Credit and thanks to Denise Borel, who posted this in NEC Today on February 2, 2017.

You know your outdated communications system is way past its prime, and economic pressures have led you to delay its upgrade or replacement.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 Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.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.

antique_phonePhone 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older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

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

improve_costsMaintaining 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

productivityIf 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.

More information

 

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a prevalent buzz word in the telecommunications industry today. VoIP includes technologies that use the Internet Protocol’s connections to exchange fax, voice and other forms of communication that were traditionally completed on Public-Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN).

There are several factors to be considered to successfully complete the Voice over Internet Protocol puzzle.

    Quality of Service (QoS)

Quality of Service (QoS) is one of the most important factors for VoIP. The term refers to the perceived quality of speech and the methods used to provide good quality speech transmission.

QoS specifies rules about which traffic has priority on your network. Used correctly it is awesome, but it could render your router useless if done incorrectly. Be sure to choose a solution that offers you the critical control you require for successful VoIP deployment.

There are several factors that affect speech quality, and several mechanisms that can be used to ensure QoS:

    Latency

If at any point the usage on the network exceeds the available bandwidth, the users will experience delay, also known as latency. In more traditional uses of an IP data network, the applications can deal with this latency. If a person is waiting for a web page to download, they will accept a certain amount of wait time. This is not so for voice traffic. Voice is a real-time application, which is sensitive to latency. If the round-trip voice latency becomes too long (250 ms, for example), the call quality would usually be considered to be poor. Another important thing to remember is that packets can get lost. IP is a best effort networking protocol. This means the network will try its best to get your information there, but there is no guarantee.

Delay is the time required for a signal to traverse the network. In a telephony context, end-to-end delay is the time required for a signal generated at the talker’s mouth to reach the listener’s ear. Therefore end-to-end delay is the sum of all the delays at the different network devices and across the network links through which voice traffic passes. The impact of latency on network throughput can be temporary (lasting a few seconds) or persistent (constant) depending on the source of the delays. Many factors may contribute to end-to-end delay. The buffering, queuing, and switching or routing delay of IP routers primarily determines IP network delay. Specifically, IP network delay is comprised of the following:

    Packet Capture Delay

Packet capture delay is the time required to receive the entire packet before processing and forwarding it through the router. This delay is determined by the packet length and transmission speed. Using short packets over high-speed networks can easily shorten the delay but potentially decrease network efficiency. Packet delay variation (PDV) is the difference in end-to-end one-way delay between selected packets in a flow with any lost packets being ignored. The effect is sometimes referred to as jitter.

    Jitter

Delay variation is the difference in delay exhibited by different packets that are part of the same traffic flow. High frequency delay variation is known as jitter. Jitter is caused primarily by differences in queue wait times for consecutive packets in a flow, and is the most significant issue for QoS. Certain traffic types-especially real- time traffic such as voice, are very intolerant of jitter. Differences in packet arrival times cause choppiness in the voice.

All transport systems exhibit some jitter. As long as jitter falls within defined tolerances, it does not impact service quality. Excessive jitter can be overcome by buffering, but this increases delay, which can cause other problems. With intelligent discard mechanisms, IP telephony/VoIP systems will try to synchronize a communication flow by selective packet discard, in an effort to avoid the “walkie-talkie” phenomenon caused when two sides of a conversation have significant latency.

Some systems incorporate a Jitter Buffer to avoid these problems.

    Switching/Routing Delay

Switching/routing delay is the time the router takes to switch the packet. This time is needed to analyze the packet header, check the routing table, and route the packet to the output port. This delay depends on the architecture of the switches/routers and the size of the routing table.

    Queuing Time

Internet-phoneDue to the statistical multiplexing nature of IP networks and to the asynchronous nature of packet arrivals, some queuing, thus delay, is required at the input and output ports of a packet switch. This delay is a function of the traffic load on a packet switch, the length of the packets and the statistical distribution over the ports.

Designing very large router and link capacities can reduce but not completely eliminate this delay.

    Packet Loss

IP is an unreliable protocol which means that in some circumstances packets of data can be discarded (dropped) by the network. This usually occurs when the network is particularly busy. Loss of multiple packets of a voice stream may cause an audible pop that will become annoying to the user. To maintain voice quality, packet loss should not exceed around 1% of all packets. Obviously this figure should be as close to 0% as possible.

