9 Ways an Aging Phone System Could be Putting Business Success on Hold

Prior to the advent of Cloud Communications, companies relied upon on-premises hardware to deliver their communications. The trouble with continuing the use of an on-premises phone system is the architecture of conventional phone systems dates to a time when going to work meant going into an office. Many were even designed when smartphones were considered nothing but science fiction. Today’s workers require more agility and capabilities than these systems support.

Traditional On-Prem PBX with UC vs. UCaaS

Unified Communications (UC) systems can take two forms: On-Premises and in the cloud, which is referred to as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). So which is best?

With on-premises UC, you own the phone system, the infrastructure and host all hardware on-site, paying for it as a capital expense. For businesses with multiple locations, PBX hardware must be installed in each location. To implement a new application, you typically have to buy new hardware/software, install it, get your resources trained on how to support it, and then go through a series of tests.

A cloud phone system with UCaaS combines many different communications applications and features into one platform, hosted in the cloud. You can choose to rent or own the phones, and in a lot of cases, phones are offered free by service providers, and you pay a monthly subscription for all maintenance, features, upgrades, and support. UCaaS takes phone system management and maintenance off your plate. All you need is an internet connection to access a cloud service, making it easy to link different branches and integrate mobile devices.

A modern cloud phone system not only provides highly reliable connectivity and call quality but is also easy to deploy and simple to maintain. Plus, the cloud delivers the agility and advanced features your business needs to keep pace with consumers and mobile workers.

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the 9 ways an aging phone system could be putting your business success on hold.

Too Costly

ROI CalculatorWith a cloud-based phone system, you enjoy one flat-rate for all your calls nationwide. For one predictable monthly charge, you also get a range of additional services without the complexity of multiple bills. Contrast that with traditional on-premises systems where, even when the hardware is paid for, you still incur ongoing costs for things like software upgrades, maintenance, and support. You may also need expensive expansion cards for adding new users or costly private business exchange (PBX) lines for connectivity between multiple locations.

Low Customer Satisfaction

A study by the respected research firm Gartner also found that when it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. This means businesses must quickly put customers in touch with exactly who they need.

This can create problems for businesses still using traditional on-premises phone systems. When a traditional on-premises PBX phone system is not built to integrate with your teams’ mobile devices, you leave yourself open to a poor customer experience unless your sales representatives happen to be sitting at their desks right when the customer calls. A modern cloud phone system gives your employees the ability to answer a call from any device and stay in touch with customers anytime, anywhere, and from virtually any mobile device.

Unreliable Phone Service with Traditional PBX

First and foremost, every business needs reliable phone service and good call quality. Of the many shortcomings of traditional PBX systems, their lack of adequate disaster recovery and business continuity may be the most serious. On-site legacy systems are not designed to provide continuous connectivity in the event of outages from natural disasters and other events.

With UCaaS, your communications and collaboration solutions run in the cloud, in redundant datacenters, not on on-premises hardware. This means business continues even in the event of a fire, power outage, or natural disaster.

Weak Security and Compliance

With a cloud-based system, data is backed up to secure datacenters that employ dedicated security personnel to monitor networks and server rooms at all times and are built to withstand natural disasters. With on-premises phone systems, servers are located in your office, which is more susceptible to break-ins and unforeseen weather disasters, which pose threats to your servers containing your data.

With the right cloud provider, robust security protects your data. This is particularly important for small- and medium-size businesses, which typically lack the dedicated IT and Security staff of larger businesses. The right cloud service provider experts can provide world-class security, which includes compliance with government regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Not Mobile Friendly

Most traditional PBX systems, with their hardwired infrastructures, can’t easily accommodate the needs of an increasingly wireless, mobile world. A cloud phone system provides apps for mobile devices and desktops to support your workers anywhere they roam. This mobility allows mobile employees to access conference calls, video conferences, faxing, and team chats from a mobile device. Meanwhile, your customers can reach your employees from a single company phone number.

Hard to Scale

What happens when your business grows, and you need to add more users? With traditional PBX with UC, more phones and UC licenses need to be purchased and installed. You’ll also need to ensure that sufficient voice channels will be provisioned, which involves significant lead time that could severely impede your ability to react in a timely manner. Cloud-based communications provides users with on-demand scalability and bursting capabilities. This means you can increase your seat count in record time – or quickly scale down during slower seasons to control costs.

