Telephone systems and PBX’s (Private Branch Exchanges) have historically been a hot potato in business and an important service for users needing firm ownership, with the most obvious bucket to be thrown into being that of the traditional IT team. IT teams are often frustrated that they do not have the telecoms experience to know what they are dealing with.
Over the years, I have lost count of the times the IT team has commented, both from customers and businesses I have worked within, of struggling with the telephony component, lacking skills, experience and understanding of the ethos of this historic communications world. The telco world, and its approaches and components are very different from the IP based world that traditional IT is used to operating within. Often these historical telephony deployments are also creaking, having through accident and sometimes design been configured in weird and wonderful ways that now no one is familiar with or has the time to unpick. So, IT staff are keen to have someone else own the problem, but find there is nowhere else to locate it in the business!
Still, today, a vast number of firms sit in this camp, faced with the challenges of supporting and maintaining telephony systems, often based on ageing technology and bolted together from varying suppliers to achieve delivery of provisioning, PBX, desktop devices and IP interfaces with today’s modern world of softphones and PC and mobile-based technologies.
Often the biggest challenge is when something breaks and the IT team has to circle around, reacting to fix an issue, none really has the confidence or experience. This same team has to maintain, monitor and manage not only telephony, but the breadth of IT services and solutions serving the business.
The challenge with telephony over, for example, email services or most typical IT services, is that it is real-time and any degradation in packet quality is seen immediately from both ends of the spectrum, caller and recipient. Send an email that gets delayed and more often than not neither end notices as it is seen as a transient communication method. A phone call is immediate real-time, two-way communication, where any degradation in service results in packet loss and obvious call quality issues to those on the call. Thus, have an issue on your PBX and find your breadth of users complaining about mid-call line drops, sound quality (hissing or crackling) or issues making or receiving calls.
This situation is exaggerated quickly when you have multiple sites with local PBXs and issues to manage on a wider scale. In today’s demanding world to support customers’ need for high quality service and response, staffs require the flexibility to work anytime, anywhere on any device.
So along came VoIP and Cloud telephony to deliver the common benefits of Cloud, including better resilience (uptime and performance), removal or reduction in capital costs, faster deployment, easier upgrades and scaling of usage.
Today, there is rarely a logical reason to deploy a traditional physical PBX. As we have already seen in the CRM world where now 50 percent of all new deployments globally are Cloud-based and expected to soon reach 70 percent of all sales), once Cloud has proven its disruption, it will grow fast.
So, with Cloud telephony much of the challenge for the IT team in managing the telecoms for the business is taken away by the Cloud provider, except the administration, provisioning and configuration of policies for the business.
The bigger question is should this even be with the IT team? Take CRM as a business application platform: Is this managed by IT? They may have been involved in the initial procurement, providing a security review, a technical approval for fit for the business network and security models, but the day-to-day management revolves around the business needs. Provisioning and decommissioning users, configuring data presentation (fields, reports, dashboards), managing business rules, helping users, etc., this falls under a CRM administrator or team.
Now take another thought initiative and consider integrating your telephony and CRM, having customer and prospect data supporting the logic of voice interactions.
The business and customer benefits are obvious in this day of a heightened buyer dynamic expecting and demanding high quality customer service.
Telephony has been in the hands of the technical IT team out of necessity not choice. Now is the time you are able to choose to put it where it belongs, in the heart of customer centricity and aligned with customer service and sales.