While the last 12-18 months have had a reactionary feel for many, the time has come for businesses to start reviewing their long-term strategy – not just within IT, but every area of their business.
Among the most important considerations will be where, and how, people operate as part of what is likely to be a hybrid working model, and the technology you deploy to support this will be pivotal to achieve a flexible and productive working environment.
What your hybrid technology landscape should look like will depend on the work being performed by your people, but will naturally lead to the review of client devices, cybersecurity, remote access, and data centre infrastructure. While these are all important components, you can’t afford to overlook the role telephony and communications has to play in your path to a hybrid working future.
In an ideal world every major technology investment you make would follow a period of thorough due diligence, and form part of an existing strategy that helps you best serve the needs of your team.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, and the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic was the catalyst for many businesses to seek out solutions to meet urgent requirements, even if that meant compromises had to be made along the way.
For those accustomed to office-centric ways of working, telephony was generally one of the areas that fell into this category. Those that hadn’t previously considered the implications of home working needed to roll out a solution at speed. One that could deliver very basic functionality (the ability to successfully field calls for starters) to meet an immediate need.
While these reactionary purchases may have met short-term requirements, the last few months have also exposed gaps in capability, and prompted further thought into what additional functionality might be required or desirable with a long-term solution.
Key to any review of your telephony or communication estate is evaluating how well aligned your technology is with your working environment. That means how well it fits the needs of your team, how it integrates with your other technologies, and how well it can support your future demands.
When doing this, there are a number of different considerations to evaluate. Here are three of the most important:
Now that you’ve had the benefit of several months of remote working, you may now have a better idea of the key functionality that’s most important to your business. It’s likely that this can be split into two important attributes – usability and management.
At a basic level, is the solution you are currently using a good fit for the needs of your team? Are they able to manage inbound and outbound calls in the way that they would have done in the office, and if not, how could this be achieved?
If, for example, your team is making a high volume of outbound calls, are they able to do so via an allocated business phone number? After all, your team might not want to make calls with their own mobile phone, inadvertently sharing their number and eating into their minutes allowance. If you receive a high volume of inbound calls, can these be answered, queued, and re-directed effectively?
It might even be that you need the ability to record calls, or the option for colleagues to join calls to listen or contribute when required.
It’s also important to consider how any telephony solution is deployed. Will your team need to use traditional handsets, or would a soft client on mobile or laptop be the best option?
Equally, how the solution is managed should also form part of the equation. Organisations that are used to more traditional telephony will be accustomed to a high level of outsourcing and low-touch management, but would a switch to something with a self-service element be a better fit?
Outside of simple telephony, your team will be using several other tools as part of their day-to-day activities. Whether this is peripheral hardware like headsets, collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, or even CRM systems, the right solution will be one that properly integrates with this complementary technology.
For example, if members of your team are regularly attending video conferences via Teams, you don’t want active participants to be disturbed by incoming calls. This is especially important when both systems are using a single media channel.
As you return to the office, it’s also important to consider how any new solution adopted during lockdown can integrate with your existing workplace tech. Is this compatible with conference room phones and other communal technology?
In response to the pandemic, availability and speed of implementation were the main drivers for solution selection, with little thought given to resiliency and support. These might have been acceptable compromises in the short term, but become important factors when assessing a long-term solution.
Do you know the architecture that the solution is built on? ISDN is set for switch-off by 2025, so is a traditional solution of this nature the right choice? A cloud-based option might be a viable alternative, but how well can the architecture stand up to your needs? You need a level and consistency of service that meets the demands of your business. An organisation that takes a high volume of calls, such as a contact centre, can’t afford to suffer from regular downtime caused by infrastructure issues.
It’s also important to understand the level of support available, both for your IT team and end-users. Onboarding with a new solution can present new challenges, so you need to know that you can call upon responsive assistance when you need it.
Whatever decisions you take with your long-term telephony strategy, we’re here to help. Our experienced team can assist your review of existing telephony or comms solutions and provide expert insights into the questions raised above.
Thanks to our relationships with leading vendors, we’re also well placed to advise, design, deliver, and support your telephony platform for the long-term.
To learn more, or to discuss your requirements with our team, get in touch with us.