Too often organizations wait too long to replace out-of-date business telephone systems. Often they are satisfied as long as employees can pick up their handsets, hear dial tone, and make a call to just about anywhere. This has been the major strength of circuit-switched PBX systems since their introduction in the 1960’s. But nearly 60 years later, the workhorse simplicity of circuit-switched PBX has also become its major weakness. Now, packet-switched Voice over Internet  Protocol (VoIP) systems provide significantly more business value than merely placing and receiving calls.

Most small and mid-sized businesses rely heavily on their telephone system. Unfortunately, this part of their technology investment often takes a back seat to the computer network. Has this been your experience? If so, is it possibly inhibiting your business potential?

If you depend on your business phone system to maintain that critical connection with your customers,  suppliers and staff, it may be time to explore the options.

Key Benefits

Some key benefits, integral to a business, that IP communications can enhance are:

  • Productivity: Employees can communicate from their offices or from virtually any remote location, or  telework from home.
  • ROI: A broader base of personnel, customers, and business partners can access and utilize resources.
  • Customer Satisfaction: IP technology supports self-service capabilities and facilitates problem resolution. This makes for happier customers.
  • Business Process Improvement: Gone are the days of the monolithic PBX; today’s communications systems must integrate into business processes.
  • Competitive Edge: Enabling teamwork between different locations and distributed work groups reduces time to market for new products and upgrades.

Business Risks of Older PBX Systems

Organizations face numerous threats with older PBX systems. These threats not only impact business continuity. They also increase costs and constrain short- and long-term plans for growth.

Threats related to older PBX systems – and the ways IP communications can help resolve these threats include:

  • Frequent Outages and Business Disruptions: Where older PBX systems can crash and require manual  servicing, IP technology enables technicians to perform remote diagnostics and clear troubles, often remotely, without dispatching a technician. Remote service capabilities improve performance benchmarks.
  • Increasing Costs of Repair and Maintenance: Vendors and dealers typically increase prices for older   systems to motivate customers to move to current platforms. As a result, newer systems may be more cost-effective than keeping an existing system.
  • End of Manufacturer Sales and Support: Vendors phase out support for legacy systems over time. IP communication platforms are typically software-powered, which enables vendors to offer perpetual software assurance agreements.
  • Shrinking Manufacturer and Third-Party Supply of Spares: As systems require updating, companies may find it harder to locate hardware and ancillary components; circuit boards with compatible firmware release levels; system documentation; and skilled telecom technicians. Voicemail systems are especially vulnerable because backup electromechanical disk drives used for message storage are scarce.
  • Increased Likelihood of Shadow-IT: When employees can’t get the features or capabilities they require from IT, they obtain it themselves often with consumer apps. Although this may solve their problem, it often creates significant issues for the organization and IT itself in terms of protecting customer data, compliance, interoperability, scalability, import/export, and integration.
  •  Limited Capacity for Adding New Elements: When PBX systems need to grow, companies may struggle with the ability to add users and trunks, voicemail boxes, call center agents, etc. IP communication systems often can grow by buying more software licenses.
  • Dial Plan Limitations for New Regional and Global Locations: IP platforms from major providers generally conform to E.164, the ITU-T (International Telecommunications Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector) international public telecommunication numbering plan recommendation for the worldwide public switched telephone network (PSTN) and some other data networks.
  • Inability to virtualize communication platforms: By definition, a hardware PBX is not virtual. In contrast, IP communications’ compatibility with VMware and similar offers from other providers support highly resilient implementations using a centralized data center model.

