’ve created the following list of 3 of the benefits of a modern unified communications system over an outdated phone system.

1. System Stabilization

If you are a business owner or decision maker, you have probably thought, “We save money keeping the old system. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Every day your business uses an analog, TDM, or older VoIP phone system that has reached end-of-life, you run the risk of having your phone system fail without access to support. If that happens, revenue will likely be lost as a result. How much? Well, you could lose what equates to hours, days, or even weeks of revenue—depending on the amount of time it takes to quickly repair or worst case find and install a new system. Not to mention what was previously stated about customer dissatisfaction and loss.

And hurrying to find a new system isn’t ideal. If your system fails, it could mean you are forced to make a quick replacement decision. Companies that don’t have the time or don’t take the time to research properly before purchase usually discover they’ve spent too much money or are unhappy with their purchase after it is too late to change it. Taking the time to find the right IP Telephony solution or Unified Communications solution will improve your business processes and efficiencies without over-extending your budget.

2. Improved Operational Costs

Maintaining separate systems like directories, conferencing software, voicemail, and telephony is expensive and time consuming for IT departments to sustain. In fact, it can be so time-consuming that the IT department spends the majority of their day keeping these systems functional—time that can be better spent on more strategic IT projects.

The older the system, the higher the operational cost is when you don’t upgrade. Some of the costs businesses accrue using older systems include:

  • Proprietary hardware at each location (equipment, phones, PBX)
  • Installation
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance, repairs and upgrades
  • Additional services
    • Fax
    • Business SMS
    • HD video meetings
    • Audio conferencing

When you factor the lost IT time spent maintaining each separate communications system with the opportunity cost of not having the advanced applications and features that modern unified communications provides, you end up with a total cost that is just too high for most businesses to ignore.

3. Competitive Advantage

Have you stopped to think about whether your competitors are taking advantage of modern communications software? If they are and you’re not, then chances are they are able to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Working smarter gives them an edge by increasing their productivity and creating a competitive advantage.

Your competitors that are working with updated communications systems, most likely have these advanced features at their disposal:

  • Audio/video/web collaboration, white boarding and document sharing
  • Support for the mobile workforce with a consistent user experience across smartphones and tablets
  • UC clients that provide status, presence, call history, call control plus more
  • Integrated vertical applications through standard and open services

While the cost of upgrading may seem high, the advanced applications and features associated with modern communications systems will help re-gain lost competitive edge and offer companies an opportunity to better serve their customers.

Unified communications can help businesses re-gain competitive advantage in two ways:

First, a new system can help you increase your revenue by providing your business with the communications applications needed to be more productive and efficient. You could gain better advantages and increased competitive edge by choosing a modern solution with a lower total cost of ownership and features that enable collaboration across your business, improving the speed of your communications.

Secondly, UC provides communications software that makes enterprise-level communications applications available on an ad-hoc basis. This either gives you access to applications that you might not have previously been able to budget for, or, saves your organization money as you no longer have to pay the fees required to utilize multiple services. Replacing hosted web, audio or video conferencing services is a perfect example. The accrued savings can boost the return on your unified communications investment, and expand your competitive edge through re-investment into other IT projects that help your business grow.

Increased Productivity

If you fear that your new technology will become obsolescent and use that as an excuse to avoid upgrading, you shouldn’t. Look for vendors that offer software assurances and extended warranties for hardware that will provide your business with more security and less risk in the long run.

With a modern communications solution, you ensure that your system has the flexibility to handle rapid growth, giving you the ability to provide support to your increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. Your IT team will re-gain some of their time, allowing them to focus on other strategic IT initiatives. And, your employees will re-coup benefits that improve the speed of communication from access to applications that positively impact your daily business—whether it’s through more efficient collaboration with colleagues, or improving customer response times.

Options Available to Your Business

Ultimately there is a high cost, in terms of inefficiencies and operational cost, when you continue to operate an outdated or end-of-life phone system.

Some organizations struggle with selecting the best model (premises, hybrid, or cloud-based) to meet long-term communication needs. Ultimately you’ll look for the platform and vendor that has the flexibility to customize the right solution to meet your specific needs.

Smart Enterprise

Free White Paper
Time to Replace that Old PBX

To learn more about the risks associated with running an outdated communications system and the steps you should take in purchasing a new system, fill out the form to download the white paper written by Dave Michels, principal analyst at TalkPointz.

 
 
 
 
 



NEC’s Collaborative Solutions: Highlighting Interop 2016

Connect. Communicate. Collaborate. These three tenets of our organization were proudly on display as NEC showcased its Smart Enterprise solutions at Interop 2016, the 30th anniversary of the conference.

The Interop conference was founded to focus on network interoperability and openness. Initially, the show just emphasized IP networks, but throughout the years it has broadened its scope to technology collaboration in today’s cloud computing era.

All the NEC solutions on display were well integrated with this year’s Interop theme – that behind every successful innovation is effective communication and collaboration.

