Enterprise IP Communications Making the Right Choice
By Todd Landry, Sr. Vice President, Marketing & Product Management
Sphere Communications Inc.
Many new options are arising as a result of the move to IP technology as a media for voice communications. More importantly the move to IP brings a new opportunity for additional value and productivity in communications. However, many current offerings are merely implementations of legacy private branch exchange (PBX) models on a new set of wires – IP wires. Burdened by a history of complex, proprietary systems and their related revenue streams, many traditional PBX vendors find it difficult to shift their business too quickly – effectively slowing the real adoption of new technologies.
At the same time many new methods of communication are surfacing, including text messaging, “presence” capabilities – a method that allows other users to see if you are “on the phone”, “in a meeting”, etc., video to the desktop, and business collaboration tools. The integration of these enhancements into an enterprise based communications system seems logical, yet many systems still lack these features.
Most enterprise telecommunications (or PBX) functions can be easily implemented in a software system. In fact, today there is no technical barrier that mandates specialty hardware or “embedded” firmware based solutions. History has demonstrated the flexibility that open software-based systems can provide, raising the question of why telecommunications should not become a software application.
The introduction of voice solutions on IP technology opens many new opportunities for enterprise decision makers. Many of today’s IP-based systems are adaptations of embedded, proprietary designs -- limited in their potential. Understanding how telecommunications software applications can deliver more flexibility and productivity is paramount in an enterprise decision to deploy a new voice system.
For anyone in charge of making the decision on a telecommunications system, this paper highlights some of the key factors that should be included in your checklist. It is intended as a guide, but presents real options available to those IT executives who wish to deliver a positive business impact to their enterprise
Deliver more Control to your Users
Find ways to empower your enterprise communications for more productivity
The most mission critical element of business is “communication”, and too often the power of controlling communications is in the hands of the wrong people. There is a great deal of value to be gained by delivering more flexibility to the individuals that know how they work best. Both the IT organization and individuals using the system can benefit by taking control of their communications. Next generation telecommunications systems should be able you to empower your business more effectively. Some of the most basic elements of empowering users are often overlooked, including:
• Personalized Forwarding rules provide the ability to dynamically customize how calls
are handled, based on time of day, whether you’re in a meeting, who is calling, and
the telephone at your location. You should even be able to customize something as
simple as how many times the phone will ring before a call is forwarded to voice
• Smart Directories are providing users with an on-screen directory, where they can
not only click to dial, but can also see the status of others in the organization and
can use the same list as their enterprise instant text messaging list.
• On-demand Conferencing enables more cost effective communications among
multiple parties. Communication often goes beyond two people, and arranging
conference calls today typically includes scheduling and most often the expense of
an offsite system. New systems provide extremely economical conference call on-
the-fly tools, allowing calls with numerous parties so you can assemble calls from
any source immediately using drag-and-drop on-screen tools.
• Integrated Messaging enables additional forms of communication among users in
your organization. The ability to use text messaging to communicate with other
employees, so when you see on your screen that they are on the phone you have
an alternative to blindly calling into their voicemail. When there is voicemail
involved, having it provided in your email in-box while synchronized with traditional
telephone voicemail access.
• Personal Mobility Options make it easy for users to work from home or from public
WiFi Hotspots using desktop tools that double as a soft phone. The soft phone
should be an integrated feature, allowing users to take advantage of all other tools
just as if they were in their office. Easy forwarding options allow users to define
how they would like to connect using their cellular phone, and other mobile devices.
Support for in-building wireless telephones that meet the demands of either factory
or office environments can give users an easy way to really stay connected.
Communication Technologies are quickly becoming Software Applications
Abstract your communications system from the underlying network
Today, next generation telecommunication systems are becoming software-based
applications that are no different than operating CRM, ERP, Email, or other business
applications on your network. Regardless of the choice in a telecommunication system, the decision to keep its functions abstracted from the underlying network provides you with a great deal of flexibility.
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