Big Savings with SIP Trunking

shutterstock_258855059Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking is a rapidly growing trend in the field of business communication for a variety of good reasons. Scalability, reduction in expenses, and less human resource demand are all noteworthy grounds to make the switch. Companies that have adopted SIP trunks to maximize their bottom line have seen improvement in a number of areas.

Goodbye, Expensive Hardware

Setting up a professional phone system is no small undertaking, especially where company financials are concerned. The company needs hardware at each desk and there is a huge investment in the operating equipment. Add to that the expense of the additional square footage that must house all of this, and it’s a recipe for big spending. SIP trunking, on the other hand, works via the internet, and that includes the routing and switching mechanisms that are needed for the whole building.

Eliminate Redundant Services

A major benefit of a SIP trunk conversion is that all audio visual services including audio, video, and voice calling can be combined and provided by one supplier, using one IP address. Call forwarding expenses are a thing of the past due to the built-in (and generally no-cost) nature of this service with SIP trunking.

Buy Only What’s Needed

Smaller businesses are able to purchase fewer trunks and add more as they grow, rather than buying a huge one-size-fits-all package at a higher cost. Trunks can support multiple users and SIP trunking systems are able to accommodate a high number of trunks. A company only pays for what is needed when it is needed.

Adding Services Without Adding Cost

SIP trunk systems generally come with unlimited inbound and outbound local calls, whereas some traditional systems charge extra fees for this type of service. In addition, enhanced features like caller ID, video calling, direct inward dialing lines, and messaging can have a hefty price tag with legacy systems. Most SIP trunk suppliers offer these features with no added costs.

Save on Maintenance

Technical labor is expensive whether an in-house or contracted resource is used. When the phone system goes down it must be fixed quickly to avoid loss of revenue and customer loyalty. Even routine maintenance can be very costly on traditional systems, or the provider may charge you for a maintenance agreement to support the equipment. SIP trunking systems are maintained over the internet, eliminating the need for a repair person to travel to the facility to correct the problem. This also expedites the fix, reducing operating losses and unhappy customers.

Switching to SIP trunking is a logical and sound strategy for saving money and improving efficiency. Considering the immense advantages this key communication tool affords, businesses large and small will benefit from the change.

Achieving Maximum ROI Through Unified Communications

shutterstock_216498328Any large project in an organization will require comprehensive analysis before it will be approved, and the transition to Unified Communications (UC) is no exception. Fortunately, a strong return on investment is nearly guaranteed with a UC transition. Predicting the financial benefit is an easy prospect if pre-project analysis encompasses the following points.

Decreased Expenses

Telephony and other traditional communications methods are expensive to own and maintain. Costly hardware is required to run phones and computer connections. This is where a solid UC program is a big win, since nearly everything can be operated via internet connection.

Other areas where a business will enjoy decreased costs due to a shift to UC are travel, training, wireless phone bills, shipping, and human resource expenses. Thanks to UC and the advent of video conferencing, employee travel can become a thing of the past. Wireless bills are reduced since most calls will be made over Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Add in encrypted email and secure messaging, and gone is the need to overnight packages of sensitive data. With many UC plans, a setup fee and a recurring monthly maintenance fee are the only charges that will be incurred.

Focus on Quality and Fit

While it may sound rational to purchase the maximum bandwidth and load capacity available from a UC provider, the more important targets should be outstanding call quality and appropriate service bundling. First and foremost, find a UC supplier that can provide clear, stable call quality. Bandwidth can generally be expanded when required, but it can be very challenging to improve inferior call quality.

In addition, look for a provider that allows sensible bundling of services. Only select those that the organization must have to avoid spending more than necessary. Ask how adding on services is performed after initial setup to ensure that it is an easy process that won’t break the bank. Both internal and external collaboration requirements should be considered when purchasing any UC solution.

Make Sensible Decisions

UC is a powerful tool, but the attractiveness of consolidation sometimes muddies the waters. Don’t eliminate effective solutions that are already in place just because something new and shiny is available. The current solution may be the best fit and should not be discarded unless the UC solution is better suited to meet company objectives. A good UC solution is one that makes operations more efficient and can seamlessly interface with other essential pieces of the business.

Analyzing the return on investment that a shift to UC will provide should be done with both finances and operational improvement in mind. Given the strengths of this outstanding solution, everyone from CIOs to technology users will see the potential benefits of transitioning. Choose a strong UC partner and begin reaping the rewards of streamlined processes and reduced expenses.