One of the highlights of our booth was NEC’s partnership with Dell to demonstrate our strengths in campus networking.

Campus networks include many diverse and challenging requirements, such as technology integration, provisioning, and security policy enforcement. By their nature, campus networks are frequently multi-tenant, meaning the networks must be virtualized so various users can ensure their distinct policy enforcement. Layered switch fabrics, ever-changing connectivity requirements, wired and wireless connectivity, and complex regulatory environments make campus networks difficult to manage.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller overcomes these obstacles. This solution enables network owners to control and manage their network centrally, bringing the same benefits of server virtualization.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller with @Dell S3100 switches will optimize campus network ops #SDN Click To Tweet

Together with Dell, we demonstrated how to deliver the performance, security, and agility campus networks demand in a cost-effective, easy-to-manage way. Deploying NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller with Dell S3100 switches will optimize campus network operations and reduce management overhead, boost scalability, and deliver secure and reliable connectivity.

Also showcased in the booth was NEC’s global open networking partner program, SDN Partner Space. With NEC and Netcracker SDN/NFV expertise behind it, SDN Partner Space enables network and IT vendors to enter the SDN/NFV market and redefine the rules imposed by traditional flat networks, while also benefitting from new business opportunities.

Joining SDN Partner Space can help transform the traditional business by including new applications and services that are only available in virtualized network environment. Moreover, SDN Partner Space enables in-house virtual network functions to be compatible with other SDN/NFV solutions so they can be cross-sold to businesses in any market.

Visitors to our booth were also able to see our high-availability data center on display. Large data computing tasks and the evolving requirements of the Internet of Things requires intelligent fault tolerant solutions to power a Smart Enterprise. Whether on premises or off premises, NEC’s infrastructure solutions provide the necessary foundation to meet these demands.

Interop 2016 was a great opportunity to share ideas, connect with the world’s IT community, and illustrate NEC’s commitment to orchestrating a brighter world.

Putting the ‘Power’ into Empowered Enterprise Communications

Meet Matt, a harried, frustrated VP of Sales who is in need of a more effective way to communicate with his sales team. Since Matt took the helm, sales have increased so dramatically that he is able to expand into new marketplaces while increasing the sales force in 15 satellite offices. He recruited savvy sales people to effectively promote the product, and now he is having trouble communicating with his team members to ensure they receive proper updates and have everything they need to function as a cohesive sales team.

Matt is not the only one. Helen, the receptionist, cannot keep up with all the new team members, so it’s difficult to route calls correctly. Jeff, the IT guy, is just as frustrated. His current communications system does not have centralized management so any moves, adds, or changes are very time consuming, requires travel to individual sites and really impacts his productivity.  So with the addition of sales people in 15 different satellite offices, he is counting up the airline miles he will be racking up over the next several weeks and trying to figure out how to delegate everything else that needs to be done while he is working on this project.

For Matt, Helen and Jeff, growth has a whole set of problems that if not addressed, could mean minimizing sales, productivity and creating a scenario for poor client experience. So what does the savvy enterprise do in this case?

Power Up with Empowered Communications

Matt, Helen and Jeff are fictional characters, but their problems are very real. The truth for most organizations is that growth, expansion and the consistent move toward a more mobile workforce create challenges. Fortunately, a single solution can solve these challenges and empower communications within any organization.

NEC’s UNIVERGE solutions provide businesses with a choice of comprehensive on-premise and cloud-based unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions – enabling employees to connect from any location, on virtually any device, and collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners. #Organizations can tailor their #communications to meet their specific needs Click To Tweet and leverage the unmatched flexibility, reliability and scalability of NEC’s platforms. NEC’s UNIVERGE solutions will increase your ability to remain competitive, while also maximizing productivity and ensuring communication is constant.

The Power You Need When You Need It

Not all businesses are the same, and each requires a flexible solution to really power up communications and collaboration. To achieve success, organizations need to innovate via the best tools. With NEC, you receive custom-tailored solutions to meet your unique needs. Whether it’s to connect and communicate from anywhere using any device, or the ability to manage large call volumes across multiple locations, NEC UNIVERGE solutions are up for the challenge.

NEC’s UNIVERGE solutions provide a native UC on all platforms with easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy delivery models. Enhanced vertical workflow solutions ensure your communications remain strong. In addition, you can choose to deploy an on-premise, cloud or a hybrid delivery model and even opt to use our professional services to manage and monitor your network.

UC-Downtime-Banner

With a natural migration path that will evolve to meet future needs, NEC’s UNIVERGE solutions offer investment protection and provide organizations with a platform that is poised for growth. Businesses that implement the right communication and collaboration tools can improve customer satisfaction and increase efficiency of operations, which can create a competitive advantage.

Are you ready to learn more about how to put the “power” in empowering your communications? or take a look at this post to get additional insights.