10 Features to Consider 

  1. Call Forwarding: This is similar to call forwarding performed by a receptionist, although the process is completely automated. When a call is received at a designated number the system can be configured to automatically forward the call to other pre-set numbers, such as your cell or home phone if you happen to be working remotely or from home.
  2. Quality of Service (QoS) refers to the process of prioritizing certain VoIP features, such as call quality, to ensure uninterrupted service. You can program the QoS settings to defer to voice over other services such as email and video. QoS may also be improved by improving the internet connection. VoIP functions best on a fast, reliable Internet Service.
  3. Conference Bridge allows multiple callers to participate in a phone call by providing virtual conference room(s). Traditional 3-way calling limits the number of participants in a meeting. Conference bridges may be equipped to handle a larger group, and eliminate the need to dial through a central operator to access the call.
  4. Call Logging is an important phone system feature that can have a huge impact on your organization’s efficiency and your employee’s individual productivity. Call logging can produce statistical data which can be used for management and analysis purposes to set objectives and drive revenue. Statistics obtained can also be used to reduce the cost of calls. Businesses can ascertain when their calls are being made, which regions of the country are being contacted and how long the calls generally last.
  5.  Automated Attendant informs callers of how long they can expect to wait until their call is answered as well as ensuring customers can reach the correct department by making menu choices with their telephone keypad. This is a vital aspect of customer service today as customers become more impatient over the phone and any unexpected delay could lead to disinterest and ultimately breakdown of relationship.
  6. Call Recording is often used for training purposes and can have a huge impact on the quality of customer service and overall communication standards throughout an organization.
  7. Music on Hold can make the hold time more bearable for the caller and can also be a marketing tool by interspersing music with announcements about products and services.
  8. Call Restrictions allow telephone system administrators to bar certain numbers so they cannot be  dialed from within the network. This can also be set to stop users from dialing certain groups of numbers such as overseas numbers.
  9. Unified Communications (UC) integrates multiple communication channels into one centralized access point. A Unified Communications service allows users to communicate through their preferred channel such as IM. Whether you’re a small or large business, it’s quite common for employees to be dispersed across many locations. Unified Communications ensures that everyone can reach each other in real time, whether they’re traveling or working from a remote location. This often results in increased productivity. Also, UC users can be accessed on mobile devices, so they can work from any location.
  10. Contact Center: In today’s business environment, organizations must take advantage of the latest communication technologies to streamline their processes, enhance staff productivity and improve customer service. Contact Center software helps accomplish these goals by handling high call volume with a minimum number of resources. Combining this with UC enables users to login as an agent and view real-time queue statistics plus monitor Contact Center status of other agents. When call volumes are high, they can easily and quickly login to handle calls that are waiting in queue which results in improved customer satisfaction.

Interested in more information? Call now: 1-800-898-3336 or email sales@nutecelectrotel.com to arrange a complimentary needs analysis.

Business Technology Solutions Custom Designed for Your Business and Your Budget

Source credit to Dave Michels, TalkingPointz

Need a modern business telephone system without a major upfront investment, but not ready for the cloud?

The UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE offers a complete, out-of-the-box, on-premises business telephone solution. The packages include all the phones, hardware, and SIP Trunks needed – providing a cost-effective alternative to cloud-based solutions.

With a reputation for reliability and security, the SV9100 BLUE by NEC is ideal for the small or medium-sized business in need of technologies like Unified Messaging, Voicemail and the latest Mobility features without the requirement of a large upfront investment.

On-Premises or Cloud?

Businesses today are often faced with the difficult decision of choosing between a cloud-based communications solution or an on-premises solution. It’s a difficult choice for many small businesses since both delivery methods have their unique advantages. The UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE offers a combination of the strengths of both models.

A History of Dependability

The UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE evolved from NEC’s award winning premise-based UNIVERGE SV9100 solution. This is a complete, field-proven business telephone solution supporting applications including mobility clients, unified messaging and much more.

Minimal Investment Required

Instead of a requiring a capital investment, the SV9100 BLUE includes all the hardware and SIP Trunk services in the low monthly payment. This operating expense (OPEX) funding plan allows more flexibility, a value for any business. NEC Today recently posted an article on getting the best value in a communications solution, even on a tight budget.

A Predictable Expense

A key advantage of the UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE solution is the cost. No purchase or expensive lease payments are required. The SV9100 BLUE is strictly deployed under an operating expense model, without the need of a large upfront investment. Pay only for the capacity you need with a single monthly bill for hardware and phone services.

Shifting your communications to an operating expense plan means fewer surprises. Nobody likes surprise charges when you least expect them, especially on equipment installations, maintenance and upgrades. An OPEX model makes it easier to forecast your budget compared to a capital expenditure (CAPEX) model.

Unified Communications Features

The UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE is a robust, on-premises UC business phone solution from NEC, a trusted leader in communications technology, with all the latest features your business needs.

Simple, Reliable, Secure

The UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE is delivered as an on-premises phone solution offering unsurpassed NEC reliability and security. Your business phone system becomes an easy install, predictable monthly expense, eliminating the need for a large upfront investment. Pay only for the capacity you need with a single monthly bill.

The UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE is a cost effective phone solution to meet your business communications requirements. The subscription base platform includes everything you need to get started.

More information

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!