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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Three Principals for Effective Hybrid Communications and Collaboration

Succeed with the New Hybrid Work Model

It’s been called everything from the “biggest shift to how we work in our generation” to “the new norm in 2021,” and many are sure it is here to stay. One thing is certain ― preparing for the new era is a business imperative.

One aspect of hybrid work is certain—the need for communication and collaboration tools that support continued productivity and business operations. Over 70% of executives expect to raise spending in this area, according to the PWC study. But along with the technology, you’ll need a vision for how your business’s hybrid work model supports communications and collaboration.

What is a Hybrid Work Model?

Let’s first define and examine the component parts of a hybrid work model—one that supports any and all combinations of worker types while ensuring no lapse in communication and collaboration either internally or with customers.

Your company’s breakdown of worker types will be different from that of companies in other industries, and the mix of worker types will constantly shift. Employees with shorter tenures may be required to start as in-office workers, while experienced veterans may find Work-From-Home (WFH) makes them more productive. As employees change roles, their work location may shift, and there is no doubt that worker types will evolve along with it.

Worker types could include:

  • In-Office Workers
  • Employees who choose to work at a remote location (such as coffee shop or library)
  • Work-From-Home Employees
  • Workers who are part time in the office and part time at home
  • Workers in Transit (working on the go)

The Keys to Hybrid Success

Designing a communications and collaboration solution for your hybrid work model shouldn’t be difficult, and won’t be if you keep three principals at the forefront: Flexibility, Business at the Center of All Communications, and Crazy Simple Communications and on-line meeting tools.

Flexibility

A hybrid work model requires your solution to stretch and expand, ebb and flow as the model takes shape and changes. Hybrid work isn’t a static concept—by nature it implies that where people work will change over time, so your communications solution has to embody elasticity.

Employees should be able to quickly and seamlessly collaborate with each other regardless of their physical location. Elastic communications technology doesn’t care about “where.” Location of either employee or customer is a nonissue. And it needs to be a central feature of your hybrid work model. Elastic communications and contact center solutions also support the unpredictability of a hybrid work model—when employees decide to move to a rural location where your business doesn’t have an office, customers and employees can still reach that employee without awareness of the move. A cloud-based contact center and unified communications allows your business to engage and support customers, no matter where agents or employees may be.

Keep Business At The Center

When your hybrid work model communications technology puts your business at the center of all communications and collaboration, customers reach you the same way they always have. Your business phone number doesn’t change, nor do your employees’ business phone numbers. Employees should never have to share personal phone numbers, because their business phone travels wherever they go. And all communications should be unified in the cloud such that you or your IT leader can measure, secure, and manage them regardless of location.

Management capabilities should let you add phone lines for unexpected growth or remove them when no longer needed. You should enjoy one console to manage permissions, set up hunt groups, set up auto attendants, and more, regardless of employee and customer locations.

Crazy Simple Communications & On-Line Meeting Tools

Let’s illustrate a bit further what we mean by “crazy simple,” at least for your communications and collaboration technology. One suite of tools should deliver all that you need—a business phone system with desktop and mobile applications, the ability to conduct virtual meetings with video, webinar, contact center solutions, security, chat capability, even secure and easy file storage and productivity applications. A central, single management platform and a service record that makes deployment easy. Uptime so good, so reliable, that the system rarely goes down. One system that delivers on whatever communications and collaboration need your employees may have, wherever they are.

NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES – Designed for Hybrid Working

Flexible, business-centric, simple communications and collaboration technology is what NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE offers. A cloud-based unified communications and collaboration platform, UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT enables users to be more productive and share ideas and content though a single system, regardless of location. CONNECT seamlessly integrates all your communication tools—desktop and mobile phones and computers voice; video conferencing, on-line webinars, and chat; secure file sharing, and contact center— into one easily manageable solution oriented around your hybrid work model and its employee’s needs and workstyles.

Are you ready for the world of hybrid work? Don’t waste time and money on servers, app install, and security patches. With NEC’s cloud-based business productivity suite, your business is your focus, not your IT. UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES can help define your hybrid work model and ensure your employees have the tools they need to work better, from wherever they might be.

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Customer Success Story – How migrating to UNIVERGE BLUE helped Epic Web Studios enable remote working, improve scalability, and grow their business.

Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania. A customer of NEC since 2010, Epic started out using the SV8100 platform but migrated to NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES after seeing the increasing need for more unified communications to support its growing workforce.