Trends in Unified Communications

Unified Communications is not dead, NEC’s Gary Gordon discusses in this video how unified communications trends are shifting and changing to the needs of today’s workforce.

Do you need help in deciding on a UC solution?

Download this comprehensive guide to learn how the various approaches to Unified Communications (UC) impact your organization.

 

Download free UC guide

Flipping The Educational Script

When it comes to our current educational system, there is certainly no shortage of opinions. Realistically, we need a more efficient, better way of educating young people and adults. Fortunately, there are some forward-thinking innovators who are up to tackling the task of improving how we educate and teach.

For many students, and instructors, memories of the classroom are comprised of boring lectures and staring at the clock waiting for the torture to end. Traditionally, the classroom experience has been very linear with the instructor providing lectures, students taking notes, and of course, the dreaded pop quiz or exam. However, with the continued adoption and advancement of technology, learning experiences are changing for the better. A recent article in Fast Company magazine covered the information provided from the world’s most innovative companies in education, which outlines some of the innovations we can expect over the next five years. These include:

  • Students will interact with others remotely.
  • Success of technology in the classroom will still rely on skilled instructors.
  • Degrees will be unbundled, and we’ll think about diplomas differently.
  • Students will have a voice.
  • Educators and institutions will be forced to adapt.

Many of the innovations these companies expect to see are available now, including the advent of collaborative learning and online communication for the classroom. The progression of learning is now a multi-dimensional process where teachers and students pull together to enhance the learning experience. It is critical for learning management systems (LMS) to begin working toward how individual students learn, rather than a providing a traditional classroom format online.

For these reasons, NEC has created a collaborative tool that literally flips the classroom, thereby allowing students and teachers to collaborate in a way that is powerful while really improving learning opportunities.

Knowledge is Power

NEC recognized that educators were looking for a solution that provided faculty a tool to expand upon course curriculums through the addition of content. Currently, teachers are working to flip the classroom using multiple resources and platforms such as YouTube, Google Drive, and Schoology. They need a way to provide a cohesive student user experience while minimizing the amount of time students spend visiting multiple sites. Therefore, NEC constructed the Collaborative Content Management Solution (CCMS) and has joined with PassTheNotes (PTN) to offer cloud-based learning management and leverage the best existing educational solutions.

It’s an integration of technology that empowers both students and instructors to “flip the classroom” in a way that now incorporates students in the process of creating curriculum. Using the foundation of PTN, NEC embeds the collaboration solution into our user interface, providing an efficient method for faculty and students to use the entire solution easily and seamlessly.

The effect is a “flipped” classroom, where students and teachers collaborate during classroom time (either in person or online) and students not only listen to lectures during their own time, but they can also contribute to the next class lecture by uploading content into an online folder. Think of it like this – what was normally lecture now becomes an interaction between students and faculty to really drive home learning, and what was normally homework time is spent listening to faculty lectures and allowing students to add their own input to the next classroom experience.

Today, the Internet and social media are a huge part of almost everyone’s daily life. Younger generations are constantly glued to their multiple portable devices. NEC is giving students the ability to be a part of their own educational experience by gathering existing industry knowledge to develop integrations to meet the ever-changing educational needs.

The benefit to faculty and students is tangible and already being realized for those institutions adopting a flipped classroom model.

Collaborative Learning

Teachers and faculty are not only able to follow the core curriculum in a more organized and simplified manner, but also are provided with the flexibility to add and expand upon their teaching elements. NEC helps faculty expand on course curriculums through the addition of content that better connects with students. In addition, NEC’s CCMS includes comprehensive training and professional development so that teachers can focus on education rather than the technology.

Students are developing a desire to be more engaged in their education. Through the flipped classroom, students can make this desire a reality. For instance, if a student is browsing the Internet and comes across a blog, video, or article that reminds her of something she is  learning in school, it can easily be uploaded into the class folder. If a teacher is providing a history lesson, students are given the opportunity to collaborate on the curriculum by uploading videos from current day events that tie in with the lesson. Then, not only are students more engaged, but teachers are able to help them draw conclusions in a real-life manner that was not previously available. Through this process of sharing information, students are actively participating in their education. This creates a more personal learning experience whereby students can relate events in their life with classroom material.

 

Content Management and Collaboration
Free Content and Collaboration Webinar

Flip the Script

Education is rapidly becoming a #collaborative interaction between teachers and students.  It is now moving toward a workgroup team dynamic that is focused on the educational experience and leveraging technology to increase student engagement. Students are now finding that the subjects they are studying are not only interesting, but are also relevant in everyday life.

Plus there are additional benefits beyond the improved learning environment. Students are learning to work in a virtual environment, something employers will desire in future employees. In addition, they learn valuable teamwork and collaboration skills that will help them with their future endeavors.

If you desire more information on NEC’s CCMS and how we are flipping the classroom, check out the information on our Collaborative Content Management Solution page.