From the SIP Trunking Experts

June 01, 2015

Six UC and IP Telephony Pitfalls That Ruin ROI

By TMCnet Special Guest
Grant Evans, CEO, NetFortris


Anyone tasked with assessing and purchasing PBX (News - Alert) and UC solutions knows it's a jungle out there, and the right path is hard to identify, let alone navigate. Telcos are constantly conjuring up wider enterprise solutions, and point players have cropped up to push a seemingly infinite set of communications must-haves.

Acquisitions, new technologies, and emerging data needs have skewed a once-familiar technology landscape. With such drastic changes in recent years, finding an effective solution to grow and evolve with your company can be daunting. Like all jungles there are pitfalls in this new UC terrain, but they can be easily avoided with advance warning. 

Three decades of building and managing communications frameworks for global clients has given me a unique perspective on evolving UC. Let me arm you with some tips and lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Pitfall 1: CAPEX quick sand. UC and PBX infrastructure is complex and can be unnecessarily expensive. Without preemptive research and vetting, technology improvements can require significant up-front investment that is cost prohibitive to businesses with tighter lines of credit or fiscal uncertainty.

Pitfall 2: Unskilled guides. The demands of new technologies can often outpace the skills and capacity of current IT personnel. As needs emerge, the cost to refresh and retrain existing staff quickly becomes prohibitive. A team of guides built at the beginning of a UC "expedition" may have been a perfect initial fit, but businesses must also hire individuals capable of addressing the changing work patterns of increasingly mobile workers, instant messaging, video conferencing, and beyond.

Pitfall 3: Distributed camps. Industries like retail, banking, and hospitality have several distributed organizational "hubs" across multiple locations. Each location may build out its own communications networks, and vendor offerings at one location are often incompatible with competing solutions at other locations. Managing multiple vendor relationships under a single organization is not only expensive and difficult, but undermines the ability to deliver a consistent quality of service.

Pitfall 4: Shortsightedness. Ineffective leaders miss the forest for the trees. With UC and PBX, myopic planning results in disaster. Strategic leaders must focus on long-term gain, resisting the temptation to satisfy the immediate needs of price and convenience with existing vendors. They must look toward future goals for growth and globalization, micro and macro economic projections, and anticipated avenues for company competitive advantage, and then choose a communications solution accordingly.

Pitfall 5: Big promises. Many IP and UCC providers promise –and mostly deliver– an endless list of features and functionality. But more is not better. Unnecessary features can siphon away the attention of an internal IT staff, forcing them to build complex testing and implementation infrastructures. They can also require users to navigate confusing interfaces and participate in complex trainings that ultimately waste time and resources. Be familiar with your organization’s unique needs and match products and services accordingly. More is not better; sometimes it’s just more.

Pitfall 6: Inappropriate security measures. Security-conscious businesses often assume that on-premises solutions are the most secure. This is not the case and many times leads to inflexibility and cracks in a company's armor. Small to midsize businesses in particular cannot afford to build the many necessary layers of security into their communications networks. Effective hosted options provide comprehensive security and disaster recovery solutions, lifting the burden on businesses to build and manage these options internally.

How can you avoid these pitfalls? Hand over the reins, and remove yourself from the equation.

Overwhelmed by increasing complexity and costs, businesses are turning to hosted IP telephony and unified communications and collaboration solutions. Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) analyst Elka Popova succinctly explains this emerging market’s value proposition in her report, A Sustainable Approach to Hosted IP Telephony and UCC Services Deployment:

Businesses increasingly deploy hosted Internet protocol (IP) telephony and unified communications and collaboration (UCC) services in order to gain flexibility, reduce costs and risks associated with communications investments, and more effectively support remote branch office and mobile workers. Underserved small businesses can more easily gain access to advanced functionality and a large pool of technology expertise in spite of budget and information technologies (IT) staff constraints.  Large, distributed organizations can leverage hosted communications services to consolidate their infrastructure and thus reduce costs, more effectively manage vendor relationships, offer a consistent feature set across the organization as well as deliver communications capabilities to various locations based on specific user needs rather than underlying technology. Businesses, especially those favoring operating expense  (OPEX (News - Alert))-based technology investments such as education and government organizations, can replace large upfront capital outlays with predictable monthly charges.

Grant Evans, CEO of NetFortris

I’ve worked with countless clients to help them reap the benefits of cloud UC. One company, Hospice by the Bay, was in need of scalable options that accommodated growth without a costly overhaul of existing systems. After working together, they gained advanced services and simultaneously reduced overall costs.

In place of antiquated servers and a problematic phone system, they achieved a cost-efficient network with integrated voice and data. Using an MPLS network with increased bandwidth, Hospice by the Bay gained a fully scalable, cloud-based PBX system with mobile integration that connected employees in multiple locations. A synchronized upgrade of systems allowed for a seamless transition, and integrated Hosted Security solutions to provided a state-of-the-art firewall and airtight, HIPAA-compliant oversight.

In the UC jungle, the pitfalls are many, but avoidable. Know the needs of your company, and know your options. Don’t be lured into flashy products and services that are incompatible with your ultimate goals. Harness the power of solutions that solve problems, instead of create them. Good luck!

Edited by Stefania Viscusi