I recently met with David Hunter, President and CEO of Epic Web Studios to discuss how UNIVERGE BLUE was able to help his company enable remote work, improve scalability and grow its business.

Marc: Tell me about Epic Web Studios. How did you get started?

Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency that does it all for clients, no matter the size. From Website Design and Development, Social Media, Digital Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), our goal is to help clients compete in today’s ever-changing marketplace through a viable digital marketing strategy.

Headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania, Epic Web Studios started in 2009 as a small, single-client web-site development firm. Today, we are a full-service digital marketing firm with over five hundred clients in North America and more than sixteen full-time employees.

Marc: Wow! That is quite the achievement. In the past decade or so since you started the company, what has changed?

As time and technology progressed, the need for more unified communications features became increasingly apparent. Epic was growing rapidly and needed a system that could keep up. With more clients and the large shift towards remote working, we needed a flexible, cloud solution to allow us to communicate with clients, collaborate cross-functionally and be productive from anywhere, at any time.

Marc: You’re not alone. Now more than ever, businesses need the ability and flexibility to communicate and collaborate from wherever they may be. Can you share further insight into some of the challenges Epic Web Studios was facing?

With our on-premises system, our teams were restricted to only using voice and email to communicate. Unanswered calls were forwarded to one general voicemail, and emailing back-and-forth became inefficient as the primary mode of communication.

Our employees needed greater control over how calls could be made, forwarded, and received; they also needed more flexibility in their business communications and more variety in their communication methods.

In addition, we relied on various communication and collaboration tools, which was inefficient, costly, and difficult to manage. We needed a communications system that was fully-integrated and secure so that we could go from online meetings to instant messages to phone conversations and everything in between very easily and seamlessly.

In short, we needed a solution that would provide reliable, real-time communication with robust and fully-integrated features to support employee productivity. We also needed a solution that would enable employees to work from home, which would have been very difficult with our old on-premises communications system.

Marc: It sounds like you came to the right place. However, I know there are plenty of different vendors in the market. What made you ultimately choose UNIVERGE BLUE?

ROI CalculatorWith other options reviewed, costs were too high, functionality was missing, or the solution just didn’t meet Epic Web Studio’s needs. Luckily, NEC launched UNIVERGE BLUE as I was researching new platforms.

Ultimately, we chose UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT because the features were the strongest, the transition was going to be easy, and the price point was extremely competitive. We also chose UNIVERGE BLUE because of the local support that NEC provides with a large network of Channel Partners. Our technology partner was instrumental in getting our system set up and is always there to answer provide any support that we need. Most of the larger cloud companies and service providers do not offer this kind of local support.

As technology evolves, NEC is always on the cutting edge of new ways of working to make our communications more convenient and secure. This bevy of new features included with UNIVERGE BLUE offers us new opportunities to become even more efficient and productive with our business communications – all at a reasonable cost.

Another bonus was the ease of deployment. It was pretty much effortless. When we moved from our on-premises solution to UNIVERGE BLUE, we were up and running in a matter of hours. It was incredible.

Marc: Well, we are certainly happy to have Epic Web Studios as a part of the UNIVERGE BLUE family. Here’s my final question – what results have you seen since deployment?

For starters, our employees have been able to communicate with clients more effectively. We have seen a significant decrease in the number of back-and-forth emails thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. Our clients call us directly and we can have one-click video-conferencing meetings with them. We have also seen a major increase in our productivity because of UNIVERGE BLUE.

As a result of both the streamlined communication and increased productivity, we have also been able to scale our business and grow our client base. Because we were able to provision more users very quickly, we’re able to take on more projects, and that has led to the growth of the company, which has been phenomenal recently thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. I can’t recommend UNIVERGE BLUE enough!


For more information about UNIVERGE BLUE, NEC’s full portfolio of “As-A-Service” Solutions, visit www.univergeblue.com. For questions about the products or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD Representative, submit your information to us and we will get back to you shortly.

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Why Unified Communications Is Essential to Remote Work and Business Continuity

As business leaders implement new policies for returning to work, they are also reevaluating plans for enterprise resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns caused businesses to react quickly, testing their agility and ability to recover. During this stabilization period, there will be a pivot towards flexibility and improved business continuity plans for the “next normal.”

