Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated PBX

nec-risk-of-outdated-pbx-benefits-of-ucYou know your PBX is way past its prime, and economic pressures have lead you to delay its upgrade or replacement.

But there comes a point in time when continuing to sweat your communications  assets no longer makes sense—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 Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.

Phone systems are one of the assets that many companies sweat for too long, and, 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.

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 PBX 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older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

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 That’s why we’ve created the following list of 3 of the benefits of a modern unified communications system over an outdated phone system.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.

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
  • Integrated vertical applications through standards 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 regain 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. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the advantages of each option. Ultimately you’ll look for the platform and vendor that has the flexibility to customize the right solution to meet your specific needs.

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How to Stay ‘Mobile’ During a Severe Weather Event

As the polar vortex recently bore down on much of the Midwest and East Coast, bringing lots of snow and multiple headaches, the topic of remote working comes to mind. Seasonal events such as heavy snow—not to mention the ice storm that paralyzed parts of the southern U.S. in early December—can disrupt businesses as well as daily life in many ways. Lack of electricity, canceled flights, delays or shutdowns in local transportation all have an adverse affect on daily activities.

Keeping a business operating at optimal levels when employees can’t make it into the office quickly becomes a problem. The losses in productivity and resulting lost business can mount up fast.

Cloud Services Can Help

Luckily for today’s businesses, technology exists so that many employees can perform their jobs remotely as seamlessly as if they were in the office. For example, cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) enables employees to work remotely, helping to keep things running at the business. Communication tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing help dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside is frightful.

Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get into the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions, but it also means not losing employee productivity over the course of the weather event.

UCaaS keeps communications running smoothly, especially critical for organizations that heavily rely on communications for their revenue. During inclement weather, unified communications solutions can:

  • Integrate email, voice and instant messaging into a cohesive communication system so all employees can keep in touch
  • Provide access points to all data used by an organization so that users can communicate with others inside and outside their organizations quickly and more easily
  • Lower overall IT and telecommunications costs, particularly labor costs, because of the inherent economies of scale available through an integrated communications platform
  • Give access to carrier-grade communications that deliver consistency with easy-to-use functionality

Virtual Desktops—at Your Service

Other cloud services can make working remotely a reality as well. For instance, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) means moving an employee’s desktop to the cloud and making it accessible anywhere, anytime by an Internet-enabled service. Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.

Plus, the ability to deploy, manage and support desktops through DaaS reduces costs and eliminates the complexity of deploying and managing virtual desktops. Hardware costs can be reduced by nearly 60% and easier management means lower operating costs. Other benefits of DaaS include:

  • Improved security and compliance through centralized updates
  • Better mobility for your workforce through seamless access from any device, at any location
  • More flexibility to easily deploy and quickly scale desktops
  • A disaster recovery strategy to get desktops back up and running quickly

Routing Network Traffic Using SDN

Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies the network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence.

SDN can help businesses keep their mission-critical processes up and running. Using OpenFlow technology, an SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updated network resources and traffic conditions.

Think of a delivery truck’s route from point A to point B. If the truck runs into bad weather conditions or an accident on the route, the driver can access a traffic monitoring app such as Google Turn by Turn to identify and then access another route quickly. The driver is able to quickly re-route the truck so that it doesn’t lose any more time in making its delivery.

So, when bad weather strikes, having the right tools and technology in place to enable mobility among your workforce can make a real difference. Consider including UCaaS, and SDN solutions in your disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects your data and applications and keeps your businesses running.

To learn more about these solutions follow the links below:

UCaaS – http://goo.gl/5AGs87  SDN – http://goo.gl/HGiyf

Unified Communications: As-a-Service vs. On Premises – What’s Best for You?

Unified communications (UC) has steadily gained acceptance over the years with enterprises of all sizes as a means of increasing productivity in competitive business environments. Most are familiar with the typical “on-premise” deployment model, with UC applications running on servers in the user’s data centers. Consistent with the trend of the migration of services (voice, infrastructure, storage, etc.) to a cloud-hosted environment, UC is no exception.

One of the more recent drivers of UC towards the cloud has been the proliferation of the different types of mobile devices that users use to stay in touch. Today’s employees may receive a call on their office phone and a copy of that voice mail via email, which they can retrieve either at their desk or via a smart device, perhaps using a mobile phone to return the call while also checking more email on a tablet or laptop. The average employee is now carrying an estimated 2.9 mobile communication devices, both company supplied as well as personal. The user expectation is to have their communications “unified” across all of their devices. The business challenge for the enterprise is to manage this element of unified communications (sometimes termed Mobility) towards corporate policies that include aspects such as security and legal/regulatory requirements. The Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD) scenario, where users are using personal devices for business communications, complicates things further.