    CODEC Selection

A CODEC, which stands for coder-decoder, converts an audio signal (your voice) into compressed digital form for transmission (VoIP) and then back into an uncompressed audio signal for replay. It’s the essence of VoIP.

The CODEC used will affect the voice quality due to the different compression algorithms used, and the amount of bandwidth required. For example, on a low bandwidth WAN link, using a high bandwidth CODEC (such as G.711) may cause “choppy” speech as the WAN link will suffer from congestion. In this case, a lower bandwidth CODEC (such as G.729) may be more appropriate.

    Bandwidth

Available bandwidth has a major influence on voice quality in VoIP networks. Bandwidth is usually expressed in the number of bits per second (bps) that can be transmitted over a network link. The amount of bandwidth is usually limited by the service provider or the physical cables that are used for transmission.

on-target-for-voipSo, now can you answer this: “Are you ready for Voice over Internet Protocol?” Let us help you with the details!

Is your small business enjoying the benefits of big business features on your telephone system? For most small businesses, the telephone system is a critical business tool. Now you can add the value of an integrated unified communications solution that enhances your organization’s productivity and collaboration.


Wikipedia defines Unified Communications (UC) as a marketing buzzword describing the integration of real-time enterprise communication services. However, small businesses are now using enterprise type solutions more than ever to enhance the way they manage their communications.

Manage Communications from Your Desktop PC

NEC offers a productivity-boosting solution with key functions that deliver big business benefits. It provides a small business solution with an intuitive application providing full call control from your PC screen. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can get more done in less time through easy-to-use features such click-to-dial which eliminates dialing errors, speed dialing, call management and contact lookup.

For Microsoft® Office Outlook® users, it easily integrates with your Outlook contacts, providing click-to-dial functionality within emails for further time-saving benefits.

Support for Remote and Mobile Workers

The NEC SL Desktop Suite’s Softphone is a portable telephony application, offering you system phone functionality from your laptop, from wherever you are: ideal for remote and mobile workers. With the Softphone, your workers will have the communications tools they need to work efficiently and productively, whether they’re in the office or on the road.

This versatile IP phone delivers high quality voice via a USB-connected headset/handset. It provides the full functionality and features of a regular desktop phone. Designed to meet the needs of any employee. It can be used as a primary desktop telephone, a supplementary desktop telephony or a remote/telecommuting device.

Following is a short video illustrating the benefits of this SL1100 Desktop Suite.

Please contact us for additional information.

There’s much focus on the cost of business telephone systems and plans these days. However, it’s important to get the bigger picture.

What are your ongoing costs of ownership? What are you spending to maintain your business telephone system? Should you have a hosted, premise-based or hybrid solution? The answer is not always straight forward and requires a broad understanding of the culture and layout of your business. It would be prudent to carefully consider these options and review them with a trusted industry professional.

There are also options to consider when it comes to administration and service for your telephone system. This week, let’s explore the following factors related to the popular premise-based business telephone system:

Is your system setup for remote programming so your telephone service company can provide assistance on more advanced changes without a site visit? This is a popular way to reduce costs as well as wait time that may be involved in scheduling and dispatching a technician.Money

Do you have a maintenance plan in place for your telephone system? By having a plan in place you can enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your system is kept up to date and serviced promptly and properly. This can prevent costly service outages that would seriously impact the bottom line for your business.

Do your telephone system’s features offer you the best tools to help meet your customer service and productivity goals? Be sure to consult with your system provider to explore the options. You may be able to impact your soft costs that could otherwise go unnoticed.

Do you have staff trained to administer your telephone system? If you are looking to reduce costs, you may be able to save time and money by doing some of your own changes on your telephone system. These may include such items as extension name changes, call forwarding setup, button programming as well as voicemail setup and changes.

In recognizing the need for this, NEC developed an effective administration tool called PhonePro that fills the bill. PhonePro is an advanced, built-in application on the SV9100 Communications Solution to helps users efficiently program their own telephones without engaging assistance from anyone else. Following is a short introductory video.

Please contact us for additional information.