Business Continuity While Working Remotely

No one could predict that organizations would have to quickly embrace remote work due to the potential spread of employee illness. As a case in point, a Gartner Business Continuity survey revealed that only 12% of organizations felt that their business continuity plans were prepared for the impact of COVID-19. Without these plans in place, revenue has been affected, some businesses have shuttered, and others are unable to reopen.

With the continuation of the pandemic and the uncertainty of a vaccine, 74% of CFO’s are planning to permanently shift to remote work in order to manage costs. The onus is now on IT and security leaders to consider what employees need to successfully work from a remote location so that business can continue as usual. Leaders are looking to cloud-enabled services and unified communications to minimize future business disruption and support remote collaboration.

Built on NEC’s award-winning infrastructure, UNIVERGE BLUE® offers affordable services to ensure business continuity and employee productivity and collaboration while working remotely.

Why Unified Communications is Essential for Business Continuity

Remote work and telecommuting options have steadily been increasing, with 159% growth in the past 12 years, driving an increase in UC implementation. As some organizations were considering unified communications before, there is now an added benefit of increased business continuity and disaster recovery, post-COVID-19.

Moving to a UC solution takes services such as telephony, file storage sharing, video conferencing, contact center and data backup to the cloud so they are accessible from anywhere at any time. Cloud-enabled services create an additional layer of security to real-time work processes, guaranteeing availability beyond weather events or pandemics. Systems and collaboration tools remain available to remote work locations, often at higher speeds, to enable workflow and increased productivity outside of the normal office environment.

Since the unexpected impacts of the pandemic, work and team collaboration have been changed for good. It is imperative that a disaster recovery plan account for remote work options. Organizations must include UC in their contingency plan to be agile and continue business as usual.

Remote Collaboration and Effective Communications

As more employees are expected to work from home, remote teams must find new ways to work together. Unfortunately, remote communications can be easily distorted or misinterpreted with delays and a lack of physical and social interaction. Another frustration is when remote teams choose ad-hoc services, creating more complexity, security holes and maintenance challenges for IT and security teams.

Streamlining communication complexity is the key to improving remote collaboration, enhancing security and productivity, as well as saving time, finances and resources.

It’s important that employees don’t lose the power of face-to-face meetings while remote. The good news is they don’t have to! With NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE® MEET Video Conferencing solution, you and all of your colleagues have access to powerful virtual collaboration tools to help keep your business moving forward—even when employees aren’t in the office.

What’s more, NEC is giving MEET Video Conferencing and Collaboration to existing customers and new UNIVERGE BLUE® customers for FREE for the rest of the year!

*Some Restrictions Apply*

Responsive Remote Contact Center

One of the challenges with remote work is continuing to provide a high-quality customer experience. Implementing unified communications optimizes contact centers, offering increased control and simplified maintenance through a single platform. Instead of working through multiple tabs or applications, contact center agents are more agile, with one interface to handle customer needs efficiently, from anywhere at any time.

Contact center performance can be measured through monitoring, recording and analytic reporting. The use of unified communications for contact centers also allows for easier scalability and deployment for remote workers. With a streamlined remote contact center, organizations can hire agents in any location and ensure top-notch customer responsiveness.

Secure Disaster Recovery

No business continuity plan is complete without secure backup and recovery to manage and protect critical proprietary information and data. Working remotely can increase security and compliance challenges, as sensitive data may be stored unencrypted on remote workstations, especially if there is no singular platform for accessing company resources.

When moving to cloud-enabled services for responsive communications or collaborative work practices, IT and security teams require simplified and more secure data storage. The cost-savings of implementing a secure, cloud-enabled data backup and recovery platform also include ongoing access to the latest hardware and software without the need to maintain the infrastructure or personnel.

Why Choose NEC UNIVERGE BLUE® for Remote Work and Business Continuity?

The new remote work challenge for IT and security teams is managing multiple types of software, infrastructure and other platforms across many locations. UNIVERGE BLUE offers secure, cloud-enabled unified communications and collaboration solutions that are fully integrated, scalable, cost-effective and easier to maintain than on-premises hardware. The streamlined communications platform improves employee and customer experience with secure access from anywhere for team collaboration and a centralized hub for information.

