Digital Transformation 101: Bringing Your Phone System into the 21st Century

What is the Digital Transformation?

The digital transformation is how organizations use technology to boost performance and transform organizational activities and processes – has brought a rapid pace of change in IT and communications technologies.

Today, it has become difficult for many Business Executives and IT Professionals to stay ahead of the curve.  A constant stream of required upgrades and software version changes creates a product churn that is based not only on obsolescence but also on feature enhancements and support capabilities. 

As your technology tools become more sophisticated, they are also experiencing shorter times in the market with the inevitable manufacturer’s end-of-life (EOL) and end-of-support (EOS) dates looming on the horizon.   

As an example, with a typical IT ecosystem, it is common for businesses to replace and/or upgrade their smart phones and tablets every two years.  A good laptop or desktop computer will serve you well for about three to five years, and the network switches and servers can last about five years without needing to be replaced.   All of these have software version upgrades that can extend the life of the system or device but they all will eventually hit those EOL and EOS dates. 

Businesses should upgrade their smart phones and tablets every 2 years. Laptops and desktop computers should be upgraded every 3-5 years. Network switches and serves should be upgraded after 5 years.

But what about that box in the basement that rarely fails and has been there for twenty years?  Yes, I am speaking of the phone system.  It is the most important conduit between your business and your customers, but it is still seen as an island unto itself, separate from the IT network.  

There is a lot to be said for continuing to utilize something that is extremely reliable and completely paid for, but the old system is not capable of adaptation to modern technologies and is limiting in its capacity to properly serve your business goals and objectives. 

It’s time to let go of your old phone system and usher in a digital transformation.

Voice on the network

The times have changed now, your voice system is just another application on the network.  Phone systems are servers and the software supports a multitude of endpoints and integrations.  These include smart phones and tablets, collaboration tools, wireless, CRM integrations, video conferencing, call analytics, and teleworking. 

With the proper design and setup, they are all under the IT framework and result in a comprehensive Unified Communications system.  The value proposition of including your phone system within your critical IT infrastructure enables your business to create efficiencies and ultimately reduce operating expenditures.  It also allows for more extensive business continuity and disaster recovery planning for reliability and security standards. 

The items below detail some examples of how an old voice system may be limiting your potential to realize the benefits of modern technology:

Carrier Services – Internet Service Providers

It is common for Carrier Service providers to bundle their services to include voice lines and internet.  In many cases, they are also able to provide wide area network (WAN) services and video.  In doing so, they are able to reduce or eliminate traditional charges for calling based on minutes or usage. 

The advantages for multi-site businesses are numerous in that there is a substantial reduction in overhead and monthly recurring expenses by adopting a shared services model. 

It is no longer necessary to replicate the same services at each location because the WAN can now handle all the traffic.  It only requires one phone system with voicemail, one CRM system, and any other servers or applications to be shared across the network. This not only provides lower costs but allows companies to more strategically allocate their resources as the duplicative nature of a de-centralized model is eliminated.  It also allows for far better business continuity planning in the event of a failure as all of the resources can be accessed via different locations on the WAN or via cloud-based services that can store and backup all of your data.   

Applications – mobility and collaboration

By leveraging the internet and WAN services, it is now very easy to provide audio, web, and video conferencing to colleagues and customers.  This reduces travel costs and supports a team-like framework for projects and business initiatives.  It is common for companies to have many people that work from home, in a satellite office, or on the road a majority of the time. 

By simply logging into the network from any broadband connection, they have the ability to share documents and presentations, manage time across any geographic region, and correspond via secure chat and messaging applications. This creates efficiencies that not only reduce costs but enhance employee productivity immensely. 

With smartphones and tablets, the traditional desk phone is utilized less as more people are on the move.  The ability to integrate your smart phone with your core phone system and the company CRM and database management system reduces the need to always check in at the office.  All of your corporate and business contacts are shared between the host systems and your mobile devices providing feature transparency as if you were sitting at your desk. 

You can now hand off a call from your desk phone to your mobile phone, contact other colleagues to arrange a collaboration session via audio/web/video, share documents, send private and secure chat, all while walking out the door with the same call that was initiated in-house.   

It no longer matters where you are, as you can program the system to reach you on any device, and at any location.  

Summary

It was said long ago that voice and data had a fight, and data won.  This created the Voice over IP standard that is now implemented in every new phone system installation.  It is because of this that we can now share services, mobility, and applications. 

Having your core phone system in your IT ecosystem has taken the industry much further than any strategist would have contemplated when VoIP became the standard.   It is bound to continue at this rapid pace as new and emerging technologies are introduced to the market. 

The above are a few examples but there are many more resources available to expand on this topic.  Please review some of the other items we have presented in regard to this and feel free to reach out to us for more information.