This is the challenge that UC effectively resolves. Many companies are finding it more convenient and less complex from a management perspective, and more cost effective to align their UC needs with a cloud-hosted environment.

Does that mean that the on-premises investments are now dinosaurs and must be replaced?

Actually, no.

Organizations can choose to run UC by using both a platform in the cloud as well as an on-premises solution. There are multiple benefits associated with this hybrid approach, including:

  • Best of Both Worlds – The benefit of having a hybrid solution allows companies already invested in UC to keep and maintain that solution at their headquarters while running a cloud-based solution for mobile offices and remote workers, for example.
  • Redundancy Made Easy – With UC as a Service (UCaaS) as part of the enterprise communications and messaging strategy, you have the redundancy required to make rapid adjustments, say in case of a major weather event or other catastrophe.
  • Increased Efficiency in Dealing with a Remote Workforce – The integration of enterprise communications with complex business systems allows for a true solution based on open architecture.

Of course, the ability to add UCaaS to an existing UC solution provides business benefits as well. For example, having the benefits of cloud-based software, such as decreased operational costs, coupled with the ability to keep and maintain existing UC solutions, adds even most cost savings. Other benefits include:

  • Removal of front-loaded capital expenses
  • Dependable service experience and business continuity
  • Increased number of services, including integration of business applications

Best of Both Worlds

While not limited to one type of organization, UCaaS is ideal for organizations that have large numbers of remote or mobile employees, particularly when addressing BYOD concerns and providing a unified user experience. The offices that already utilize a UC solution on premises may be amply served and the organization does not wish to make the switch.

Even more important is the ability to make adjustments quickly. The need to adjust to a changing workforce is one environmental impact. Another is crisis scenarios such as major weather events. In these cases, there is little to no warning, causing a challenge for those offices without a flexible UC solution. This is where a hybrid approach really makes sense. Practically at the flip of a switch, you can ensure customers are still served regardless of the ability for employees to get to the office.

Simplifying communication and collaboration is the hallmark of UC and UCaaS. The good news is you don’t have to choose. A hybrid solution in which you get the best of both worlds might be the answer for your organization.

Check out this guide choosing a UC solution.

Enterprise Connect: A Recap

Enterprise Connect gathered together the industry’s finest corporations, vendors, analysts and media to learn about the newest enterprise-focused communications and collaboration technology and the best approaches for implementation. Not only did we meet with analysts to gather insight, we met with partners and other industry experts to discuss the current landscape and what each of us as leaders could do to propel the industry forward.

Role- and Location-Based Demonstrations

Throughout the session, both channel partners and end customers visited booth #1200 to learn how NEC products such as UNIVERGE 3Cand UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaSare utilized within home, office and remote environments.

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A Toast to Innovation

To cap off day two at the conference, NEC celebrated its 50thanniversary in North America with an upscale soiree during the Tuesday evening booth crawl, replete with booth staff in black tie attire and a toast to celebrate 50 years of innovation.  While sipping champagne and sparkling water, attendees were able to enjoy NEC’s demos to the sounds of a harpist.

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Sessions

In sessions such as “Is UC Moving Towards A New Plateau or Towards a Cliff” and “Enabling the Nomadic Workforce” NEC’s Todd Landry discussed the factors that are affecting the ever-changing environment at today’s enterprises, such as mobility, on-demand collaboration, virtual workspaces and more. He addressed ways that companies can meet the needs of the various constituents among their workforces.

We also showcased the healthcare vertical through the market leaders’ presentation “UC Challenges in Healthcare,” and included ways healthcare companies can address the changes that are on the horizon through technology and innovative solutions.

Throughout the conference, we spoke in order to garner insights that will not only propel the industry forward, but also strengthen our channel program and provide results for our end customers. NEC’s forward-looking remarks during the sessions were well received, often sparking lively debate and opinions on how the enterprise network is evolving and the role of emerging technologies such as cloud solutions.

Overall, Enterprise Connect 2013 was an excellent opportunity to explore new ideas, share insights and look forward to future innovation in the communications and collaboration technology space.

To learn more about empowering your workforce visit: http://necam.com/empowered

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