The Incom Business Systems Blog

8 Key Benefits Of Migrating To Cloud Telephony

14/11/17

Key Benefits Of Migrating Telephony And Communications To The Cloud

Cloud computing, software and storage is the way forward. We believe that businesses wanting to upgrade their communications would benefit from considering migrating to the cloud, instead of clinging to outdated on-premises hardware.

On average, most PBX systems (private branch exchange) only last for 8.5 years, which means companies with on-premises hardware have an opportunity to move away from legacy technology for a fraction of the cost, when their current systems need upgrading.

If you’re responsible for your business telephony systems, this post will provide you with some compelling reasons to migrate to cloud telephony. Read on…

Over the years, most small and medium enterprises will have accumulated a mishmash of communication tools and technology. Landlines, managed from a PBX. Smartphones. Email, sometimes connected to a CRM. SMS. Video and audio conferencing facilities, and new social media channels and cloud-based messaging systems and apps. It can get confusing, not to mention, expensive.

Benefits of Cloud Telephony Migration

#1: Unify & Simplify
Instead of managing multiple systems and phones, you can have one system manage everything - without worrying about the expenses and maintenance of hardware since everything within a contract is managed and maintained by the communication provider. Your IT team won’t need to worry about the PBX anymore.

Financially, instead of managing multiple contracts, everything - as far as possible (some third-party contracts may be outside the scope of a unified plan) - will come out in one monthly payment. Making admin less of a headache.

#2: Modern Features
Legacy PBX systems make it difficult, if not impossible, to access modern communication channels. Not only does this put your business at a disadvantage, often forcing companies to accumulate a mishmash of overlapping systems, but it is harder to work together as a team, collaborate and communicate effectively with customers.

Cloud communications eliminate these issues, without the expense of an upfront capital investment.

#3: Scalable and Flexible
Scaling up or down, according to demand and the ebb and flow of staff in a business, isn’t easy with PBX systems. However, with a hosted communications package, you can easily increase or decrease headcount as needed. Businesses can concentrate on commercial objectives instead of worrying about the technology that keeps everything operational.

#4: Mobility
Smartphones are an essential feature of modern business communications. Apps and the ability to take calls - on a work phone (so staff don't need to give out personal numbers) - anywhere are integral to how the majority of people work.

Modern professionals and knowledge economy workers need the flexibility a mobile provides, which for the sake of ensuring communications are unified, should be connected with on-site systems, storage and recording facilities.

#5: Affordable
Hosted unified cloud solutions are available at a range of price points, affordable for smaller businesses and comprehensive enough to manage the needs of large enterprises, including those that rely more than most on communications, such as call centres. Cloud telephony packages can include landline and mobile contracts, hardware, maintenance and software, depending on the needs of your business and budgetary constraints.

#6: Built-in Business Continuity
Disaster can strike at any time. With operational services in the cloud, you are prepared and ready with immediate built-in business continuity. Cloud systems aren’t affected by localised problems, including power cuts and natural disasters - and even if something happens near one data centre, there are redundancies and backup power generators, making your communication systems disaster proof.

#7: Integration
Most Unified Communications solutions can integrate with other business communication apps and third-party services, such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. This makes it easier to ensure your team provide a personalised service when customers or clients call.

#8: Increase Productivity
With Unified Communications, your team will reap the benefits of better collaboration and a more joined up communications system. This has a positive impact on overall productivity, particularly for businesses that want to enable more remote working. Many studies show that remote working boosts productivity, but only when business communications are optimised to support those employees.

Everything your telephony partner provides should drive continuous improvements and help your team achieve higher levels of productivity, without the expense and headaches that legacy systems cause. Migrating telephony and communications to the cloud makes it easier for managers and staff to focus on their jobs and goals, with the most efficient integrated cloud communication system operating at the touch of a button.

If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here.

Download our Emergency Communications Plan worksheet to align your business continuity planning with your business telecoms.

Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet



7 Steps To Ensure A Successful Migration To Cloud Communications

31/10/17

Migrating mission-critical services to the cloud are an increasingly popular choice amongst UK businesses. According to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), cloud adoption rates are at 88%, with 67% of companies set to accelerate cloud migration in 2017.

Communications are also slowly shifting into the cloud, with large and small businesses keen to reduce costs, remove barriers and improve productivity with a Unified Communications (UC) strategy.

Businesses are starting to see the value in unified, cloud-based communication. Right now, organisations often have too much choice, leading to confusing, costly and overlapping communication channels: Landline, mobile, email, online messaging, and Voice over Internet Protocol services (VoIP), social media and numerous others. Migrating to the cloud simplifies, unites overlapping services, and generates positive time efficiencies and cost savings.