NEC also offers a phased approach and flexible delivery model for organizations moving to unified communications. Consider UNIVERGE BLUE solutions to:

  • Improve remote employee productivity and collaboration through greater mobility and communications
  • Reduce IT costs through integration with other cloud-based applications and simplified management
  • Reduce risk with secure, compliant data backup and recovery

Contact your NEC Account Manager or visit the UNIVERGE BLUE website to learn more.

Putting Dynamic Communications At The Center Of Business

Inaccessibility and non-responsiveness are no longer acceptable in today’s business environment.  It isn’t prudent in winning or retaining customer loyalty; it doesn’t foster internal teamwork; nor does it help in building a sustainable brand reputation.  Plus, from a technology perspective, there really isn’t an excuse for lengthy lags in responsiveness, productivity or collaboration.

Unified Communications (UC) with its integrated approach to advanced voice, mobility, messaging, video and audio collaboration and communications apps, enables organizations of all sizes to effectively manage the how, when and where of their connectivity.  Yet to create such an accessible and dynamic work environment, having the right foundation is essential.  A communications platform that is capable of reliably and quickly facilitating and right-sizing how, when and where regarding its accessibility across and beyond the enterprise.

NEC has been recognized by industry experts as having one of the highest levels of customer satisfaction among UC vendors and providing customer solutions with one of the lowest total cost of ownership in the market.  So what performance factors determine the company’s highly reliable and virtualized UC environments?



Operational & Service Scalability
Interoperability and accessibility are central to agile enterprise operations from an operational and customer service standpoint. Communications systems have to be dependable, sizable and adaptable. But they also must remain manageable. NEC’s UNIVERGE® SV9500 UC solution probably best illustrates how the company is meeting these requirements. Developed for larger and geographically dispersed organizations, this communications solution robustly supports voice, unified communications as well as unified messaging and it is all done from a single point of management. In spite of such broad capabilities, the SV9500 is among the simplest UC-capable systems to configure and integrates simply into existing IT technology as a fully interoperable IP or digital system. There is also a virtualized software model for those seeking more extensive competencies and a new SV9500SE model that brings the SV9500 and its many abilities to smaller-sized organizations.

When it comes to scaling customer service, it is all about meeting if not exceeding expectations. The UC Contact Center suite for the SV9500 exemplifies such front line attention through its fast and efficient handling of customer calls. Able to control high call volume using intelligent routing, inquiries get evenly distributed among contact agents to reduce hold time or can be skill-based to best match queries with the most appropriate representative. Additional agents can even quickly sign in during peaks or purges in caller activity to ensure optimal responsiveness. And to lessen the chance of call abandonment or caller frustration, options such as automated call back and queue announcements can keep those on the line engaged and provide them with control over how their call gets handled. With additional options such as chat, email or voice, callers can truly interact and get the information they need in the manner that they like best.

Collaborative & User Accessibility
Openness and transparency and the capability to react quickly defines what it means to be a highly-connected workforce. Through improved access to critical apps and by knowing when and how to best reach someone, tasks get completed quicker and more easily. When complete suits of user-centric UC and collaborative apps are consolidated into one highly available client, teamwork becomes streamlined. NEC’s SV9300 solution makes all this possible for mid-size organizations with up to 1,500 potential users. By supporting collaborative apps as instant messaging, group chat, audio and video conferencing along with presence technology and intelligent call routing, unencumbered communications can be realized across grouped and dispersed individuals, teams and environments. The fact that the platform’s mobility apps are out-of-the-box ready and compatible across Apple® iPhone®, iPad® and Android™ devices ensures quick deployment and uninterrupted adoption. Equally as important, this compatibility averts any need to replace or reinvest in existing technology and avoid time-consuming and disruptive operational modifications.



Brand Sustainability
Brand memorability depends on the experiences provided. Each and every interaction – whether interpersonal or electronic – has the potential of enhancing or detracting from an organization’s reputation. As a hub for so many apps, communications systems can be instrumental in understanding which applications and devices are promoting or hindering brand loyalty and employee productivity. Intuitive, feature-rich call accounting systems can provide complete visibility into UC usage and the means to effectively evaluate performance. This is why NEC includes a secure and modifiable administration and expense management system with each SV9000 Series communications platform, even for the SV9100 designed especially for smaller-sized organizations. So even smaller companies can benefit and alter their practices by effortlessly scrutinizing how their communications system and collaborative apps are creating brand ambassador moments.

Interested in how NEC – a global leader in the call control market – can optimize your workforce across and beyond the organization? Contact us now and find out …

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