How to Succeed in VoIP

shutterstock_282002045Reducing costs is the number one reason businesses make the switch from legacy telephone services to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Hosted VoIP can offer an even more attractive proposition from a cost perspective, but businesses need to look beyond the bottom line to appreciate its true, full value. VoIP delivers benefits that go beyond dollars and cents, helping companies better serve their clients and customers.

With that in mind, here are five key factors to consider when planning for success with hosted VoIP telephony.

Calculating Savings Isn’t Necessarily Straightforward

While some cost savings are easy to spot, others aren’t so obvious. Companies may notice immediate reductions in monthly telephone service bills, but long-distance charges also tend to see substantial rollbacks. Calling features such as three-way calling and caller ID also tend to be significantly cheaper on VoIP systems, leading to sustained savings that can take a while to truly appreciate.

Prices Continue to Decline

Small and mid-sized businesses generally can’t get by with free VoIP services since their reliability and quality can be spotty. Paid VoIP services are actually very affordable, especially in comparison to legacy telephone systems. While legacy carriers have aggressively reduced pricing in an effort to retain customers, VoIP has quickly closed the quality gap, making Internet-based hosted telephony a clear winner that is becoming more and more affordable with each passing year.

Networking and IT Costs Keep Going Down

While the networking and IT costs associated with hosted VoIP are in decline, the opposite is true of legacy systems. With fewer and fewer businesses continuing to use traditional telephony, it is becoming more difficult and more expensive to service and maintain and those systems. With these costs continuing to move in divergent directions, VoIP is becoming more attractive.

Think Bigger and Better When It Comes to Features

While cost reductions are certainly welcome, VoIP does more than just slash expenses — it also helps businesses better serve their customers. With deep feature sets that provide users with an enhanced ability to manage communications and follow up on previous calls, VoIP systems improve organizational efficiency.

Integrate Other Applications

There are many exciting new ways in which other applications can be integrated with VoIP telephony. One increasingly popular example is Presence, a tool that allows system users to see the availability status of every person listed in the network. It’s brought about a major reduction in the number of voicemail messages sent across the systems that use it, and it allows callers to choose other communication methods given the status of the person they’re trying to reach. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cross-application integration, so stay tuned for further developments.

Five Issues Businesses Should Watch for When Migrating to the Cloud

shutterstock_104960111Migrating to the cloud has proven to be a savvy move for many businesses, but CIOs need to take several important technical and practical considerations into account in advance of making the switch. On the technical side, issues like legacy applications, archiving, security, and choosing a cloud provider are front and center. From a business standpoint, budgeting and contract terms must be carefully managed to achieve cost control.

Yet the rules of the game are continually changing as service providers expand their range of offerings in an effort to attract as many clients as possible. With pay-as-you-go and monthly service models emerging as alternatives to making heavy up-front investments, the cloud has become more attainable than ever. Even so, there are five key things to consider before migrating to ensure the move goes off without a hitch.

Outsourced IT and Cloud Computing

A significant number of traditionally trained IT professionals don’t support cloud services, and that has triggered a sea change in the way businesses source their outside help. For CIOs, it is important to consider a possible cloud migration when negotiating contract extensions and renewals with IT staff. Businesses that give themselves the flexibility to bring in specially trained and experienced outsiders stand to save a lot of money and hassles.

Liability Issues

Cloud contracts contain default clauses known as limits of liability, which dictate the terms and conditions under which the provider will be liable if anything goes wrong during or after the migration. More and more CIOs are opting to tie limits of liability to resource usage, a strategy that reduces costs without jeopardizing the contract protection. The more resources a company uses, the greater its limits of liability; the less resources it uses, the lower its limits of liability. It’s a win-win situation with excellent flexibility.

Maintain Control

Companies that want to retain a high degree of control without compromising their responsiveness can use service catalogs. These catalogs help businesses implement and manage compliance initiatives while ensuring that only authorized personnel are able to access specific programs and features. They are also easy to leverage, providing cross-company deployment with predictable consistency.

Manage the Dollars

One of the trickier aspects of the cloud is that costs are typically tied to usage, and big bills can sneak up if usage is not carefully monitored and controlled. While some companies choose to solve this problem by investing in onsite hardware, there are also automated monitoring systems available for cloud and hosted services. Another strategy is to source services through a reseller, who can eliminate credit card access to the cloud and help businesses keep tabs on usage, costs, bills, and invoices.

Going Beyond IT

The cloud has also forced a shift in the IT landscape. IT professionals now need more than just technical skills; they must understand what drives business for their clients and take an active stake in the success of the companies they work with. Today, the most in-demand IT professionals are those who are able to put together customized, cost-effective solutions that were previously beyond a company’s financial reach. Those are the skills CIOs are looking for in the new landscape.