Difficult to Set Up Branch Offices and Remote Workers

As businesses undergo mergers and acquisitions, move offices, launch new international locations, and hire new teleworkers, your communications must be able to adapt quickly. With traditional communications platforms, adding a PBX to each location can be slow, labor intensive and expensive. This limits an organization’s flexibility to easily adopt new features, functionality, or process improvements.

Rather than requesting a service call or waiting for the phone company to provision lines, a cloud phone system lets you simply send phones to new offices or remote workers.

Aging, Out of Data PBX

Premises-based PBX systems can quickly become out of date as keeping up with updates and new feature enhancements can become costly and time consuming. Moving traditional software models to the cloud helps ensure employee access to the communication tools they need, while also helping you stay up to date with the latest versions.

A top-tier cloud service provider will automatically upgrade your calling and other features in the cloud so you won’t have to worry about upgrades or added fees.

Cumbersome and Complicated

A cloud-based phone system eliminates the need to pay for collaboration services such as video conferencing, chat, file storage, internet fax, backup, and other stand-alone services from different suppliers. This not only reduces procurement and billing complexity as with a traditional PBX but also dramatically improves employee productivity. For example, with an integrated cloud communications service, employees collaborating in a group chat can instantly elevate the session to a video conference or web meeting without leaving the application.

Ready to Move to the Cloud?

The days of waiting for the phone company to deliver, set up, and connect on-site business phone hardware are gone. With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT, you will have a reliable, full-featured cloud-based phone system up and running almost instantly.

If you’re ready to make the move, chose a cloud company with superior call quality, proven reliability, and a track record for stellar customer service and support. The fully integrated UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT solution provides a premier business phone system to meet your needs.

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UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD – A Hosted, Private Unified Communications Cloud Solution for Any Size Business

Over recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of cloud-based services offered to businesses of all sizes within all industries. The flexibility of being able to access your business software from any location, and the scalability and cost-effectiveness of cloud services are the reasons for the high cloud adoption rates. For certain industries including government enterprises, traditional/non-traditional banks, hospitality, research centers and other mid-large sized organizations a standardized public cloud offering might not be ideal to satisfy unique business needs and requirements. A private cloud is ideal for those organizations with business-critical operations and seeking enhanced control and security over their IT Communications environment.

What is a Private Cloud?

A private cloud, also referred to as an internal or corporate cloud, is an on-demand solution accessed via the internet built exclusively for one business or organization. An organization who selects a private cloud model can choose to have their infrastructure hosted by a third-party service provider. In a private cloud, services and infrastructure are always maintained on a private network and all hardware/software is dedicated to one organization.

NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD

With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD, organizations receive the benefits of both an on-premises and cloud-based communications solution without having to choose. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD Business / Hospitality offering is a complete turnkey, private communications solution hosted in secure and resilient cloud data centers. Organizations receive their own single, dedicated instance with ensured geographic redundancy making it easier to customize resources to meet specific IT requirements.

UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD allows fast provisioning of new applications and features and provides users with an unparalleled level of agility. Voice, Unified Messaging, and Unified Communications are fully integrated and includes a wide variety of customizable mobility apps and advanced contact center features to meet all business communications needs. By deploying a private cloud solution, organizations eliminate the burdens that come with developing, maintaining, powering, and securing their own IT infrastructure by reducing on-site equipment and allowing NEC to handle maintenance.

Benefits of NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD Unified Communications Include:

  • Enhanced mobile presence and UC features
  • Instant Messaging between colleagues or group chats
  • Ability to set contact rules and view presence and status change
  • Complete call control with IP, TDM, and SIP options
  • Seamless call transferring between devices and single-number reach
  • Supports Microsoft® Exchange and Office 365® (fully integrated calendars)
  • Enterprise-grade voicemail and unified messaging platform
  • Record of communications history updated with call information
  • One number, one voicemail, one complete call history

With the reputation for reliability and security that the UNIVERGE SV9500 offers, paired with NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES, UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD is ideal for medium to large-sized enterprises wanting the ease and cost-effectiveness of a cloud solution while maintaining the security and privacy they get with an on-premises system.