Undertaking a successful cloud migration means designing and implementing a plan. Here we share seven important steps you need to put in place to ensure a UC strategy launches successfully:

#1: Determine Your Goals
Before you migrate anything to the cloud, you need to decide what you want to achieve. Saving money, time and improving processes are useful general guiding principles, but you need to work towards specific goals to ensure a migration generates positive results.

Designing a UC strategy starts with an assessment of your current communication technologies and platforms, with a focus on why they're inefficient and need improvements.

#2: Assess Current Situation
Conduct an audit on your current communication infrastructure:

  • Make a list of the number of platforms and technologies used for internal and external communications.
  • Determine if they are self-hosted or already in the cloud.
  • Assess volume of communication through each channel.
  • Assess the cost impact over the year, including any downtime and support contract costs.
  • What are the costs of continuing to run your own physical servers, including property, security and backup support.
  • Evaluate current security systems and costs, and whether they are adequate to protect your communication infrastructure from modern threats.
#3: Design Objectives & Aims
Now you have an idea what your communication infrastructure currently looks like; you can create an outline of what you want to achieve.

Do you want to simplify channels? Improve security? Reduce the risk of downtime and get more value for money from your support provider? Design SMART objectives, working with the relevant internal stakeholders. Have a game plan before engaging any external provider, or shortlist of potential providers.

#4: Select the Right Partner
Moving voice, collaboration and communication channels to the cloud is not easy, especially when you have overlapping technologies and platforms. You need to the right partner to plan, migrate and provide on-going support.

Telecommunications partners with a strong reputation, known for delivering migration projects for small, medium and enterprise clients are ideal. Especially when they have extensive experience delivering best-of-breed solutions across a wide variety of complex environments, including when communications are hybrid - mixing on-premises, public and private.

Ensure you are working with a company that can provide examples of migrating communications from something resembling your current situation to one reflecting your goals.

#5: Select the Cloud Environment - Public, Private or Hybrid
We could write a lot about 'public', 'private' and 'hybrid' cloud environments, but we want to keep things simple.

Public clouds are where your services/channels - telephony, collaboration, customer services - are operating in public data centres, with thousands of other companies. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are some of the biggest names in this space, alongside dozens of others.

Private clouds are servers you own and control. This involves extensive and costly hardware investments, which is why more companies are moving away from self-owned systems.

Hybrid - a mix of public and private servers - is proving the most popular option, with 71% of companies preferring a hybrid solution, to reduce costs, whilst retaining some control over the most sensitive aspects of their communication channels, according to RightScale's State of the Cloud report.

#6: Plan the Migration
Once you have a clear idea what is being migrated, where it is going and what technology is being deployed, you can plan the migration, working with your telecoms partner.

Most companies start with a test migration. Keeping it small and simple. Internal communications and collaboration tools are a good starting point. Have a plan for this aspect of the migration, and then using this test data, design a more detailed plan that should include the following:
  • Migration order of priorities.
  • What a successful migration looks like, including milestones, timescales and metrics.
  • Who is responsible for what (internal teams, managers, external providers, etc.).
  • What training and new processes should come into play before, during, and after the migration.
  • Backup everything - before and after the migration. Ensure part of this migration includes an active emergency backup plan and facilities.
#7: Migrate, Tweak and Monitor
Migrating everything to the cloud could take weeks or months, depending on the complexity of your communication needs and channels, and how easily your organisation can untangle legacy systems. Backup everything before starting the migration. Staff may also need to get used to new technology and processes, so have training plans in place.

Once everything is successfully migrated to the new environment(s), keep testing and tweaking until your communication channels are operating smoothly. Test and monitor carefully for a while after, before you officially sign-off on a successful migration.

Whitepaper: The Ultimate Guide For Moving From ISDN To SIP download



Driving Productivity And Innovation With Unified Communications

23/10/17

There has been a lot of noise in recent years around ‘Unified Communications’. Digital technology is making new ways of working, collaborating and sharing far easier, compared to traditional landlines and legacy systems, and this is naturally being embraced by businesses and organisations.

This technology is not just for the big boys either. Small and medium businesses can reap the benefits of digital transformation, with low entry costs and flexible contracts. If you’re just beginning to explore how to make your business telecoms more agile, responsive and dynamic, read on…

Unified Communications use next generation technology, bringing voice, video, instant messaging, email, even CRM data, together in one solution to improve how team members communicate and manage customer relations. Legacy systems cost companies money, are harder to maintain and restrict collaboration opportunities, which reduces productivity.

