A decision is bewildering the telecommunications industry: Air vs Ground? The question may be simple — but the answer sure isn’t.
If the professionals are confused, how is an end user supposed to pick their solution?
By: Keaton Forrest, Partner Relationship Manager
Most of us in the telecommunications industry have likely gathered around the campfire at one point to attempt to settle this dispute. Even outside of the industry, the debate and conflicting viewpoints regarding the correct stratagem has raged for decades. Air vs Ground? Having to make that decision is prevalent in warfare. It’s been pontificated by many an armchair quarterback. Even the choice of a mode of transportation can be argued.
Today, we find that this increasingly important tactical decision is bewildering the telecommunications industry and has for nearly 20 years. If the professionals are confused, how is an end user supposed to pick their solution? Because while the question may be simple, the answer is most decidedly not.
So, what’s it going to be: on the ground or in the air? Or, in the case of Unified Communications, Hosted or Premises?
Now, I will concede that there are thousands of articles in circulation about this very topic. But as I have stated in a previous post, they are often delivered in a biased fashion towards their specific delivery method. While I cannot completely depose all intention from this piece, (I do work for Teo and I would be grateful for your business), I can at least offer an unprejudiced view into how these technologies are delivered. Before we dive into best practices, I would like to take a step back and hash out what this solution is and what it most certainly is not.
Similar to what the marketing world has done to the Cloud, AI, and IoT – Unified Communications (UC) is now an umbrella term that encompasses a whole lot of features, grandiose illusions of synergistic bliss among the organization, and multiple ROIs beyond the C-Suites’ wildest dreams.
Really, the concept of UC is fairly simple. It typically revolves around the idea of combining different communication functionalities within one application or platform. At Teo, you will generally find us defining it like this: The blending of IP communication tools like telephony, mobility, presence, messaging, and meeting solutions that can be accessed from multiple\devices at any given time.
Unified Communications (UC) = On-Premise Solution
Unified Communications as-a-Service (UCaaS) = Hosted/Cloud solution
Still with me? Great. Now, let me throw some jargon at you. Believe it or not, there is a difference between UC & UCaaS. The major difference between the two boils down to where the application sits. I want to be 100% clear here. This does not mean, contrary to popular belief, that one form is definitively better than the other. It simply means that in Teo’s case, all of our deployment options are built on the same software stack. How is this a differentiator, you may ask. It’s because the customer is getting the same capabilities regardless of where the system is located. And why would we do this?
Well, quite honestly, it’s because we want our customers to succeed.
We do not believe the end-user should be punished by their geographical bandwidth limitations. End-users need the ability to route calls efficiently and be available at different times of the day on more than just one device. They also need to be able to achieve this with the OpEx or CapEx business model that works for them. But maybe most importantly, they need to outpace their competition and keep up with their customer’s needs.
We do not believe the end-user should be punished by their geographical bandwidth limitations. End-users need the ability to route calls efficiently and be available from different times of the days on more than just one device to compete with their competition and keep up with the speed of their customer. So back to the task at hand – you came to here for actionable insights into finding the best technology for your organization. Below I have offered some insights that you will find valuable when you are considering your next deployment for your technology.
1. When is the last time you asked IT what they wanted?
The best place to start is with your organizations own IT team. After all, these are the people that have been previously tasked with handling of this system – perhaps it is a good idea to gauge their interest in continuing to take on this responsibility. It will not break our hearts to hear that they want nothing to do with a new Prem-Based PBX. Telephony has often been looked at as the ugly stepkid of IT. One of the many allures of UCaaS is that it can theoretically free up the IT team to focus on other projects that can help you generate revenue. But, if you have a group that has the willingness and knowledge to support it, then On-Premises gives them full control of the system. Which brings me to the next consideration.
2. Do you need to have full control of the PBX?
As stated above, On-Premises deployments deliver full control of the system. This includes all of the moves, adds, changes, fine tuning network settings, advanced IVR creation, and more. OTT providers open up enough of the system for the end-user to make adjustments to their individual extensions but tend to keep most of the administrative functionality and maintenance responsibility under their own management. Having an OTT provider do the bulk of your phone system management can also be an attractive option for operations limited or no in-house IT support.
3. How do you feel comfortable paying for this service?
Stop me if you have heard this one before: CapEx is used to procure UC (Prem), and OpEx is used when the solution UCaaS (Hosted). This argument is lazy and tired. Customers can still use OpEx to lease UC Systems. Furthermore, customers are still finding themselves absorb large upfront costs to purchase end-points from their UCaaS providers. We are seeing that OpEx is becoming more of the preferred method by today’s CFO. This gives them the ability shift their telephony strategy from a Phone System Purchase to a Phone System Expense.
So, in closing, I will offer a quote from H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Choosing a new Unified Communications Solution is a challenging task. Research vendors and discuss potential pitfalls in the roll-out, how they will support your organization, and why they believe the deployment method is the absolute best for you at that given time. To have this discussion, you’ll have to know the limitations of your organization both from a technical and an organizational perspective. Just like any good general knows his battalion. The war for the position of the PBX still wages on. I am looking forward to hearing where the battle is won with your team.
Partner Relationship Manager (West region) Keaton Forrest serves as a point of contact/relationship manager for Teo partners in order to drive and facilitate active partner growth through the appropriate alignment of resources. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
And, Russell Wilson, meet your Armchair QB.