The Best of Both Worlds

While the choices of unified communication solutions in the marketplace are vast, the available options for a dynamic and comprehensive delivery model are limited. It is essential to choose a solution that offers you the flexibility to customize around your workforce needs and provides your business with the agility it requires to adapt to ever-changing customer demands. With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD solution, enterprises can implement their unified communications system the way that best fits their business and industry needs while always keeping teams and customers connected and allowing employees to focus on their core business instead of hardware maintenance.

Whether you choose a hosted on-premises-based system, fully hosted in the cloud, or hybrid system, UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD is an opportunity to switch from a capital expense (CAPEX) model to an operating expense (OPEX) one, eliminating the need for a large upfront investment. Pay only for the capacity you need with a single monthly bill for system hardware, phones, and phone services plus SIP Trunking with UNIVERGE BLUE SV9500 PRIVATE CLOUD.

If you are interested in a private cloud solution for your organization, reach out to your NEC representative today or visit NEC’s website! For more information on NEC’S UNIVERGE BLUE Public Cloud offering, visit www.univergeblue.com.

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UC M&A Activity Further Validates NEC’s Smart Enterprise Strategy

Seems like every time I read about what’s happening in the marketplace, I learn that there’s another merger or buy-out happening in the enterprise communications space. Mitel announced recently it is acquiring rival ShoreTel, reportedly to accelerate its “move-to-the-cloud” strategy. This acquisition, along with other recent moves by Avaya and Toshiba, only reinforces my belief in NEC’s strategy for the Smart Enterprise.

NEC’s long history and innovation heritage means we are much more than just a voice and UC company – we are a true enterprise technology pioneer with roots dating back more than 50 years in the United States and over 118 years in Japan.

In developing our wide range of technologies and services, we strive to build solutions that will address specific business needs and challenges by driving safety, security and operational efficiency. These solutions, when integrated and combined in various scenarios, form our portfolio for the Smart Enterprise – our definitive technology strategy for NEC’s vision of the future.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?But let’s get back to the cloud, and more specifically, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). NEC has developed a wide range of unified communications (UC) solutions that can be deployed in the cloud, on-premises or in a hybrid scenario.   For starters, NEC has a strong UCaaS offering called UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services. UNIVERGE BLUE allows a business to host all or just some of its UC in the cloud.  We also offer the UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE solution, which is a full phone and UC system deployed on premises with no large up-front investment.   The cloud allows us to offer SV9100 BLUE as an operating expense with a single bill for hardware and service.  All of this is offered today through our extensive channel partner network.

Our portfolio also includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), software defined networking (SDN), data center technologies, Unified Communications (on-premises, cloud and hybrid), biometrics, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence solutions. With a world-class network of Channel Partners and as a direct solutions integrator, we can deploy these solutions globally. Here in the U.S., we also have NEC Financial Services which delivers tailored leasing structures of extraordinary flexibility to customers nationwide.

Additionally, we are discovering new and innovative ways to utilize our biometrics solutions by integrating them with our other solutions. For instance, we have developed a virtual receptionist solution that integrates one of our biometrics applications with our Android™-based touch-screen UT880 telephone. The telephone can be placed in the lobby area and a remote worker is able to greet visitors and then screen them through our NeoFace Watch facial recognition application.

Don’t just take my word for it, the Boston Consulting Group named NEC as one of its 50 Most Innovative Companies and Frost & Sullivan recently honored NEC with their 2016 North America Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award for our market approach for the Smart Enterprise by stating, “NEC’s Smart Enterprise initiative is providing holistic enterprise communications transformation options that help customers adapt and flourish in the face of complex challenges.”

While the technology world is ever-changing, one thing that you can count on is NEC and our solutions for Smart Enterprise. We have demonstrated over the years our long-term commitment to our customers and to understanding their unique needs as well as their particular vertical industries. If you are ready to learn more about our solutions for Smart Enterprise and how they can help you optimize your business, please contact NEC today for a free consultation.

Smart Enterprise

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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.

 
 
 
 
 



What’s the Big Deal About High Availability Unified Communications?

Lately we’re hearing more and more about employee mobility trends and continuously accessible unified communications systems, about high-availability servers and the importance of staying connected at all times. So why is it such a big deal? Well, for one thing, the world has evolved into one huge marketplace where everyone seems to be on the move, and having answers and information at our fingertips, 24/7, has become an absolute necessity – or else!