Top 5 Productivity Gains From Unified Communications

1. More efficient remote working
Remote working is more popular than ever, with 62% of employees keen to work from home at least once a week, according to Randstad research. With Unified Communication, remote working - and times when staff are off-site (e.g. a client or sales meeting) - is more effective, making it seem as though those team members are still in the building.

2. Higher productivity
With more than one way to reach colleagues, you can stop wasting time chasing people when something is urgent and ensure deadlines are hit without as much stress.

3. Reduced overheads
Productivity always benefits when costs go down. Money can go into other things, such as training, marketing, customer service and sales. When companies invest in Unified Communications, they don't need to spend capital funds on hardware or worry about maintenance and other associated IT costs. Everything is managed by your business communications partner for a single monthly fee.

4. Faster customer response time
Multiple channels make it easier for customers to get quicker responses without getting passed between teams and departments. Unified Communications that link to a CRM (customer relationship management) system gives everyone the same view of message and contact history, making this an ideal solution for contact centres and those in customer-facing roles.

5. Improved collaboration opportunities
Staff can communicate more naturally - similar to how they communicate outside of work. Numerous studies have found that ad-hoc, unexpected meetings and conversations are responsible for innovation. Customers benefit from this, since new solutions are discovered, resulting in new products and services that improve customer relations and satisfaction.

Everyone benefits when communications are quicker, more efficient and instinctive. Costs go down. Productivity increases. Customers are happier with response times and staff having the relevant knowledge to answer their queries, no matter who answers the phone, message or email.

If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here. Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.



On Premises vs. Cloud: Telecoms for Businesses

11/10/17

As invaluable as we find email, there is nothing as simple as picking up the phone and calling a client or supplier.

Customers feel better too, knowing they can call and place an order, or get an update on a project. Despite dozens of new ways to connect and contact one another, phones are still an essential part of doing business. AlI-powered Facebook Messenger bots will never replace telephony-based customer service.

However, there are aspects of business communications that are going through a much-needed overhaul. Legacy telephony infrastructure can't keep up with modern needs and evolving working patterns and trends. Gartner estimates that "Cloud telephony spending is expected to surpass on-premise telephony during 2017 [and they are] . . . projected to rise to $13.25 billion in 2019."

Benefits of Cloud Telephony
On-site PBX (private branch exchange) are increasingly at risk of failing. Downtime costs money. Businesses can't afford for phones to go down, especially when potential customers want to pick up the phone and place an order or resolve an issue. It damages reputations and impacts the bottom line.

PBX systems aren't easy to repair, especially when spare parts are in short supply. They can't always meet the needs of remote workers who still need a direction connection to the office telephony network. Adding and removing users isn't always easy either, especially when your business needs multiple PBX units hosted across several sites, all connected to the same primary landline number.

In comparison, cloud telephony doesn't involve further capital expenses for the business. Hosting, updates, management and security are all in the hands of the cloud telephony provider. Support is provided 24/7; with data centres keen to ensure up time is as close to 100% as possible. Security is paramount, with numerous physical and cyber measures in place to prevent hacking and cyber-attacks threatening your business and consumer data.

Compared to on-premises telephony, you can scale up and down as needed - depending on your permanent and flexible headcount - with telephony partners easily able to add new users. Costs scale up and down as needed too, so you don't need to worry about paying for more than you need. Disaster recovery is built into the systems cloud providers design so that your business is prepared and able to move quickly if the unexpected should happen.

Cloud-based telephony systems come with numerous other benefits, from professional hold music to call recording and performance analytics. These are some of the many reasons cloud solutions are proving so popular across multiple sectors. Businesses everywhere are more effective when they move systems to the cloud, increasing efficiencies and reducing fixed overheads and the burdens of operating legacy technology.

Moreover, and a key reason that many businesses have already migrated to cloud solutions, is call costs. Typically, these are lower than legacy systems both for national calls and international calls, and calls to mobiles.

There are also many benefits for businesses with remote workers or staff that spend time offsite. Their mobiles can integrate into the office phone systems, ensuring they secure access to company systems and data.

If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our team. Call 0800 054 2576 or contact us here.

Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.



Could Your Business Save Money With SIP Trunks?

04/10/17

'Digital Transformation' is a phrase that has been knocking about for several years now. Dressed up and surrounded by high-priced consultants, 'digital transformation' can appear confusing and inaccessible to many small and medium businesses.

But in reality, the majority of smaller companies are already going through a digital transformation. Shifting phone lines from analogue to digital (cloud telephony) is part of that, which is what SIP trunking is all about.

