Business & IT Challenges
Our customers come to us to help solve some of their business challenges. These challenges can be simple or complex. It may be easier to think about the problem to help determine how to move forward than jump to a possible solution. So we, Unity Connected Solutions, have come up with some common challenges we have seen our customers experience to help guide you through selecting a possible solution.
Cordless/Wireless for Small Business
A large number of our small business customers struggle with mobility around the office. They may not have a large office, but as they are the owner, office manager, IT person and any other key role, they may not always be at their desk and could miss an important business call.
One alternative is to rack up mobile phone minutes while in your office. That doesn’t seem to make sense. I have this great telephone system but I am forwarding calls to my mobile phone when I move around.
So a solution to this problem is wireless or cordless.
For very small businesses a DECT Cordless solution makes sense. We resell the Panasonic solution. Panasonic may very inexpensive and very robust cordless phones based on the DECT standard. These phones work over incredibly large distances with crystal clear audio. There are even versions that work in healthcare environments where the phones can be sanitized without harm. They look like a mobile phone and can be attached to a belt. It doesn’t require any complex installation and can be up and running in minutes.
For small-mid sized businesses it may be worth looking at a wireless networking or Wifi based solution. Wireless networking is now less expensive and has better coverage than just a couple of years ago. If you are planning on using wireless networking to support laptops and other devices, it would be worth considering. We offer services such as a full wireless survey to ensure that the coverage is properly mapped out and no gaps are left. We would also provide services to properly install and set the wireless networking up to support voice traffic. This requires more engineering than if just supporting data devices, to ensure quality of service and prioritization of voice traffic for the best voice quality.
BYOD has quickly become an industry buzzword that most customers do not fully understand. Are we simply creating a problem with a buzzword or is there a real challenge to deal with? With the introduction of smart devices – mobile phones and tablets – end users quickly determined which devices they liked best and decided they would use for work as well as personal use. This was good news and bad news for business. The good news was that businesses saved costs in not having to provide mobile phones for their employees. In addition they didn’t have to out how to handle the tricky problem that any smart device owner could download whatever Apps they wanted and who was going to pay for these Apps. It would now be on the end user’s nickel now.
The challenge then was to effectively leverage these devices. Those end users clearly wanted to be connected, using the business wireless data network, when in the building. So it required setting up an effective wireless network that could handle to traffic volumes of all of these smart devices, set up an appropriate ‘guest’ network when suppliers, consultants or even customers came into your office. Unity Connected Solutions provides wireless networking from Avaya and Cisco. Each vendor handles this task slightly differently but all provide capabilities to manage and support smart devices and guest devices.
However, the key element is Unity Connected Solutions’ wireless professional services. We can come in and do a complete wireless site survey and design, showing how many Access Points are required for full coverage, where they should be placed as well we as configuring and installing the wireless solution.
Often our most valuable asset is our workforce. As we move from a manufacturing based economy to one based on professional services, we want to make sure we are maximising their skills by providing tools to keep them connecteed – to us and our customers – no matter whether they are in the office, on the road on a customer’s site or working from home.
There are several ways this can be achieved. Through ‘find me, follow me’ features on telephone systems so we don’t miss calls because of where we are located. By moving to IP based telephone systems that support small office, home office solutions more easily. Using conferencing and video solutions to make it easier to keep in touch with making a trip.
IP Telephone systems
One of the biggest advantages of IP based Telephone systems was the decoupling of the hardware from the applications. Now the hardware can be dispersed over multiple locations using your own Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) that you already have in place to support your data connectivity. This can also allow extending the same application being used at the main office out to a small or home office. Not only does this simplify connectivity between employees but also allows easier, simpler interaction between employees and customers. If you are still leveraging an older digital platform you may be still challenged in location specific hardware, possibly even keeping that system maintained. There are so many advantages now, cost saving as well as customer experience advantages, that you should consider migrating to an IP based solution. Unity Connected Solutions offers IP Telephone systems from Avaya (Nortel), ShoreTel, and Panasonic.
Video, as a business tool, has been around for many years. Initial video technology was based on video compression improvements to allow it to be used effectively over the minimum possible bandwidth. It came to the fore first as T1 (24 channels) circuits became affordable and then ISDN BRI (2 channles) came on to the market. Originally each end device was in the hundreds of thousands and were room based units with images on TV sets. These devices came down to the tens of thousands of dollars when newer, more powerful chips became available. But were still ‘room’ based. But now, almost every device, smart phone, tablet, laptop computer has a camera and the processing power to use video and we have some excellent desktop business video solutions like Scopia from Avaya and Lync from Microsoft.
One of the biggest challenges all businesses face is being ‘easy to do business with’ to our customers. And that can be in any number of ways, from ensuring that the customer gets hold of their contact on the first call, no matter where they are, to handling calls outside of normal business hours to a full blown Contact Centre that becomes your front door, perhaps your only door.
Find me, follow me
One of the best ways to let your customer know how important they are to you is to use a feature like Avaya’s ‘find me, follow me’. Essentially your mobile phone is ‘coupled’ to your business telephone, so without having to remember to turn on call forwarding, the customer only has to remember your main telephone number and you determine how the call is handled. Desk phone first, Desk phone and Mobile phone together and so on. If you really are busy, in a meeting with another customer for example, the call will fall back to a single common voice messaging system. A system that could be set up to notify you by email. So no missing messages with multiple mailboxes or having to dial in to find out. The point is, with your ability to take calls even when outside the office or on the road and to get back at your first opportunity, your customer will feel like you have gone the extra mile.
Most systems we sell today offer some level of Contact Centre capability. This can be as simple as queuing up incoming calls on a first come, first served basis while your ‘agents are handling other calls, to sophisticated call queuing and routing based on who the caller is or what number was called and the quantity and expertise of the agents available to handle calls. The latter solution usually comes with a suite of management and reporting tools to let you understand how well your system and agents are performing to optimise them. We supply simple contact centre capability on our Panasonic systems, from simple to reasonably complex on our Avaya IP Office solutions, to the most advanced capabilities in the market on our Avaya Aura solutions.
In the world of communications we have become accustomed at having to learn and use engineering terms as part of common practice – 3G, LTE and Bluetooth for example. Now we have SIP Trunking.
SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. That was much clearer, right? But is in fact an underlying standard for a lot of IP telephone systems. Many IP telephones are SIP telephones. But while we have been able to connect telephones to the application server over an IP or Data network, we have had to connect those same telephone systems to the telephone company using digital (or older analogue) trunks.
While the major Telephone companies or Telcos have been slow to adopt SIP Trunking for fear of cannibalising their existing revenue streams, some ISPs have been. Unity Connected Solutions are now offering SIP Trunking to our customers – both to save anywhere from 30% to as much as 60% on their monthly, recurring telephone costs but also as a way to fund those much needed communications solutions.
Doesn’t sound like much of a solution until one considers that often the biggest challenge isn’t selecting a product or technology but getting it deployed effectively. Especially for customers who have an existing environment that can’t be changed overnight or flash cut and needs to be changed out over a period of weeks, months or even years.
This is most evident when companies have multiple locations on older, digital platforms and are looking to migrate to an IP based telephone system. This requires a planned migration. Or customers who wish to take advantage of a new capability, such as a state of the art Contact Centre, and want to focus on the Contact Centre before looking at changing out the core telephone system. These are both possible but require planning and project management. Unity Connected Solutions provides a formal project managed implementation process as part of its complete Services portfolio.