With the growing need for employees to be able to access their work and collaborate with co-workers wherever they are, and at any time, unified communications applications are now commonplace. In fact, UC has become such a primary business concern that 56 percent of enterprise organizations recently surveyed by IDG Enterprise plan to upgrade or install new UC solutions within the next year, and 66 percent of small and medium sized businesses are also actively planning for upcoming UC improvements.

What’s driving the increase in UC investments?

With the increasing mobility of workforces today and a growing number of remote workers, it’s not surprising that the IDG Enterprise survey also reveals that 43 percent of the organizations reported their UC improvements were driven by the need for improved collaboration between their employees. The ability to resolve issues quickly, to share information, the immediacy of creative brainstorming and collaborative problem solving; these are some of the benefits of these powerful communication tools.

Similarly, 33 percent of the companies specifically attributed the upcoming upgrading of their UC to their need for increased flexibility for onsite employees and for mobile personnel. Enabling their employees to work from anywhere, and at any time, and to access and know when a co-worker is available and be able to quickly connect, these capabilities have serious value to businesses across all industries.

One of the top motivators for improving their UC was evident in the 42 percent of organizations who plan to install or upgrade for reasons of increasing their overall productivity—gaining the efficiency that results from streamlined operations and the immediate information share between departments and personnel.

What is High Availability anyway?

What does high availability of your unified communications have to do with the success or failure of an organization? Why is it so critical? Well, let’s look at what this term actually means.

*Gary Audin states that in the world of IT, the term High Availability refers to “a system or component that is continuously operational for a long length of time.” To repeat, that means constantly working, without any breaks or downtime, providing unified communications that are “continuously operational.”

Usually the ability of an employee to effectively do their job requires them to access the system to submit or alter their work. If the user cannot access the system, then it is termed “unavailable.” This kind of downtime impairs productivity, and causes workflow inefficiency and lost revenue. It has become critical for the UC system of any sized organization to be immediately accessible, with no disturbances or interruptions, for optimal business continuity.

What are some risks of being without a High Availability UC solution?

Your unified communications is mission critical, and accessibility is the very lifeblood of a successful organization, however these investments can suffer outages if not on a high availability infrastructure.  Without reliable redundancy and back up, you risk your people and your customers being cut off from information, workers from the workflow, and everyone from collaboration with each other. The loss of UC, for even a few hours, can mean a substantial loss to an enterprise.

What kind of losses are we talking about here? When your infrastructure fails for any length of time, along with lost productivity that obviously impacts revenue, businesses suffer the sharp decreases in customer satisfaction levels, the number of business relationships and customers lost, a damaged reputation, and the high costs of recovering that reputation.

In fact, the Ponemon Institute reported some interesting 2016 average costs associated with system outages:

  • Business Disruption – $256,000
  • Lost Revenue – $209,000
  • End-User Productivity – $138,000
  • IT Productivity – $62,000
.@PonemonPrivacy reported some interesting 2016 average costs associated with system outages. Click To Tweet

In Conclusion

So what is the big deal about High Availability UC? It becomes evident that the risk of incurring some of the losses that accompany broken communications and business disruption can become a very big deal.  For Smart Enterprises, UC has become a major focus for their strategic budget planning because it is a very big part of the success of their organization, and a critical factor for future growth.

Question: Do you have a true High Availability infrastructure that provides 99.999% UC reliability and prevents these kind of business disruption losses?

To learn more, download our Smart Enterprise eBook called “Achieving High Availability in UC” by industry expert, Gary Audin. This eBook takes a comprehensive look at UC and the importance of system availability plus examines the key components needed to build and sustain a UC-enabled environment.

(*Gary Audin has more than 40+ years of experience in computer, communications and security consulting and implementation, and is a well-known author of over 1000 blogs, articles, podcasts, white papers and webinars. Our quote is from the “Achieving High Availability in UC” ebook.)

 

Free Ebook: Achieving High Availability in UC

Free Ebook:

Achieving High Availability in UC

This eBook by communications and security consultant Gary Audin, president of Delphi, Inc., takes a comprehensive look at UC and the importance of system availability. Also examined in-depth are the components needed to put together and sustain a UC-enabled communications environment.