What Does SIP Trunking Actually Mean?
SIP - Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) - trunking is an Internet-based service that connects Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) customers to traditional phone networks. SIP trunking makes Unified Communication possible, including video, web conferencing and screen sharing, all through a SIP-based private branch exchange (IP-PBX). So instead of landline calls going to and from an internal PBX, calls travel through the Internet.

But there’s more to it than just making phone calls. With SIP trunks, you can do a lot more - voice, video, conferencing - and don't need to worry about the expense of hardware, maintenance and the limitations of analogue systems.

Can SIP Trunks Save Us Money?
Absolutely. Calls through SIP trunks (across the Internet) are cheaper than calls made through traditional landlines (ISDN). Not only are UK landline calls cheaper, but often so are mobile and international calls.

However, you do have to factor in call quality, the user experience - for staff and customers/clients - since you don't want cheap calls that sound like customers are connecting to an ancient modem. Calls should sound the same, if not better, than through traditional landlines. At the same time, you need to expect high levels of customer service and support, so that you can have phones up and running again quickly if anything goes wrong.

Installing a SIP private branch exchange (IP-PBX) is far more cost effective than traditional PBXs. No hardware. No maintenance to worry about. Instead, these cost savings can go into a system that can scale up and down as needed, with the service provider managing the software, updates and maintenance.

Another advantage of any digital transformation project is the cost savings compared to analogue and legacy systems.

Companies that have moved over to SIP providers are happy with the decision, according to Software Advice research, with 73% of IT decision makers surveyed saying they were "'very' or 'extremely satisfied' with the audio quality of calls connected by their SIP providers."

Furthermore, with no PBX platform to power and cool in your server room there are environmental benefits too. Using cloud telephony can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 45%, helping your business to achieve its sustainability targets.

High call quality, lower costs, energy savings and no need to worry about maintenance and hardware. Can you think of a good reason not to switch over to a SIP provider?

Whitepaper: The Ultimate Guide For Moving From ISDN To SIP download



Is It All Over For ISDN?

26/09/17

In a word, yes!

Without ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network), the Internet revolution would not have happened as quickly. ISDN replaced slower, dial-up broadband solutions, setting the standard for data and voice communications in the 1990s. At the time, ISDN was revolutionary. But everything has its day.

Technology has taken leaps forward since ISDN was created, with the largest British communications company, BT, set to phase ISDN out by 2025. In 2016, when the competition and markets authority (CMA) cleared the takeover of EE, BT Group had 31% of the broadband market (consumers and businesses), 37.6% of the home phone market and 33.8% of the mobile market. Even after Ofcom forced BT Openreach - the network division - to split from the Group, BT will continue to exert a large influence on the communications market and the services consumers and companies can access in the UK.

Telecoms is a competitive market. Each provider - whether they offer landlines, mobiles, VoIP or unified cloud-based communications - is investing heavily in speed and security to gain market share. Hence the move, in 2015, to phase out ISDN across the BT network within ten years.

In 2020, companies won't be able to buy new ISDN circuits and services, and then, five years later, this legacy network will shut down completely. If other networks haven't followed suit, they soon will. And those that run off BT networks (or former BT wires - after the switch to Openreach) will have no choice.

Either way, ISDN is a legacy technology that can no longer keep up with modern demand.

So, what are the new options?
High-speed fibre optic broadband and cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the future, one that many businesses are already embracing. Instead of legacy private branch exchanges (PBXs) taking up space in your office, companies are moving everything to the cloud; with Unified Communications, the way forward.

Telephony and communications are fast becoming digital.
SIP trunking - Session Initiation Protocol - is another cloud-based solution that businesses are embracing, replacing the need for hardware PBX systems. Instead, VoIP services connect phones to networks, improving voice quality, whilst making it easier for companies to communicate through video, web conferencing and screen sharing.

ISDN can’t handle modern communication needs. Internet-based communications are already overtaking analogue solutions. Now's the time to make sure your business is equipped for a digital future.
br> To get started download our guide to migrating from ISDN to SIP – just click on the link below.

Whitepaper: The Ultimate Guide For Moving From ISDN To SIP download

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8 Key Benefits Of Migrating To Cloud Telephony - 14/11/17

Key Benefits Of Migrating Telephony And Communications To The Cloud

Cloud computing, software and storage is the way forward. We believe that businesses wanting to upgrade their communications would benefit from considering migrating to the cloud, instead of clinging to outdated on-premises hardware.

On average, most PBX systems (private branch exchange) only last for 8.5 years, which means companies with on-premises hardware have an opportunity to move away
...view more >

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