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A New World of Communication

Keeping up with tech changes during a pandemic can feel like running a marathon during a hurricane: the destination is set, but the forces of the world push the runner off the track. Because of COVID-19, many employee-communication needs changed, with the potential of pushing workers off the track.

It’s critically important to choose business phone systems that meet all employee needs in this new era. Think about who makes up the workforce today. Because of the pandemic, employees have new responsibilities and, therefore, new communication demands.

As a result, many companies find themselves making the move from a voice-related to a contact-related communication strategy. Instead of relying primarily on voice communications, companies need to ensure options for people to be able to communicate the way they want to. This new communication style is dispersed, remote and not as voice-centered.

Matching the Pace of Today’s Changes

A study by Global Workplace Analytics reveals that almost one-third of the American workforce will be working from home full-time by the end of 2021. This major change indicates that many company leaders will continue to need to select the right communications plans to help their employees be productive at home.

When employees use company tools rather than their own personal devices, they are empowered to work better remotely. Once staff are equipped with fast connections and intuitive communication tools, they are happier and more productive. Using company-owned tools also supplies businesses with cost-saving analytics.

These new tools and processes, which some businesses have already adopted, aren’t going away. But what is right for your business? In this article, we’ll shed some light on choosing options that will help your team communicate better in 2021 and beyond.

Choosing the Right Business Phone Systems

Strategize for Remote Work

If not before, in 2020 business leaders recognized the need for remote capabilities at home and remote offices, which includes mobile or WiFi connections, to be able to sustain or continually do business without having a fixed tool (for instance, a company desktop). They may be still figuring out how to branch their tools into other devices or means of communication that allow employees to be productive.

Another wrinkle: Business leaders could be faced with the hard truth that if one of their employees leaves, a customer who communicates primarily with that employee might leave with them. When employees use business-owned software, those analytics about that customer are available. Those analytics don’t exist if the employee only uses their personal device.

We’ve learned that a remote environment has its benefits. Employee schedules are more flexible and, often, more productive. As businesses contemplate a more permanent transition to a work-from-home environment, they also can count on lower costs for brick-and-mortar space.

Keep the Door Open

Because of the pandemic, some businesses may be considering permanently switching to a work-from-home structure. On the other hand, companies might choose to go back to the office – but they’re making certain employees have the capability to work from home at the drop of a hat should the need arise.

No matter what the ultimate decision might be, there are several criteria that businesses will need to have:

  • A remote VPN gate into the company network
  • Multiple access points, with bandwidth sharing and prioritization
  • Tools that can be used across any platform
  • Software that can be used on all devices

All these tools need to support line-of-business software, phone numbers, architecture and devices.

Remote work can become a business’ entire structure or it can be a backup plan, but businesses need to have these communication plans ready to go. Disasters do happen, such as the Houston flooding that damaged many businesses in 2017. Businesses did not have the infrastructure to quickly transition to a work-from-home environment while locations were repaired. It’s time to learn from the mistakes of the past and adopt tools now that can protect businesses from lost revenue in the future.

Consider SIP Trunking

Session Initiation Protocol or SIP trunking is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that is less expensive and more intelligent than traditional VoIP. Customers may think the uptime isn’t going to be the same for SIP trunking. We hear from potential clients the misconception that the quality of the connection is lower; however, the difference in the sound is microscopic. Business leaders are choosing to use SIP trunking, trading what’s perfect for what operates at 98%.

SIP trunking can cost up to 50% less than the cost of a Primary Rate Interface (PRI), and it allows you to do more in a business sense. SIP trunking enables the user to utilize a path universally, which permits the user to set up an SIP trunk path for their cell phone, Microsoft Teams direct integration and other applications.

SIP trunking also enables the user to use the paths inbound and outbound for applications and dial tone. There are more capabilities for less money. Affiliated Communications offers VoIP solutions, including SIP trunking.

Understand Your Total Cost of Ownership

To determine the best combination of tools and plans for your specific business needs, a thorough assessment is recommended. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing Mitel phone system or a different business phone system, you will need to fully understand the costs and benefits of the many different available options. Affiliated Communications can help you run different models to determine the best choice.

The 3 models that Affiliated Communications will help you assess are:

  • Premise-based and cloud-based
  • PRI and SIP
  • MLPS and SD-WAN

First, compare the cost of using a phone system that’s based on your premises to the cost of using cloud phone solutions.

Then, analyze the costs of using a traditional telephony PRI business phone system, which is capable of providing massive levels of data transmission and flexibility but cannot be quickly adapted to a remote work environment.

Compare those costs to an SIP trunking business phone system, which supports the transmission of unified communications like video conferencing, SMS messaging, data transmissions and more.

Lastly, consider MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology, which runs on proprietary hardware and reliably delivers packets to their destination. It keeps an organization’s most important traffic flowing, helping avoid packet loss and maintaining the quality of VoIP.

However, the cost of MPLS is high. Compare it to the significantly less costly and virtualized Software Defined-Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), also known as the velocloud option. SD-WAN mixes and matches network links and offers end-to-end encryption.

Running these models will help you find out the associated costs and run a cost-benefit analysis of the option. Businesses will need a third party to pull these different apps for them. It’s important to consult with someone who can understand the business and vertical market.

Remember to consider the value over time. Is it worth it to pay the monthly subscription to have the mobile app? Does that actually add value? There’s a perceived cost of ownership, and then there’s a total cost of ownership. Find out what the actual cost of ownership will be.

Planning for the Future

Affiliated Communications believes that communications solutions providers owe their customers the whole picture. We want to understand your business, do the math, determine the total cost of ownership, help you choose the best services and share our knowledge of what’s right and wrong with different business phone systems.

Whether your concern is the cost, the infrastructure or your employees and customers, we can help you find the best combination of communications systems. You can also rely on us for IT outsourcing to make sure your team is set up for success.

Partner with a company who can give you what you need. Contact Affiliate Communications for your cost analysis.